A return to winning ways?
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Alonso opens up to fans on social networks
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FernandoAlonso.com
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 May 2012   |  8:18 am GMT  |  42 comments

It’s been interesting to see how Fernando Alonso has started opening up much more to the public recently, clearly part of a move to address his image in the public’s eyes and to use the social media tools available today to build a better relationship – and a direct one – with fans. This weekend has has taken part in a widescale question and answer session with fans via his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

For example Alonso only recently joined Twitter, one of the last of the leading drivers to do so. He now has almost half a million followers. This was because Ferrari’s strategy until this year was to control all communications centrally, as head of communications Luca Colajanni explained at the Montreal Fans Forum last year,

“Social networking and the internet as a whole presents a big issue: anonymity,” he said.”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 b*s! 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.”

But in less than 12 months, that has all changed. As many celebrities are finding, there are benefits to having a direct relationship with fans via your own social media platform and in Alonso’s case, the driving force for this is his awareness that the image painted of him in the media is not as he is. Sebastian Vettel also has this problem and it will be interesting to see if he breaks free of Red Bull communications to address it himself.


Here’s what Alonso told one fan this weekend, “I think I´ve always shown myself as I am. People that have known me for years usually say that I haven´t changed.. Many times when I read my quotes on the covers of newspapers I feel very distant from that character. It’s as if it’s not me. Then you see columns making opinions, signed by people who don’t even know you and have never spoken to you. Between one thing and another, a character has been created which has nothing or little to do with me…Until now…”

This “interview” with his fans is only one aspect of a wider move towards openness from Alonso, which we also saw in the test at Mugello. I was very surprised to see him describe himself as not the fastest driver in F1 over a single lap. This is exactly the kind of line that is open to misinterpretation. It could easily be twisted into “Alonso: I’m not the fastest F1 driver”.

Here’s what he said, ““I’m not the fastest driver in qualifying, on street circuits, in the rain or in pit stops, but I’m a 9.5 (out of 10) in all those areas and I know how to get the best from the materials at my disposal.”

Today we are launching a new site called JA on F1 Connect, which we’re describing as “Your gateway to F1 news and social media.”

It’s a one-stop shop, where in one visit you can get the latest news from major new organisations and F1 websites, as well as Facebook postings, Twitter feeds and You Tube postings, such as these insights posted by Alonso. Basically in one place you can find all the latest news and information about F1 at any given time. It’s free and I hope it will become the main portal for F1 fans and professionals to check up on latest developments. It’s URL is http://connect.jamesallenonf1.com

Click this link to take a look. JA on F1 connect

We hope you like it. As always please send us your feedback.

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42 Comments
  1. Shaun Herlihy says:

    That is awesome news, everyone should have a twitter account. Therte are so many people intertested in what Fernando does and says and he is such a great role model to all, I am very glad he has finally bn “allowed” to get an account. Now all I have to do is find him.Love,Peace

    1. Danny says:

      There are probably so many people who are interested in what he has to say as he doesn’t say much. I think it’s called being intrigued.

      Twitter is just another medium used to hide behind when people believe they are being expressive. How about giving people some of the expression on camera?

      I doubt Fernando will even be writing the twitter updates it will be coming from a marketing person to drum up business.

      1. Jess says:

        [mod] It’s Fernando himself who writes the tweets.

      2. Danny says:

        OK I apologise it must all be true then as it says so on a website.

      3. brandon says:

        Actually Danny, it’s quite clear when the drivers are doing their own Twitter updates. Massa, Alonso, Webber, and Button come to mind. I’m quite sure nobody is faking Lewis’ format of spelling on Twitter either :P

  2. Robert M says:

    I’ve been following Alonso on twitter for a few weeks now and it’s changed my perception of him massively. He’s actually a great laugh and isn’t the serious character I had imagined he was. His instagram feed is pretty good too.

    1. Me too! I have always been an Alonso fan, but after seeing his photos on Instagram and his tweets, I am even more so now. He seems much more personable and passionate than I had imagined. I always knew he was a tenacious fighter, but it is nice to see the other side of him.

  3. The Connect looks and feels really nice, congratulations, seems it will become my F1 newspaper online – aggregation and one-stop place is really needed, as Twitter have become quite hard to manage and control all those news feeds.

    As for Alonso – I’m not surprised that he has finally shown his real face, after so many years of seeing different explanations of what he is.

  4. F1Fan4Life says:

    I have to say I’ve been following Alonso on twitter and its been really interesting as I feel I’ve gotten to know him better in a sense. It is a more direct connection than reading about something he may have said on a website. If he’s a 9.5 every other driver is a 9 at best. James, great idea on the new site, if you do it right im certain it’ll become more popular than this blog.

  5. Chris says:

    Alonso comments on twitter have been insightful and funny. Its great as a fan to see him in such a refreshing honest light!

  6. Rach says:

    This is why twitter has become such a hit. Over time it allows a personality from an individual to show through. For example following webber you can see he is a mad keen sports fan just like any normal bloke.

    The media love to create an image of someone. Just look at the disgraceful way the sun tried to depict hodgson last week.

    1. mindlore says:

      Rach,

      When you say: “…just like any normal bloke.’
      You mean: “…just like many blokes.’

      I’m a bloke and I’m indifferent about all sports that are not F1. I assure you, I’m quite normal. I have my own keys. Home. Friends. Credit cards. Wife & kids. Even my own business (even in this economy!)

      I know I seem fussy, but this assumption that a man *should* like all forms of sport to qualify as normal has always bothered me. It is bigotry, plan and simple.

      1. Don says:

        Relax

      2. Rach says:

        Well I didn’t intend to cause any offence in what was more of a throw away remark.

        I suppose it depends on how you define a bloke! I would say a normal average bloke would like more than one sport.

      3. Aunty K says:

        That response wasnt very normal . . .

  7. MISTER says:

    Great new site James! Now we just need to go on that site and we find “a door” to all top stories about F1. Brilliant idea and for us, the fans, is much easier than browsing on 6-7 different websites.

    Looking forward to using that site, but probably this one will still be my first stop.

  8. Tom in adelaide says:

    Love him or not, the sport would be poorer without him. With the current driver line-up being so good it’s a shame the cars aren’t even closer in performance.

  9. Iwan Kemp says:

    Followed him from the word go and to be honest the first couple of weeks it was obvious that somebody was else tweeting on his behalf.

    But the last couple of weeks you get the sense that it’s the man himself. Nice.

  10. Stephen Kellett says:

    It and interesting idea. Some negative feedback for you so that you can improve what isn’t working:

    1) If I understand you correctly the news stories are meant to be about F1. Thus I find it strange that there are stories about motorcycle racing and football present. Neither of which are interesting.

    2) Lots of stories in German, which I suspect the majority of your readers cannot read. Are you going to provide a translation? (You could so this by passing the German page to Google translate before you screen scrape it for your “connect” aggregator).

    3) The news stories occupy less than half the screen real estate. The rest (the right handside) is full of filler. This is a real waste and hopeless for anyone on a small screen or a mobile.

  11. LJ says:

    Alonso’s Twitter has hugely changed my perception of him. It’s also nice to see that every word isn’t controlled by the team. That said, I quite liked the idea of him being a Dick Dastardly character and he’s doing his best to dispel that image.

    1. That’s the whole point of it isn’t it. We all have perceptions of these characters (or anyone popular) that may or may not be an accurate representation of who that person is. Newspapers, blogs and TV commentators have to sell their product. They need to spin the answers to their leading questions in a way to generate controversy and mass appeal. They need to create a storyline where none exists. How many newspapers will sell, how many TVs will be turned into a story about how Alonso is a really good racing driver and an all around pleasant person?

      1. LJ says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I take much of what the press writes (about anything) with a pinch of salt. But even on track he seemed a bit, as I said, like Dick Dastardly. Off the top of my head, I can think of two team radios which sort of support this: Valencia 2010 (I think) “Where is Hamilton?” and Korea 2010 with the crazy laughter. I guess I just liked the idea that he’d retreat to his lair and concoct a plan.

        I absolutely can not get over the way he’s posing in that photo though.

  12. CarlH says:

    The sometimes negative opinion of Alonso mostly stems from the Hamilton controversy (especially here in the UK).

    Any Alonso fan (such as myself) who wanted to generate their own opinion of him would have seen that he’s almost the total opposite to how he is portrayed in the media (again, mostly in the UK, although it’s improving on Sky). Those who lazily jumped onto the anti-Alonso bandwagon should research him further and re-assess how they form their opinions.

    It’s a shame he has to try and win some people over, but hopefully people will finally start to see him as he should be seen, as probably the great talent of his generation.

    1. CarlH says:

      As a follow up to this, would anyone believing in the media-created version of Fernando expect him to be posting tweets like this?

      http://twitter.com/#!/alo_oficial/status/199189902481563649/photo/1

      Hi James, hope it is ok to post links, if not please moderate. Thanks.

    2. LJ says:

      The mother’s day photo was brilliant, but he has clearly taken posing tips off a 14 year old girl…

      Is there an anti-Alonso bandwagon in the UK?

      I’m just sad that his Twitter has halted my idea of there being a pantomime villain in F1, especially now that Schumacher is (mostly) behaving himself.

      1. CarlH says:

        Haha yeah I agree about the posing.

        I feel there was an anti-Alonso bandwagon in the UK, although curiously it seemed to die down around the time Hamilton was getting a lot of negative press (the ‘hooning’ in AUS, crashes in 2010 & 2011 etc). The press in the UK build people up just to knock them down. Once their venom was re-directed at Hamilton, Alonso was no longer to villain and so the negative coverage reduced substantially.

        To be clear, it wasn’t the whole UK press that slated Fernando. Some have always been very fair with their coverage (JA F1 included). The BBC position on him seems to have mellowed with time and Sky have been very good in highlighting his qualities (Ted Kravitz in particular).

      2. LJ says:

        Oh yes, I agree that he was made out the bad guy when he was at McLaren. There’s still a hardcore of Hamilton fans who can’t stand him; at Silverstone last year, I overheard (on purpose) a conversation between a couple of Union Jack draped men who were convinced Alonso was behind the Hamilton/Massa incident at Monaco.

        Interesting that the change in coverage is linked to Hamilton’s, but as you say, it’s typical of certain elements of the British press.

      3. There’s always Bernie…

      4. LJ says:

        Haha, very true. Although I suspect he’s more likely to be touting tickets outside the theatre.

  13. For sure says:

    http://www.fernandoalonso.com/en/colecciono-cascos-de-todos-los-pilotos-de-la-parrilla/

    Hi James, he said he collected other drivers helmets. Why?
    Why does he want that? Some sort of supersitious stuff there?

    1. He seems to get on well with everyone in the paddock and from what I can tell, he is a fan of the sport. What fan wouldn’t want helmets from, arguably, the 20 or so best racing drivers in the world? I would love a helmet from every driver on the grid!

    2. Chris says:

      I think he said he is doing an F1 museum at his new kart track. Don’t quote me though!

  14. Rishi says:

    I think the paradox of any racing driver is that away from the track they are, as they protest, not averse to a certain degree of normality, humility etc. But then at the circuit they are incredibly competitive beings and their primary focus turns to winning. It may be a character facet they don’t entirely recognise when they say or do things which cause negative publicity, but that still doesn’t mean it isn’t part of their character. After all, it’s James (among others) who often goes by the mantra that ‘sport doesn’t build character, it reveals it.’

    So while I don’t have Twitter, what I guess it does is shows the fans that, yes, we’re very competitive at the circuit, with all that entails, but there is another side to us too. I must say though with Vettel I think his ‘problem’ is that he’s spent a lot of seasons in the fastest car (and with a perception that he has, in some sense, ‘a silver spoon’ at Red Bull) at a young age. So its not so much like Alonso as Lewis Hamilton circa 2008; people who don’t like him much now will start respecting him more if they see him wring the neck of a fairly slow car, rather than merely the fastest one (and yes, I know, he already did this in the 2nd half of 2008 in the Toro Rosso – but evidently that hasn’t convinced everyone! Also should add that this is not (necessarily) my personal opinion of either driver).

  15. For Sure says:

    I am not sure about that mate. I can’t imagine him and Michael exchanging helmets considering the type of rivalry they had. I think both are lovely guys off the track but it’s one of those things.
    But it’s wonderfull if that happens.

  16. Daniel MA says:

    I thought Sebastian didn’t have a twitter account because he didn’t like it?
    Anyway, I don´t follow any driver on twitter, facebook, etc because I really don´t care about their personal lives I’m much more interested on how they perform on track and not if they just broke up with their girlfriends or whatever. Maybe it’s because nowadays drivers don’t have strong personalities anymore? Maybe they do, I hope social networks help bringing them out.

    1. Jenson says:

      +1

      I couldn’t care less what Alonso is having for breakfast – but I will be ecstatic if he achieves another win this year!

    2. Mimi says:

      Well from what I see following Alonso on Twitter: he doesn’t really show his private life there. Yeah… he posts some pictures of meetings with friends, making nesquick for his physios or watching football game, etc., but it’s just a really small bit of his life. So that you have the impression that you see what he’s doing in his free time, but in fact at the same time, the most important stuff (really private, like girlfriends or things like that) remains hidden from the world (which I very much tespect and like).
      But his account is also interesting as he puts lots of pictures from his trainings and preperations for the qualifyings, races and so on. And I think it’s interesting to see what the drivers do during the GP, but not on the track exclusively – how hard and often they train, how they prepare for a race and so on. So IMHO it’s not selling your private life at all, but showing what an F1 driver life looks like and that it’s not just driving around ;).

  17. Kay says:

    I think it’s more of people/media taking things out of context rather than misinterpreting.

  18. Liam in Sydney says:

    I think FA has short-changed himself there. I think he is every bit as fast as the next best driver over a single lap. Put FA in last year’s RB7 and you would have seen it for sure. Not dissing SV at all. FA’s comment is right on tho… he is better than 9.5/10 at everything which is why he is so sought after, and why he is rated the highest by team principals.

  19. balint says:

    I do not think you necessary get closer to an F1 driver if He gets a twitter account…Fernando’s one may well be controlled by Ferrari!

    1. Express says:

      That’s exactly why I like Alonso’s twitter so much. It’s not as controlled as the other ones..
      So exactly the opposite of what you claim to be true.

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