F1 Winter Break
Your chance to be part of FOTA Fans Forum at McLaren HQ
McLaren Honda
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Jun 2011   |  4:53 pm GMT  |  95 comments

You’ll have to be quick to take advantage of this opportunity, as today we are announcing the latest initiative in the FOTA Fans Forum programme; a UK event at the McLaren Technology Centre on June 30th.

The Fans Forum is a unique opportunity for F1 fans to meet face to face with the competitors to ask questions and put across their points of view on the sport they love.

As with the recent Montreal Forum we will break the 90 minute programme into three parts:

This segment will focus on The Show, and how to improve it. The racing, the rules, the calendar and the television coverage are some of the topics that will come under the spotlight, and answering your questions will be the following:
– Martin Whitmarsh, FOTA chairman and team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
– Ross Brawn, team principal of the Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team
– Graeme Lowdon, chairman, Marussia Virgin Racing
– Robert Fernley, deputy team principal, Force India F1 Team

“Formula One is nothing without its fans,” says Ross Brawn. “We’re always looking for ways to improve the sport and this is your opportunity to tell us what you think.”

How have the technical changes for 2011 affected the racing, and what else would you like to see introduced? What about the proposed 4 cylinder turbo engines for 2013? Put your questions to some of F1’s brightest brains, as follows:
– Paddy Lowe, technical director, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
– James Allison, technical director, Lotus Renault GP
– Paul Monaghan, head of race engineering, Red Bull Racing

Two F1 drivers will be at the Forum. The floor will be yours to ask them questions, but FOTA will take the opportunity to highlight the ‘Save Japan’ appeal, which is close to both men present. The drivers will be:
– Lewis Hamilton, 2008 World Champion, driver for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
– Kamui Kobayashi, driver, Sauber F1 Team

“I started watching F1 as a fan back in the late ’80s,” says Lewis Hamilton. “Back then I would have loved to meet some of the sport’s participants, so I think this is a great initiative by FOTA.”

Tickets to all Fans Forums are limited. People wanting to attend the event in Woking are asked to email a question to the panel, including their contact details and, if possible, their twitter accounts, to the following email address: info@teamsassociation.org.

Successful applicants will receive a confirmation email from FOTA. Please do not come to the event if you do not have an email from FOTA.

The reason we ask for a question is so we can tell from the volume of questions, which are the subjects of greatest interest to fans.

To give you a flavour of the event, here’s a video of last week’s Fans Forum in Montreal, from the third session, which discussed social media and fan interaction.

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John Nicholson

I have recently visited the new silverstone wing and paddock complex, and my first reaction is that although it is better for the racing teams and media, the public are getting moved further away. I have been to many circuits around the world, and in the past felt that silverstone was one of the most accessible, something which it may have now lost. What can you do to give a better experience to the race goers, that part with their hard earned cash?


Great that FOTA are doing these forums, it's a really positive step for the fans.

But shame that again this in the South East, even further South this time. Of course I am not surprised, these sort of things always are...

Won't waste my time saying any more.


I had to travel 2 hours just across London to get to Piccadilly for the first FOTA event James Allen hosted here. Definitely worth it and certainly little need to complain about where this is hosted.


you mean you would't brave a train journey for a chance such as this! Really? Just be glad this is in the UK!


It's not a matter of "braving a train journey", it would be matter of cost & time. Somewhere between £300 for trains alone & 4-5 hours each way. So depending on what time the forum was also a hotel for a night.

Not exactly a realistic prospect for most people - including myself.

I should be glad it's in the UK? May as well be the other side of the world as far as the practicalities for me go - for the second time.


I am on the other side of the world... I would need to organise plane tickets, visa, plus train ride and accommodation, and if I could afford it I would go.

Just saying... 🙂


Totally agree. If these events were held in the Midlands then they would be a lot more accessible to people who live further North.

Personally given the choice between the cost that attending this would entail or saving for a pair of tickets to Silverstone in 2012, I know which I'll choose.

Marty McSuperFly

£300 for the train?

I travelled London to Edinburgh return for less than half that last week.

I’d be first in line to complain about F1 ticket prices, bit getting narky over the location of a free event is a bit much, no?


I think that's a bit harsh mate. There's loads of us all over the world who'd love to attend an event like this. Given that there's entire continents which haven't had one of these forums yet, it would seem foolish to worry about whether people further north in the UK might be inconvenienced. (And I'm originally from Scotland, so well used to the South-East England-centric focus in the UK).


It's in the UK, be greatful for that for goodness sake...A huge thank you for James for organising it.

The last Fans Forum was in Canada! Woking's closer than that...


If McLaren got to read my twitter account, they'll ban me from Woking for a lifetime !


They have already banned you.


What is your twitter account.. 😀


click on the link, you'll find it


Well done, James. A dream of an opportunity.


I've emailed my question! A trip to McLaren HQ would be lovely!


Well said Luca. There is so much misinformation circulating the internet. It's scary to witness how many people believe what they read on webpages that clearly are not reliable sources.


That false information is going to be out there regardless if you've verified official accounts then it's harder for the false stories to get credence.


I don't understand why FOTA can't stream these meeting online. They complain that FOA could make a better use of the Internet but themselves fail to exploit even the most obvious advantages that the Internet gives. These kindof meetings are of course good to establish a connection between fans and the teams but they are very limited in terms of the number of fans who can afford (time-wise and money-wise) to attend them. It creates some kind of a club of especially devoted fans who are willing to spend much time and money to participate and who are lucky enough to get into one of these meetings. FOTA really should consider live-streaming because it will considerably expand coverage with moderate costs. In addition, FOTA could interactively accept questions from live streaming viewers.

James, if you can somehow influence the format of these meetings, communicate the idea to the organizers, please do so. I think that fans would really appreciate. Thank you


They actually are allowing wifi so fans can blog the event live and have give the #FOTAFans twitter trend to use.


What time of day will it be held?


I have submitted my question. Let's see.


Wow... Fantastic. The more exciting drivers in F1 face to face with us, hard core fans. Amazing!

But, James, we need more video coverage this time.



On a different topic, I read that a familiar tobacco brand has renewed its "collaboration" with Ferrari. Have you noticed that even without the wording, the Ferrari car looks like it's cigarette packet in the way they employ white triangles?

With tobacco advertising banned, it's a shame that Ferrari are not using innovation with the car in the same way they pushing the non use of cigarette branding.


Is it me, or this permanent "Ferrari is supported by a tobacco producer" mantra is becoming more and more boring?


Is it possible that some people would this issue to divert attention away from other issues that they are not proud of?


Such as ?????????


It's not a trivial matter when seeing how some tonbacco companies are tergetting third world addiction....and Ferrari is in the unique position where it can afford to pick and choose it sponsors unlike the smaller teams.


Could another alternative sponsor be a government-owned news network from a populous nation? 😉


The dangers associated with smoking tobacco have been known for at least 50 years. The manner in which the tobacco industry target vulnerable members of every society has been known for the bulk of this period. Nevertheless, most F1 teams continued to accept sponsorship from cigarette manufacturers for more than 40 years after the links between smoking tobacco and various health ailments were established, and only sought alternatives because of legislation prohibiting tobacco advertising in the EU and around the world. It would be fair to assume that, had such legislation not been introduced, then most F1 teams would still be accepting sponsorship from companies associated with the tobacco industry.

When reading the views of people who attack an F1 team that is sponsored by a tobacco company, one should recall the complete silence of such people on a variety of issues, such as: (a) the phenomenal sums of money that many teams competing in the sport received for 30-plus years; (b) the sizeable sponsorship that many teams enjoy today from the producers of alcohol; (c) the role of certain sovereign wealth funds in the organisational structure of certain teams; and (d) the communication early last year between a certain team seeking sponsorship and the government of a country that is currently being bombarded by NATO forces.


At least they have not been bought by a Bahrain sovereign fund... 😉


What do you propose - an innovative scheme such as selling a significant stake of the organisation to a sovereign wealth fund from a nation that many F1 fans believe should not hold a GP for moral reasons?


Sponsorhip with a non tobacco organisation?

Especially as F1 has removed it's addiction to using tobacco sponsorship with one very obvious example. Tobacco advertisements have been banned for a reason.


Tobacco advertising was actually banned in numerous nations that held grands prix long before most F1 teams ditched their respective tobacco industry sponsorship. But as some people choose to ignore such inconvenient truths, perhaps we should consider the alternative forms of sponsorship that some other teams have either sought or benefited from in recent years. One particular team was sponsored by a government-owned television network from a country that many people on this site have argued should not be entitled to hold a grand prix for moral reasons. If I recall correctly, the team in question approached this television network after becoming aware of how much publicity a smaller F1 team that was being sponsored by the network was receiving in the network’s homeland. More recently, the same team produced computer-generated images of its car featuring a slogan that encouraged people to visit a country that is currently being bombarded by NATO forces. For some reason, such actions do not attract the wrath of the righteous.


at the end of the day its money and big money is tobaco. However we have gone past those days and this brand remains the only one in F1. I agree with you tobbaco should have no place in Sport non-stop, but without money they is no team funding. However williams did have a short stint a few years back with Nquitine, which I guess was along the right lines.


All the other teams manage to operate without getting money from the tobaco industry why should Ferrari be any different?

It's not like Ferrari are going to struggle to find sponsors either is it?


Ferrari were reported to have recieved $1 billion from the 2005-2011 deal, i am guessing if they were approached with a better offer for the future they would take it. I can not see ferrari despiritaly stay connected to tobaco.

Andrew Halliday

I disagree totally. If these companies have money (which they have large amounts of) then wouldn't it be better that it's used for the good of a sport rather than doing nothing? I'm in Australia at the moment where they're trying to bring in a law which prevents cigarette packets from having any branding on them whatsoever. Why? People will still choose to smoke. If a non smoker is convinced to smoke by seeing tobacco advertising then that's their problem. I'd much prefer it if the tobacco companies were allowed to advertise, think of all the additional money this would bring to the sport.

Damian & Ed, do you have a problem with alcohol advertising in F1? You may remember when we had the French GP the alcohol logos had to be changed as alcohol advertising isn't allowed in sport in France. I don't remember hearing loads of people voicing the opinion that this was a fantastic idea and we should ban alcohol from F1 as well.

How about just banning F1? It clearly promotes fast driving which is unsafe and if anyone was to copy this on our roads they could cause an accident.


I totally agree with you in that it is definatly someones problem if they start smoking on the back of a logo on a car. As personally I think that it would be real cause for concern if people in f1 were pictured smoking... but they are not as they know the risks. Tobaco and alchol advertising are different in some sense. Alchol can be consumed in safe quantaties socially, like most people do in the evenings, yes there are problems with bing drinking, but then people dont care what they drink as long as they get smashed.

But i think connection to a brand has no harm, it would meerly sway a user from a rival brand to their brand. I do not think that advertising would start you using a given product or service unless you have seen an individual e.g. a driver use a given product.

If you see a computer brand on the side of a car for instance that is not going to make you buy a computer, rather think twice about the status and the level of the brand and would probably lead you to concider it in future purchases of a computer.

Marty McSuperFly

Agreed. But the Ni-Quitin money was GSK, which some would argue is a big bad pharma company.

Not that I would be one of them.


Many teams are sponsored by the producers of alcoholic beverages - hardly the healthiest of substances.


Non-drinkers also suffer from the effects of alcohol consumption. eg. violence, automotive collisions.

Alcohol harms both the brain and the liver of people who consume the substance.


Smoking is a carcinogen - an agent that casuses cancer, even for non smokers in the same room - it is called passive smoking.

There is no comparison to drinking which is only harmful when not consumed in moderation.

Marty McSuperFly

Hi James

I must say I’m impressed with the fan involvement programme, it’s pretty unique.

I wouldn’t be able to attend, but if I could I would like to ask the panel if they think that tobacco sponsorship still has any place in F1.

I’m not Ferrari fan baiting or expecting the panel to be pious*

But I’d be interested to hear how they feel about Philip Morris’ involvement in their sport.


*All teams represented at the panel (with Redbull/Jaguar/Stewart and Virgin excepted) have used tobacco sponsorship in the past.


Is alcohol advertising appropriate in F1?

Marty McSuperFly

Are you asking me, or the thread?

Its probably a safe answer to say that as it's allowed in other sports, why not F1?

Should it be allowed in sports is another question alltogether...

The problem in comparing the two industries, is that whilst alcohol has been inappropriately marketed by the industry, it was not knowingly sold with highly addictive carcinogens which were then denied to exist.

Whilst alcohol is certainly linked with an increased risk of cancer, it's addiction is (I believe) usually based on a psychological issue. But long term I guess you could also argue that its a chemical dependence too.

To be honest, I don't know which of the two has more of a societal impact.

But anyway, lets not pretend that the majority teams were in a hurry get rid of the tabacco money, it was due to an enforced legislation.


Thanks for your comments.


You have no idea how jealous I am. I look forward to the chance of one of these occurring in Australia.


Me too!!


I'm just pondering what kind of questions Lewis would have asked the drivers in the late eighties as a 3 year old.


I'd just like to thank you again James for the audio that you posted prior.

While the video was lacking, in the end it's what was SAID that really matters, and I greatly appreciate that you gave us (what I believe was) an uncut and complete audio recording of the event.

So thanks!!


My two favorite drivers will be there. 🙁 Anybody feels the need to sponsor me a plane ticket to England? 🙂 🙂

All I want to ask is why collisions or overtaking moves that ended up as collisions are so heavily punished these days? If the DRS was introduced to assist overtaking, why are overtakes, or attempted overtakes frowned upon when they go wrong? Isn't it a risk of the sport? With the very improved safety these days in F1 the risk of injury or death are so greatly reduced that penalising a broken front wing seems almost trivial. What kind of investigation would the stewards have made with the Mark Webber accident in Valencia last year? Would that be classified as an avoidable collision?

Well, that is what is on my mind. Maybe that question will be asked anyways, so looking forward to the video... 🙂


Well if you were pouring millions into an F1 team and your team was running in the points only to bumped off by a Sutil every race - you would be livid. Every point is worth millions of dollars. Every driver has millions of fans. Being shunted causing your driver to go to lose places or have a DNF, should be punished severely.


Granted, but the penalties awarded to Alonso for damaging his wing on Hamilton's car earlier in the year and also Di Resta's penalty now in the Canadian GP were in my opinion not justified. I won't even go into Monaco, that horse has been flogged to death.

But, if your driver is running in the points and someone attempts to overtake that driver, it is also in his best interest to avoid a collision is it not? What is better, a lower points scoring position or a DNF? But, if a driver messes up like Vettel did last year with Button (just taking that situation as an example), that has merit to be investigated. They are taking racing incident investigations to far. That is my opinion.


Thanks James. I've sent in my question. Put in a good word for me!

I even drive past MTC every day!


Hi James,

Can I expand on Liam smart's reply, it would be great to have a fan forum in the Asia Pacific region, now that 1/4 to 1/3 of the races are now taking place in the region.

I'm thinking that Singapore would be a great place to organise that. There seem to be a lot of Aussies and Europeans mixing it with the locals out there.


This made me laugh:

"I started watching F1 as a fan back in the late '80s," says Lewis Hamilton.

Come on Lewis, you were born in '85, nobody is a F1 fan at age three or four...


Why not? My youngest boy was hooked at age of 2.


I submitted my question. Maybe once in a lifetime I'm lucky ... Great initiative James.

I always wanted to visit the McLaren HQ.


Sent my question of yesterday, fingers crossed I get in. Last years forum was fantastic and this year they seem to have stepped it up again!

Any idea when we may know if we were successful? I'll need to book the time off work.

Great work James/FOTA.


May help if I put the right email...






James, Sadly can't make the forum,very pleased that it is happening.

Why does everyone have the same engine?

Is there a solution for encouraging 4 cylinder turbos while keeping current engines for those that wish, with some type of performance regulator so that all types of engine are competitive with their own advantages and disadvantages.

A solution to keep the Renault camp and the Ferrrari camp happy.


Sent and waiting with crossed fingers!


Gutted, the event is already filled and no more emails will be read.

Damn it.


Have you heard back from them? I sent an email yesterday and didnt hear back as yet.


A great opportunity to get to see McLaren HQ at the MTC! I read on the McLaren website that they have a 10 minute walk underground tunnel linking the MPC to the MTC!

How long before James Bond makes an appearance there?


Andy, I sent an email today at 1pm and got an autoresponse almost immediately, notifying me that it was full.

At least your email got through!


You wouldn't believe how many fans have applied for this one. But it's always first come first served.


It is many times oversubscribed. I'm sure emails will go out shortly


Thanks James. Not often the average fan gets to go to MTC so can understand the excitement...


I love F1 with great passion and yet to be in any competition. Great Sport, Great People, Great Wares.


I love F1 with great passion and yet to be in any competition. Great Sport, Great People, Great Wears.


Could you mention first come first served next time? I was trying to think up a good question after reading you post but seemingly speed was the only factor.


James, this is wonderful. Too bad I couldn't get to Montreal; for that matter, to Watkins Glen.

I'm thinking that if The Glen is safe enough for an Indycar race (and they run there on the full GP course) then it's safe enough for F1. Surely it can't be less safe than Monaco!

I know it isn't glammed out like so many modern tracks and that it isn't in or around a major city (that's part of why Bernie left, isn't it?), and maybe this is something you can put to them at greater length another time, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get some more reaction from Lewis regarding his time at The Glen, and from Martin Whitmarsh too. Was Whitmarsh there, and what was his opinion of the place? Would Lewis like to race there, rather than just a one-off demo, and would Whitmarsh, Ross Brawn (and has he been there?) etc support returning to the USGP's true home?

Man, if they put a race there, folks would be up the Thruway to The Finger Lakes in the proverbial New York minute.

I dunno, maybe someone can go around Bernie directly to CVC and convince them to cut a deal with ISC (the track owners, and an entity controlled by the France family) to hold a race there 😉


Hamilton started watching F1 in the late '80 ???? He is born in 1985 !?! Come on !!!


Any news if the lucky invite emails have gone out yet?

I put a question in on the 7th June after looking on the FOTA webpage long before it was announced to be at the MTC with Lewis Hamilton and hope for better luck then my olympic ticket application!


To answer my own question the email invites went out today.


Never won anything in my life and decided to apply for this. Why not I thought.

Turns out I won a ticket but can't afford the plane trip from australia.

Once in a lifetime opportunity to go to the factory of the team I support and meet the driver I support.

Sucks 🙁


Have you let FOTA know you won't take up the ticket?


Indeed, especially as there are people like myself sitting on the edge of their seats waiting, hoping to get an invite that live just round the corner from the MTC.


Hi - I got my lucky email 30 mins ago, I'm coming to MTC next week and I don't think I'm going to stop smiling until then 😀


Great, see you there. Thanks for supporting


I've had an invite to the forum next week at MTC it came through this afternoon.

Just out of interest how many fans will be going to this event and how are you selected to ask a question?


Me too. Got my invite on email yesterday. Really looking forward to it.

This will be the only, and I mean the only, that having an office in Woking town centre will be deemed a benefit!


First come first served. We look at what topics have the most questions and then I'll pick some questions from the key topics. There'll be a chance to put across points of view too.


First come first served? Does that mean for those with invites it's not guaranteed entry?


First come first serve on the tickets via email, not entry to the event if you got a ticket.


i am one of the lucky few 🙂

The email says ...dear f1 supporter and guest..does this mean i am both or i can bring a guest? if anyone can answer this i would be really greatful


Another email was sent yesterday clarifying that the you are both supporter and guest therefore the ticket is for one person only.


Well just sent off my questions. F1 is more exciting than ever this year (even if the same guy keeps winning...lol


Hi James, stupid question but will there be time for autographs? I can't be in a room with all those F1 peeps and not get something signed!


Gutted looks like I missed out then as I've yet to see any email replies yet even though I sent in my question pretty much as soon as the article went up.

Well done to all that did get in and I look forward to seeing what goes on!

Maybe I'll have some better luck next year.


Just got back from the F1 forum @ MTC - it was fantastic. A great experience, nice to hear some people taking less of a "party line" than they usually do.

Also met Paul Mongahan from RBR. He was VERY coy about certain things that the McLaren people were very open about - just goes to show the mindset difference!

But a great day all round. I met Kamui, and got a freebie McLaren book of all cars 1964-2008 (300 pages worth!).

I still prefer Williams though 🙂

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