McLaren has overtaken its top formula one rival Ferrari in the popularity stakes, according to the results of a global fan survey.

McLaren has overtaken its top formula one rival Ferrari in the popularity stakes, according to the results of a global fan survey.

A year after the Fernando Alonso turmoil and the 'Stepneygate' spy scandal, the Mercedes powered team has emerged as the sport's most popular outfit in the results of the survey, carried out by Renault's title sponsor ING and published in the British magazine F1 Racing.

The survey, spanning 160 countries and involving 70,000 people, showed 29 per cent selecting McLaren as their favourite team.

The result is a dramatic turnaround compared with the survey two years ago, when McLaren attracted only 21 per cent of the vote, and the arrival of the new world champion Lewis Hamilton must be credited.

It means Ferrari, previously F1's standout favourite among fans, dipped in popularity from its previous 30 per cent two years ago to 28 per cent in 2008.

The next two favourite teams were Williams and Renault, each polling 6 per cent.

"While Lewis deserves every accolade he has received since becoming the youngest world champion the sport has ever seen, in reality, for this to be achieved requires the same level of dedication and hard work from every member of the team in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart," McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said in reaction.

68 per cent of those who completed the online survey said they have followed F1 for 10 years or more, and a third said they attend at least one race per season.