Social media profiles might determine which of the recently-announced drivers actually end up racing in Formula E, in a similar manner to the balance of pay drivers versus team sponsorship in F1.
The new sport has been knocking around an idea it calls Fanboost, a concept whereby, for each race, fans vote for their favourite driver via social media platforms. The winning driver will get additional “push to pass” speed boosts to use during the race, something that has got many traditional racing fans all hot under the collar and tech geeks hot somewhere else.
As it stands, some drivers and teams are clearly in a different league to others when it comes to Twitter, for example. That could significantly affect which drivers top team wishlists – especially if the teams themselves are more pie-eyed than Pied Piper when it comes to their own social media accounts.
The tables below show how an alliance between former Virgin F1 driver Lucas di Grassi and the Virgin Formula E team could reach a quarter of a million potential voters through Twitter, and that’s before adding Virgin founder Richard Branson’s 3.7million followers into the mix. If Indian driver Karun Chandhok joined Indian team Mahindra Racing, he could appeal to millions of followers when the Mahindra founders add their voices to the social mix.
At the other end of the spectrum, the likely combination of Team China Racing and Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua looks underwhelming until the latter’s 200,000 followers on Chinese social platform Weibo are taken into account. In a similar vein, if the Frenchman Tambay were to join French team Venturi GP, they would barely muster 3,000, putting the pairing firmly at the bottom of the pile. However, Venturi is part owned by actor Leonardo di Caprio, who could reach over 8million fans through his Twitter account, which would more than make up the shortfall.
The Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi might have to rely on the old-fashioned tactic of bringing with him sponsors with deep pockets to secure a place given that he has not even joined Twitter yet. Even if he signed up today, he’d face a tough challenge to magic up tens of thousands of active followers in short order, given that the first race is just nine months away. There’s no word yet on how the voting system will work, whether it will incorporate interaction across multiple channels (such as Facebook, Twitter and Weibo) into a single set of results, and whether some sort of handicap method may be used to even up the results (such as votes per thousand followers rather than total votes).
As ever with Formula E, the idea has been announced – we’re now waiting for the detail. Whatever the final format, we’re likely to see drivers as welded to their phones in Formula E as to sponsored caps in other motorsports.
|Driver||Twitter profile||Twitter followers|
|Lucas di Grassi||@LucasdiGrassi||140,479|
|Ma Qing Hua||@MaQingHuaF1||3,880 (but around 200,000 on Weibo)|
|Vitantonio Liuzzi||Not on Twitter||0|
|Team||Twitter profile||Twitter followers|
|Audi Sport ABT||@ABT_Sportline||4,031|
|Team China Racing||@ChinaRacing||353|
Image courtesy of Wired / Andreas Eldh.