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FOTA Fans Forum Montreal discusses Twitter and social media in F1
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FOTA Fans Forum Montreal discusses Twitter and social media in F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jun 2011   |  5:25 pm GMT  |  16 comments

One of the interesting threads from Thursday night’s FOTA Fans Forum in Montreal was in the final session, where Williams boss Adam Parr together with McLaren marketing guru John Allert and Ferrari’s head of communications Luca Colajanni discussed the impact of social media, particularly Twitter on F1 in general and their teams in particular.

Colajanni made a particularly striking point about why the Ferrari drivers are not permitted to use Twitter,

Here’s a transcript of the discussion,

John Allert, McLaren: “Twitter is a terrific medium for F1. It’s a dangerous medium for any sport because we’ve seen it backfire on a number of high profile sporting personalities. It’s something that needs to be treated carefully by all of the teams because, unlike something like soccer, we have a lot of confidential information that, if leaked, could give an advantage to our competitors.”

“Our drivers (Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton) have total autonomy on what they tweet. Sometimes they have too much, but that’s the magic of the medium. That it’s real. Anything you read from our two drivers has been tapped out with their own thumbs and you can see the spelling mistakes to prove it! We supplement that with our own feed, and I know other teams are doing it and doing it very well.”

Luca Colajanni (Ferrari): “Social networking and the internet as a whole presents a big issue: anonymity. I often have to deal with rumours spread on websites, of which I don’t know the source. I can mention one today from a Dutch website, which says Flavio Briatore is coming Ferrari. It’s complete bullshit! As it’s nearly impossible to control, sometimes you have to take decisions that are unpopular. Unlike McLaren, we don’t let our drivers use Twitter because we don’t want them writing something that can be misinterpreted. We want control and we need to find the right balance.”

Adam Parr, Williams: “I’m a bit old-fashioned, I don’t tweet and I’m not on Facebook. I struggle a bit with it because sometimes you can get a bit too involved in other people’s lives. I had a very interesting meeting in New York the day before yesterday with a fashion label and they said people like Burberry are using social networking almost exclusively now. It’s foolish to ignore it, but I struggle with it personally.”

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16 Comments
  1. Galapago555 says:

    I started to use Twitter just to follow James Allen during the races.

    Then I followed other interesting sources: media, teams, other fans.

    Now I’m totally twitter addict. I can say that the level of interaction with other fans, and with people involved in the sport, is fantastic. It’s also the fastest source for news, both in and off track.

    As I commented before, some usual comment leavers of this site share our views during FP, Qualy and the Race, using the hash tag #JAfans to link ourselves. Any comment will be very welcome. (And NO, not all of us are Ferrari fans! :-D )

  2. Mario says:

    Interesting how they see social media as a threat, almost. They speak of control and measured approach in order to stay on the safe side. Typical corporate people.

    1. Mario says:

      I mean, it’s missing the point of using things like Tweeter where it is all about expressing yourself freely to let everyone know, or is it not?

    2. Ace Best says:

      IMHO,I don’t think we should blame them being a corporate people in this case.F1 involves a large amount of money,and there are business interest in there,like it or not..And like John Allert says,F1 has a lot of confidential informations that are too dangerous to be leaked..

      But I too,think that Ferarri’s approach is too extreme..Not letting their drivers to have twitter account is a big disadvantage for them and bad for PR..

  3. Jo Torrent says:

    McLaren is the team the more open to the media as far as I’ve seen. The departure of Saddam Dennis brought a breeze of fresh air to McLaren PR.

    [mod]
    Globally, what these guys miss is that it is not about what they like or don’t like as much as it is about what the fans want and don’t want.

    1. Tim. says:

      Nice comment on Dennis…jeez :(

    2. Adam Taylor says:

      A bit harsh towards Ron Dennis I thought. He was very corporate and gave the team the sharpness it still has today.

    3. Martin says:

      Got to agree I love the teams that are more open.

      I have a twitter account and the only reason for it is for the extra F1 info. McLaren & Team Lotus are great at embracing social media. Found out so much about the practice sessions from their tweets and McLarens pitwall website.

      The thing is, its not just about racing info either, its all the extra bits going on around the paddock too. The silliness, the team jokes, what else the drivers get up to over the weekend, competitions. It just makes you feel part of it.

      I think Twitter really helped the furore over Hamiltons comments die down quickly. The fact he could speak to the public on Monday rather than having to wait until the thursday press conference was good for the fans and no doubt for him and the other people involved.

      Would have to say that Mike Gascoyne is probably the twitter superstar to me. To be a team boss and yet give so much time to the fans is excellent.

    4. Damian J says:

      Control frequery at Ferrari……McLaren have been accused of that on this website but it lo0ks the table has been turned….although I doubt they could Alonso when red mist descends below those eyebrows!

      1. Peter Hermann says:

        I would say there is a lot more ‘red mist’ around Hamilton nowadays, and his twitter is just ridiculous and not doing him any good at all. Only good for having a laugh.

        Colayanni is right because its not so much about ‘controlling’, though he used that as an argument, but i think its more about protection. Ferrari and their drivers- especially Fernando- are the number one target especially of the british press, and Ferrari is doing what is right for them.

  4. Adam Taylor says:

    I applaud McLaren and particularly Team Lotus for using twitter and facebook. Mike Gascoyne Tweeting in the middle of free practice describing what tyres his drivers are on and what fuels runs they are doing is just brilliant. I also love the dogs that are at the factory and behind the scenes photos, Team Lotus maybe new but they are brilliant at how they get the fans involved.

  5. marcelo acero says:

    Twitter really help us to keep in touch with the teams, drivers, and journalist. It give us information just from the very inside. We really enjoy this tools. We feel closer to the action than ever before. Thanks.

    Marcelo
    Argentina
    @marceloacero

  6. Mike Bourke says:

    Agree completely with the comments re: Mike Gascoyne.

    I do find myself wondering how past PR disasters involving drivers miscommunicating to the media stack up in relation to Teams twitter policies? Have Ferrari been burned more than other teams, explaining their current tendancy to be gunshy, or have other teams been burnt more and learned from the experience?

  7. Linda Hardy says:

    I have to say I’m fairly new to Twitter, I don’t tweet a lot, but cannot imagine not having Twitter now, I follow you James and nearly everyone else I can find in the F1 paddock, but its great at keeping up to date with whats going on in F1, makes you feel like your a part of it, feel closer to the teams or the people who work behind the scenes, its wonderful seeing the photo’s people upload as well. Following the Practice Sessions via twitter and seeing the pics someone may of posted makes you feel like your really there (almost).

    I admin for a F1 Page on Facebook, we have nearly 1,700 members, some of these members work for the teams and to be able to provide up to date news and photo’s for them would be impossible without the help of Twitter.

    By the way if you wish to take a look at our F1 page, here’s a link, its run by 3 women in 3 different continents, we’ve never met and never spoken and we would never of come across each other if it was not for Social Media, yet the 3 of us manage to work as a team to bring all the F1 news etc, the page is for anyone who likes/loves/follows F1:

    http://www.facebook.com/GirlsLikeF1Too

    Wish you were still commentating too James.

  8. Richard says:

    Thanks James, I found this post really interesting.

    Between them the three teams personify the three main attitudes that organisations in any sphere seem to have towards online engagement: enthusiastic and risk-taking (McLaren), controlling and negative (Ferrari) and curious but unknowing (Williams).

    I’ve explored this a little bit more in a post on my blog.

  9. Brent McMaster says:

    I’m amazed how little of interest people have in their own lives that they live to read about someone elses, in chopped up sentences.
    Just reading some of the Twit “journalists” posts embarrasses me. Twitter is just another sign of the dumbing down of society and boy is it working.

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