There are few things more exhilarating than watching the world’s ultimate racing machines tearing around a track at crazy speeds, with the resultant noise and the roar of the crowd felt more than heard, in every fibre of your being. The inherent underlying danger only adds to the spectacle, as much as nobody wants to witness any injuries, everyone is aware that the drivers hurtling around the track are pushing their speed and their safety to the limit each and every lap.
F1 fans are among the most dedicated of any fan group in the world, willing to spend a lot of money to attend races around the world, no matter the weather! From the muddy fields of Silverstone to the sunny yachts of Monte Carlo, they attend in their droves. And yet, while the cars on the track have undertaken massive innovative leaps in technology, becoming faster, more energy efficient and safer to drive, off the track F1 has stagnated and refused to adapt to the digital revolution. That is until now.
Current & Former F1 Chairmen, Chase Carey & Bernie Ecclestone (Image via Sportinglife.com)
Longtime F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone stepped aside in January, selling his controlling share for £6.4 billion to US based Liberty Media. Ecclestone’s view on longterm planning was famously “Don’t plan long-term because you don’t know what’s going to be there when you get there”. Now headed by new Chairman Chase Carey and with the expertise of former Ferrari and Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, F1 is undergoing a massive change behind the scenes, changes which can only be good for fans of the sport, even if a few feathers are being ruffled along the way.
It will take time to revamp a sport which has basically ignored the ability of new social and technological platforms to engage fans, but the new bosses are determined to do so, even if it is at the expense of shorter termed financial gain. The new team are determined to make the sport more accessible to fans, thereby attractive a younger more affluent and media friendly generation of fans. Greater access to the pit-lane before races, allowing teams the freedom to produce video content and relay it on social media have been two major changes from the previous regime and there are more coming down the track… pardon the pun! Data is the driving force behind the speed we see on the F1 racing track, with every variable possible tracked and analysed by the racing teams. Until recently that data was unavailable to fans, but it is the intention of Liberty Media to open that up as much as possible to fans.
This past week, Williams Martini Racing even announced a very innovative competition they are running in association with their sponsors AirBnB. Fans will have the chance to sleep IN the Williams garage the night before the race, and experience the excitement of the team garage as they prepare for the Rolex British Grand Prix this season. Sleeping between two F1 cars, and then getting to watch the race from trackside seats the next day… as an F1 fan I can tell you that excites me! That is how good fan engagement works, it engages and energises fans… it excites.