Ferrari’s Marchionne wants F1 in digital media

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I’ve said it before but I’m still slightly intrigued that Formula 1 players are “learning” lessons on how to handle things with regards to social media. The specific incident of this year’s new qualifying format and backlash on social media has been used as an example of how F1 has learned a lesson. Williams F1’s Claire Williams intimated as much and now Ferrari’s CEO, Sergio Marchionne, is saying the same:

“The sport is actually a lot more united than it appears,” he added.

“At the end of the day you have to be careful when people make a lot of noise around the sport.

“There have been issues such as the qualifying process which caused controversy for the first two races, notwithstanding a unanimous view from all the teams and the drivers that there was an ineffective way of selecting the starting grid.

“Those trial and errors are unnecessary. We could have resolved it in a more peaceful and less public fashion in the way in which we did.

“There is a lesson in all of this and we need to learn from it.”

Marchionne is being somewhat critical of F1’s use or lack of use of social media and the Fiat chief believes it could do much more:

“This is a sport that requires a lot of energy, both in terms of the number of people that devote their lives to it, and the financial commitment that is made,” Marchionne said.

“And to see the sport not fully utilized as a means of accessing the viewing public is a shame.

“We need to change the way in which we relate to the fans, to the way in which the actual races become accessible to everybody.

“The digital side of this business, to be honest, is not what I would call the most evolved.

“There are things that need to be done, everybody is aware of them, and we are all pushing to get them done.

“All the engine manufacturers – ourselves, Mercedes, even Honda and Renault – have a long-term interest in the sport in terms of making sure it continues.”

There is little doubt that as invested players in the sport, they want to see F1 use it’s own marketing efforts to improve the sport. In the past F1 has left global marketing up to the sponsors and teams but with the multiple mediums for content distribution, Marchionne believe F1 needs to do more to engage a younger audience.

The bigger question could be…what? What should F1 do with social media that would be effective. In F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s mind, any medium that would be used for delivering content to consumers should be monetized and should pay for the privilege. I can’t disagree with him on that front and my hunch is that the teams wouldn’t disagree to adding to the top line of revenue as they enjoy 60+ percent of the income from F1’s commercial revenue via prize money.

I’ve read a lot about F1 not using social media and to the contrary, they actually do use it and do quite quite well with their Twitter account and Facebook. So what is it that F1 isn’t doing that teams and Marchionne would like to see? If you juxtapose Fiat’s social media presence with F1’s, it may be more prolific but a Twitter and Facebook account is what they use with advertising and media marketing companies producing content.

Both Fiat/Ferrari are trying to sell something and so is F1. Formula 1 is also trying to sell something and perhaps the teams and F1 can come together to create more content that would be a positive move for all involved.

As for broadcasting over social media? Someone will have to pay for that just like Twitter did for the NFL.

Social Media

I’ve spoken before about how Formula E floods my timeline with constant tweets and Facebook posts about their series, the actual race and more. It’s prolific if not teetering on spam levels. You’d think the entire world was watching.

The reality? A little over 6 million are watching each race. Formula 1? That would be nearly 80 million watching per race. You think F1 has a social media and awareness problem due to the lack of social media use?



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The Captain

Rant time! (I didn’t start off meaning for this wall of txt to happen) There seems to be a semantics problem with this entire debate in Formula 1 and I think that’s whats crippling it from a ‘digital media’ standpoint. It seems in any discussions F1 personalities, pundits or fans have about the role of F1 “content” on the internet seems to quickly break down in an exclamation of ‘Is F1 supposed to just give races away for free on the internet?’ within a few sentences. No! “content” does not mean giving away races for free on the internet (well… Read more »

jiji the cat

Why can’t they just expand the app?


Because of the warranted fears that (1) they don’t have the infrastructure in place to support 500k to 10m livestream users, and (2) that the broadcasters will scream bloody murder when 10 percent of 80 million race viewers bail from cable/OTA to livestream.

They could easily solve the infrastructure problem through a deal with Netflix/Amazon, but now all of those broadcast contracts are adversely impacted, and there will be blood. Someone, somewhere, has to pay.

jiji the cat

Yeah, it was more a rhetorical question.


Nearly a quarter of my close associates DON’T have cable, satellite, or OTA TV Reception. They do have really high speed internet and will stream just about everything. They pay for it. Netflix, Amazon, HBO Online, etc. This IS the revenue stream that F1 says they want, but either aren’t willing, or aren’t able to execute. It seems clear that F1 is sitting on at least 150 hours of content for every hour that makes it into production. And that doesn’t include the network owned feeds for those at the track. What could they do with that extra video? Here… Read more »


Right, all of that. The existing contracts (and the 40-year FOM business model) are the fragile points. There’s no mystery about how to make F1 a digital media income stream, since WEC and WRC both do it right now. The problem is the probable/potential impact on said contracts. CVC, Delta Topco, FOM are all full of smart financial analysts and there’s zero doubt they’ve been looking at digital from that perspective. I kinda think CVC is of the mind “let the next owner deal with it, not us.” Because it will be a tricky transition given the above. It’s a… Read more »


I’m subscribing to MotoGP’s full season pass for $112. I would give Bernie up to $200 for annual F1 subscription, but no more. Especially not when the MotoGp races are more exciting to watch right now.


Tweets and friending isn’t really what F1 needs, and I think it’s a red herring. OK, maybe some, and maybe some relaxation on YouTube clips and race summaries. F1 gets a bad rep with aggressive takedowns of 5 minute race clips. It’s kind of silly (but I think driven by contractual obligations to promoters & broadcasters, not by malice). How about just recognizing the IMSA or WEC or WRC models for livestreaming? It’s not rocket science. That’s all cord-cutters really want IMO. People who clamor for free social media race feeds are really just dreaming. Ain’t gonna’ happen. At least… Read more »

Alianora La Canta

If 80 million people watch the average F1 race, then the 400 million total viewers suggests that the average fan who watches legal TV showings of F1 watches just 5 races out of 20. If social media is going to help bridge that gap, F1 needs to start seriously embracing it. Getting the live timing app working correctly would be a good start… That said, social media is better at improving engagement among wavering fans (those people watching 5 races out of 20) than getting non-fans interested – at least most of the time. F1 will need to improve both… Read more »

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