The Bahrain Grand Prix was watched by the biggest American audience to ever view the desert race, according to figures reported by Barrett Sports. An average of 711,000 saw Lewis Hamilton take victory in Sakhir at Charles Leclerc's expense – a record for the event.
With a start time of 11:10 ET on ESPN2 far friendlier than the overnight start for Australia, perhaps American fans decided to treat the Bahrain race as their unofficial 'start' of the season.
The action certainly rewarded the bumper crowd, as overtakes were frequent through the field and there was high drama at the front of the pack – Hamilton capitalising on Leclerc's engine failure after getting the better of his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in wheel-to-wheel battle.
According to Barrett, the season-opener in Australia was also well viewed with 659,000 either getting up or staying up to take in the race – a 277% increase on the previous year.
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The figures are in some contrast to the audience in the UK, which continues to show signs of sliding after the move behind the pay wall with Sky Sports.
According to motorsportbroadcasting.com Sky also achieved record viewing figures for the Bahrain race, averaging 1million across output on the dedicated F1 channel, and its Sky One channel, available with most cable and satellite packages.
Last year's Bahrain GP was aired on both Channel 4 and Sky – the terrestrial channel bringing in an average of 2.37million viewers.
Channel 4's highlights show this year peaked at 2million according to motorsportbroadcasting.com.
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