What would it take to make you love F1? A Playstation?

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As Formula 1 continues to debate its future and what changes need or should be made for 2021, we’ve recently been discussing what younger fans like and dislike about the current format.

I’ve been surprised by some of the comments and not so surprised by others. What about the current F1 captures the attention of a younger fan and what changes would they like to see.

Interesting to read Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene’s thoughts on the matter and where he feels F1’s real competition exists.

“Our competitors today, and this is my personal opinion, they are the PlayStations,” said the Ferrari team principal.

“Most probably we need to switch our mind and focus attention on our competitors.

“Today we have a broad offer of entertainment and we need to look at everything, not only certain sports or trying to equalise everything.

“Is the PlayStation our competitor? In my opinion, yes.

“What do you have to do to beat the PlayStations? You have to do something that is more interesting, most probably. “Today the offer is bigger than many years ago.”

It’s an interesting thought and I think I understand his point. It’s about finding the products and activities that a younger generation is compelled by and figuring out how to capitalize on those elements. Fair enough.

In what ways, though, could F1 capitalize on a console gaming generation with a physical racing series other than eSports? Are there ways F1 could engage even more through the platform to increase your interest level? Would your console gaming experience, assuming it is steeped with F1 gaming excellence, compel you to buy tickets and travel to races or at the very least watch all the races?

Maurizio seems to share Sean Bratches and Chase Carey’s thoughts about continuing to farm the legacy fan base:

“We need to be honest with ourselves [and ask] ‘How is the level of interest in F1 vs yesterday?'” he said.

“What we need to do is not the budget cap – it is one of the solutions but is not the [only] solution.

“We need to relaunch the sport [and] relaunching the sport, it is kind of a complicated and complex equation.

“If at a certain point the audience is becoming older, older, older and you work to maintain what you have and your attention is less focused on acquiring the younger generation, that means you have a problem.

“And you have to find a solution.”

There are F1 fans who like the hybrid power units, DRS, HD tires and technology the series currently possesses and there are many who don’t. The question I have is how many of the younger fans, who like the tech and EV element of the series, simply watch Formula E instead of F1? We often read about attention spans and if they are investing their time in EV racing, do they have time and attention to dedicate to F1 as a hybrid series only? Is that appealing to them? Would a console experience beyond Codemasters F1 game be a bigger draw to F1 for you?

I’ll be honest with you, F1 is, in my opinion, only scratching the surface of what it could do from a marketing standpoint with Will Buxton and Jason Swales producing content. The level of F1-branded content for console platforms and gaming experiences could be seriously ramped up but it takes millions and the sport’s current business model will find that kind of expense difficult to swallow as it takes away from the prize money. Teams may feel that’s on liberty to absorb if they want to grow the series.

How do you see F1 translating a gaming eSports experience to the track? Getting bums in seats? Or is it a case that eSports and Formula E are actually two very different things and may simply become bigger than F1 and it’s physical racing at iconic tracks around the world?

I tend to think that F1 will need to get profitable at whatever level they are selling at. If they go from 500 million viewers per season to 250 million, then they’ll need to make adjustments. Spending money trying to attach your brand to diverse elements younger generation potential fans are in to may or may not work.

For me, It would be surprised if it has changed much, it is all about the stories, politics, regulations, technology, speed, sound, tracks and racing. The history of the sport is a major pull for me and once I got in to the sport, I was hooked on it’s legacy and on-track action coupled with the stories behind the victory and defeat.

For me, it is building each year on a book of experiences through the decades and not a short-term time suck. I am all about the long form but many folks are not. They like to be entertained and move on. What do you think? Where do you think they should take this sport to appeal to you as a younger fan or retain you as a legacy fan?

Hat Tip: Autosport

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mrcultureshock

F1 was my obsession when I was younger. I started watching it in the late 80’s and remained an ardent fan until the late 2000’s when I started to lose interest and decided to focus more on work and other hobbies. I’m now contemplating a return to F1, and I’m taking it easy to not become totally obsessed again. As you said on your podcast, it’s difficult for one to be a part time fan of F1 because F1 consumes you. My expectations aren’t super high. I know Hamilton has dominated F1 for the past few years and this is… Read more »

Stevewf1

I’m 69 and have been a Formula 1 fan since the late 1960s. And I’ve lived in Indianapolis, Indiana all my life. The current state of F1 doesn’t bother me at all, I remember the 1988 F1 season and I’m still with it. Liberty makes me a little nervous in that I hope they don’t try to dumb down the sport to something like the IndyCar level. I hope they don’t start bringing in changes just because they think they need to be seen to be doing something. F1 needs to remain top level and if some competitors have trouble… Read more »

Fabio

I’m an old fart like the others that have posted here. I’m finding that I’m much more immersed in F1 now then back in the late 70’s when I started watching.
There’s so much more access to everything, drivers, tracks, social media, camera angles, podcasts, forums etc.
I’m confused by Maurizio’s comments that F1 needs to be more like ‘Playstation’, surely the job of the Playstation game is to reflect the actual racing, not the other way around? We’ll end up chasing our own tails at this rate.

Matt

I am in my early 30’s and have watched F1 as long as I can remember. I love the sport because of the intricacies and storylines. Although there is only 40 odd hours of racing a year following the sport between races and in the off season is still entertaining. Conversely I used to be a massive football(soccer) fan but recently have slowed my interest as it is just takes up too much time and lasts about 9 months of the year. Having a 2 year old I have better things to do with my time. I find myself watching… Read more »

photogcw

If Sean and Mauricio want to reach the “Playstation” generation then broadcast the races on Twitch. But seriously folks, this sport is learning something that others(sports leagues) have known for years, fans have far more options to occupy their leisure time(and money). E-sports may be the newest thrill on the block. But, at least in this country(USA, there is a rising young generation whose lives do not revolve around automobile use or ownership. I know some young adults who do not have a driver’s license. So how exactly do you engage someone like that in legacy motorsports?

jtr

I think NC and some of the commenters below are missing the point a little bit. The “Playstation” comment isn’t specific to video games, it’s the vast world of entertainment available right now. A few decades ago, your main options for home entertainment were print media and whatever was currently on TV, so all a series like F1 had to really compete with was whatever else was on TV at the same time. Now, there is more quality TV content than a person could ever watch on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu, you can download virtually any book in… Read more »

Tom Firth

F1 already has an esports series of its own that it is using relatively effectively. The only real life team not involved in that is Ferrari.

_ROTE_

Considering that today’s Super License holder began their career when they are five years old- the PlayStation comment refers to children who build their online gaming career in a similar fashion. Those who practice more and have access to cash will fair better than those who don’t; in Gran Turismo hard play and money have an equal chance at earning a better ride. I also feel that he is referring to the fact that children and young adults will watch others play Minecraft or online first shooter walkthroughs for hours, simply to learn how to play better. We need to… Read more »

Matt

I actually think good racing for some new fans is maybe secondary to a good story. Lewis is a good example of the “council estate” to champion captured the by the British press. I would hazard a guess on the fact that a large amount of his “followers” are not race fans. I think that now the influence of traditional media is waning F1 needs to be open to utilising the YouTube/netflix/primes of the world to further their brand. I would love to see a look at Ferrari over the season or any team for that matter. As you always… Read more »

Nige

Digital life in general is competition for F1. But the solution isn’t to join it, the solution is to be the alternative! F1 should be running snarky ads making fun of people racing on PlayStation, not creating some silly video game series for it. They need to make it seem like going to an F1 race is for ballsy, living in the real world, adventurous young people who take wild holidays and actually have a life worth living….not some cellphone addicted office drone. Instead of pissing off its own fan base, F1 should try pissing off the people who aren’t… Read more »

Tom Firth

I guess I’m the PlayStation generation in this… I remember a podcast I did with Andy (FranticF1) Some time ago were we looked at our favourite video games related to motorsport going back through childhood. In fact it was one of the favourite ones we recorded. The ‘titles’ produced by Codemasters, Turn 10, Polyphony Digital, Psygnosis (Later Studio Liverpool) and EA Sports among others didn’t hurt my interest in this sport. If anything they all helped build it with licensed content. Colin McRae was a big name in WRC by himself but the video game series he put his name… Read more »

Tom Firth

I’m sorry for the long post on this, just combines a few interests.

Tom Firth

Hi, In terms of ‘esports’ itself, not quite yet I don’t think unless I’ve missed one but it will happen. Particularly with the FIA having a licensed series in Gran Turismo now and ASN’s like the MSA and DMSB approving certain online racing leagues. If you go back a few years though, the precursor to all the championships jumping on Esports bandwagon was Nissan’s GT Academy which had a concept to put a gamer from Gran Turismo into a real life race programme through a series of tests and programmes. By the way, lots scoffed at this at the time..… Read more »

Tom Firth

I think the current esports F1 champion also will be involved in the race of champions this year and a few have had F1 experiences type track days I think.

Tom Firth

Also it works the other way as well. iRacing has seen professional NASCAR drivers and other series competing against those competing ‘professionally’ in the simulation and William Byron, one of the next generation of NASCAR talents has put some of his training down to doing online racing. The lines do seem to be blurring certainly.