Formula 1 is a sport that has millions and millions of fans around the World, and is the most popular motorsport series globally. Looking at the fact as to how many fans, the sport has around the World, there isn't enough interactions with the fans. The sport wouldn't be so successful without top drivers and huge number of fans around the Globe, but by having some kind of interactions with the fans, the sport will cover more bases, and will evolve more. But how could Formula 1 interact more with fans?
On a positive side, all the Formula 1 teams and almost all the drivers have a Twitter and a Facebook account, where they keep fans updated. Sometimes there are competitions by teams, and other interactions that brings fans together. Some teams use Twitter more than others. A good example is Lotus (@Lotus_F1Team) - they are interacting with fans every day and they show they really care about fans. They also don't take themselves too seriously. All the teams seem to have their own style at the social media, but Lotus does this very effectively. Same goes with drivers, some drivers interact with fans at times. But sadly, it seems to be that drivers of smaller teams interact with people more easily than those drivers who drive for the top teams. Sure, drivers don't have much time to be at social media, but when they do, it's a pleasure to see if they tweet with fans. Of course they can't send a tweet for everyone, but I think everyone understands that.
All the teams also have an account at YouTube and they upload exclusive stuff about the team and drivers there which is another positive thing, but then we come to one problematic part. Fans can't upload any Formula 1 related videos to YouTube. It's possible to upload some older F1 material, but new material is most likely to be deleted. This is thanks to Formula One Management's copyright. Copyright is understandable thing. On the other hand, the sport would get even more popularity, if there was new videos about the sport and races itself on the most popular video site. F1 could take a note from IndyCar for example. IndyCar has an official YouTube account where they upload all the races, and they also upload some special videos. If FOM doesn't want to see fans uploading videos (other than videos filmed on the track), they could have an account and upload videos there for fans to see. Formula 1 is big business with loads of money, but could the sport be more relaxed? Of course there are differences between F1 and IndyCar, as IndyCar is American series. IndyCar seems to be more relaxed, and really wants to interact with fans by giving them free material. This is a thing that should arrive to Europe, too. Sometimes it seems that F1 isn't friendly for fans, even if it's very popular.
And talking about free material, another thing comes to people's mind is the live broadcast itself. Watching Formula 1 isn't free in every country. There are many countries where you need to pay to see Formula 1 in live. Finland is one of those countries, and so is Britain thanks to the Sky and BBC dealing. In Finland, F1 has been on pay channel since 2007. Basically, you need a channel package which includes the channel that will show Formula 1. Rights of showing Formula 1 on tv are turning so expensive that TV channels are forced to move the sport to pay channels, to be able to keep the rights for showing the popular sport. This is unfortunate, and seeing the sport becomes more and more difficult. The same accounts for many Asian Countries as well, India along with China currently seems to be the focus of many due to its vast population, and developing interest of the variety of sports that includes Formula 1, but the broadcasters in India in a bid to turn north in their financial sheets, is forced to show many ads for a lengthy period of time, which are extend for a period of two or more laps. This sort of act clearly demotes the interest among the enthusiastic fans, who are forced to miss the On-Track action.
Social Networking Sites and Youtube aren’t the only source of Interactions. We are talking of the word ‘Interaction’ in all possibilities, reports have shown that Formula 1 has lost viewership in ‘2012’. Although the major dip in viewership was reported in ‘China’, it is still a worrying sign for the prospects of Formula 1. The need of the hour for majority of the Formula 1 Teams, is the resources in terms of funding. Formula 1 is a global sport, and there is no question whatsoever in this aspect, but it is also important to attract more viewership, and also to find the ways to increase the loyalty of viewers on long term basis. But, Is the sport doing enough?
The Current Policy of Formula 1 currently seems to be heading east. This has been questioned by many, but, this is happening for quite sometime now as that’s where the reported funding can come in the future. Traditionally though, Formula 1 has a huge loyal fans in Europe, but the decision to move towards the East, is only because of the ‘recession’. Funds coming in from the European region have dried up or we can say, they are heading South. The Countries in the East are looking to expand their presence, and many corporates in this region are in a position to sponsor others, if they can get a proper viewership, and attract curious Eyebrows. However, we certainly have to admit the lack of planning by the majority of the teams. Yes, the top teams have tons of funds available with them, and many companies are willing to queue up. However, it’s the midfield teams that seems to have suffered the most. Many are quite complaining of the situation that they are into, and it’s reported that 65% of the teams are in survival mode.
The now defunct HRT had a solid plan to extend its image in Asia, Two of the Four drivers of HRT belonged to this region. Hours before its decision to unplug its team, there were considerable reports that investors are ready to pump in funds from China, and also from UAE. Narain Karthikeyan also mentioned that some of the companies from India are willing to sponsor the Spanish Team. But it was then reported that, talks of potential investors from UAE had failed which meant that, it was the end of the road for the Spanish Team. Narain later revealed that the rapid developments took him by surprise, and it was hard for him to convince the potential sponsors into buying the entire team. HRT’s proposed plans included roadshows, which could have certainly lifted its image in this part of the Globe. Despite the urge to seek more investors, roadshows aren’t being done by the teams especially in this region. Accessibility and Affordability are two terms which do not have traction at this part. There are tons of people in Asia, who are interested in Formula 1, but their level of Accessibility remains extremely low. Roadshows certainly can act as a bridge to the ‘real event’, and also it can certainly increase the potential viewership base.
Below is one such example of a fan who shared his excitement after watching the Red Bull roadshow at Delhi.
Every F1 fan wants to see an F1 car roar in front of him at over 300km/hr. But everyone is not lucky to attend a race. F1 has always been a sport for the rich. However in the last few years, not only it has become more accessible to the common man but has also made its way to new destinations. A few decades ago, most of the races were held in Europe, however, Bernie's 'go east policy' has made the sport global and made it accessible to the people living in Asia, where a large proportion of world's population lives.
The next obvious part is the Affordability of the tickets, which have been debated countless number of times, but it certainly is priced for the rich, and the royal classes, while the masses aren’t always fortunate enough. This is the situation, that exists in majority of the venues. While those who can afford the tickets, aren’t given more time for interactions with the drivers. In certain venues, the organizers do allow the fans to travel across the pitlane on Thursdays, and they are also given an Autograph Session with the drivers, but people always yearn more of these.
"I travelled to watch the Belgian GP in 2011 with my dad. It was my first time being in a GP and watching those cars at the track was an awesome experience. Seeing the cars driving past you and hearing them live was just unbelievable. We had the general admission tickets and we watched the race at the Kemmel straight. It was a good spot and with the FanVisionTV we didn't miss anything happening elsewhere on the track. It offered us the same feed as on TV so it was quite useful. Of course being at the track is different than watching on TV. If you aren't in front of the screen you'll have no idea what is going on, you just see the cars driving past you. The sound of the cars is so noisy that you'll definitely need earplugs. It's difficult to describe, but in my opinion the sound of the cars sounds almost the same as on TV but it obviously feels and sounds better when you are at the track. And when you're at the track you get to meet F1 fans all over the world. Between the free practices we walked around the track that we could decide where would be the best place to watch. Spa is a beautiful racetrack. It looks beautiful on TV but it's even more beautiful when you are actually there. The whole weekend was full of great things and adrenaline. The only downside was a huge traffic jam after the race but it didn't annoy us. Anything for F1!"
Yes, it’s tough on these drivers to satisfy, one and all. But the Teams, need to figure this out and do something to increase the level of interactivity, maybe more contests, more technical briefings for the geeks, more live sessions with the drivers?
Many things need to be re-looked at many angles, Formula 1 Teams are in need of money. Many people know the regions, where the potential funding can come in, but many teams aren't doing enough to increase the brand awareness. As stated earlier, roadshows can certainly act as a bridge. We are sure that the majority of the viewers haven't got a chance to watch the Grand Prix at the track, affordability of the tickets can be re-looked, and most of all, the rewards for those who pay the fortune to their tickets should be increased. Nothing comes close to watching a Grand Prix Live, the loyalty of many viewers will certainly increase with more interaction. The brand awareness, if the teams focus on them, will certainly increase their financial stability. FOM on it's part has to do more, They need to promote the sport on Social Networking sites, and Yes, On Youtube as well. Mobile applications are something that can be considered as well. We do have the live timing app, but then we are asking for a complete package, in terms of Videos, Technical Briefings, and also the Inside life of Formula 1.
Certainly, there is room for Interaction.
Grand Prix Experience shared by: Noora Auvinen
Roadshow Experience shared by: Rachit Thukral
Written By: Sini Salminen and