F1: Insider Access from the Teams Grows and Grows


What Happens When Formula1 Teams Sidestep Bernie to Give Fans Insider Access

2:32am EST — In all the drama over Jose Ramon Carbante’s position as savior of Campos and the debacle that is the state of USF1 right now, it feels a bit as though those who follow Formula1 have lost sight of an amazing opportunity presented during off-season testing over the past few weeks in Spain.  Many (rightly, I believe) whine and complain about the FIA, the FOM and all those in charge of Formula1 keeping the sport we love from being accessible from a not-outrageously wealthy fan’s perspective.  We worry about the state of the series when ticket prices keep going up and races go to far-flung places that we (particularly the American but also the European fan) feel that takes the racing too far from its historic and more easily accessible base.  Even more so, we complain about the lack of technological advancement of and often draconian practices by the commercial rights holder, and how the racing details and footage are not as accessible, even for a fee, as they should be in this internet age.  We grumble about the lack of interaction between participant and fan, and struggle to contain our irritation when series we often view as (rightly or wrongly) inferior pay much more attention to the desires of the fan.

Then, along comes this innovation, used to great and increasingly intimate success, where some official, actual person at a team, or even a driver or team principal or technical officer of renown can speak directly to the fans, in real time, and answer their questions if feeling particularly magnanimous.  Paid journalists covering Formula1, of varying degrees of reliability, can inform readers of breaking news even as they are writing the story for their own publications.  Some even set up nifty websites that compile all of this information relating to Formula1 for those not as connected or with less time to search on their own.  I am speaking, of course, of Twitter (and secondarily of James Allen’s aggregation of the F1-related Twitter feeds, which includes my personal Twitter account).

The teams and drivers (in some drivers’ cases, I am sure, at the behest of the team) have learned the benefits of doling out this information.  There was a vacuum in our little F1 ecosystem and nature filled it.  The PR benefits are enormous.  Where fans were frustrated with their favorite teams’ elements of secrecy, they are now interacting with drivers and teams, whether it is simply a “thanks for the support” or the answers to their questions.

If you’ve been reading my daily and weekly analysis of the Jerez tests here and at Formula1Blog, you will notice increased reliance on the official Twitter accounts of various teams, team members, and drivers for information that isn’t always shown in the press releases from the teams.  The immediacy of Twitter allows for the release of nearly-insider information, right then.  There’s no waiting for what the team decides to say after the events; there’s no thinking and re-thinking and stale language from press releases you or I could write, if we had the information (or even if we didn’t, sometimes).  Sometimes, the individual tweets are amusing, sometimes merely technical, and sometimes banal.  One can learn many, many things about what goes on in the driver’s head.  Did you know that Heikki Kovalainen was a bit too busy this past week to check the Olympic hockey scores and turned to his brand-new Twitter followers to help him out?  You do now.

Providing this information is, of course, a great benefit to the teams who are doing so (not all have Twitter accounts, and some rarely update).  They have a brand-new way of marketing their team, drivers, and brand.  They still control the information that is released, but the fans win with the ability to see these mini news updates.  It is all too interesting to see what the teams are posting or how the drivers interact amongst themselves on the worldwide stage.  Not on Twitter?  I say, go start an account now.  It’s free and easy to sign up (and, no I’m not making any money from it, sadly).  Don’t forget to start following OASTD there (@VMRonSunday), for immediate updates of all the just-posted articles and my take on life.  These are the links to the official team accounts: Ferrari, Force India, LotusF1, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Red Bull, Renault, (the Sauber account is the old BMW one and has not been updated for months) Toro Rosso, USF1 (still technically a team, despite accounts of their immanent demise), Virgin Racing, and Williams (via PR woman Claire Williams).  Interested in following drivers?  Just search around, finding them is half the fun!

We whine and grumble and shake our heads at the inclusive little club that is F1 participants.  But now we get a little window into the room.  For me, that’s great news, especially since it doesn’t look as though the FOM or FIA plan on adding to the online availability of footage or live streaming anything but timing and scoring in the near future.

[this article was previously published as a “VMR on Sunday” column at Formula1Blog, February 21, 2010]

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3 Comments

  1. Nice post! I really like your posting.
    i will come back to read more of your posts.

    Cheers

  2. Great article, thanks!

  3. Love reading this site, always learn something new facts.
    Emily R. from Husky Training


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