NEW YORK—Fan or not, you’ve probably seen at least one mention of a Formula 1 Grand Prix recently. The sport has grown exponentially here in the U.S., bolstered by the Netflix docuseries “Drive to Survive,” which has been giving fans a dramatic, behind the scenes look at the sport and its athletes since 2019. Although F1 has always been on solid ground in Europe, Netflix helped propel it toward the mainstream in the U.S.—and go mainstream it has. The Athletic reports that the 2022 Formula 1 season was the sport’s most-viewed season in the U.S. ever, with an average of 1.21 million viewers per race across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. That’s up 28 percent from 2021.

Most notably, The Athletic reports, women and young viewers made up the biggest increase in F1 viewers here in the U.S.: “The season averaged 521,000 viewers per race among viewers aged 18-49, a 29 percent increase over 2021. Viewers ages 12-17 saw the biggest increase of any key demographic to 36,000 per race, up 49 percent year over year."

"Viewers aged 18-34 were up 43 percent and those aged 25-34 were up 46 percent... Women made up 352,000 viewers per race on average, a 34 percent increase over 2021. Women accounted for 28 percent of the audience during the 2022 season, on average.” In 2022, two out of 22 Grands Prix were held in the U.S. (one in Miami and another in Austin), and this year a third will be added in Las Vegas. According to The Athletic, the Miami Grand Prix, which occurred for the first time ever in 2022, was the most-watched race of the year, with 2.583 million viewers. This set the new record in the U.S. for a live race.

So, there’s no denying the popularity of F1 among Americans—especially Millennials and Gen Z, and especially young women. And there’s good reason, too. There’s a lot of allure to Formula 1: it’s fast, it’s glamorous, it’s wildly expensive and it’s incredibly fun (I, personally, can attest to all of the above, especially after my trip to Austin for last year’s USGP). And luckily for our industry, the Formula 1 paddock is a playground for eyewear fanatics, too.

In Miami, customers could take a ride around Miami in a Ferrari F8 Spider—and even sit in the driver's seat.

The event provided attendees with the chance to get up close and personal with the Ray-Ban x Ferrari collections.

Behind—or, rather, in front of—every handsome, European Formula 1 driver (and American, too. This year Florida’s own Logan Sargeant became the first American Formula 1 driver in eight years) is a hot pair of sunglasses. In fact, with most races set in the summer or the desert, it’s rare to see a driver strolling through the paddock without them.

Almost every single Formula 1 team has an eyewear partner or sponsor, but few are as intertwined as Scuderia Ferrari and Ray-Ban. One quick glance at this year’s Ferrari car (the SF-23) and you’ll spot the Ray-Ban logo front and center. It appears on the driver race suits and on-track uniforms of Spaniard Carlos Sainz and Monaco native Charles Leclerc, too, and both wear their personal Ray-Bans to nearly every race. The two brands are deeply, and authentically, connected.

This collaboration is not just on-track, though. EssilorLuxottica and Scuderia Ferrari began their partnership in 2016. In 2017, EssilorLuxottica began presenting Scuderia Ferrari x Ray-Ban collections for the eyewear market, with occasional special releases for special races to boot. The collections are clearly inspired by the racing and the cars, prioritizing aerodynamic shapes and design details like leather temple tips, sleek gold trims, carbon fiber constructions and Chromance lenses.

For Formula 1 fans, eyewear like this is a must-have—it lets them match their favorite drivers and represent their favorite team in a much more casual way than a jersey or T-shirt ever will. There’s an added allure to knowing you’re wearing something that your favorite driver wears not just at work, but on his days off, too.

The 2023 Miami Grand Prix is set for the weekend of May 5, and the city is already gearing up. Earlier this week, EssilorLuxottica hosted a brand day to celebrate its continued collaboration with Ray-Ban, inviting accounts to view the collection and get it into their store windows ahead of race week. I was able to join them to represent Vision Monday at this special event.

Set up at the EssilorLuxottica showroom in Miami, the event included a F1 race simulator (the fastest lap time of the day won two tickets to the race next weekend), multiple photo opportunities with branded gear and giant cutouts of Sainz and Leclerc, and even a ride around Miami in a red Ferrari F8 Spider.

The streets of Miami have been covered in F1 advertising for weeks leading up to the Grand Prix—a sign of customer demand that EssilorLuxottica and Ray-Ban are rising to meet. This week’s event helped amplify that local visibility in Miami with window and in-store merchandizing, while online Ray-Ban and Ferrari are embracing targeted digital advertising and a new partnership with Amazon Video. With the combined star power of two heritage brands, it’s a match made in Formula 1 heaven.

The Formula 1 season runs from March through November, with 23 races scheduled for 2023. This year will be Formula 1’s longest season ever—providing plenty of opportunities to get on board in-office. From window displays to in-store merchandizing to viewing parties and everything in between, there are countless ways for the eyewear industry to hop on the Formula 1 hype train—and countless reasons, too. As the sport rises in popularity so do the drivers—and, in turn, so does their sunglasses.

Eyewear Partnerships in Formula 1

Ray-Ban and Scuderia Ferrari are not the only eyewear partnership on the Formula 1 grid. Out of the 10 teams that make up Formula 1, nine have eyewear or lens partnerships.

Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton wears Police sunglasses. Image via policelifestyle on Instagram.

Red Bull, winners of last season’s Drivers Championship and Constructors Championship, partners with Blenders, a Safilo proprietary brand.

Mercedes partners with Police, a De Rigo house brand.

Alpine partners with Shamir.

McLaren partners with SunGod. L’Amy America’s Ultimate Vision is home to McLaren Eyewear, too.

Alfa Romeo partners with Web Eyewear, a Marcolin proprietary brand.

Aston Martin partners with EssilorLuxottica’s Oakley.

Haas partners with Kering’s Maui Jim.

Williams partners with U.K.-based Coral Eyewear.

Scuderia Ferrari F1 drivers Charles Leclerc (l) and Carlos Sainz wear their Ray-Bans on and off track. Image via scuderiaferrari on Instagram.

EssilorLuxottica hosted a brand day in Miami this week to celebrate the partnership between Ray-Ban and Scuderia Ferrari ahead of the Miami Grand Prix in May.

The Ray-Ban and Ferrari brand event included a F1 race simulator and a ride around Miami in a Ferrari F8 Spider.

Dan Alder, VP of marketing at Ray-Ban (l) and Boyd Wilson, senior brand manager at Ray-Ban, were in Miami to celebrate the partnership with Ferrari.

The event showcased the collaborative collection between Ray-Ban and Scuderia Ferrari.