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Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jun 2011   |  7:04 am GMT  |  28 comments

An audience of 300 will hear from Lewis Hamilton, Kamui Kobayashi, Martin Whitmarsh, Ross Brawn and some of F1′s leading engineers today at the FOTA Fans’ Forum, sponsored by Santander, which is being hosted at the McLaren Technology Centre, starting at 11am UK time.

This the third FOTA Fans Forum and the second of the 2011 season after a successful event in Montreal last month. A third event is planned for Italy in September.

The Fans Forum concept began on this website with fans sending questions and views on F1. I started forwarding some questions and suggestions to FOTA and the FIA. At the same time FOTA was doing a Fan Survey with F1 Racing and LG, canvassing fans’ opinions worldwide.

The next logical step for us was to give the fans a chance to meet key figures from the sport face to face in a context like this. FOTA liked the idea and we organised the first event 12 months ago at London’s BAFTA theatre and this year the plan is for three events.

The event at McLaren is the largest one yet and it’s exciting that it’s evolved as it has. The event was many times oversubscribed.

The Fans Forum is the fans’ chance to ask questions and put across your points of view on F1 directly to the people who create the golden moments of sport.

Most of the fans attending today have sent in a question. This allowed us to see by volume of questions on each subject, which are the most pressing issues.

I’m moderating the event and I’ve picked a wide selection of questions. Some of the key subject areas of interest to fans today are:

- Ways of getting fans closer to the sport; at the race track and via new media
- Overtaking in 2011 – is it too easy with the DRS wing?
- The new engine rules for 2014; V6 1.6 litre turbos – the right sound for F1?
- Getting the balance right between cost saving and technological excellence
- Mid-season rule changes

Part 1 will feature Martin Whitmarsh, (FOTA chairman and Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) Ross Brawn, (Team Principal of Mercedes GP Petronas) Graeme Lowdon, (Sporting Director and President of Marussia Virgin Racing) and Robert Fernley (Deputy Team Principal of Force India F1 Racing)

Part 2 sees Paddy Lowe, (Technical Director of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) James Allison, (Technical Director of Lotus Renault GP) and Paul Monaghan (Head of Car Engineering at Red Bull Racing) take the stage.

And Part 3 will have two of the fans’ favourite drivers Kamui Kobayashi and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, no doubt answering questions about their overtaking skills!

For those who are not able to be there in person, it is being covered by BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra. Full audio recordings of the event will be on this site later this afternoon for streaming or download, videos and a transcript will be pushed out via media and F1 team websites from this evening, photos will be available for fans to download on PHOTO LINK.

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28 Comments
  1. Maximum Attack says:

    I love this site James. I’ve been reading since your top ten tracks article!

    I recenty decided to comment. Ive tried several times. Hiwever i run into a problem. No matter which email and user name I use, no matter which IP I submit from, no matter the tone and content of my message, I keep getting banned and my messages deleted.

    What have I done wrong?

    I have seen some very passionate views aired here, including derogatory comment and moderated out profanity. I haven’t posted anything of the sort, yet I get banned without explanation.

    1. James Allen says:

      You’ve not been banned.

  2. JW1980 says:

    James,

    This sounds like it will be a great event. Unfortunately I was one of the many who was not successful in my application.
    Is there another way of determining who goes to these events rather than first come first served? I am sure that I speak for many who do not have access to the internet whilst at work and therefore are unlikely ever to be able to go these events if the current selection procedure is used. The same obviously applies to the Senna premier earlier in the year.
    I appreciate that another selection procedure may not be easy to determine!

    1. James Allen says:

      Can you suggest an alternative – fair – way?

      1. Dale says:

        First come first served seems fair to me.

      2. NickyStuu says:

        How about having a range of tiered prices from the ridiculously expensive to the comically cheap, and then force everyone to apply up-front taking an enormous gamble on how much they could afford to spare if they get allocated every possible ticket they’ve asked for, without knowing for months how many tickets they’ve succesfully won? I hear that method has recently worked *very* well!

  3. John Shaw says:

    Who came up with the fans forum idea in the first place? I think its a very positive think as teams and stake holders are too remote from the fans in my view. Well done to who ever!

    1. Wayne says:

      Yes, in fact, the only negative thing about it was that I did not get to go along today! I would have sold my granny to be a part of today’s forum!

  4. Werewolf says:

    A great idea presenting both a wonderful occasion for the attendees and an opportunity to gain worthwhile feedback for the sport.

    Expanding the Q&A topic, the FIA press conferences have improved hugely since you (and your colleague) took over from your rather tentative predecessor. The BBC’s coverage, I think, is generally excellent but, lacking Steve Rider (who I also think would have put together a piece on Fangio last weekend), it has no-one with really good interview skills. Yes, I am suggesting you for the job!

    Failing that, could you, perhaps, video some in-depth interviews from time to time for this site?

    I’m not knocking Jake Humphrey, by the way, he’s very good for the general audience – and Mrs Werewolf thinks he’s “adorable”!

  5. Damian J says:

    James,

    What are your impressions of the MTC?

    Most people are well impressed by the attention to detail there that Ron has created.

    Precision cut sandwiches? :)

  6. John says:

    I wonder how much 5live advertised this, always listen to their station and had no idea!

  7. Nathan says:

    I can’t see this anywhere on 5live?

    Will they release it as a podcast or something?

    Thanks James. :)

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes podcast and I think it will be in Tuesday night show. There was talk of them doing it live, but that didn’t happen this time.

  8. John Shaw says:

    Likewise, I would have brought my DAB into work today had I known!

  9. Rob Rees says:

    Just back from the FOTA Fans Forum. Great event at an unbelievable venue! Well done to James Allen for making this happen.

    Some interesting ideas came out of the discussion. Especially like the idea of an end of season event to celebrate the world champion – much better than an anonymous FIA dinner that nobody is interested in. Be great to see something like that come out of the Fans Forum.

  10. Andy C says:

    James

    just wanted to echo the thoughts of those that attended. Absolutely great event, particularly as a McLaren fan.

    As a huge fan of McLaren of the years, and the many winning cars it was great to be allowed to speak with so many of the McLaren staff and walk away with a McLaren cars book that retails on their website at £35 plus as I recall.

    Had a great chat with one of the guys that does sponsor tours at MTC. McLaren have won about 25% of the races they’ve ever entered (I’m quoting him here…) and have finished on the podium in approximately 75% of the races they’ve entered (that makes them the best – sorry ferrari fans…. ).

    The panel were really fortright with their views.

    Just a great event. Not sure how Kamui was allowed past Ron with jeans on though …..

    Thanks to McLaren, FOTA, JAonF1 and Santander for making it happen.

    Cheers
    Andy

  11. Ricky Woolway says:

    Hey James

    Thanks for a great day at MTC. Was great to be part of the Forum and feel that little bit closer to F1.

  12. John Shaw says:

    Its a shame we can’t get some limited testing back on the agenda. In Barcelona we pay e15 per day and I must have seen 30,000 people some days. If advertised I bet you could get more at Silverstone. Could some of this revenue be used to help team costs?

    1. Jason C says:

      I think there used to be free testing at Silverstone, and I don’t believe that many people turned up. I never went personally though (my mistake), so if anyone would like to correct me, feel free.

      1. I started going to the test days at Silverstone, just as they were about to be stopped! They were superb – a great chance to get up-close both to the on-track action, and in the Paddock, which was open for some of each day. Pics here http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcw/sets/72157605836343533 . Would LOVE to have such an opportunity again!

  13. Ivan Julian says:

    Hello James, a great job well done once again.

    Your skype interviews down here with Greg Rust on the Ten Network’s RPM program are going down a treat.

    May I make a suggestion/request for us fans of your messageboard who are far too far away to even attend one of the Fan’s Forums?

    Would you consider a special thread, or area somewhere on your messageboard, where us long distance guys could have (hopefully) a highly technical and productive discussion about ideas to improve Formula One?

    Perhaps a bit of culling might need to take place, but if only 1 in 100 ideas are brilliant you’d still be getting a very high strike rate, given how popular your website is nowadays?

    My suggestion? Specify common bolt patterns for all the major connection points in an F1 car, from monocoque to engine block to gearbox to suspension points to transaxle. And then introduce a rotating program from race to race so that every team gets to use a rotating list of different engines and gearboxes etc throughout the season – essentially introducing a World Championship for Engine manufacturers. Clearly Ferrari would object, but it is a way of levelling the playing field.

    Regards, Ivan, Gold Coast, Australia

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, that’s a great idea. Maybe one for the winter. A virtual Fans Forum via Skype..I’ll feed that into FOTA

  14. Calum says:

    Hi James,

    I’m currently on my way back to Edinburgh having enjoyed an amazing morning at the MTC.

    It was a dream realised to visit the McLaren HQ, I’m still taking it all in but I’d like to thank you so much for the opportunity to join the forum and listen to the panel’s views.

    Grinning like the Cheshire cat!

  15. Phil Hutt says:

    James,
    I am also just back from the venue, and would like to thank you for presenting such an event. I can’t think of many other sports where the fans get so close to the participants.
    Your tone was perfect, encouraging questions and putting across many of the fans views when they perhaps couldn’t.
    Many Thanks

  16. keiron sweeney says:

    I am great fan of formula 1 i love everything about f1 from the first practice session to qualifying to the live race on sunday on the bbc which the coverage is brilliant and a fan lewis hamilton and everything that f1 is about and i have been watching f1 for over 20 years and if was sold to the american buisness man wants to buy f1 which i’m against cause if was sold it would on longer see it on the bbc anymore which would be dissapointment f1 started in britain in 1960 it should stay in britain the goverment should step in to work with bernie ecclestone to stop sale of f1.

  17. Mike says:

    Hi James,
    This format (FOTA FANS FORUM) which enables information to go to those interested in F1 is really a great idea. I will follow podcasts or any other form of broadcast as I am too far away (Australia) for direct contact.

    Do I feel left out because of distance – no way!!. The information is available on this site.

    Comments have been made (in Australia)in the past that INDY cars and teams can be easily accessed by fans (unlike F1). The FOTA FANS FORUM enables interested F1 fans to have contact and those further away also have access to the information. Great concept.

    I really spend a lot of time on this site – you should be well pleased with the fruits of your your work.

  18. Tyesha Luhrs says:

    Thx for information.

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