F1 Winter Break
An update on the F1 social media battle
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jul 2012   |  4:27 pm GMT  |  75 comments

The fight for on-track supremacy in Formula 1 is proving as tight and competitive as ever this year but an interesting off-track ‘battle’ to monitor from time to time is teams’ efforts to increase their reach in the world of social media.

With F1’s outfits’ participation in such channels now far more established and widespread than was the case a couple of years ago, the numbers of Twitter and Facebook followers the teams enjoy has continued to increase at a fast rate of knots across the board. Our partner site F1i in France has compiled some research on the subject, revealing some interesting comparisons of the picture across both major platforms compared to 12 months ago.


All but three of F1’s teams have enjoyed triple percentage increases in followers over the past 12 months, with Ferrari consolidating its lead over McLaren to nearly 100,000 followers.  Mercedes though had the smallest increase of all and is being closed in on for third place by Red Bull – who added around 86,000 followers in the last year – with Lotus a little further back after an impressive 160% increase itself.

Compared to last year, Caterham has moved ahead of Marussia into sixth place while Sauber, likely to be aided by their sudden surge to prominence in the field this year, has posted the biggest percentage increase of all 355% after adding nearly 50,000 extra fans to its account.

Yet, to put the statistics into some context, F1 teams still have quite some way to go to match the biggest English Premier League football teams’ Twitter reach for instance. Arsenal currently lead the way here with a 1.6 million followers ahead of Chelsea (1.1m) and Liverpool (1m) (Manchester United don’t have an official Twitter account, but do have a massive 26 million ‘likes’ on the club’s Facebook page).


Red Bull’s large 12-month growth in Twitter followers extends to Facebook, with the world champion team having usurped McLaren as the most ‘liked’ F1 team on the grid. Ferrari only ramped up its Facebook activities from a low base inside the last year so no percentage comparison is listed, although the Scuderia is already up to third place, while Williams’ own page is also little over a season old. Force India, meanwhile has the fifth most popular Facebook page, whereas on Twitter the team is ranked only ninth.

Interestingly, further research by our colleagues has shown that while it may only have the seventh-highest number of ‘likes’ of its official page, Lotus has a very engaged Facebook community. A total was calculated for the number of likes’, comments and sharing on posts appearing on F1 team pages with over 100,000 likes across the Thursday-Sunday period of both the European and British GPs, with a coefficient then worked out by dividing by the number of people able to view the page. As the table below shows, here Lotus easily swept the board at both races.

Ferrari’s Facebook presence is not as clear cut or easy to measure against F1 rivals as the F1 programme is not differentiated in the wider Official Ferrari page which has 8,878,330 likes.


Remember you can keep right up to date with all the F1 teams’ social media updates, along with the latest breaking F1 news from all the main online media outlets, right here in one place on JA on F1 via our new Connect site. Click on the banner below to access.

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Bunch of gloat listers...


Woo hoo!


Likes and followers is a vastly overrated way to gauge any team support. Its a shame f1 is so far behind on social media as the world of fashion for example is decades ahead. Its teams and driver that encourage user particiation and give added insight into the f1 world that do well with social media. Alonsos twitter has been a revelation because of this, giving added value to his fans but also conveying his personality. Compare his twitter activitiy to the likes of lewis hamilton and the differences are unparallel. F1 has to use social media, not simply 'get a twitter account' because they feel they have to. This blog is brilliant because of the genuine user participation which adds so much to the users experience! Well done james!


Web 2.0 changes too quickly for industries to be anything but reactive. Twitter may look good now, but it may be 2016's MySpace.

I don't get your argument that F1 "Has to use social media". It doesn't. It's nice to see what FA has for dinner before a race but it doesn't actually adds to your f1 viewing experience. You're not watching Alonso in a GP thinking, "I'm really glad that he had the Szechuan Pork at lunch". Also, there is no "user experience" for F1 because their is no "user" only "consumers". F1 teams realize this, you don't sell merchandise or advertising on twitter or facebook.

What you are doing with Twitter is reading media releases. What you are doing on Facebook is joining a fan-club. These things have existed for a very long time.

I suppose my point here is that these things are of fleeting importance at best. Teams have more important things to do. If Gazzer wants to tweet during a race, that's great, but that's kind of where the impact ends.


I don't think you understand Twitter.

Twitter feeds = real comments by individuals (usually), not news rehashed, out of context and painted with agendas. Mark Webbers is as larrikin and Aussie as Mark is. Something no news broadcast or article can portray. When they respond to comments (some do quite a lot) you are having an actual conversation with a person you could never get close to in real life

Twitter feeds = closer connection by fans. Fans buy merchandise. Have you checked how much Merchandise Ferrari and McLaren sell? Its massive business.


So all of those corporate Twitter accounts (Ferrari, RB, Lotus, Caterham, etc.) have NOTHING to do with official news communications between teams and fans/media? Gascoyne uses Twitter INSTEAD of news releases half the time. It's not like the Sauber acct reflects the personal musings of the C31, it's how they are releasing news updates.

Secondly, Twitter doesn't CREATE fans. You are already interested in a driver/team before you go seek out his twitter account (for instance, I couldn't care less what JEV has on his acct). Ferrari followers follow the Ferrari Twitter acct because they are Ferrari fans. Also, you don't go to twitter to BUY anything. You do that at the race, or online if you need to.

Connections to fans, sure, I'll give you that. But even the most popular tweeters (e.g. Kutcher, Kobe) now have paid employees/PR keepers tweeting for them, usually after they said something they shouldn't have (sounds like a real personal connections there!!).

I'm not saying it's useless. Like I said, it's nice to know that Kamui had his strawberries before free practice. But it's not as important as everyone under 25 will have you believe. Why? It's a cost that generates no revenue.


Totally agree, this blog beats reading Autosport hands down every time, the fact that James responds directly is brilliant.


Different animals.

Autosport is the premier news source for day to day news.

This site is about insight and reflection, bringing fans closer to the sport


I agree completely. Some teams are doing a good job, most a competent one, it's the drivers accounts that really leave room for improved connection to the fan base. The lack of any personality in their activity is extraordinarily apparent. A sense of character, personality, and individuality is what drives the connection between social media users. I understand many drivers have been media trained from a young age to have controlled and scripted interactions with the public, but this attitude has to change now that it's 2012 and we don't just see our drivers on TV or in the papers every other weekend. It's not difficult to maintain an image/standard whilst adding personality to any interactions with the public.

Grayzee (Australia)



Look at Lotus Go!! Yeah, I guess it's the Kimi "ICEMAN" effect & his loyal worldwide fanbase who missed him during the last two years. Also, Romain is not bad at all. Along with RedBull, the Lotus pairing of Kimi Raikkonen & Romain Grosjean is absolute Top Class. After acclimatization period, this second half of the season could see the pair explode with more brilliance to come. Dangerous & exciting... these social numbers might explode in the coming races.


And to think last week I was going to pick-up Mercedes F1 for $1 - did you see the related article about Danny Bahar getting sacked - looks like I can get Lotus for another $1 !


Wow 5 - 8 million per day!


They should own an F1 team instead. Costs less.


Lotus? Go? Where? Into non-existence perhaps.

They just pulled out of Paris auto show, and have the weakest engines in IndyCar. I have no idea why Genii continues to feature this brand on its cars, other than it feels forced to after that whole dual Lotus thing a while back.


Well following f1 on twitter, lotus is definitely the most interesting for fans to read.


+1 There are regular tweets for Romain and Kimi. They may not have the highest hit rate but many loyal support.

That reflects their on track support too !


James what a great pleasure and surprise to meet you at Fiumicino. Our Avis car broke down! Nightmare! Have a great trip and keep the awesome blogs coming. Tom


Oh no, sorry to hear that. Hope the rest of your trip is better!


Interesting comparison with football teams.

Real Madrid's twitter account in Spanish (@realmadrid) has 5.15M followers. FC Barcelona's one in Spanish (@fcbarcelona_es) has 2.84M followers, whilst their English feed (@fcbarcelona) has 5.98M followers.

Cristiano Ronaldo [@cristiano] has an astonishing record of 11.6M followers (funny to compare with Alonso's [@alo_official] 852k or Hamilton's [@LewisHamilton] 902k...)

By the way, maybe the data shown on the post are a little inaccurate. I have just checked that Ferrari account (@InsideFerrari) has 303k followers, i.e. 40% more than the figure written above)


Also, Ferrari on facebook (not just the F1 team) has 9 million followers


Poor McLaren. Suffering from the Hamilton effect I guess.


The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones published a report a few days ago which cast doubt on the value and authenticity of 'Likes' of companies on Facebook.

I can't quite understand why an F1 team or any company for that matter, would want to use Facebook if they have a website and a Twitter account for instant info.

What does 26 million 'Likes' mean for Man Utd? If they had a Twitter account they would have maybe 2 to 3 million followers based on Arsenal's and Chelsea's numbers. That's 2 to 3 million who want to know the latest info etc about the club. So what are the other 23 million 'Likes' on Facebook after? It seems somewhat meaningless.

Facebook seems to be a vehicle for Company ego trippers and the emotionally insecure.


Facebook is losing massive revenues because they can't figure out how to generate the same level of add revenues from their apps (where usage is soaring), verses it's website (where usage is plummeting).

Twitter will eventually suffer the same once the novelty wears off.


Unlike a website which requires users to visit the page to find updates, a Facebook profile allows teams to have their posts automatically displayed in front of their fans (on their timelines). Website RSS feeds are typically limited to news stories, so facebook really is the best way to get new photos or videos in front of fans on a 'push' basis.

Twitter is better for instant info and interacting directly with fans, and YouTube is useful to organise all your video content in one place as well as have it discovered

They each have a role to play, and its the teams that understand these roles best that maximise their likes/followers. Although some of these may well be bots rather than real people, I don't think there's any doubt that many millions of fans enjoy their team's facebook pages, probably many more than do the team websites.


because it's nearly impossible to generate revenue from Twitter, while this is definitely not the case. Rory's report had a lot of good points, but was partially based on 'dubious' likes. This is irrelevant if you actually drive engagement with the real fans, and Lotus's extremely high engagement can be seen in the statistics above.

Facebook is an absolutely vital tool, far more so than an official website. Facebook is the best way to engage over the medium-long term, which Twitter is extremely short term, with messages only being practically visible for a matter of seconds before effectively disappearing forever.

Plus the level of interaction on Facebook is so much higher, both potentially and in practise. All you can do on Twitter is send a 140 character message (not ideal for a sport as complicated as F1) and hope in vain for a response, while facebook has a wealth of apps and tools that Twitter can't compete with.


I agree and increasingly so too do some of the sponsors in F1


I think the amount of Twitter followers one acquires is the real barometer of one's popularity unlike Facebook.

Yes Facebook has way more bot accounts and such whereas Twitter accounts tend to be genuine and thus we have a situation were you have Force India having the 5th most popular Facebook account whereas on Twitter it's ranked 9th.

Personally, the thing I like most about social media is the fact that we get the latest F1 pictures pronto though am disappointed in all driver's accounts for they hardly tell us anything of real value apart from using social media as a form of PR tool to get the word out.

Anyway, F1 need not worry too much or try to compete with the football accounts for everybody knows football is the people's sport so it's bound to have more followers and fans


ForceIndia could just as well be because many more people in India use Facebook than use Twitter (which is my impression) - twitter usage is much more concentrated in the US/UK than facebook usage.

As more people display their real personalities on twitter and are rewarded by more fans, others are forced to 'catch up' and it offers a way out of the sterile PR friendly world we've been stuck in for too long.


Does it make their cars go faster?


Interesting to show Kimi as the poster boy for this; bet he REALLY cares how many followers there are. 🙂


I was going to comment on the same thing. He's one of the few that doesn't have a Twitter handle, yet is pictured in the social media article.

Made me chuckle. Perhaps that was the intent...


These figures distort what is actually happening..

McLaren has the lowest engagement of all F1 teams online despite having the most fans..

Great Content + Regular Updates = Good engagement.


You still have some words in French James, check the subtitles!


Money is the name of the game. F1 teams and FOM never got their merchandizing figured out (compare with NASCAR) so I don't expect much in their monetizing social media.


Any idea about the number following individual drivers?


You can just check it at each driver's twitter account.


Barrichello creams them all with 1.7M followers.


I saw the headline and was surprised James didn't mention what Williams gave up in social media terms with Rubinho.

It was his response to the Williams-Renault deal that was often cited last year as the best example of the value of Twitter etc to sponsors.


Much as it can be fun to display league tables, especially in a competitive sport such as F1, the numbers of followers and likes is completely meaningless in a social media context - they don't represent 'active' users, nor those who actually do anything by having their social channels open to a team or driver.

Around 40% or more of a brand's followers are likely to be spam accounts, which will be even greater the more well known the brand or person is. Then of course you'd need to filter dormant accounts and only then would you arrive at the number of 'real' people following (or liking).

A better metric would be number if conversations with fans, or number of mentions in a given week or month, but of course that doesn't sound anywhere near as sexy as saying you've got a million followers..


"Around 40% or more of a brand’s followers are likely to be spam accounts, which will be even greater the more well known the brand or person is."

If there's a direct correlation between the strength of the brand and the amount of spam accounts it attracts, then presumably it's the same for everybody and valid to be included in the statistic?


For the purposes of an article such as this, where the goal id merely light-hearted discussion, then it's perfectly valid as you say - just don't use the information for drawing any meaningful conclusions.

For example I would expect Ferrari to have many more spam followers than Marussia, for the simple reasoning that the timewasters who set up these automated accounts are likely to know only the biggest names (who've been around the longest). Likewise McLaren and Red Bull, although probably to a lesser extent than Ferrari because to most laypeople Ferrari 'is' Formula One, so would be the first name they'd add to their spam list.

Ultimately my comment reflects the growing problem of brands who count social media followers as some kind of trophy, but besides the spam and dormant accounts none of this says 'why' people are following a particular brand - is it because they like them? or just their social media team have a good sense of humour? (i.e. Lotus F1).

The reason why I follow certain teams and drivers is far more complicated than how I feel about them (hot or cold).

Some I follow because their feed provides a more comprehensive viewpoint of the whole GP than other teams - I quite like Caterham F1's tweets which tell more of a story than others. Likewise, because I'm not a fan of football, I can't abide the feed of Pirelli's PaulH. I've also followed Will Buxton for a few years, despite disliking much of what he tweets - but he's quick to pick up on other people's news, so I find some of his posts useful.

There's certainly 'some' pattern of supply and demand in social media, but I'll be darned if I could draw any conclusions about a team or driver, without drilling much further into the data.

League tables are fun, but most brands, in my experience, need talking down from the pedestals they build themselves.


HRT and Renault (engines) do a good job of giving out interesting photos and information over the weekend. The smaller teams, I find, are a better follow as they have to fight to get followers, while RBR, McLaren and Ferrari don't have to (I think they could do much better).


Let's face it. Raikkonen is the most popular driver of the modern F1 era. He was constantly being discussed on popular F1 forums even when he was away for 2 years. He is a big crowd puller for the Lotus social media feeds. Do a poll of the most "popular" current F1 driver and you will see what i mean.


My 8 year old always says he's his favourite driver too!


not so brilliant?? He is doing extremely well given with handicapped steering that doesnt suit his driving style at all~~ his performance in bahrain is just as brilliant if not more !!


Haha for a driver who doesn't speak very much he is liked by kids too??

He is definitely very popular here in Asia especially China & Japan.


James, your 8-year old must have been 1-3 years when Raikkonen showed his best performance in 2005 and 2007 and he was perhaps not even born when Raikkonen was runner-up in the Championship in 2003 using an older spec car. So he hardly must have seen Raikkonen's best performance, yet he likes him only based on his current driving which is somewhat not-so-brilliant when compared to those earlier years!


He likes his character


Shrewd kid you've got there, James. He knows his F1...takes after Dad ?? 😉


Meanwhile Alonso got twitter like yesterday and has more than 800,000 followers. JB and Lewis are in the millions I believe.

Proof that people like to follow people more than corporations. I'm glad Ferrari allowed their drivers to express themselves online.


You can just check it at each driver's twitter account.

Jenson Button (@JensonButton) has 1.030.000 followers. Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) has 908.000.


It would be interesting if Google+ was added to the mix. I know it's nowhere near as popular as Twitter/FB, but it would add another dimension.


Interesting how? I don't think any teams or drivers post content to G+ that isn't just a copy of what's already on facebook or twitter


Redbull racing does

tom in adelaide

F1 is still in the dark ages. How about letting fan shot footage remain on Youtube for a start?


James, please don't forget to look at Google+ this is a fast growing network that also shows some interesting stats.. I think I read that Ferrari where faster to 1 million followers on G+ than any other social media type.


Welcome to the 21st century F1


Followers is never a good single indicator of effectiveness of social media. In the Twitter reviews I've been doing over at badgergp I never look at fan numbers, but engagement levels. Followers can be bought, more so on Facebook than on Twitter to be fair, but you can throw marketing money at it to reach targets. Especially if certain targets are in sponsorship agreements. It always depends on what the teams objectives are, but I'd always include engagement measures in assessing a team's social media activity


I quite agree with you Rachel. It can cost as little as £50 to buy 20,000 twitter followers and I know of several unscrupulous agencies who game the system in order to meet periodic targets.

The same thing is true for famous people, celebs and indeed sportspeople - if you've come to Twitter late in the day, then it can be embarassing to have so few followers (especially when others are crowing so loudly about theirs), so the temptation is to open your wallet and buy your way up the league table. Sad, but true..


Companies sweat over those customers they want to woo, not those they already have. Typically, they have used social media defensively, as a means for managing image, rather than as a positive tool for co-creating their brand with customers.

But F1 teams and their sponsors will in time find themselves re-evaluating how they use social media. The sheer cost of not knowing "where is everybody" and having to rebuild that audience every time will wear them down.

Besides, whether it will be a software upgrade for their customers's ever smarter cars, or a limited access data package for gamers, in time these media are bound to prove their value in new and exciting ways.

Michael Roberts

Wouldn't it be lovely if someone at Formula One Management was in charge of growing the brand by social media. I guess that F1 does have the @F1 Twitter account but of course it's linked to a RSS feed of Formula1.com. If it wasn't then that would be one more person for them to employ, so they can't justify the expense.


Might not be that far off. They have been recruiting lots of new people to form a marketing department

Michael Roberts

Fascinating. I did hear rumours that one of the teams demands for the last Concorde agreement was for the Commercial Rights Holder to take on some of the marketing of the sport. Maybe in exchange for less money?


Hey James, if possible could you post links to official Facebook and Twitter accounts for the F1 teams? I searched for a few on Facebook but there seem to be a load of fake accounts up, the same with Twitter. For the less computer literate of us it would be a benefit! 🙂


Definitely agree on the engagement levels as a better measure. Particularly Twitter as it tends to be more current. Would Defintely like to see more podcasts/ pics/ interviews with drivers tweeted on race weekends.

James I think your eight old is a very clever boy. Have you asked him why he likes about Kimi?


@Aussie_Grit for the win! go Mark!


you guys certainly hv no ideas how many fans kimi has in Asia, particularly China~~~ Everyone who went to SHanghai gp this year will be shocked too, the crowds went crazy and keep yelling Kimi during driver parade!!! I dare to say, throughout the globe, kimi has the biggest fans base among other drivers!!


Alonso's twitter updates are good, insightful, and sometimes very funny.


I like Twitter, as the info is straight from the horse's mouth i.e not distorted by newspapers etc into a story that never was

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