Who are these masked men?

It was good to read, from the Race of Champions, a few words from Sebastian Vettel about his life away from the Formula 1 world – not that he was giving much away. It is one of the frustrating elements of the modern F1 era that we know so little about Sebastian. He’s a smart, funny, fast and super-talented individual, but his following is relatively small because he makes no effort at all to engage with fans. He doesn’t need to, of course, because he’s paid wild sums of money and wants his private life to be private. He does not seem to feel any responsibility to put himself out there to help promote the sport, but then again that’s quite understandable when the official promoter does next to no promotion. What’s the sport needs is character and you have to figure something is wrong when we have three top German drivers and yet the German GP is skating along on very thin ice. Vettel does not use social media and so what fans he has are based on TV viewing and newspapers. He lives a quiet life in the Swiss countryside with his wife and kids.

Most of the other F1 stars these days (with the inevitable exception of Kimi Raikkonen) use social media to give fans the chance to have a glimpse into their lifestyle. It is a question of balance, of course, but Lewis Hamilton seems to be doing it pretty well. He has three million followers with his tweets about music he likes, promotional stuff, pictures of where he is and what he is up to.

But let’s put this into perspective shall we, F1 claims huge TV figures, but Lewis is nowhere close to the big sports stars on Twitter: Cristiano Ronaldo has 34.5 million, Kaka 22.3 million and basketball’s LeBron James has 19.9 million. F1 may be bigger on TV, but golf’s Tiger Woods has 5 million followers, tennis’s Novak Djokovic has 4.5 million, and MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi has 4.1 miilion. Even Andy Murray has more followers that Lewis.

And the rest of the F1 grid are pretty much also-rans. Fernando Alonso has 2.3 million followers, Jenson Button 2.2 million, so the argument that the figures are based solely on success do not really stand up to scrutiny. Behind the big three is a huge gap back to Nico Rosberg (1.1 million), and then another drop to Sergio Perez (830,000), Pastor Maldonado (794,000) and Felipe Massa (767,000). They are followed by Daniel Ricciardo (595,000) and Romain Grosjean (513,000), Nico Hulkenberg (455,000) and Valtteri Bottas (236,000) with Sainz, Verstappen and the rest giving chase.

In other words, F1 is not very good at social media. People relate to people and if this sport is to make more progress we must encourage characters to express themselves, promote the drivers much more and let people see a little more of the faces behind the masks…

157 thoughts on “Who are these masked men?

  1. Is it possible that the fan demographic is not social media beholden to the same extent as football or tennis? I use linked in professionally but I am not interested in the rest of the self promotion platforms. I get God news from the proper media, and real insight from yourself. It is so expensive to go to f1 in real life and soon it will be on to also, I am more concerned that the fans are leaving because nobody takes any notice of what they want, and even the drivers have the same problem.

    1. No. I don’t think it is. I have no data to back this up, but based on my observation, as someone who uses social media, there are many people from Joe’s generation that are dying for F1 to finally get its head out of the sand on this issue.

      Social Media is not as trendy as you think it is. My parents and grandparents use it. It is a tool, but some people use it as a novelty.

      I think however there is an issue of a lot of the older generation thinking that it is stupid and pointless, and worthless, because they don’t understand it… because they never bother with it.

      EVERY time I hear someone of an older generation criticizing social media, they admit they never use it. Therefore they cannot possibly have an educated opinion.

      I was born in 84, which means most of my developmental years were spent without social media or cell phones. Then they came around and we grew up and into the technology. So unlike the grizzled old folks who wont touch it, and the spoiled new kids who don’t know anything but, I have seen both sides of the coin. And my verdict is that it is powerful and useful. It can be stupid as well, but that is entirely up to the user, and how they use Social Media to engage with others.

      F1 needs to embrace it.

      1. I think a lot of social media, and the participation in that stuff requires an energy and enthusiasm which does not match the F1 dynamic. The drivers of social media might not be youth alone but it is driven by emotional engagement with people and ideas, you might say and overly emotional engagement, F1 has technology and over reactions to drivers words which fall flat time after time. F1 has no powerful point of emotional engagement, especially with so little competition at the front.
        There was a time when a nation could get behind a talented driver and turn the heads of other countries to join in on the emotional engagement for a driver, but Senna is dead and F1 exists in a different universe from that time.

        1. “requires an energy and enthusiasm which does not match the F1 dynamic.”

          I’m sorry, but this is so far off. F1 IS NOTHING BUT energy and enthusiasm.

      2. Absolutely. I’m 20 years older than you again, born late ’64, about to turn 51 years old, and although I don’t use ALL the latest hip stuff, even I am fed up with F1’s neglect of social media. I’ve written here before about how FOM’s attitude to YouTube clips is utterly stupid, cutting themselves off from growing a whole new audience. And so it goes on…

    1. Perhaps.

      Or, trendy IT aware oldies are just not into F1, I know my mother in law is a prolific older Facebook user together with several of her friends but none of them understand the joy that is motorsport.

    2. You are right, as an old git I follow blogs rss feeds and use email even facebook and whatsapp. I have twitter but only use it to complain to the bbc about subtitles covering the leader board (its so simple and obvious a thing, you would think that anyone with any common sense …… but tony abolished it)
      Still from what I read it is possible that we will loose our BBC FTA coverage either next season or the one after. Though it will cost the BBC just as much if Bernie sues them as if they carried on.

      Seb has a very immature schoolboy type sense of humour which gets broadcast unawares occasionally on the podium, with Lewis having to pretend not to hear.

        1. Yes indeed it is to our eternal embarrassment that having one ruled half the world, we failed to learn any of its languages. Now I find myself occasionally wishing I could speak American. (and French of course)

  2. One can’t deny the importance of ‘social engagement’ and the ‘hero’ factor.

    But if the sport itself is as popular – and as healthy – as its primary participants then the Vettels of this world need not be held to account.
    Question is, where does the balance lie?

    Personally, I’d like to avoid witnessing a vacuous celebrity-fest.

  3. It’s amusing to conjecture who, in the past, would have been a ‘Seb’ and or a ‘Lewis’. Jackie Stewart most definitely a ‘Lewis’, ditto Mansell, but Jim Clark a ‘Seb’ perhaps. As for Senna – can’t make my mind up. You know, I don’t blame Seb for wanting to keep his family away from the media, tracking their every move. It’s different for the single guys. Bernie criticised Seb for not embracing his world champion status but does sweet FA himself.

      1. You’re just suggesting he becomes something he is not for the good of a sport that gives drivers absolutely no say in how it is run unlike athletes in other professional sports.

        There was a time when journalists covering motorsport cared more about what the drivers did on track then what they did off track. I can just imagine you covering Jim Clark…”yes, he’s one of the greatest drivers ever, but what does that matter? he’s no good for the sport because he doesn’t tell everyone what he’s doing for his holidays!”

        1. “ ..his following is relatively small because he makes no effort at all to engage with fans”

          Joe seems to be forgetting that the most popular of today’s drivers by a wide margin does even less than Seb to engage with the fans, and regardless as to where he finishes up in the standings (probably 4th this year) his fan base remains rock solid. Why is that a story no F1 journalist wants to dive into?

          1. Rosso Sette seems to be forgetting that most drivers have fewer opportunities because they have never been fortunate enough to be in a winning car

  4. Perhaps the reason F1 drivers have such a low social media following is the same reason Bernie doesn’t give a rat’s rear about social media.

  5. I believe Mark Webber is correctly showing how to use social media, interact with the fans (also face to face) and still have a private life… no clue about how many follwers he has, but I do know he’s still hugely popular, despite having left F1.

  6. A related anecdote… When RIC was tearing it up in Renault 3.5, I thought he was going to make it. I saw his Twitter handle was available so I rego’d it and left it unused

    This was at a time when there was a spate of fake/parody accounts being taken (the early days of Twitter, just before corporate types noticed it). My objective was to safeguard it from that fate.

    I emailed RBR’s marketing a couple of times trying to hand it over (free of course!) and didn’t hear anything back. 1.5 years later – part-way through the first year of RIC’s Toro Rosso stint – all of the official Red Bull accounts started following the account over the course of 2 days.

    I guess Twitter had suddenly made it on to their media/marketing strategy plan. In any case I opened conversation again and straight away got a reply. But funnily enough they wouldn’t take it on-board without taking all my personal details first…

    I really hope that it’s not part of the RB stable of accounts and that when RIC ends up at Ferrari he gets to take it with him. He’s really entertaining and a text-book example of how to use social media properly to boost his image. He’s even been offered a NASCAR drive out of it!

  7. The number of Sky tv subscribers in the UK who watched Hamilton become a triple world champion actually fell when compared with the previous year’s audience. I think darts entices more viewers. F1 has never even broken the 2m viewer barrier on Sky. If the BBC ditch their programming, TV viewership figures in the UK will be even more dismal than they already are for what is a minority sport. I think those who live in the F1 bubble massively overestimate the spectacle that F1 offers to the general public.

    1. Agreed on your final point – very easy to get caught up in the significance of events when you’re on the inside looking out. Less so when you’re on the outside and you’ve got plenty more entertaining and accessible options to look into!

    2. I entirely agree. I generally don’t bother watching it live anymore, it’s not worth the bother.

      What is worth the bother is reading Joe’s blog – how you manage to make it interesting Joe is worth an enormous pat on the back.

    3. Dan, I think that’s an interesting comment regarding the bubble. The same can probably be said for title sponsorships; in the pre-social media days, F1 was a means of saying your brand was exciting or edgy, whereas now all a brand needs to do is some videos on youtube or facebook, or converse with customers or twitter etc. No more $50m fees for some stickers and passes for the paddock club, although it’s still a good option for business to business types to impress each other. I fear it’s back to the 80’s as far as F1 on terrestrial tv is concerned (or sadly more accurately, pre-Imola ’94)..

    4. I agree with you – even speaking as an F1 fan. The reason the footballers have so much more loyal followers is the relative popularity of their sport. and F1 is a minority sport and not of much interest to the younger generation it seems

      Seb and co could perhaps open up a bit more (not about his family) – but Michael Schumacher never did and neither did Prost or Senna. Lewis is a genius driver but his social media thing leaves me cold I’m afraid

    5. I agree. It’s a niche spectacle. Anyone can play football in their backyard. No one can jump in 300 million dollar wingless jet. Probably another reason. If you have no context for F1 and there isn’t an incredibly exciting scrap, F1 is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Joe is right that SM can help, but only marginally. Personally, I don’t care what these guys do on their own time, but there are a lot of pathetic people who do…and they need to be marketed to.

      1. Those people aren’t ‘pathetic’ because they share more of an interest in the life of the drivers outside of the racing world than you. Maybe try being a bit more patronising, if you can manage it ?

    6. Here here. I’ve lived and worked in the F1 bubble for many years and you are spot on with your comments, I wholeheartedly agree with you that they overestimate the spectacle F1 offers.

      What irks me is the fact the BBC don’t have a caveat that if the world championship is going to be decided at one of the races they aren’t showing live, they should be able to show it live. How many British people didn’t get to see Hamilton win the championship this year. there isn’t much interesst in watching a highlight late on a Sunday evening when you know the result. F1 is killing itself!

    7. Totally agree. Amongst my group of friends, I and one other watch F1 regularly. Some have a passing interest in it, some none at all, usually football or rugby is their ‘sport’. I was at a kiwi friends (male mid fifties, likes beer and rugby like all kiwi blokes) place when the russian grand prix qualifying was on the telly and he said ‘Oh god ya don’t watch that rubbish do ya ?’ So I tried to explain it to him, what I found exciting about it and in the 10 minutes or so that we watched, it was almost impossible to describe anything that would grab the interest of someone looking in, what would make them want to watch it over another sport. It’s not immediately exciting unless there is some genuine overtaking.

      It is, ‘at the end of the day’, just cars driving round in circles. But so is Rugby just a ball being kicked around a field and tennis is a ball being hit to and fro over a net.
      F1 offers a very small spectacle to the general, non F1 loving, public.

  8. A sign of things to come and a stark warning that one can claim whatever TV viewerships they like however the truth will ultimately be impossible to refute. F1 is currently in decline, like it or not.

    1. I never believed, or understood, the purported global TV figures anyway but you’re unfortunately right in terms of TV audience. Apart from the obvious targets I blame the teams who have let the sport get into this mess by letting themselves be outrageously out-manoeuvred while, figuratively speaking, Rome burns. I can understand the opportunists like Red Bull but not McLaren and Williams, who have been trading on their reputation largely built up in F1.

  9. Cant do any harm to promote F1 this way,although LH comes in for a battering after every quote,people pounce on things and take them out of context,its making him a Marmite man which i don’t think is good for his outlook on life,…

  10. Smartphone users will surpass 2 billion in 2016.

    I’ve always said “if you can’t get the people to the racing, take the racing to the people”. What aspect of social media are the powers that be against? Having full access to the sport in ones pocket is taking the racing to the people, but in a whole new level.

    On a side note, if historical importance is the main factor in determining the payments in F1, surely this should be available online so people can appreciate and understand the historical importance of the sport? But hey, as long as him and the double windsor bunch get their $1.5m a day in profits I don’t really think they could care.

    Every race weekend for the last 21 years my Sunday has been faced with the predicament of friends or F1. For the first time in 21 years last Sunday I chose friends and I have no regrets. It was the 1st race I have missed since San Marino 1994, my 10th birthday.

    F1 is a great gift, but the wrapping paper at present is incredibly poor at present.
    If you compare the gift of F1 to other sports why would anyone choose to unwrap F1 first?

    Its not a matter of the drivers engaging with the fans more. It a matter of the idiots in charge doing the sport justice. The drivers the scream from the highest mountain on social media, the biggest problem is most people have already stopped listening.

  11. Leaving aside the access to social media because it’s a level playing field,

    1) There is too much influence from computers both in, and for, F1. Where are the computers and software that footballers, tennis payers etc use? The whole F1 show has been influenced (ruined) by relying in software for every move that’s made by the “car” and driver, whereas the activities in other sports in that respect remain unchanged, and 100 reliant on the skill set of participants.

    There is no escape from the march of technology, but too much of it makes for boredom. What is more exciting to motor sport fans – a motor race or a technology race? Pick only one.

    To draw a parallel… is a football or basketball moved through the air influenced by software? Training asides, are player’s movements and skills on the field influence by software?

    2) F1 is amongst (if not the only) sport that cannot be participated in without wealth. Can it be played in the local park on a Sunday afternoon?

    Kids can relate to football etc, because they can pretent to be their heros every day… and with pretty much EXACTLY the same equipment their heros use.

    That is a relationship factor that is impossible to achieve in/for F1

    Therein lie a couple of the problems with F1.

    1. That’s an easy one: Yes, the movement of a football or basketball through the air is influenced by technology. How do you think concepts like the 2006 and 2010 World Cup balls Teamgeist and Jabulani were arrived at? The unpredictability of Jabulani in particular would have been no surprise to its designers – it was made at great expense to make football what they thought would be more exciting, and CFD will have featured.

    2. “Where are the computers and software that footballers, tennis payers etc use?”

      First, and most importantly, I completely agree that there is too much reliance on data.

      Having said that, your comparing apples to oranges. F1 is about man and machine, as is most racing. This is quite different from other sports where it is primarily down to athletic ability and talent.

      Auto racing has always been heavily dependent on the performance of the machine.

      “What is more exciting to motor sport fans – a motor race or a technology race? Pick only one”

      And this brings me to my point. You can’t pick one. That is the point of motor racing. It is, and will always be about both.

        1. Mmm, I see why you are saying that Joe, and it’s my fault because in trying to make a point, I made it sound as if I was negating the talent and athleticism that F1 drivers have.

          Of course, a fighter pilot without the spitfire is still a fighter pilot.

          Just like an F1 driver without a car is still an athlete.

          Since you don’t see these comments in order, you missed the context that I was crafting my reply around, which was that F1 is about both man (athleticism and talent) AND the performance of his equipment.

          This is different than other sports where the equipment is either nonexistent, or has less of an impact.

          The original poster that I was replying to had implied that a tennis player or footballer doesn’t rely on data and technology, and paralleled this with auto racing. My point was that auto racing is a bit different as it is more heavily dependent on both man and machine.

    3. “Training asides, are player’s movements and skills on the field influence by software?”

      Perhaps not in real time, although it’s increasingly happening, but certainly setups for set pieces and the like take input from data on player and ball movements in matches. Players will cover certain positions because managers have learned from data analysis that the ball often comes to that space.

      1. Har ha ha, chuckle chuckle, hay Joe, you told me off last week for mentioning Moto GP in your F1 blog, so what’s all this c–p about a ball game?

      1. Twitter has around 340million registered users: happy to supply data sources… and its use has plateaued as the owners look for ways to leverage it. There is no sign it is going to increase its user base much.

        One has to be highly careful with using ‘followers’ as a metric… I recently did an audit of Lewis Hamilton’s Twitter fan base and it showed LH had c. 1.6 million legitimate followers and 1.1 million fake users.

        This trend is common amongst high profile Social Media users…

        The cost of buying Twitter followers is currently c. $90 per 5,000: so the 1million + fake account cost someone around $18,000.

        Social media is highly dynamic and one needs to expend considerable resource to deploy a useful and successful strategy…

          1. Joe, I’m using widely accepted industry figures… Active users is what counts. The majority of accounts are inactive and therefore don’t count.

            1. Stephenacworth, if anything, your figures for the number of active users on Twitter is probably too high – Twitter themselves have stated that, as of the end of September 2015, the average number of monthly users was around 320 million.

              If you look at the business side of Twitter, it is increasingly being considered as overvalued and a relatively poor way of communicating with people. Asides from your accurate observation that active user growth has stalled, most of those who advertise through Twitter have noted that the number of people who will actually click through to their products or otherwise actively engage with them is extremely low.

  12. Joe, I know you don’t like links but you may not have seen this BBC interview with the Chair of the English Premier League. He covers a lot of ground, some irrelevant, but I was surprised at the figures; £2billion revenues, £35 for the guy in the street to go and watch a single game, £150million given to the lower leagues, etc. His most valid point is that watching the game has to be compelling and that anything can change the result up to the end of the 90th minute.

    Although I have no real interest in football, it is interesting how he clearly articulates his vision for the game. His salary is £800,000. Perhaps that is the greatest difference between the two sports. I am sure the comparison is there for a future blog.

      1. Scudamore is widely despised within the game (especially by clubs who do not beath the rarified air of the premier league). Thankfully the only scandal he’s been involved in relating to some rather embarrassing ‘horny teenager style text messages’ rather than the sort one more commonly associates with football. It was netherless somewhat unedifying for a man preaching from the pulpit about equality.

        1. I know nothing about the man, or the game.

          I just thought it refreshing that someone in a similar position to Bernie could speak so openly and with clarity about his mission.he seems to have been effective with the rewards going to the intended recipients, rather than lining his own pockets.

          Joe has written recently about how the Blazers in most sports have a tendency to screw-up badly in this respect.

          1. The lesson here was in how the Premier League was created, – it was a essentially a breakaway organised by the biggest clubs that took advantage of the animosity between the two governing bodies that existed in the UK at the time (the FA and Football league).
            The nature of the team owners was very different to F1 (who were basically died in the wool racers), as these were generally successful businessmen for whom the clubs were trophy assets / hobby business. – This meant that there was never going to be a situation like in F1 where control was ceded to an individual in order for enough money to go racing.

      2. Isn’t he a jockey? Or a horse trainer or something horsey?

        Its hard enough getting way from football on the BBC. it is always on the F1 web pages, constantly on tv. The last thing we want is football on Joe’s blog!
        Still Joe has apparently allowed it.
        I cannot fathom why. Obviously I shan’t watch it, a game I despise full of corrupt officials.

  13. My twitter feed includes a few journalists, ARM Holdings, and a comedian with a tweeting compulsion. Reading some vetted lines from a driver isn’t going to rate in that list. These guys aren’t exactly modern Graham Hills. OK, Seb’s pretty interesting.

  14. I have no interest in social media. I didn’t know Vettel had children, and I don’t care, how is it relevant? I am no Luddite, it’s likely this post traveled through some backbone routers running some code I wrote, but I don’t understand the fascination with seeing a picture of Hamilton’s lunch or whatever.

    I also have no interest in watching “content” on a phone or tablet.

    1. “I didn’t know Vettel had children, and I don’t care, how is it relevant?”

      Are you really so naïve as to assume nobody cares about who their sporting heroes are?

      1. a. I don’t consider racing drivers heroic.
        b. I’m sure there are plenty of people interested in who Lewis Hamilton is currently boffing, but I’m not, and I suspect most core F1 followers couldn’t care less either.

        If I had to pick an F1 driver to have an evening of beers with it would be Kimi, and AFAIK he has no “social media presence” promoting him. Lewis Hamilton falls into the same category as Morrissey – I am a great admirer of his talent, but I suspect I’d find him insufferable in person.

        1. I couldn’t care less either and you won’t find that answer on his Twitter feed anyway. Did you ever consider the possibility that Lewis might find you insufferable?

        2. The rhetorical question was not about whether YOU care. You already made it clear that you don’t.

          The point was to see if you could accept that other people might. Clearly that appears difficult.

  15. Interesting topic. Two things, as some previous comments have noted:

    One, F1’s fan profile is older than many other sports, and social media is generally adopted by younger generations. Interestingly, that’s not just a consequence of the technology being a relatively new innovation – social media consumption also drops off as even high initial users age, possibly simply because as careers and personal lives become more demanding, they simply don’t have time for it. There is also the broader debate about the longer-term future of social media simply because the things that made it a novelty and therefore engaging, are being forgotten as it become a mainstream mass activity. As it’s become a more overt marketing tool, and clearly being managed by agents and PR flunkeys, it’s less authentic, less insightful and less attractive.

    Two: F1 is more male-orientated as a sport than others, and males consume generally less social media. Football is also primarily a male interest but football players, compared to F1 drivers, are more typically regarded as sex symbols by females, and their personal style and romantic partners drive female interest. There is a bit of a self-perpetuating circle here in that the sexiness drives coverage, which drives interest in the celebrity’s lifestyle, which drives interest in the activity, but it’s very difficult to kick off. I’d suggest Hamilton’s dabbling over the summer with Rhianna (beyond whatever personal relationship they may or may not have) was not inconvenient in his attempts to become a celebrity in a broad sense versus simply being a racing driver recognised by a relatively small number of people. Plenty of people, particualrly female, must have had Lewis Hamilton enter their sphere of awareness thanks to that. Question is, do they follow him as a result.

    The thing we have to remember is that footballers play their game a couple of times a week during the season. We can also clearly see their talent and looks on display on the field – it’s easy to personalise and objectify them even if we actually know nothing about them. F1 drivers ‘play’ their ‘game’ only 20ish times a year – less than once every fortnight – and for the casual observer it’s hard to see much of the drivers’ personality or ability through watching a race. By and large, unless you’re a geek, you don’t notice the difference between driving styles or ability, and the drivers are hidden by the cockpit and their helmet (obviously). So the only time we really see drivers faces, bodies and behaviour is in very orchestrated PR opportunities – press conferences, the podium, post-race interviews. Therefore it’s difficult to build up much sense of a driver’s true personality. They remain a bit of an enigma, with the popular drivers seeming a bit corporatised and fake, and the lesser ones having virtually no coverage anyway. Meanwhile the wider fundamentals of the sport, unless you’re (almost literally) a rocket scientist are similarly wrapped in mystery. Anyone can kick a ball about and get a sense of how good you have to be to be a professional footballer – more difficult with racing cars, let alone cars that are so far out of the everyday and subject to such secrecy over their financing and design.

    In a way, that’s sort of the point about F1 though – the enigma, the fact that so much of what defines success happens out of sight of the TV camera. The politics (to a degree) and soap-opera aspects of it make it what it is over and above the (anyway often poor!) action on track. Although it has global appeal, it remains a niche interest in so far as specific people are concerned. At school, I can remember only 3 or 4 kids who were interested in F1, versus virtually all the boys being into football. There’s maybe one or two people in my immediate circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances who properly follow F1, versus go to any party or function and everyone knows something about football. F1 and motor racing simply isn’t that accessible – its not easy to get into. I can imagine people who came across Hamilton thanks to his dalliances over the summer thinking “F1, I’ll give that a go” and then being bemused by what was happening (or more precisely, NOT happening!) when they watched it. So then their attitude toward Hamilton is a bit sort of “meh”. They might like him, respect him, admire him, but they’re not that into what he does simply because it’s not immediately attention grabbing.

    Anyway, essay over. Back to the hoovering…

    1. Actaully I don’t think you are right on this. The last demographics I saw had a lot more women than you imagine.

    2. I think that’s a fair assessment other than, as Joe says in reply, your comment about F1 being a male preserve. I really don’t believe that’s the case these days. Your comment about kids at school was interesting – in my school (I’m talking 1960’s here) I believe it’s fair to say that football was followed a little less, or certainly less intensively, than now but even I had a passing interest in football via Match of the Day or whatever (I can still tell you the line-up of Man U during the Best/Charlton era!). However, it was always Grand Prix racing (as it was really known at the time) excited me, when me and my best mate would have our own GP series using Scalextric track. That’s what we used to do pre-internet chaps!

  16. I think you’re drawing a ridiculously long bow Joe. I’m a millennial, in the so called social media generation and I don’t give a proverbial about Seb’s private life. If I wanted that sort of salacious crap I’d read the tabloid papers, or pay more attention to the Hamilton and the nonsense he carries on with. Ugh.

  17. Lewis Hamilton puts his #blessed rubbish on twitter and it all gets thrown in his face – “Lewis in new girlfriend spat”, “Lewis gets new haircut.”, “Lewis crashes car after partying whilst ill” etc etc. The more he uses social media, the more media intensity (and scrutiny) he faces.

    Quite frankly, if I were an F1 driver, I’d stay the hell away from it for as long as possible.

      1. I rather like seb and kimi persona..seb just seems like your friend, he’s competitive but has a real personality …I would like him to use Twitter but even if doesn’t do it…I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it…unlike Lewis well that’s one nutcase…really I have no interest in his fancy selfies with very important people! Looks like he’s trying to put a look at me face all the time…
        Seb and kimis understated behavior is more real…the word championship and the glamor of f1 hasn’t changed them! And this is probably why Kimi is one of the most popular driver out there

  18. It probably doesn’t help that they cannot link to a Youtube video of their latest great overtake or some old footage that they find inspirational from the past due to FOMs draconian blocking of any F1 footage. There is a market model going begging out there with a sponsor promoting archive footage. I guess the core FOM sponsors aren’t interested in that though.

      1. I stand corrected! But then I don’t bother with the great FOM paywall and get all my F1 news from you, Grand Prix +, BBC, Sky, Will Buxton and James Allen.

        1. / I don’t bother with the great FOM paywall /

          I thought most of the F1 website was open for free, except for advanced live-timing. But I’m not too often there, because there is a number of sites where information is accessible earlier and/or in more details.

          1. No its the other way round, only the simple timing is free everything else is premium. Mind you its only £1 per race, but it’s the principle, FOM is rich enough.

      2. Oops, well there goes at least SOME of the validity of my up-thread comments about F1’s YouTube policy (although I expect they still jump on other people’s stuff).

        However, the fact is that until now I hadn’t heard about their own Youtube channel, which goes back to the original point about lack of promotion…

  19. I think the closeness of the spectators to the stars has a bearing. A driver, F1 or otherwise, sits in a car, behind a fence and lives in a closed paddock. They don’t have to get close to their fans at all, so there isn’t the rapport the other sportsmen have. If a footballer plays badly, he gets immediate feedback from the spectators, who sitting only a few feet away. Using Twitter, he can post a response within minutes of the game ending. A driver only has the podium to speak directly to his fans.
    How do the NASCAR drivers compare? They are apparently much closer to their fans.

  20. I don’t know what value – spiritual or financial – can be placed on photos of Lewis’s dog, sponsor-staged piffle like Dan Ricciardo high-fiving another Red Bull-backed sportsman or the PR-approved musings of a Maldonado or Massa.

    I know that there are many companies making a lot of money by evaluating these things, but personally I feel enriched by avoiding it most of the time.

    It was entertaining to ‘watch’ the Brazilian GP through the medium of Twitter, though. The positions flashed up every lap and, rather than falling into a stupor in front of the TV, you could see things like Lotus tweeting a photo of its mechanics in the garage, one with a packet crisps on the go, with the summary ‘Crisps deployed’ to which Mercedes enquired ‘What flavour?’

    It was probably a lot more entertaining for them than what was going on outside.

    Lewis, by the way, had handed his Twitter feed over to somebody called ‘Spinz’ to give the anointed Lewis-eye view to the masses. Sadly, ‘Spinz’ brought less to the party than his rap-happy moniker might suggest.

    Among the great unwashed there were lots of brilliantly bonkers conspiracy theories about why Lewis fell back from his pursuit of Rosberg. Evidently this rather dented the good cheer at Mercedes, whose Tweeter got a bit snippy and suggested that perhaps the chaps on the pit wall were better placed to call the strategy than some spotty oik in his bedroom.

    After the riot of PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe, the fans rallied and had another golden moment with Lewis’s post-race declaration that you can’t overtake at Interlagos. It seemed like the entire Internet offered him two words in reply: Max Verstappen.

    All in all it was worth doing once to get a different perspective, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it. Perhaps in the end the Ferrari boys have got the right idea in refusing to join in at all.

    1. I don’t know who runs the Lotus and Merc Twitter accounts, but they both do a great job. I only tend to see their stuff when the BBC reposts it as part of their internet feed (I don’t have a Twitter account) but they’re always pretty fun.

    2. Ferrari refuse to join in cos they don’t get anything out of it. They don’t watn the great unwashed getting too close to them. They don’t need to. They already have border line sycophantic fans who worship whatever they do. But, they can’t wait to get involved in F1 when there’s a rule change they can veto..

  21. Joe,

    Just my take but frankly, I and everyone I tend to ask/converse with finds Lewis Hamilton off-the-track utterly unbearable!

    Everywhere we turn, we are thrust upon by another sickening update of his life, which inevitably includes a fashion show, some nonchalant celebrity name dropping and snaps of his shoulder-rubbing with the glitterati. All this, of course, juxtaposed with the “I’m just a normal guy from Stevenage act”, which seemingly everyone has accepted APART FROM Lewis, whose painfully contrived persona does little to off-set the fact that he regards himself as the natural successor to Senna and speaks with an adopted, quasi-American, hip-hop accent. If anyone fancies a laugh, search for a young Lewis being interviewed in his carting days to compare accent. It might just be me but I find the guy painfully fake.

    So, the less we see of Lewis’s life the better in my opinion. He is far less F1 than he is Daily Mail Showbiz. A BBC journalist (Ben Dirs) wrote recently that Lewis was “refusing to conform” – I almost fell off my chair with laughter! He’s refusing to confirm to being a typical F1 star, yes. Instead he’s conforming to EXACTLY what we’d expect from a rapper or a footballer, of which we have no shortage, thanks. The trail has been well-blazed, Lewis. And remind me again how modern-day footballers are generally perceived by society? Not really the image we should be chasing for F1 IMHO.

    So, on to the Twitter issue.

    How about this as a reason for a low following amongst F1 stars?

    Average IQ of F1 fans Vs average IQ of the broader-demographic-sports used as comparators. It’s really, really crude, I appreciate that but I put it to you that there is an inverse relationship between how smart you are and how much you care about what Lewis Hamilton ate for lunch, or what jewellery he’s bought for Roscoe. Ironically, the most interesting thing that Lewis has arguably ever tweeted, was his telemetry at Spa, much to his detriment!

    Joe – you are correct that F1 does not promote the sport well enough and does not use social media to its full potential (not by a long shot). However, the solution is not turning F1 drivers into attention-seeking, brand-building, hip-hop, Hollywood wannabes. Until they have something interesting to tweet or are capable of adding further colour to the wonderful sport that we love, then I see little point in social media for the sake of it.

    By the way, I think Lewis is an awesome driver and a great champion. It’s his off-track brand I have no interest in and am frustrated with having to constantly fend off.

    Note: Joe, thanks for your awesome articles on Jean Todt’s foot in mouth and the lovely, albeit sad, story behind the Crippin cables. Enjoyed reading.

      1. By being an absolute cliche of modern celebrity? Joe, I think you do a far better job of promoting F1, Lewis is just famous.

      2. To me with Lewis it is look at me , look at me . Look my dogs , look at me shoot a gun.I can’t remember anything of charity work etc . Seb I like the mystery he brings. A little bit of news of his personal life is far more interesting than Lewis , I follow jenson as he is a smart likeable guy.

        1. Darren, you and Matthew are being too hard on Lewis. I’m of a completely different generation (perhaps) but I can see what he’s trying to do. I don’t ‘do’ Facebook, Twitter and so forth but then I’m of no interest whatsoever to anyone else (pity millions of others don’t feel the same, but that’s another subject altogether). If I was I would make sure I was ‘out there’ if nothing else but to promote to the field I was in, be it my sport and profession. I’m sure Jackie Stewart would have recognised social media as a useful tool in that way had it been around – he also did a few embarrassing things in his time. Don’t forget Lewis is growing up in the media spotlight, not all self-generated, and yes, he does over-egg the rapper connection a touch but criticising his accent when most of his friends (including his off-on girlfriend) are American is a bit strong. We’re all different, you have to take it or leave it. At least he’s making an effort.

    1. In your opinion, what is the correct image that F1 should be presenting? If you are finding it impossible to avoid Lewis Hamilton, can I suggest you stop reading the gossip pages of the Daily Heil.

      1. Exactly. You’re only noticing this stuff about Lewis because you’re accessing the media. I don’t see it unless I go looking in the daily fail or specifically look at Instagram or Facebook.

    2. Mathew, what a brilliantly composed and executed comment! I hold pretty much the exact same beliefs as you but I would never be able to present them so eloquently!
      Incidently Joe, I also thoroughly enjoyed your “Krippen” blog.

    3. ‘He is far less F1’: That’s just *your* opinion of what an F1 star should be. There seems to be this idea (not yours, just in general) that F1 drivers should keep themselves silent outside of F1 and should be good middle class white boys who don’t have a social life or do anything that isn’t ‘what’s expected’ of F1 drivers. God forbid a driver does anything different that might clash with their idea of what is ‘typically’ F1. It’s this doing their own thing (that in my opinion) is the reason James Hunt and Kimi Raikkonen were and are still very popular, they don’t care what anyone thinks and they bring/brought a much needed real world, no bullshit side to F1.

      Your paragraph inferring that someone who follows his Instagram or Twitter feed has somehow a lower IQ or is less ‘smart’ than those who don’t or who don’t care is utterly patronising. Being ‘smart’ is not directly related to your intelligence quotient ‘number’.

  22. Joe, while I can see your point. I only found out by reading this post that Vettel has a wife and children. I think the fact he allows his work on the track to do all his talking is why I like him so much.

    On the contrary Hamilton is just like that other British pair of non entities, Beckham and Beckham. They want the social media attention when it suits them and then when its not favourable they do not.

    I don’t care if Hamilton likes the Arctic Donkeys or Slim Boy Fat, what he ate last night or where he is in the world today. But accept everyone else has their right to want to know this.

    By the same token if Sebastian Vettel chooses to be a private citizen and all we know is that he is probably the second best driver in Formula 1 (after that Spanish sun tanner) then we should respect that and not expect him to do what he does not feel comfortable doing..

  23. It must be an age thing, but I don’t find Twitter particularly engaging and I don’t follow anyone (even Joe) on Facebook. Life is too short! I do have a Facebook account which is restricted to friends and family.

  24. I really feel for Graeme and John at Manor. I love the guppies of F1 and wish they were still around next year, when there seems to be a very good chance that the team will be able to score points with the better Merc engines. Those two guys seem like true racing gentlemen who are dismissed too casually by the likes of Mr. E., while the repugnant people such as Flavio are embraced and applauded by the likes of Mr. E.

  25. I totally agree that F1 as a whole is doing terrible job in social media. However, I think that’s much more of the promoters and FIAs fault than the drivers.

    Seb has a family, and with the travelling he does, no wonder he wants to stay at home when he can. So what would he tweet? “Here I am playing in the sand box with the kids.” “Here we are, cooking dinner”. “Here I am, buying diapers at the store”. Of course he could tweet some funny (as he has a sense of humor) comments at the races and other events he needs to go to. But I don’t see why he would have to just because he’s a driver.

    Lewis on the other hand can tweet. “Here I am, snuggling with Rhianna”. “Here I am, hitting parked cars in Monaco with my $2M super car”. Etc. I’m guessing that’s much more compelling to the audience….

    In other words, Lewis’ life situation is more interesting than Sebs. And if he chooses to share it, great for those who care. But IMO he would not need to,

  26. Or perhaps many people that like F1 don’t care about the lives of the racers?

    I don’t follow any person, team or business associated with F1.

    Why? Because I use twitter for different reasons – to follow people that are doing interesting things (technology, marketing, behavioural economics, statistics, politics – finding better ideas, new information) – I don’t follow people on twitter to live vicariously through their tweets.

    Twitter, FB and the other networks are great tools used well and awful tools used badly. Using them for vicarious purposes is a waste of the opportunity these tools afford people. Such incorrect uses long term will almost inevitably lead to a sense of inadequacy (I don’t live such a wonderful life as these people I’m following) followed by depression and loss.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in this opinion.

  27. I also don’t follow you. But your blog is so good I come back here on a regular basis without needing prompting by email, twitter, etc.

  28. Hi Joe,

    I follow Lewis on Facebook. Most of his posts are actually about his dog. In the hours after winning the world championship he posted a picture of his dog eating a birthday cake. I have stopped following many other drivers as their posts were too corporate.

    The best f1 team on Twitter is lotus as they are very entertaining.

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to your next talk in London.

  29. I would like it if the drivers could express themselves more in their driving.
    Not their fault, but if we had slidey over powered cars we’d soon spot the new
    Keke, Gilles and Ronnie.

  30. Hamilton needs to hire one of those firms which creates twitter followers and Facebook watchers from thin air. Fully half of many twitter followers are fake. My guess is a reason for the low F1 numbers might be due to the aura of exclusivity and distance from the average day to day lives of most people. A basketball player, a tennis player are socially far more accessible in our imagination then one of 20 guys that race multi-million dollar cars at every world social hot spot.
    I love the distance I feel from F1, its an abstraction of humanity, a sliver tantamount to a controlled experiment. I’m not part of the experiment but I get to look in and see how the Petri disk is coming along. Who wants to follow on an hourly or daily basis a slab of nutrient agar on twitter?

  31. The last time I checked there were no Kardashians on the grid. F1 drivers are famous for their driving – not famous for being famous. F1 fans don’t care how many “followers” anyone has let alone an F1 driver.

  32. It’s not just about social media, it’s also about being an interesting person in public. There was no FB or Twitter in the 60s and 70s, but the drivers were so much more entertaining, and they enjoyed being so–it wasn’t contrived or designed by PR teams. Would that really be too much to expect, nowadays? Some may dislike hearing about Lewis’s “hip hop” lifestyle (why?), but if so, just watch him race (he is the best in the world). I for one am delighted that he has some contour to his personality, and I bet he and G. Hill would have gotten along fabulously.

  33. I don’t think more social media is necessarily the answer.

    As long as publicists have to clear everything that is disseminated, social media only gives the illusion of interaction.

    Even though we only got to know them through print and occasional TV coverage, we knew more about and could relate better to drivers in the 1980’s and 1990’s because not every little thing was sanitized and sponsor-approved.

    What it all amounts to is that post-race driver interviews are nearly interchangeable.

  34. “He does not seem to feel any responsibility to put himself out there to help promote the sport”

    Do you really think that other drivers put themselves out on social media in order to promote F1? Because they feel some “responsibility”? No. They do it because they want to promote themselves, their sponsors, and – on occassions, share something from their life.

    Vettel doesn’t owe F1 any promotion, nor does any other driver. F1 has it’s issues, but Vettel not posting his lunch on Instagram isn’t one. I don’t want to sound rude or something, but this article really just criticises guy for enjoying his privacy… I don’t like that.

  35. That’s very interesting info, Joe, btw I wonder how many followers Valentino Rossi has!
    I’m extremely impressed by the quality/caliber of your followers/commenters and by their well educated/knowlegable comments.
    Here in NZ we get the full coverage of P1, 2, and 3, and Q1, 2 and 3, and of course the race, plus the “F1 Show” and “F1 Legends” and some other “build up” (for want of a better term) coverage, plus Pit Lane Cam, and In Car Cam for all the coverage, so we’re not exactly starved for F1 stuf! I record (on MySky HDI) and watch the whole lot. And I’m very happy.
    But there’s an element of F1 coverage I’ve noticed that I believe lowers /lets down the standard, and that’s the presenters, especially Kravitz. I do like Damon Hill then Johnny Herburt, Bruno Senna, and Lazenby for their knowledgable comments and opinions, BUT they don’t come up to the standard of the Nascar presenters, who are all groomed well with suits, collars and ties etc., and they speak fluently and clearly, and so do the Australian commentators, especially Neill Crompton on the V8 Supercars events.
    I propose that if F1 wishes to broarden it’s appeal to not only the “new generation” (as one of the commenters above said), but also a few of the earlier generations (I’m a few generations ago having been bourne in 1942), then the front-men need to be more competent and be groomed better.
    They could learn a lot from studying Nascar and Neil Crompton in Ausi.
    In fact, F1 should pay Neil BIG money to go and join them.
    Thank you,

  36. Smartphones and mobile apps are competing against tv for people’s free time. I was an F1 addict until about 2-3 years ago. Paid $1200/yr in the US just to get NBC Sports channel on Dish network (top tier package). Last year after the season ended we cut the cord and I’ve never been happier. We have so much extra time in the evenings and on the weekends.

    Every now and then I catch up the races online or at friends, but I no longer miss them. I moved on. Partly to save $ and partly to get more free time.

    I still follow the sport from the side, but I no longer care if I miss a race.

    My free time is now spent on Twitter reading various news or just relaxing away from any screens. Read this blog with every article.

    I do follow Lewis on Twitter but I could care less if Seb joined because that still won’t make me want to spend $1200 to rejoin Dish Network.

    Now, if there was an app on Apple TV that cost $5 per race, like all other 2hr rental movies on iTunes, then I’d join again without waiting. And I still wouldn’t care if Seb is on Twitter. But the price would be right.

    1. $1200 a year just to follow F1 in the States?! Wow… and then the sport wonders why it struggles to gain fans over there.

      Mind you, if it ends up all on Sky over here in the UK, it’ll be much the same price over here (depending on which baseline you start from)…

    2. Yep. You’ve exactly explained my position here in the States. We gave up TV several years ago, but not just for cost reasons. To explain the costs to people not in the US, it works like this:

      $40 for basic cable.
      $30 or so for the package that actually carries NBC sports channel that carries F1.
      If you want those rates you generally have to purchase a ‘bundle’ of services, which include telephone service and internet. The cost can easily be $100/month or more, but ignore that for the moment.

      So, $70/month (or more) simply to receive the channel that carries F1, $840/year, and with commercials constantly breaking up the race and 5:00 am viewing times. Almost all of the other TV product you can view is cr*p; I can afford it and will not do it. There is no choice as to internet providers, as each city pretty much has a single provider, and this is sometimes mandated by law.

      So, if FOM would provide a service that would allow me to purchase a race for $10 – $15/race they might have a lot of customers.

  37. think it’s quite ridiculous to compare F1 stars with Ronaldo or Messi or whatever is! Because Social media does not reflect a reality and lets go back to Schumacher period he was the Famous sports name at everywhere, he was bigger than any name else. however today the F1 has been changed with V.6 Engine, looks horrible and noise is awful, and complicated resolution, those elements together let it the Formula 1 became boring to watch and to be quite frankly Hamilton’s he has no personality like Schumacher or Senna.the new hope it will be Max Verstappen because he has racer blood and what he doing with toro Rosso is Remarkable that’s why the F1 world should Focus On Max talent like Every other sport.

          1. That’s quite a sweeping statement Joe. What do you base that on? So Schumacher did some morally questionable things on the race track. I daresay he has done many better things in his private life than Lewis ever has with regards to charity etc

              1. Sorry to butt in on this conversation, Joe, but I too understand that Schumaker donated millions to various charities and contributed to facilities for young/old people and sports facilities etc.
                I seem to recall reading about it a few years ago.

  38. One thing I like about Vettel is that he doesn’t feel the need to go “look-at-me!” all the time. He’s clearly blessed (ahem) with some integrity.

          1. I think your comment was a bit harsh, Joe. When he was a few years younger, Vettel gave more interviews and he showed his own personality. Seb was an interesting young lad with a wacky sense of humour, and I presume that he is a smart older man.

            I reckon that Vettel is just as smart and funny as when he raced at Toro Rosso. He is a family man and he chooses “no publicity” when he is not at work at a track. That is fine.

            Is it a Ferrari thing? To pay a driver to act like a wax work? Is anyone happy about the result?

            I think Vettel is a real racer.

          2. I don’t care if I’m the only one who thinks Vettel has some integrity. Of course I’m not the only one, so you are wrong yet again.

  39. I could not agree more with your comments about F1 in general getting more into social media. It is not only social media where they need to get into the 21st century, it is with allowing F1 to be able to be streamed. F1 is the only major sporting event in the world that I know of that cannot be streamed. The day of cable/satilite is fast becoming history. I am willing to pay to have F1 streamed but it is NOT available. Most youth (under the age of 30) now do not subscribe to any cable or satilite providers, all there TV viewing is via streaming. They will not be held hostage by having to “bundle” to see a show or an event they want to watch. Here in Canada our only choice to watch F1 is a feed from the BBC which shows FP2 and the race with no pre or post shows. The show starts about one minute before the race and ends as soon as the podium interviews are completed. I realize that Canada is a small market for F1 and BE couldn’t give a shit if he looses the viewers here. I am sure he will if they loose the US race and if the BBC feed is lost here. How long will it be before the Canadian GP is lost, if F1 is not available on TV or streaming, having no representatition in North America. I am sure this wil not sit well with the manufacturers and sponsors. I have tried to buy F1 from Sky but legal obligations will not allow purchase here. Only hard core F1 fans watch in Canada, I don’t know of one person under the age of forty that could care less about F1 with no youth picking up the slack.
    How does F1 plan to attract any new or young viewers if it cannot be watched or purchased according to the new way young people watch TV?
    BTW I have two children in their twenties and have been watching F1 since the sixties when my father would bring me to Mosport.
    I want to get rid of my satilite and pay for the streaming channels that my wife and I watch, but won’t do it because I cannot stream live F1, but am able to buy anything else we want.

    On a final, note I think Hamilton is a great ambassador as the F1 Champ

  40. the only tweeting done around my house is by the birds sitting on the guttering ; I have to admit to belonging to facebook , got dragged in by middle aged friends and family , I must post at least 6 times a year !
    but having declared my lack of interest in ‘social media ‘ what about U tube ?
    young people seem to spend lots of time watching clips … why does not bernie at least make an attempt to capture the attention of the younger generation without whom F1 is going to die…and at zero cost ?

  41. Re the actual ROC event last night – I was watching on TV, thoroughly enjoying it. Great camaraderie between the drivers… DC with his non-PC comment post race with JB was a laugh and the relaxed fun side of all of the competitors was clear to see and a refreshing change from the conformist sterile interviews we have gotten used to at the top level(of most sport TBF). My point however is, the attendance looked horrifically low on TV. I live about 20 minutes from the Olympic Park and wanted to go, saw the prices of tickets and baulked and it reminded me of the problem with the cost of motor sport in certain divisions.

    Such a shame. Great event, well organised, top stars, fabulous competition, brilliant location but out of reach of the common man. I hope attendance is much much better for today’s event.

  42. Those numbers, Joe, tell a very interesting story given the huge audience who follow sports stars and celebrities.

    Formula One’s PR spiel for years has been that F1 is second only to football (soccer) in terms of its global reach and audience. Skipping around the globe every 8 months does qualify as “global” for racing hither and nither but I’d suggest that F1 is seriously lacking in global appeal if the stars of the sport are getting their butts kicked via social media by tennis players or a MotoGP champs. Valentino Rossi is a good example of social media reach and public awareness of a sport star. MotoGP is exciting to watch, it has lots of passing, crashes, intramural dust-ups and come off as warriors in a dangerous sport. Rossi has personality for days, is a handsome bloke by most accounts, my gf thinks he’s super cute, and he has a sex appeal that goes well beyond the rabid gear-heads. The last “global” F1 super-star was Senna- pre-internet/social media, who like Rossi embodied similar sex appeal with a big dollop of rugged danger and other worldly skill when on the race track.

    Lewis, Nico, Seb & co are comparatively dull; duller than dishwater, dull. Granted, LH has brought some flava to the sport, hanging out with fashionistas, rappers and occasionally knocking boots with Rhiana. But here in Manhattan where I live- a mega international city, 1 out of 100 know F1 and an even smaller percentage know who LH is. Nico lives in Monaco, ponces about in vintage cars and waxes rhapsodically about being a father, Seb drives a mini van when not racing and loves his private home life with his wife and kids, Kimi- the sullen, monosyllabic Fin who liked to get his party on and holler at the moon naked has settled down with his gf and baby and was until recenlty considered the BAD Boy of F1! Wow- there’s marketing appeal for you. None of these guys are sexy or dangerous- “hey what do you do? I’m am F1 driver, in my off time I push a pram about with my 2 kids and go to Tesco’s”. Sexy.

    Lewis as the 3 time World Champion is not going to pull Formula One in to the 21st century by sheer dint of his scintillating personality, a wonky hair cut, a Pagani named after him or his own brand of hybrid hip-hop fashion. As you’ve been going on about for some time now Joe, the sport needs new blood on the management side, re- branding, financial parity, transparency, a pint or 2 of Fast Eddie’s blood and a jolt of EXCITEMENT!!! Then and maybe then the global community that is at our fingertips on a variety of devices will start being interested.

  43. It’s about the message, not the medium.

    If the message is:
    – accessibele
    – fun
    – engaging
    – about the impact in other area’s (your point about the engines is very correct: why don’t they advertise it?)

    … Then the rest will follow.

    You can send two zillion tweets but if F1 is about DRS and exciting new tracks in Baku and Tilkeland, it just won’t help.

    Fix the content and it will spread like wildfire.

    Sebastián sharing pictures of his home live will maybe get a handfull of new people trying to watch – and understand! – F1 but if the content sucks, it sucks.

  44. Just watched the Race of Champions, and enjoyed it immensely. To see top drivers from all the different disciplines competing openly on equal terms and more importantly leaving their egos at the door was great to see. I thought Vettel did F.1 proud, and the crowd certainly took him to their hearts. Just wondering,was there a reason a to why the reigning World Champion did not compete alongside Jensen Button, and David Coulthard? I was also impressed to see that Coulthard had lost none of his competitive edge or talent. There’s hope for us all!

    1. He was attending the Nascar race at Homestead for Jeff Gordon’s final race. Is there a reason Rosberg didn’t compete ?

      1. My point was that Hamilton is both British and the reigning World Champion, and it would have been a great opportunity for him to support both his fans and British motor sport in general, rather then attending some Nascar race. I just thought it was a very strange decision his part.

  45. How a driver promotes the sport surely means more than whether they use social media or no. Does participating in the Race of Champions count as promoting the sport?

    In Vettel’s TV and print interviews show him to be articulate, intelligent, witty, enthusiastic, with an interest in the history of the sport that shines through. I have also heard very good reports of his behaviour at the driver signing sessions on a race weekend, often staying far longer than he needs to and being happy to chat to fans. Interacting positively with the fans at the circuit is also part of promoting the sport, in contrast I have heard that some others do the bare minimum and leave as soon as they can.

    I understand that Vettel is also involved with the ADAC Formula 4 series in some manner, which is giving something back to the sport at the junior level.

  46. Race of Champions itself was a bit of a disappointment I thought. Not enough racing to keep the crowds warm on a freezing Saturday.

  47. People often go on about Hamilton’s role as an ambassador for F1. And even though they have a point, as he relishes in the well-earned attention, I actually prefer a guy like Vettel.
    Vettel doesn’t often do “all the nonsense”, but when he does, it’s genuine and usually quite funny. I prefer a champ a man who acts like a man with clear ideas on what’s private and what doesn’t need to be. If you sometimes see what Hamilton posts; pictures of his hairstyle or latest tattoos… That’s more the territory of teenage girls

  48. “Even Andy Murray has more followers than Lewis Hamilton.” How scathing, Joe. Andy is the official World No 2 in a sport where everyone competes on a level playing field without the need for £300 million of technical support. Put Lewis in a Manor and where would he be? You should read André Agassi’s autobiography as it might change your mind as to who is the real sportsman between a top tennis player and a top racing driver.

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