Now that Liberty Media are now the new bosses of Formula One, following Bernie Ecclestone’s exit, change has been promised in order to ‘improve’ the sport.
Critics have been slating Formula One as ‘boring’ and have called races processions as opposed to having the wheel-to-wheel racing that the sport promises to deliver, especially following the introduction of the 2014 ‘greener’ turbo engines.
However, Formula One does not need changes just on the racetrack, but off it as well in order to boost fan engagement in the sport via social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Though Twitter pages in particular are popular in Formula One, the broadcasters cannot make full use of the potential available to interact with fans of the sport and encourage fan-sport interaction. Heading into pre-season testing, here are the current number of followers per Formula One Team on Twitter. (As of 01/02/2017)
Mercedes F1 Team – 1.67 Million @MercedesAMGF1
Scuderia Ferrari – 1.54 Million @ScuderiaFerrari
Red Bull Racing – 1.56 Million @RedBullRacing
McLaren – 1.33 Million @McLarenF1
Renault F1 Team – 804k @RenaultSportF1
Williams Racing – 665k @WilliamsRacing
Sahara Force India – 506k @ForceIndiaF1
Toro Rosso – 424k @ToroRossoSpy
Haas F1 Team – 157k @HaasF1Team
Sauber F1 Team – 468k @SauberF1Team
The numbers of fans are incredibly low for even the higher teams in the pecking order, when comparing them to the number of followers that the official Formula One Twitter page, which has 2.51 million followers. This goes to show, just how little-known the Formula One Team’s Twitter pages are, consequently showing that there is little interaction with the sport’s teams by the fans.
Formula E, a racing series similar to Formula One which runs completely on battery power in an attempt to create a ‘greener’ racing series introduced the ‘fan boost’. This is a way in which fans can vote for their favourite driver to have a boost of power from the battery in their cars that their competitors do not have access to, in order for a burst of more speed to aid overtaking.
The Fan Boost is an opportunity for fans to interact with their sport, and in a sense are manipulating the outcome of a race by giving some drivers up to an extra 80BHP for a short amount of time.
There have been calls for Formula One bosses to take from Formula E, this initiative to encourage fan engagement in order to help make the sport overall more gripping and interesting.
TV Broadcasters here in the UK, mostly Sky Sports F1 and of course Channel 5, mostly during practice sessions and throughout the rest of the weekend encourage fans of the sport to get in touch via social media outlet Twitter, to ask questions about the sport, for experts to answer live on air. However, this is solely down at the broadcaster’s discretion, not the idea of former Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone.
Formula One’s official app, available on iOS and the Google Play Store, does allow opportunity for fans watching the race to vote for whom they consider the ‘Driver of the Day’, this closes just prior to the end of a race and the winner is revealed post-race.
This however, does not encourage direct engagement with the racing itself and is a rather poor attempt at encouraging social interaction between the fans and the Motorsport, especially when comparing Formula One to its greener little brother, Formula E.
The points pushed forward in this article go to show why Liberty Media need to take advantage of the huge amounts of Twitter users and other social media outlets, in order to look at news, check what their favourite celebrities are doing and more importantly (in our opinion), looking at motor sport news.
Should some form of social interaction be integrated into the broadcasting of Formula One, it could contribute to helping improve the viewing figures of the sport as well as increasing the popularity of the sport. We are not trying to imply that the lack of social interaction that Formula One currently has is what is THE biggest factor in trying to help improve the sport’s watch-ability, but it is certainly a factor that can help, in the long-term, improve the sport for the masses who both watch Formula One, and own an account on a form of social media.
What are your thoughts?