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Who’s the most talked about driver in F1?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Dec 2013   |  9:46 am GMT  |  76 comments

The rise of Twitter in recent years has allowed us to measure which drivers are the most talked about, at least on social media, thanks to some data sent to us by our friends at Buzz Radar.

The table below shows who were the most talked about drivers on the leading social media platform during 2013 and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso comes out clearly on top, with his score boosted by high levels of interaction as well as featuring heavily in most races. He was also at the centre of the storm with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo this year and as the two sides fall out of love and McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh circles (see photo below) Alonso is at the centre of lots of discussion.


Interestingly Mark Webber is second a combination of it being his final season in F1 and his direct and pithy comments – as well as frequent photos – on Twitter getting retweeted heavily.

World champion Sebastian Vettel only ranks as the third most talked about driver getting just under half the mentions of Alonso, as he is not driving any Twitter conversations.

South American drivers punch above their weight with Sergio Perez perhaps surprising many with 4th place, followed by Pastor Maldonado 6th and Felipe Massa 7th.


Nico Hulkenberg’s search for a top seat and many fans’ discussions about it boosted him to 9th – the most talked about European driver outside of the top teams. Interestingly he was in the bottom 25% until the second half of the season. Conversation around him rocketed after Korea and continued as fans lined up to discuss how he deserved a top drive.

There are a surprisingly low number of mentions for Hamilton 8th and Raikkonen 10th. Raikkonen is more understandable due to his non participation in social media but then again he does have a hige -and vocal – fanbase, as this site knows only too well!

It was a quiet year for Hamilton after several Twitter faux pas last season and probably some of that is down to the fact that he’s now settled at Mercedes and therefore his name hasn’t been mentioned in the “silly season”.

Also surprising was Button 12th considering he is quite active on twitter and Ricciardo 17th who will surely rise up the ranks next year (we might use that as a bench mark figure to see how much conversations grows when you land a top line seat).

All data supplied by Buzz Radar www.buzzradar.com

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76 Comments
  1. dufus says:

    Mark Webber is the most popular driver in F1 if you judge that by social media and booing on the podium.

    1. Rayz says:

      I find it hilarious that nobody gives a tuppenny split about Sutil. The man is as beige as it gets. The charisma of a boiled potato.

    2. kfzmeister says:

      Never heard Mark booed on the podium.

      1. Ollie says:

        Turkey 2010.

      2. Bradley says:

        I would assume he means that some of the booing of Vettel relates to his friction with the more popular Mark.

      3. PJ says:

        Nor have I

  2. Manchesterf1 says:

    Funny, i saw Kimi topping each poll in most fav F1 drivers in various forums.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Clearly the people that like Kimi don’t talk much.

      Makes no sense.

    2. NickH says:

      In his own words, “I don’t have a twitter”

  3. seifenkistler says:

    My oldest daughter was a Vettel fan even before he was world champion. When i asked her why, she said he was the most funny and gave bold answers in interviews:

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD2807AC4E7CDDA9F

    He was asked to explain his steering wheel.

    Vettel:
    “It will be a long and complicated answer, to make it short: If you turn it to the left the car drives to the left, if you turn it right the car drives to the right.”
    Moderator:
    “I will pull you by the ears .Do you think that because i am a woman i can’t drive a car…”

    I think this part of Vettel never showed that much to not german speaking people. Also it seemes that it is hidden by the stress for fighting for the titles nowadays.

    1. Sebee says:

      You ever ride one of the bicycles that goes left when you steer right and right when you steer left? It’s a trip to experience this. Glad complicated F1 steering wheels don’t do same like the bicycles.

      1. Steve Zodiac says:

        Yeah I look after couple of Suzuki jeeps belonging to an outdoor pursuits company, they are rigged to steer the opposite way. Very challenging and needless to say they are full of dents!

      2. Seifenkistler says:

        Most complex steering my lousy brain had to do was a harvest machine with the small turnable wheels at the back of the beast. Then it was fully loaded with corn and after harvesting the big rotor was on an trailer attached behind the turnable wheels.

        Then i horned before entering a narrow road cut in a hill just to notice that a stupid car driver ignored the signals and blocked the road. When asking the driver to drive back she said she wouldn’t because she would not see the trenches in her mirrors.

  4. ACx says:

    With all due, Twitter does not equal talked about. Most tweeted, well, sure. But people do still actually “talk”, and twitter is by no means the only place people comment. In fact, given twitter’s deliberate limitation, its not really possible to have meaningful conversations there in any way. IMHO, its mostly ill considered knee jerk reactions. More accurate would be taking data from sites like this one where people can actually discuss in some depth.

    As for Vettel… Im no fan at all, but I admire his reluctance to jump on twitter with the herd, and there for retain some privacy. Good on him.

    1. yellowbelly says:

      +1

    2. Joel says:

      All this shows is that the social media (Twitter, Facebook) are over-rated and over-sold. Do I use it, Of course. But, I don’t click on advertisement there to buy stuff, I barely notice even if an advertisement is there, as I know not to look in that part of the screen. Are the social media useful – Yes, absolutely. However, they are not the be all, end all. They have their place, not as high as it is projected now-a-days in the media.

      1. Bingo !!! Ya got that right +1

        Substance has become completely lost with the 0.5 second sound bite and it wasn’t very important before the T-word anyway, compared with offerings emphasizing controversy which many times doesn’t exist or the (miss-) leading ‘film at 11′ comments which, at 11, take longer than the tease itself when you actually hear what “the “media” give you at 11.

        Oh well, the world we live in today is what we have – just unfortunate that we have so litte substance. And we can thank James for trying to retain some semblance, eh?

    3. newton says:

      If you think twitter necessarily involves some concessions to privacy you’ve got the wrong idea. It’s a broadcasting platform, not an intrusion one.

    4. Mike from Colombia says:

      +1

  5. Craig Taylor says:

    A very interesting article James. I’m quite impressed at how highly Kovalainen ranked!

    1. Denis 68 says:

      Yeah

      Must have been due to his stunning race performances for Lotus in the last two races of the season.

  6. Kiran says:

    This is based on google searches and population correction:
    http://f1tips.blogspot.in/2013/01/which-formula-1-driver-is-most-popular.html

    What would be even more interesting is to see their international appeal, barring their home country.

    1. Kiran says:

      So the selfie helps! :-)

    2. Basil says:

      This one has more weight than any Twitter statistic.

  7. C Lin says:

    I think the most talked about driver in the social media (not just twitter but blogs, forums, etc) has to be Kimi Raikkonen.

    Like you say James, his fanbase is very vocal & active in social media so are the anti-Kimi guys.

    It will be fun in 2014 with Kimi & Alonso (most talk about driver on twitter)in the same team. Busy year for the media.

  8. Mark says:

    Seems it doesn’t matter what the list is, it comes down to Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Merc…..

    1. Random 79 says:

      Nah, apparently McLaren haven’t done so well in the 2013 FIA PleaseTalkAboutMe Championship either…

  9. German Samurai says:

    At least Alonso and Webber can beat Vettel in something…

    1. Basil says:

      Oh, now you showed them..

  10. Robert says:

    It has to be Jenson Button…not only does he get mentioned as much as a McLaren driver usually does, he also gets free mentions whenever someone talks about Lewis…as in “and Lewis destroyed Jenslow (or NoGrip) at McLaren!”. This makes him by far the most mentioned driver.

    I am, of course, being cynical, as a JB fan..

    1. J.Danek says:

      “It has to be Jenson Button…not only does he get mentioned as much as a McLaren driver usually does, he also gets free mentions whenever someone talks about Lewis…as in “and Lewis destroyed Jenslow (or NoGrip) at McLaren!”. This makes him by far the most mentioned driver.”

      chortle chortle! lol…that was hilarious. I’m still sniggering hehe

  11. Bertrada says:

    I was surprised that “Raikkonen” was as high as it were, considering that he is more often than not referred simply as Kimi, even by Lotus twitter (“#kimi”).

    So unless this data gathering took that in consideration, I wouldn’t make too definitive conclusions based on it (other question would be to ask if they also included or excluded “Räikkönen” which is used by German and Scandinavian media and fans and could futher skew the figures).

    And on top of that, apart from maybe “the Hulk”, Kimi is the only one of the current drivers who has a recognisable and often used nickname.

    1. ffcunha says:

      i think you´re right, specially Kimi is refered several times on different ways, Kimi, Raikkonen or Iceman.

    2. Marc Saunders says:

      I believe all names and niknames are taken into consideration

      1. Bertrada says:

        I have to say that the low results seem to indicate that they aren’t. When his Ferrari deal was announced he was even trending world wide – or should I say “Kimi Räikkönen” was trending world wide… (https://twitter.com/KimiFanPage/status/377792455493844992/photo/1)

        (But if you have more info about how this study was carried out, please share, as this is very interesting)

  12. Random 79 says:

    I like this table much better than the WDC standings :)

  13. Nic Maennling says:

    The statistical results of Twitter do not really amount for much. It exists only because we can quantify the activity. Analysing the content would be more meaningful and that is impossible, thank goodness.

  14. Cedgy says:

    Lewis Hamilton might have been quiet on Twitter not so on Instagram however. Twitter isn’t the only social media platform and I personally find Instagram a lot more entertaining and fun!

  15. Rockie says:

    Its surprising that even without the twitter account Vettel is right up there wonder if he had one what the result would be like?

  16. Graham says:

    …. a forum with people talking about people who were talked about the most online….

    I’m off to the real world ;-)

    G

    1. Glennb says:

      Love it :)

  17. sfethehat says:

    Facebook + Twitter fans/followers by AutoRacing Drivers Fan List say that’s Lewis Hamilton the most talked about. At the moment on Twitter Alonso is N°1 followed by Lewis. on Facebook Lewis reigns supreme, followed by Vettel…

  18. sfethehat says:

    And I’m glad Lewis has kept it quiet. Just keep working man… He even recognized himself in his BBC column what went wrong from him last year. At least he’s more valued at Mercedes now.
    So excited for 2014!

  19. Marpabel says:

    Maybe out of topic but askmen.com elected Kimi Raikkonen on Top 49 Most Influential Men-2013 (position 33). Alongside of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Christiano Renaldo (38).No more F1 drivers on the list.

  20. Marc Saunders says:

    Please correct, Mexico is “North America” not “South América” Only two pilots belong to the southern part of the American continent, they are Massa (Brazil) and Maldonado (Venezuela) from Panamá to the north, the countries belongs to Central América, and Mexico, USA and Canadá constitute North América. It is also common to call Latin-America or Ibero-America the countries that speaks Spanisch and Portuguese.

    1. J.Danek says:

      I agree that it would be better for media to refer to men like Massa, Maldonado, Gutierrez and Perez as “Latin American” drivers, rather than breaking them down into North, Central and South Americans, or worse still, incorrectly identifying them as all coming from one continent… (ex. “South American drivers punch above their weight with **Sergio Perez** perhaps surprising many with 4th place, followed by Pastor Maldonado 6th and Felipe Massa 7th.” — when of course as you say Perez is not South American…grrrr.).

      I disagree, however, that it’s in any way common in english-language media (or F1 forum discussions) to refer to Latin-Americans as Ibero-America, although it might be technically correct to do so http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibero-America).

      Cheers.

      1. Spectreman says:

        Those drivers are Americans, period. There’s no need for differentiation, even with the media insisting on putting all the “not-white-enough people from the Americas” in the same bag because, since there are no superior Anglo-Saxons from North America currently competing in F1, there’s no risk (God forbid) of them getting mixed up.

  21. Iceman says:

    Drivers thoughts during the above photo session…

    Hamilton: Look at all these fools around me, they have no idea that success actually means visiting an orphanage, not scoring podiums !!!

    Rosberg: I’m gonna imagine that I’m wearing a tie.

    Massa: hmm… Sauber

    Alonso: I’m not even gonna try looking towards my left, I’m gonna pretend that he doesn’t exist

    Vettel: Yes … Yes … Thank you boys … Hope I’m not getting used to this seat … Let us take a moment to enjoy it… when we have it.

    Webber: Now… I can relax my shoulders

    Button: I donno what he is so happy about … He’s gonna be driving some stupid Porsche cars (no offense to Porsche racing)

    Perez: Is there light at the end if the tunnel ?

    Heiki: Call me Kimi

    Romain (coz I have no idea how to spell his last name): I hope someone wakes me after the photo session

    Hulk: I am the Hulk

    Gutirez: I’m Hulk 2

    Di Resta: Oops I bit my tongue… May be I should have done that for the second half of the season… And I’d have still had my seat

    Sutil: Am I the 4th best German driver in the world ?

    Maldo: For all that money … I’m definitely gonna have the first call at pit stops next year

    Bottas: I hope I don’t put on more weight o’er the winter

    Max: The woods are lovely, dark and deep, I have miles to go before I sleep. (Or .. “Twinkle twinkle little star” … I have no clue)

    Bianchi: Rookie of the year hunn ..??

    VdG: (can’t guess … Someone please give it a try)

    Pic: $#!t … My pants are falling off…

    Ricciardo: I can surely out perform Seb… In beard growing that is

    JEV: I hope Kvyat doesn’t kick the cr@p out if me next season

    Kimi (@ a bar in Helsinki): Kaada minulle toinen (meaning “pour me another one” in Finnish, i.e. according to google translate… Finnish fans please suggest that right phrase ;)

    1. J.Danek says:

      I would like to read your quote for what Button is saying to Webber in THIS version of that pic!!

      http://imgur.com/GeMQ56f

      And Grosjean, as well – he looks quite surly actually!!!

      lol…

      1. Iceman says:

        Hi J.Danek,

        I’ll have to re-quote Button after looking at the pic in your link. Now it seems more like …

        Button: After all these years in Formula 1 … Now it looks like we could be team mates @ Porsche in 2015 afterall … Shall I send you my resume ?

        OR

        Button : I’m more than happy to take your place as the oldest driver on the grid !!!

      2. Glennb says:

        I know for a fact that Jenson was enquiring as to whether or not it was Mark that farted. The look on Mark’s face answers the question. That also explains Romain’s expression. Hope that clears it up for you J. Danek

      3. J.Danek says:

        haha. cheers both of you for the laughs.

  22. AK says:

    Is this just english language twitter conversations or is it based on all twitter activity, german, spanish, french etc. included ? Vettel is pretty high on the list, considering he doesnt have his own twitter account.

  23. Elie says:

    Given given that Raikkonen doesn’t even have twitter account it’s not really going to give you a true picture is it.
    Agree on the points made by Bertrada post. 11.

    Further,when you see Finnish flags in the hands of people who probably don’t even know where Finland is it should tell you something. People like him and do talk about him with on social media or just word of mouth.

    1. Glennb says:

      I dont think Seb has an account either…

      1. Elie says:

        Yep agree..It’s also worth remembering Germany has a population of 87million and Spain 47. Seb is a 4 times existing WC.Finland has a population of 5m. Forgetting home ground population and twitter,I bet you Kimi is more popular than every driver combined– not that he gives a sh..& that is precisely why we love him

  24. StephenAcworth says:

    James, I think there is something amiss in the figures you cite. They seem awfully low. I am working with a graduate student studying the role of Twitter in developing fan loyalty: we are working with the Ottawa Senators (an NHL team). Using a variety of tools, it is possible to see the conversations around the team, and the individual players and in a year, they are significantly higher than those for the drivers you mention. I would think that, as F1 is a global sport, the number of conversations would be considerably higher than the less-than 20m your data shows. Thanks!

  25. NickH says:

    Raikkonen said himself in Hungary, “I don’t have a twitter” haha

  26. Sebee says:

    Looks like Alonso may be on the 2014 version of James’ book cover. Just look at the potential!

    I’m shocked, shocked I said, that with the king of drama is in 8th. Behind Massa, Maldonado, Perez too!

    1. Elie says:

      No The king of drama is in his rightful “Twitter” place 1st!
      When he and Lewis were “together” it was like an episode of general hospital
      In 2014 it will be more like an episode of Southpark where FA will be Kenny : )

  27. nhial says:

    Articles like this make me question why I keep visiting this site. Twitter? Really? All that tells you is who has the most fans. There is no greater team or brand world wide than Ferrari. Naturally Ferraris #1 driver will have the most followers and rightfully so because Alonso is a great driver and sports figure. I’m no statistician but I’m willing to bet Hamilton is the most talked about driver. Why? Because he is so polarizing. All websites know that if they write an article on Lewis Hamilton, fans will join in the discussion. Case in point, the 2013 driver analysis between Hamilton and Rosberg.

  28. jose says:

    Clearly in your blog don’t write many Alonso fans lol

  29. Ballard says:

    If Raikkonen had a twitter, I am guessing he would have 5 million plus followers. Easily the most talked about guy in f1.

  30. Horoldo says:

    Hi James,

    It would be interesting to see the numbers for mentions per driver in your comments database this year .

  31. Keith says:

    Raikkonen was listed as number 33 on the most influential men in the world by askmen. In front of a football player and a world president. Not bad.

  32. Seifenkistler says:

    There are some german social networks which are limited to german language users. Also as soon as you leave the towns germany is like athird world land with internet access at the countryside.

    When i look at the predictions for elections in germany the internet based ones fail because they have less input from countryside people.

    Finland for its small size has a very good internet access for years and people are used to it.

  33. holly says:

    No surprise about Alonso on the first spot, he does a good job with twitter and I think he is the driver with more followers.

  34. JB says:

    Looks like Vettel is the most popular guy who is not involved in social media.

    Alonso and Webber both have their own advertising campaign to get fans to support him.

    I think F1 is really blessed for having such a great role model.

  35. Richard says:

    Considering Lewis can’t seperate social life and F1, Im fairly suprised to see him only in 8th.

  36. mike says:

    Alonso top does not surprise me, he is a twitter hound, it’s the best place for him to view air his usual excuses and political comments.

  37. Kimi4WDC says:

    Kimi.

  38. 6 Wheeled Tyrrell says:

    Last I checked, Mexico was not part of South America.

  39. holmes says:

    LOL Why’s Rosberg missed in the article? He’s fifth.

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