How Social Media Has Changed F1
There is no denying that social media is essential in the present, and F1 is no exception to that. For starters, this post wouldn’t even exist without it. Perhaps in contrast to many others, I didn’t get into motorsport from a young age as I was never one to sit for hours in front of the television. This enjoyment only arose from F1’s increased presence on social media. I’m Gen Z, which means I probably spend a little too much time on my phone. There is no doubt that in the past, motorsport’s audience was of older people, but as time progressed, that very audience grew even older. To maintain sustainability, an industry must continuously garner a younger group of consumers. And the best way to grab the attention of the new generation? Social media of course.
While former years and drivers have exhibited their own personalities, there seems to have been a big shift in how F1 now operates. We saw the birth of the Twitch quartet, various meme compilations, and Twitter admins getting their shot at the limelight. Other independent content creators have also gained traction, WTF1, TommoF1, Chain Bear etc (and hopefully this blog?) Liberty Media has essentially transformed this sport for (at least in my opinion) the better. While Ecclestone was incredibly proficient at ensuring F1’s lucre, Liberty Media expanded the sports reach. Its dry and corporate social media channels were dug up and revamped, connecting F1 to a host of young people.
And not only did the audience expand by a generation, so did the grid. In 2019, F1 had its youngest grid ever. (at an average age of 26 and 3 months) The benefits of this change were new talent, new entertainment, and intangibly but perhaps most importantly, a new sense of life in the paddock. These drivers’ own social media platforms have created their own loyal fanbase from the next generation of viewers, and that has proven a valuable resource for the longevity of F1.
Of course, it would be rather foolish not to mention the events of this year. COVID 19 has thrust the world into a situation never seen in history. While one of the modern wonders are our ability for global connections, it is this very element that we had to shut down almost entirely. And so started the long, long wait for the resumption of the 2020 F1 season. But although physical racing was halted, the virtual world thrived. The drivers themselves started streaming (second mention of the Twitch quartet and their subsequent set of memes) and as Lando Norris’ Twitch bio says, he had become a “TEMPORARAYAYRLY FULL TIME STREAMER, drives in Formula 1 every now and then too…”.
His regular and popular streaming subsequently spurred a wave of virtual action, as real and esports racers teamed up to form the “Not the GP” series, which when streamed online with free access, fans were more than appeased. Then came “Race For The World”, a charity event which went on to raise more than $70,000 for WHO’s Solidarity Relief Fund. Clearly this new initiative to connect to the fans from drivers and the community alike has been beneficial for more than the audience and industry itself.
Though rivalries and fierce talent continue to exist, as is wont to do in a competitive sport, clearly there is a breath of fresh air in current F1 media. While F1 remains as the pinnacle of elite motorsport, there is a sense of accessibility and welcome that without its relatively recent foray into social media, would be hard pressed to find.
Photo credit: formula1.com
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