Sebastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Montreal, 2010

Can you turn a friend into an F1 Fanatic?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Montreal, 2010
Sebastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Montreal, 2010

The new F1 season is less than a month away. But not everyone is ticking off the days with the same kind of anticipation as we F1 Fanatics.

Perhaps you’re in the lucky position of having a group of friends who all like F1.

But there are others know that when they excitedly relate what happened in the latest race they’ll get only blank stares from their mates.

BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey has made it his mission to attract a new crowd of fans to F1. It’s a great idea, but will it work?

I’m not sure that plonking an F1 virgin (not the team, the other kind) in front of the Bahrain Grand Prix is the best approach. Even hardcore F1 buts were struggling to keep their eyes open through last year’s race.

So what is the best way to get someone who’s new to F1 into the sport? Is it even worth trying?

If I were trying to indoctrinate a mate in the wonderful ways of F1 – and I speak as someone who has tried and failed in the past – I would do it by showing the sport at its best.

Forget Bahrain – after last year it’s too risky. Pick a race that works well for your time zone and can be relied upon to entertain.

Think Melbourne or Montreal – the two best races of last year according to F1 Fanatic readers.

Once you’ve got them interested, drip-feed them a few YouTube clips of the sport’s greatest moments. Villeneuve vs Arnoux, Mansell vs Piquet, Mansell vs Berger… Mansell vs anyone, really. That’s how I got hooked.

Providing, of course, you can find them before Bernie Ecclestone has them taken down.

And make sure you get them to the “Senna” movie, if and when it finally opens in your area.

If you start hearing questions about whether there’s a race this weekend, your plan has worked.

But complaints that “it’s just cars going round in circles” or “it’s all down to the car – the driver doesn’t make a difference” are signs your subject is one who will never know the peculiar pleasure of getting up at 3am to watch a practice from Shanghai.

Have you ever tried to get a friend interested in F1? Did you succeed or fail? Share your stories and tips in the comments.

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Image ?? Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo

150 comments on “Can you turn a friend into an F1 Fanatic?”

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  1. Tom Chiverton
    16th February 2011, 9:05

    Ummm, isn’t Jake leaving F1 anyway ? Seems an odd time for him to get a new ‘mission’ in F1…

    1. I don’t think this has been confirmed or denied. But if your referring to the Olympics, then their only on for less than a month. I’m sure if he had to present it, he would still do F1.

      1. If Jake left BBC I would be the happiest man ever, the man is such a tool. With his stupid tweets and weird walk.

        I want Steve Rider, bring some professionalism back!!!

        1. Twitter and BBC faux-grassrooots marketing. Ooh ooh maybe it’ll go viral, trending topic, flashmob … gimme a break, I’ve gone all queasy.

          Pretty much everyone that was likely to be interested in F1 has had plenty of opportunity to discover it for themselves, it’s hardly been a secret … but that’s not good enough apparently, let’s rope in a 140character street-team to astroturf and railroad friends and family. Why not just leave them alone to go about their business? They’re grown-ups they can make their own choices for leisure time.

          The pricetag for the FOM rights must be causing some squeaky bums in BBC management, y’know, the current economic climate. Need to desperately pump-up the audience to try to better justify the outlay. A memo from the top-floor dressed up in a hash-tag.
          Well maybe you shouldn’t have grossly overpaid Bernie for rights no-one else in UK media wanted.

          Jake is a guy with an eye very much on the main prize, and his current gig is a stepping stone, F1 will get dropped liked a hot-tyre for the next rung of the media ladder, whether you all #bringafriend or not.
          I am not sure who he thinks he’s kidding with this stunt, but I wish he’d give it a rest.

          1. Oh give it a rest, it’s just a bit of fun.

          2. It really annoys me when people start moaning about people trying to increase the popularity of something: “Oh no, if everyone else likes it then I won’t feel special.”

            I don’t care at all if Jake Humphreys sees this as a way to improve his profile and position in the BBC – fair play to him. There are too many people involved in sports on television who are happy to pick up a pay cheque for minimal effort (I’m looking at you Alan Shearer, who can’t even be bothered to do any research on the sport he is supposed to provide ‘expert’ opinion on), and if it succeeds in building the profile of F1 even slightly in the UK media then I for one will be delighted.

            Steve Rider is fine, but he is just a suit in front of a camera – liked him on Grandstand but was bored by him fronting F1.

          3. No, it is a piece of dubious and self-serving marketing. If Coke or NewsCorp tried to cynically engineer a similar stunt, people would be repelled.

            Some might enjoy getting your leg-lifted and pointed where to go … that’s fine, not a problem, but just maybe it sticks in the craw of others, others that object to getting played for saps.

            I’ll give it a rest when your man Jake (and any new-media PR marketing firm that primed this piece of nonsense), when they give it a rest.

          4. Indeed. Lighten up buddy.

            If you always concentrate on the negative, you miss out on all the good stuff. :D

          5. Why not just leave them alone to go about their business? They’re grown-ups they can make their own choices for leisure time.

            Fair enough. But did you introduce yourself to F1, or did someone else? If you take a look at this forum topic, you’ll notice that a lot of people, if not the majority, were introduced to F1 by their family or a friend – myself included. I can’t imagine where I’d be had no-one shown me this great sport, but I know I’d have a lot less to look forward to.

          6. Actually, Feynman is right, I think ‘self-serving’ marketing should be banned. Only marketing that doesn’t promote what it relates to is allowed.

            Companies should be forbidden from promoting their services and everyone who hasn’t got into F1 by now is hereby banned from being introduced to it and liking it.

          7. @damonsmedley

            My Grandfather got me into it – he was the only big fan in my family. My Dad watched casually but didn’t make plans around the calendar or worry if he missed races. The first season I remember properly watching was ’92 which is possibly a big factor in me becoming obsessed (it helped that at the time my Dad had a Mansell ‘tache!).

          8. Damon, I found it by it races being on TV, and reported in newspapers, and summarised in news reports, and drivers appearing on entertainment TV programmes, and in adverts, and the sport being in films and ‘F1 driver’ as an icon maintaining an unbroken high-profile presence in popular culture through the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s.

            There are undiscovered Amazonian tribes that know the name Stirling Moss.

            It’s not hidden … people somehow not knowing about F1 isn’t the issue. They just don’t much fancy motorsport. That’s all … leave them alone.

            If Lineker had pumped-up a football fan to try and railroad me into watching a football game, I’d leave them in precisely no doubt as to where to go. And so vice versa, don’t ya think?

            Dobin, marketing is fine … dressing it up as fake grassroots stinks. Getting people to go out and do your marketing for you, and have them exploit friend and family relationships to help secure BBC Sport budget and headcout, that is beyound creepy. Makes my skin crawl.

          9. Feynman, there are some people out there who think they know how they feel about F1 but need that extra push. I’ve had the same happen to me with many things, in fact it’s the kind of pre-conceived opinion that everything “must be so” you’re spouting this kind of things is trying to get over, no wonder you’re against it!

          10. If Jake is only using F1 as a stepping stone, then we should really appreciate him while he’s still around.

            I think he’s the best anchorman we’ve had for years.

          11. @ Feynman

            “Undiscovered Amazonian tribes that know the name Stirling Moss”

            If you know that doesn’t that imply that these tribes have been discovered?

        2. All the old guys were boring, Jake gets involved talks to people and has plenty to say about various aspects. Sitting in those rubbish little studios the race could have been going on in a whole different time zone.

          Tweets, well everyone is talking about tweets like they did with Facebook so if it’s not F1 it will be something else, look a £1m Pound Drop, over use of tweets x 100000.

          He likes the sport but I imagine will take a leave of absense for the Olympics to commentate on that instead, he loves a bit of athletics.

          I sometimes think people are only happy when they grind away to achieve what they want, like with Legard, Keys and the like. If you don’t like it don’t watch the build up.

  2. is he leaving?

    1. No, rumour is he will temporarily stop to present the 2012 Olympics but thats it.

      1. Jake’s always made it clear he’d be mad to turn down the opportunity to front the Olympics when they’re in London – and he’s right, he would be mad not to.

        But that doesn’t mean the guy loves F1 any the less. He just realises other things go on too – and most of us can understand that, right?

        And yeah, I’m sure he’d be back fronting the F1 afterwards.

  3. Well, I already got my mother but she always had a remote interest, watching it when my brother used to be interested in it.

    A more interesting story would be a friend of mine voicing interest in F1 because she has a thing for foreign nations (i.e. everything that is not European) and there is a Russian and an Indian driver. Maybe I can work on her a bit.

  4. Does the Senna movie have a lot of race footage in it?

    Completely agree with the sentiment of this post though. Introducing people to F1 can be difficult, most of my mates don’t like it.

    Definitely keep away from Bahrain. Watch the Australia race live, then get your mates to watch the repeat if its good!

  5. the peculiar pleasure of getting up at 3am to watch a practice from Shanghai

    This made me chuckle because it’s so true.

    I’ve managed to get my wife interested in F1 over the past few years. She not a fanatic like me, but she keeps up with the news now and again and watches almost all the the races with me.

    But even she gets annoyed at me turning on P1 and P2 in the early hours of the morning for distant races and then being tired for work :)

    So from my experience, you can get someone interested in F1 and it’s well worth it.


    1. Ha, Ha, I also got my wife at least interested as well in the last couple of years. And my sister in law is also showing some sings of interest at times.

      Not too succesfull otherwise (my brother is OK, but that was more or less independantly evolving).
      Quite a few rally fans in my surroundings, seems it is big at club level in the Czech Republic with a long history (remember the car Robert drove was a Skoda). So it is a pretty tough battle here!

      My son is a longer term prospect, but I do not want to push it too much on him for now.

      1. Another wife story. We’ve been married for almost 5 years and now she knows more about F1 than most of my male motorsport loving mates. My favourite party trick? Having her name more F1 and MotoGP drivers/riders/teams than any of the boys. Priceless. We’re in Perth, Western Australia and braved the 36/37 degree heat to see a handful of laps by Webber and Ricciardo at our local track last November. Her response? “We’re going to a grand prix!”

        Now as for my 2 year old daughter…

        1. Unfortunately, my wife cannot stand F1. I have tried – by gosh, I have tried – I have even taken her to the British GP. She must have been the only person at Silverstone reading a book…!

          1. Actually, she used to like F1 in the summer when it was on ITV… the deal was she would get a new glass of Pimm’s on the patio at every other commercial break!

    2. Yep, that’s my problem! Early morning quali and races, or failure to produce Sunday breakfasts as I just have to watch the first 20 laps or so first… (a lot of over fried bacon).

      I got into F1 via my dad, but also listening to this music and Murray Walker commentating on Mansell and Senna battling out on track, difficult to surpass! Living in Brazil now, finding friends interested (and well informed) about the races and drivers isn’t a problem. Getting my young son to not root for the ‘red cars’ is!

      1. Or Hunt commentating of course…

  6. I’ve turned quite a few of my friends on to F1, to the point where they get out of bed in the early hours of the morning to watch some of the more distant Grand Prixs. Of course, I suspect a lot of the initial interest was helped by the fact that we had to go to the pub to watch it. Offering food and beer is usually a great way to convince someone to come along.

    1. When you present it as a party yes they seem they are interested other than that there’s no way. They have one simple question all the time. “What do you find that so interesting, the cars are all running in circles?” As you can guess this sarcastic question doesn’t amuse me in any way.

  7. I haven’t got any friends into F1, but when one started showing an interesting in Hamilton’s career I slowly drip-fed him news and tried to extend f1 conversation for as long as possible. he’s a massive Man Utd fan but says F1 is now his favourite sport; he particularly likes the 6am races, which is the sign of a true fanatic ;)

    1. Congratulations!

    2. I love the 6am races too. Once the race is over I have my entire sunday ahead of me to do things.

      I’m not a big fan of the 1pm starts, its slap bang in the middle of my day so its hard to do anything else for 20 weekends of the year.

  8. My mum is a bit of a Rubens Barrichello fan she felt bad when he crashed at monaco. She also keeps going on about DCs chin.

  9. jake from my point of view, is a not very exciting individual. He isn’t able to excite anyone who already is a fan, so trying to bring new fans into it. No way. He isn’t the right person for the job.
    I am a spanish fan, and i don’t listen to him on bbc live, but when i have the chance to listen to him, the feeling i get it’s that of a person who talks about f1, not belonging there at all.
    Just my opinion, and i know i am not alone.

  10. Unfortunately I’m one of theose people that gets blank faces

    1. Nice to see you here then, conversing about F1. Let me have a try.
      Look at the great series about the Champion of champions. Doesn’t that get you at least mildly interested?

      1. hi BasCB im not able to find that series can u pls help.btw champions forever is a classic

          1. oh my bad.yeah that was good

      2. I think he was referring to the fact he gets blank faces from his friends when he talks to them about F1. Not his own face is blank or why would he be here?

        1. Maybe a cry for someone to show him?

  11. I kind of got one of my friends interested in F1 back in 2008, although I’m not entirely sure how. We were on holiday in Corfu, and me and a few mates went off to watch the German GP at the pub.

    One of them had no interest in F1, and was only there because the rest of us were, and he left halfway through. But apparently this got him semi addicted to F1 that season, and like all casuals he became a Hamilton fan

    The weird thing was that the first half of that race was utterly tedious. He left before Timo Glock’s crash which of course transformed it into one of the best GP’s of the season

    1. Although, I should add, on another trip in Budapest with the same person last year, I couldn’t get him to stay in and watch the Belgian GP with me, so perhaps I failed. I was in that brilliant city for about 48 hours and I spent about 5 of them watching the F1… time well spent!

    2. Ned that’s brilliant; I’m (my dad actually) from Corfu.

      1. Yeah I remember you said you were part Greek. I’m afraid I can’t say I know much about the island. I’m sure it’s a lovely place- but I was in Kavos which is perhaps the tackiest, scruffiest, drunkest holiday resort on earth. But still kind of fun :)

        1. Haha yeh, it turned into a mini-Ibiza during the late 1990s, it’s kinda depressing to see so many of the tourist towns dead nowadays. But fun while it lasted. We’re from Aghios Mattheos, my grandfather used to be the Mayor and oversaw the installation of the sewage system, my great-grandfather was responsible for planting a heavy number of olive groves, sorry not F1 related! Although on the subject my dad said he only ever watched it for the crashes but I think that was a bit of an exaggeration :P

          1. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with going off on a non-F1 tangent!

  12. i think its quite pivotal for the friend to quickly favour a particular driver (maybe hamilton) at the start of being a fanatic. then support that drivers closest rival (maybe fantastic fernando)

    it gives an opening to passion that will build

  13. Have tried for 7 years with my fiancée (then girlfriend). I am slowly succeeding one step at a time.

    Bringing her to gokart with a friend (girl) of mine on and on has helped. She is a decent go karter now and understands racing a bit better (it’s not only turning round around a circuit and it is physically demanding, an aspect people often overlook.

    Now she watchs some of the F1 races (the late morning ones that is) and I sometimes agree to do things instead of watching a grand prix. So I can’t watch say 4 or 5 of the grand prix but get to watch all the others, and have my girlfriend watching with me for some of them. It’s a trade off but worth it.

    Give me 10 more years…

  14. My mum got Hamilton confused as pop star last night at the brits.

  15. All my girlfriends became f1 addicts :) I explain a lot….

    1. Same here. Well, ‘addicts’ is exaggerated, but they went from complete ignorance to remote interest.

      1. You mean when f1 was on the tele, their interest was on the remote? I know ppl like that! :)

        ( I forget their names.. ) ;)

  16. My friend got me into F1 while we were walking in Spain. It was the season that Alonso was at Mclaren. We were watching it with a group of Spainards so I decided to start cheering on Alonso. I also had the enjoyment of booing Mclaren and Hamilton as pantomine villians for the whole season! The atmosphere in Spanish pubs was incredible. I’ll always remember watching the Canadian GP in a small tapas bar in Pamplona which was packed to the brim. Quality.

    I got my other friend into it the following season by going out on the town and coming home and watching the Austrailian GP. By the end he was hooked.

  17. I managed to get a friend into F1 by complaining about the injustice done to Lewis Hamilton in Spa 2008. He sympathised with the apparent pro-Ferrari/anti-McLaren bias (not saying there is one, before people jump down my throat, just that it could easily be seen as existing based on that race and the preceding years). He likened it to a similar apparent bias in Scottish football (which I don’t and never have watched). He now only misses a race when there’s a football game on.

    1. “He now only misses a race when there’s a football game on.”
      Fair enough, good job!

  18. I remember some time ago after an Qualifying session at Albert Park and then a few of us headed into town for a drink, and I ended up chatting this chick at a Bar telling her that I had an awesome day at the track etc. And then she says “what’s up with that Kimi Raikkonen guy, he’s absolutely got no emotion” and she imitated him to a tee – I think I was briefly in love with her!

  19. Great to take up this Idea and adress the flawed points in what Jake advises us to do.
    I agree with never taking the risk of introducing a newby at a race like Bahrain.
    I did watch last year with my wife and son. After getting to really look forward to it we were close to turning it off in about the middle through and only stubbornness (and comments from the live blog, that’s a good catch as well) helped us see it through.

  20. I did once hold an ‘F1 party’ last summer, I was going to have a barbeque as well. Nobody turned up though, it’s not that they weren’t interested, more likely they forgot…

    1. Or the weather was bad? Don’t give up, make it an annueal feast!

      1. It was warm and sunny!

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