Ferrari’s Marchionne wants F1 in digital media

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.