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Fans Forum Video- Chapter 1: The Fan Experience and the Show
Fans Forum Video- Chapter 1: The Fan Experience and the Show
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2010   |  7:17 pm GMT  |  19 comments

Formula 1 fans had the chance to meet face to face with leading figures from the sport at the FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander.

The event was a unique opportunity for the fans and the sport to come together and exchange ideas.

The panel for the Forum, held in London on July 1, was led by Martin Whitmarsh, FOTA chairman and team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and featured Tony Fernandes, team principal of Lotus Racing, Jock Clear, Senior Race Engineer, Mercedes GP Petronas F1 team, Luca Colajanni, Head of Motorsport Press Office, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and Paul di Resta test and reserve driver, Force India F1 team.

The first subject under discussion was “The Fan Experience and the Show”.

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Damian Johnson

Hi James, Was high definition TV broadcast discussed at the FOTA Fans Forum? I believe that this would make a big difference to the F1 viewing experience for those that have a HD ready tv.



Talk about F1’s opportunity to reach broader audiences: in the video footage of the forum, there aren’t many women that I can see at all. Where are they? Does F1 know why they aren’t as passionate, or was the Fan Forum an aberration in this respect?

Regards, Jerry


According to the latest politically correct view there are NO differences between men and women, so I think you are just imagining this.


Thank you so very much for making this happen James. It’s also great that FOTA is so willing to reach out and touch the fans these days.

I thought also that there was a very good representation of teams on the panel, although maybe missing Red Bull. I think Lotus is now becoming quite an accepted team because of their passion, drive to succeed, attempting to make modern Lotus the same as the one with heritage, and reaching out to the fans of F1. For any future events, I would love to see Bernie Ecclestone on the panel as well.

As for improving the show, I totally agree with Jock Clear. As a fan I want the same information that is available to the teams.

But first what needs to be improved is the information given to viewers on television. Grand prix racing is primarily consumed on television. It’s as simple as running a ribbon at the bottom of the screen, with car positions and gap to car ahead constantly scrolling left, updated at each sector. In terms of the visual, that’s all you need, but it’s huge.

For the more complicated stuff, F1 can publish live data on the internet. Things like sector by sector live timing and pit stop projections (i.e. Where would a car come out if it pitted now?).

I also thought the idea of being able to listen to team radio channels, which was raised by Tony Fernandes, was a brilliant idea. I probably wouldn’t listen to it during a race, but certainly would for the other sessions, especially qualifying. And easily being able to switch which team to listen to would be great. Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we could even choose which commentators to listen to during a race?

In terms of social networking (or social broadcasting), I think where F1 is now is great. I feel so informed by reading twitter on advertisement breaks during a race. It also keeps me in touch during free practice sessions (which are not broadcast in Australia – except for the Melbourne GP). Actually, if you follow F1 team personnel and journalists on twitter alone, you’re informed all the time with news as it happens. I think that’s perfect.

Now, I know how important revenue from television rights are for Formula One Management, but I would love it if FOM had a subscription based online service where I could watch F1 sessions live. Even if at least the practice sessions were shown that would be great. I’m not sure why, even though watching F1 cars running around during practice is probably pointless, I love it. I’m sure others do as well.

One other thing F1 needs to work on in terms of improving the show is what actually happens at the track on a race weekend. I think the number of F1 sessions is fine, but I think fans will appreciate a permanent feeder category (F2 or GP2) – like MotoGP, Moto2 and 125’s are shown on a MotoGP weekend. When I rocked up to the Melbourne GP earlier this year, I timed it so that I was at the track just before the race (i.e. Paid Sunday grandstand tickets just to watch the GP). That’s because there’s nothing else to follow on a GP weekend. But, if F1’s future drivers were all competing in the feeder category (I want older drivers as well), I think it would be quite an improvement for fans attending grand prix.

What I don’t want to see however, is a shorter F1 race, or multiple races on a weekend. I believe grand prix racing should be about engineering and driving excellence, over the single race 1.5 hour format.

The other thing I quite like and that I think all the teams should consider are fan membership programmes, like the one I have with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It certainly brings the team much closer to the fans. Great revenue source for the teams as well, as it will probably boost sales on merchandise.

Just wanted to say thanks again James for taking our questions to the teams and publishing the videos for us all to see.


I was lucky enough to be one of the few attending the event.

I really enjoyed it, and was struck by how personable all of the panel were.

They were engaging, witty and entertaining and at the same time revealing, forthright and enlightening.

I can’t imagine you would ever have got Ron Dennis, Jean Todt or Flavio Briatore to attend something like this, and take unknown questions from an audience, let alone get them to interact and joke with each other along with some (always professional) leg-pulling.

These men were iconic individuals and consummate team leaders (and one playboy), who built the sport into what we know today, and for this they reserve the utmost respect – but they were perhaps a part of the Formula 1 ‘cold war’ era.

The forum yesterday brought it home to me at first hand how these days are gone.

I had a brief word with Luca after the event, and he banished any misperceptions based on his often guarded approach when confronted by the media on any given (and often controversial) subject. I have also heard that the same was true of Ron Dennis, but in the bad old days, we would never have seen this side of him.

This brought home to me how Formula 1 has entered a new era of openness and inclusion. More suited to the modern world, the modern media and the modern fans.


I hope you will be able to pass on the spirit of this message to the panel, and extend my thanks to them for their commitment to engage honestly with the fans. Although this was a public relations exercise, it felt genuinely not contrived, and hopefully will be the start of many similar events.

And lastly I would like to extend my thanks to you James, without whom none of this would have happened.


Thank you very much for doing this, James. It sounds like it was a good event.

Keep the videos coming 🙂


What a wonderful event for fans to see and participate in,well done James!

One thing i would like to ask,did any question come up regarding engine power standardisation?

Recent comments by C Horner about how he feels the Renault engine is around 30/35bhp short of the best,which is Mercedes,i would not advocate a standard power unit,but are there plans for any dyno testing for each engine to ensure one does not have a huge advantage?


Enjoying the vids immensely, James.

Good job!


With the price of a ticket now days, the average fan is not getting much bang for his buck.I know that Bernie would never copy an idea from another series, but NASCAR has their drivers do autograph sessions during the race week-end. Each driver has his own trailer selling hats, t-shirts etc., the teams too. On the broadcast side the IRL does a side by side where the commercials are run in one window on the screen with sound while in another window it still shows the action on the track with no sound.


I agree with you, Tom, the Yanks certainly have developed the knack of presenting their motorsport very well! As evidenced by the following of NASCAR, (in person) and IRL,(on TV). Why else would so many people want to watch 35 cars go round and round? I watch F1, NASCAR, IRL, Moto GP, Jetsprinting, and boxing, and I find F1 lags behind in keeping the fans up to date with technical developements, design trends, tactics, and other interesting info. And also, the F1 commentators seem to be criticle smart-arses who love to be-little and degrade competitors, teams, etc. (Which doesn’t help their sponsorship endevours). I really want to find a site which is a goldmine of tech info, seriously tech!



Can I just say how nice it is to hear these engineers and experts speaking about Formula 1 without interjections from kids TV presenter Jake Humphrey making comments about their clothes or haircut, or waving his iPad in their faces?


Hi James i’m from Greece and here we don’t have the practice sessions on tv (and for the first races this season we didn’t have nor qualy nor race)! So tell them that all the fans around the world who want to follow every step of formula 1 want the action from f1 to the web to the f1 website (we don’t bother who the commentator will be we think that in english it’s good for all)!! And i think that will be a good step to have the telemetry on the web too!!

Jose Arellano

James.. ferrari guy has a very good point on the media coverage of the races.. here in Mexico, the coverage its sooo bad that instead of gaining fans for f1 its loosing them.. they just dont have a clue of whats going…they dont even recognise a driver when they see the car…. they put the engines sounds soo low. that its just bores you away from that channel… i tried to send them an e-mail about this, and its just keeps bouncing back!

A driver gets bored in a F1 race? of course not.. and the closer we get to the action and adrenaline the driver is going thru. the more excited we are going to be.. and if this is achieved even a bahrain race would be good to watch..


Hi James,

This is my first post on your great website! I’m from the Philippines and I’ve been following F1 since my parents got cable back in 1997 and I can say that I know a lot about the ins and outs of the sports already, especially from the last 10 years when the internet blossomed. I got feeds coming off different websites and I have to say that they tend to deliver the news first before you do. However, their reporting is more like generic and without passion, unlike yours, they always have that extra insight that tends to hit a sweet spot on your readers. I always want to read about what you have to say. Thank you for putting up this great site!


Thanks for that. Welcome to the site


Very interesting.

Luca Colajanni’s comments were just very funny

Many thanks to James for making this happen


Hi James,

Since the BBC started covering the races without you alongside Martin, you have been dearly missed. The show is no where near as good as when you were commentating together. I am sure most people would agree that the commentary is 50% of the show.

I have been an avid follower of since it started and the FOTA Fan Forum underlines your greatness at bringing fans closer to F1. I am so impressed with the fantastic following you have created online and your site is always the first place I come to, along with your twitter account, to find out what is really happening in F1.

Congratulations on the FOTA Fan Forum and thank you so much for having it filmed so that we can all enjoy it.

As always I hope to hear you on BBC soon commentating and not just in the driver’s post race conferences!


I second these statements. Today was a great day and a wonderful opportunity for the fans to get closer to the sport. I had a great time at the FOTA fans forum and that’s all thanks to James. Please let me add that James’ knowledge, presence and personality is sorely missed from the BBC coverage and I hope one day he will return to the commentary box.

Thanks again for a truly fantastic day, Nick.

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