Five Reasons Why F1 Needs Young Fans

Bernie Ecclestone is no stranger to controversy and subliminal messaging can often be a feature of an interview with Formula 1’s ringmaster. Commentators of all experience are currently scratching their heads when trying to decipher Bernie’s new agenda and his most recent comments have been highly controversial, as he has slammed the need for Formula 1 to attract young fans. The interview has been met with almost universal disapproval, particularly from young audiences such as myself. At a time when the futurity of the sport is questionable, I have compiled a list of five reasons why the sport needs a young demographic.

5. Young People Have Time (If Not Money) To Invest

Perhaps the most tenuous of the five reasons, (hence its placement in fifth spot), there is an argument to suggest that young people have more free time, in which they can invest into the sport. Obviously, this is somewhat of a generalisation, but working from 9am to 3pm leaves more time available to read, chat and watch F1 than working 9am to 5pm.
As such, young people may not have the first hand experience of the history of the sport, yet they are well-equipt to become academics. The distractions of social media can in fact be channelled into observing the sport and enhance the experience, but this is ultimately a story for another section.

4. Drivers Are Getting Younger

Need I draw your attention to a certain 17 year-old who will be arriving at Melbourne in March. Max Verstappen’s high profile entrance into the sport poignantly demonstrates how drivers are getting younger and as such, this is a golden opportunity for the sport to galvanise the interest of young fans. They now have a figure in which to relate to on the grid and can therefore enjoy the new dimension of the competition. If this potential market is not attracted now, it is difficult to see how the talent of the future can possibly engage new audiences.

3. Fans Typically Engage In F1 From A Young Age

My F1 story does not follow typical form. I have been a huge fan of the sport for as long as I can remember and as such, cannot pin-point my first race, as many fans can. However, as most aficionados will identify with, it was my Dad who introduced me to the sport. Ultimately, whether you have been exposed to Formula 1 for your entire life or were introduced later on, the proverbial F1 bug is usually contracted at a young age. Miss the boat, and the ship may never return to the docks.
Bernie’s comments totally neglect this. The young fans of today that “cannot buy a Rolex watch” and are “not interested in banking” will be the very same fans in the future which will have money to spend. Attract the young audiences of today and you will inspire the Mum’s and Dad’s of the future to showcase this glorious sport to a new generation of enthusiasts. In an instant, a more sustainable fan-base is achieved.

2. Young People Are Great Promoters

What you are currently reading is an article published on a blog, which showcases Formula 1 and is written by a young fan. Moreover, as a fan, I tend to be enthusiastic about the event and considering what many of the sports leading figures, (including Ecclestone himself) have said about their product this season, positive publicity is certainly needed.
Social media is an immensely powerful tool and the sport itself is not utilising it to its full potential. Up until a few races ago, the official F1 twitter account was little more than a source of article links and adverts for calender updates – while the new hashtags are welcomed, they could still be used more effectively. However, the necessity for the sport itself to have an online presence is greatly reduced when the fans take to Twitter and Facebook to do the job of promoters.
As such, the young people, who generally dominate the world of social media, are valuable assets to the sport from an advertising perspective. Without the young fans, the access points for new audiences become significantly more limited.

1. Career’s Start Young!

Ideally, it would be perfect to make a decision in regards to a career path when we are older and wiser, but ultimately, in most cases, the choices are made when we are young. Decisions in regards to an aspirational profession is done at a young age and as such, the engineers of the future will have to be inspired by the sport in their formative years, if they are to make their mark. For future drivers, this inspiration has to come even earlier. 
It is again a question of sustainability. The young fans of today will not only grow up to be the fans of the future, but will also become the engineers, executives and the drivers. Bernie may want to attract older fans who have profound pocket depth, but he will have a far less attractive product if the next generation of top Motorsport personnel are inspired by tin-tops rather than open-wheels. 
If Formula 1 becomes more accessible to young people, it can only be a good thing.

I would love to hear what you have to say about Bernie’s comments – send your thoughts to @KGibbsF1 on Twitter. 

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