Formula 1 does a decent job selling itself around the world. The racing is good, even if the tickets are expensive and the sport does provide a really unique platform for global advertisers. Having said that, Formula 1 could do better than does in terms of promotion because there is, in reality, no central marketing at all. The sport is dominated by an engineering mentality and promotion is largely left to sponsors and race promoters. This works very nicely for the Formula One group’s bottom line and no-one seems to care enough about it to make much noise about changing that.
As a result the sport is often accused of not being very touchy-feely and human and it does not bear easy comparison with the way things are done elsewhere, where the philosophy is to be nice to the public and give them the best possible experience. One way that this can be done is with human interest stories, what the F1 types called “lifestyle”, which is designed to show the world the kind of life that the stars of F1 lead. Twitter obviously helps in this respect, if the drivers can be bothered to do it. Thus I do not need to tell you that Jenson Button is doing lots of cycling around Monaco at the moment; that Lewis Hamilton is training in the mountains; and that Fernando Alonso has been karting.
Over in the United States they do things differently. Drivers are much happier to engage, indeed they see it as part of their job.
They never seem to be short of a story line. And this year they have an even better story to tell as all the usual suspects are being taken on fulltime by cute (but fiery) girl-next-door Danica Patrick. This should help the viewing figures considerably. As fate would have it, Danica has now ramped up interest by announcing that she is dating one of her rival racers: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The pair have been racing in the Nationwide Series for the last couple of years and are now both moving up into the Sprint Cup and will be in competition for the Rookie of the Year title. He is driving for Roush Racing and she is with Stewart Haas Racing, so both are in good cars.
The pair decided to go public with the information to end speculation, but waited until the end of the NASCAR Media Tour last week, to make sure that the focus was on the sport, rather than on the new couple!
I do remember, years ago, reporting on a pair of racing drivers who were (at that time) a couple off the track. I shall refrain from naming names because the relationship is long dead, but it added a lot to the fun, notably when the pair went side-by-side down the straight at Jeramy and neither one would be the first to brake at the corner ahead. The result was that both went off into the catch-fencing!