Formula 1 is changing hands for the first time in over a decade. The United Sates firm, Liberty Media, recently purchased the global motorsports business for 6.4 billion pounds. American businessman, Chase Corey, has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of F1. He replaces Bernie Ecclestone, a man infamous for shunning the use of social media and stating that Formula 1 does not need to attract a younger audience. The 85-year-old Ecclestone will, however, remain as an advisor to the new owners in an honorary chairman emeritus role.
Many important drivers, like Lewis Hamilton, have expressed frustration in the past over rigid social media restrictions. Contractual obligations with F1 broadcasting partners have previously restricted drivers and teams from posting any videos within the garage or pit stop areas. In February, during an interview at the Mercedes 2017 launch, Hamilton expressed his frustration and stressed how beneficial social media platforms could be for Formula 1, “If you look at football, social media is so much greater, they utilize social media a lot better in football, in the NBA, in the NFL. In F1 every time, for example, I would have posted a picture or a video, I would have got a warning from the FIA, or notice telling you to take it down… Social media is obviously an incredible medium for the world to communicate with. It is a super easy free tool to grow for the sport, for us to use, to share it, to engage with other people.”
The upcoming season, which starts March 26 in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix, is Chase Corey’s first chance to address this issue and implement his new vision for the sport. Liberty Media has immediately given drivers and teams greater freedom with their use of social media. As a result, racers are able to use mediums such as Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, to show the behind the scenes work that was previously blocked off from the public. A noticeable connection has already been made between drivers and fans in the short amount of time that the social media restrictions have been relaxed.
Red Bull and Mercedes have immediately taken advantage of the greater social media freedom. Red Bull posted a video on their Twitter page entitled “A Day in the Life of Daniel Ricciardo,” allowing fans to get a glimpse into the average day of one of the world’s most famous drivers. Mercedes took to Instagram to post a live video, allowing fans to watch Louis Hamilton prepare for a test run in real time. Additionally, the Australian Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix have already created their own Twitter pages to connect with fans directly regarding their respective races.
Liberty Media has made fan engagement a priority. The way it is already using social media perfectly demonstrates how it plans to build the brand through digital channels. The new owners have loosened social media restrictions and allowed racers and teams to engage more fully with their fans. Social media allows Formula 1 to reach a global audience and tap into a young fan base that, for the most part, is completely unaware of the sport. Developing a bond with the younger generation can ensure F1’s popularity now and well into the future.
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) March 1, 2017