The report by global sports marketing research firm Repucom found
the Spaniard, a double world champion, enjoyed the greatest
worldwide recognition and celebrity impact while Germany's Vettel
ranked only fourth.
Britain's 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes, was
second on the list and Brazilian Felipe Massa, who moved from
Ferrari to Williams at the end of last season, took third place.
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who has returned
to Ferrari this season after leaving the sport and then making a
comeback with Lotus, rated higher than Vettel in awareness but below
him in overall marketability.
"It may be a surprise to some that globally, Sebastian Vettel does
not score as highly in terms of public opinion as the likes of
Alonso, Hamilton and Massa," said Repucom's Nigel Geach, senior vice
president of motorsport, in a statement.
He said that was due in large part to Ferrari's popularity and brand
recognition — the Italian team are the most glamorous and successful
in the sport — as well as Alonso's own international sponsorship
"Despite Red Bull's recent successes, globally, 59 percent of F1
fans have an interest in the Ferrari team, representing the highest
levels of interest in any F1 team," added Geach.
"With races screened across 160 global markets to a cumulative
global TV audience of 1.8 billion, one can see the importance this
can have on perception."
The report said Alonso was known by 71.14
percent globally, although only 12.76 percent of those in the United
States were aware of him. Vettel's global awareness rating was 54.30
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"Alonso is a very likeable driver and as the global appeal of the
sport increases, people seem to be rooting more and more for a new
F1 champion and as the results show, Alonso is starting to edge
ahead as the fans favorite," Geach said.
The season starts with the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday and
Vettel's Red Bull team are already on the back foot after problems
with their new Renault V6 power unit in testing. Hamilton and
Mercedes are the early bookmakers' favorites.
Despite Hamilton's global recognition being second only to Alonso,
the report found compatriot Jenson Button was more marketable to a
"Button's appeal, influence and aspirational scores see him as a
better product endorser and a more marketable personality," it said
of the McLaren driver and 2009 world champion.
Massa enjoyed the highest domestic recognition of any driver, with a
99.2 percent rating in Brazil compared to Vettel's 97.58 percent in
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; editing by Ed Osmond)
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