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.”