Why Ferrari’s ‘fans poll’ findings can’t be trusted

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2014According to Ferrari, 83% of fans are unhappy with the new Formula One rules.

Ferrari say fans “dismiss it mainly because of the drivers being forced to lift off to save fuel” and also because “the fans don’t like the noise from the new engines and are confused by rules that are too complicated”.

Ferrari have drawn these conclusions from a poll which they have run on their website for the past few weeks. However the data is untrustworthy, the procedure used to collect it is flawed, and the conclusions Ferrari have drawn from it are highly spurious.

The poll asked the question “Do you like this new Formula 1?” and presented respondents with the options “Yes” and “No”.

Nowhere in the poll did Ferrari ask about the impact of the fuel rules, the noise of the engines or the complexity of the new formula. The poll results give Ferrari no justification for asserting that fuel conservation, noise or complexity are why those who responded are criticising the sport.

The poll options also did not ask how strongly fans hold their views. Professional polling organisations use five- or seven-point scales to gauge how deeply people care about particular subjects.

F1 Fanatic often adopts a similar approach. To take engine noise as an example, here’s the outcome if you invite F1 fans to indicate the strength of their views on this aspect of Formula One in 2014:

The mechanism of Ferrari’s poll is also suspect. It seems no steps were taken to guard against one person voting multiple times – a common problem with online polls, and the reason why F1 Fanatic requires user registration for participation in votes.

Ferrari themselves noted a large swing towards the ‘no’ vote after the Malaysian Grand Prix. They believe it was because fans were turned off by the race, but it might just as easily have been the work of one motivated person with the technical aptitude to clear the very low hurdle to manipulating the poll. Simply visiting the page using different browsers was enough to make your opinion count more than once.

We should also consider the make-up of the audience of Ferrari’s website. Is this a group of fans who predominantly watch Formula One out of their passion for the sport, or out of their devotion to Ferrari?

There’s nothing wrong with having a favourite team or driver. But a poll question as crude as “Do you like this new Formula One?” hardly invites respondents to make a distinction between liking a result and liking a race.

It would not be too much of a stretch to suggest the responses mainly came from Ferrari fans whose enjoyment of a race is largely determined by how well the two red cars performed. Had Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen won the first two races instead of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, we would have seen a very different result.

None of this is to say that there may not be legitimate concerns over the quality of the first two races of the season, nor that some fans haven’t expressed concerns over some of the same issues Ferrari have raised.

But Ferrari’s poll tells us next to nothing of use in this discussion. Responses to that question cannot distinguish between whether F1 fans are objecting to the noise, fuel saving, double points or Lewis Hamilton’s haircut.

It comes as no surprise Ferrari have published the results while Luca di Montezemolo is lobbying Bernie Ecclestone to make urgent changes to the sport four days after Ferrari finished behind their Mercedes and Renault-powered rivals in Malaysia. Seen in that context, this is a cynical attempt by Ferrari to hijack the debate over the state of Formula One and make a false claim to act as the voice of F1 fans in an attempt to bring in rules changes which will be favourable to them.

F1 Fanatic’s Rate the Race polls, which use a scale from one to ten, give a clearer indication of what fans thought of the last two races compared to those in the previous six seasons. Out of the last 114 races, the first two of this season ranked 58th and 85th.

Earlier today Alonso pointed out that not all sports produce thrilling events at every fixture. As argued earlier, after such wide-ranging changes those running F1 need to exercise patience to begin with and avoid making rash, knee-jerk changes to the sport.

We should pay attention to Ferrari’s two-times world champion driver, not its manipulative and unrepresentative ‘poll findings’.

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207 comments on Why Ferrari’s ‘fans poll’ findings can’t be trusted

  1. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 3rd April 2014, 19:10

    I actually thought the Ferrari poll was just a joke.

  2. Girts (@girts) said on 3rd April 2014, 19:53

    Well written, Keith. It’s like asking if you like Mitt Romney and assuming that you’re a communist if you don’t.

    It’s a shame that one of the greatest teams in the history of F1 are using such cheap methods. It’s bad if teams don’t listen to fans but pretending to care about fans’ opinion and using their worries as a tool to push their own agendas is unforgivable.

  3. Hyoko said on 3rd April 2014, 20:16

    It’s both well known and scientifically proved that lambasting Ferrari greatly helps the circulation of blood and keeps the limbs supple. So, nothing new here. Except, wait a minute:

    We should pay attention to Ferrari’s two-times world champion driver

    So it seem that this blog has changed from the CFFBAOTW (compulsory Ferrari- and Fernando-Bashing Article Of The Week) to just CFBAOTW.

  4. Hi everyone!
    FYI I am a registered user on the Ferrari website and the first thing I did was to test if I could vote twice (to check the reliability of the vote) and I couldn’t. “You Had Already Voted For This Poll.” was the message I got.
    I have no objection to what can be considered as a “vague question” such as “Do you like this new Formula 1?” It’s a simple and easy to understand question, and I have a very simple answer: NO.
    On can ask a very simple question without having to get into details… that doesn’t make the answer invalid in any shape or form.
    Of course this is a simple statement I am making… I am not jumping into any conclusion just stating a couple of facts:
    – I am happy with the question.
    – I couldn’t vote twice.
    I understand, and agree with some of the other points you are making…
    Thanks for your excellent job Keith!

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 3rd April 2014, 20:51

      On can ask a very simple question without having to get into details… that doesn’t make the answer invalid in any shape or form.

      This is entirely true, however, the simpler the question and the more limited the response options are, the less you are able to extract conclusions from the results.

      If you were to ask everyone on this website ‘would you like some ice cream’ and give ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as options, you’re not going to know about the people who are saying yes ‘because I haven’t had ice cream in ages’ or no ‘because it’s 3AM, why are you offering me ice cream?’.

      The reason internet marketing revolves around those endless forms is because the more information you have, the better conclusions you can make. This is why you should be on your toes when you read 300 people were asked something and the results are presented as ‘the feelings of the vast majority of the country’. Or when poll options are ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and the results suddenly manage to find reasons why people voted like they did without asking them.

      It’s not about the validity of the poll, but of the results.

      • So what? In my opinion only people who don’t like this “NO” are going to argue about it :-)
        I understand what you are saying and I agree with you on it, but -to put in bluntly- the point is I don’t like the 2014 F1 and this has nothing to do with the F14T performing poorly or not. Do you really need more information to understand a 40+ years fan is NOT happy?
        On top of that FOM changed the Live Timing and I HATE IT!
        BTW I’ll go for an ice-cream, but don’t ask me why… give me one! That will do the trick :-)

        • Palle (@palle) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:31

          @ago: Keith just states that the conclusions Ferrari jump to is invalid, due to the total lack of details in the questions. By inviting to answer No, with the agenda of misusing a general No verdict to conclude that “the fans”, like in i.e., those who pay the whole show, don’t like specifics chosen by Ferrari after the poll, of course Keith or anyone has reason beyond doubt to disqualify the poll, just like most of the world disqualified the referendum in the Crimea.

          • Palle I didn’t wrote what I wrote to challenge anybody, I cautiously ended my statement with : “Of course this is a simple statement I am making… I am not jumping into any conclusion just stating a couple of facts“.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 4th April 2014, 2:14

            Ferrari say fans “dismiss it mainly because of the drivers being forced to lift off to save fuel” and also because “the fans don’t like the noise from the new engines and are confused by rules that are too complicated”.

            Given that the fans are being offered a yes/no answer, how can Ferrari draw these conclusions?

            Are you confused because the rules are too complicated? Ferrari said you are. They said you are, because they say their poll told them so.

            But they didn’t ask you that. That’s why the conclusions are not correct.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:20

      @npf1, not arguing with you, just curious,; Did you try logging out and then logging back in before trying to vote again?

      Otherwise , sure a lot of people are unhappy with the new F1 and they may well have been unhappy with F1 for several years like me, but no-one should interpret my unhappiness as having anything to do with the sound of the new engines.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:25

        OOPS, sorry Nick, response was to “Ago”

      • Yep Ho I did just that too… and I even tried from another PC on another day… So if somebody say he can then I would like to see screenshots with timestamps….
        Agree with you on the rest…. yes it is an abuse to conclude fans are not happy with the noise, but this has nothing to do with the fairness of the voting process, nor with the validity of the questions asked.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:59

      You didn’t need to be registered to enter the poll and you could easily vote more than once simply by using multiple browsers, as mentioned in the article.

      • My mistake then… As I am registered I only tried that way, it’s quite surprising to hear that registered users are more controlled than the others. Well in that case it’s very disappointing. Was it already the case with the “Vote for the name” poll?

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:28

          I think they used a different system for that but I’m not sure.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 4th April 2014, 2:16

            If it was just changing browsers you might be able to do the same effect by just deleting the cookies…. Alot of sites with less serious polls use them to stop people voting twice.

          • Baron (@baron) said on 4th April 2014, 10:05

            The Ferrari name poll was a multiple choice question. No registration needed. As a matter of interest, I too went to the Ferrari site to vote in the recent poll, but when I saw the simple question without any qualification i didn’t bother. When considering the results of any petition one must always be mindful of the original question that was asked. To me, the Ferrari “poll” was a simple device to exert pressure on the FIA (for whatever advantage they thought they might gain) and was presented in a very immature and unprofessional manner. Petitions without voter proof are worthless anyway.

      • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 4th April 2014, 6:28

        @keithcollantine, why don’t you admit that your motivation for creating this article is producing click-bait (plus denigrating the work output of Ferrari fans, cynically attempting to undermine the validity of their expressions of opinion via the vote in question, and all the while promoting your equally unscientific polls – feeding back into primary motivation: click-bait)?

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th April 2014, 8:37

          @joepa A comment piece about a subject as dry as an opinion poll hardly qualifies as ‘clickbait’. If my only motivation was getting a larger audience (and F1 Fanatic’s is pretty large already) then I’d be running galleries of ‘pit babes’ and five articles on Kimi Raikkonen every day.

          When F1’s most famous team sends out press releases saying fans are unhappy with recent changes in the sport, that is obviously going to get a lot of attention. Unfortunately many people will take Ferrari’s claim at face value. My motivation in writing this is to show why they shouldn’t.

    • Andrei (@crandreico) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:08

      Was this survey on the “Home>Survey” section? Because you can vote several times, as I already done with the Australian GP survey:
      1st image: I voted once, both with Chrome and Firefox browsers.
      2nd image: I refreshed the page on Firefox browser and tried to vote again. You can’t do it just by refreshing.
      3rd image: I deleted the Firefox history and I voted AGAIN.

      So, the survey is completely flawed.

  5. rampante (@rampante) said on 3rd April 2014, 20:53

    My issue is with the singling out of Ferrari. Many polls have been made but this one is highlighted. The question was simple yes or no, not technical or subjective just a simple yes or no. It is difficult for people who have watched the sport for decades to believe this is the best format and formula for F1. The teams are already discussing the format 2 races into a new season and that would only happen if they thought something was amiss. F1 had a glamour, danger, skill and out and out b**ls, all which have sadly gone. Fuel, PU and tyre management are what F1 anoraks do on a pc sim, not what they want to watch on a race day. Is it too much to ask for just to let drivers and teams race?

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:00

      It could very well be because Ferrari is an actual F1 team (not winning races at the moment, mind you) that is jumping to these conclusions based on a poll that wouldn’t qualify as research at any point in time.

      Not to mention, Ferrari being one of the teams that agreed to this format.

      • rampante (@rampante) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:11

        Ferrari, Williams and McLaren have not won anything for a few years but they are still there. I waited 21 years for my team to win and stuck it out because they did. Red Bull have not won for 2 races and the boss threatens to leave, where is the sporting integrity there. There will always be teams associated with racing and we all know who they are. They also have history and heritage as their basis not sugary caffeine drinks. Mercedes had their first 1-2 in nearly 60 years, do you really think RBR will be about within the same time scale? F1 needs to listen to the people who matter and that most importantly is the fans, teams and promoters. Not many of them are happy just now.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:00

      @rampante

      My issue is with the singling out of Ferrari. Many polls have been made but this one is highlighted.

      I’m not aware of any other team conducting a similar poll and putting out press releases which interpret its results in such a spurious way, conveniently timed to coincide with their lobbying of the sport’s commercial rights holder.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:56

      The teams are already discussing the format 2 races into a new season and that would only happen if they thought something was amiss.

      The teams are already discussing the format 2 races into a new season and that would only happen if they thought they could gain something.

  6. tmekt (@tmekt) said on 3rd April 2014, 20:54

    Excuse me but am I missing something? Why is it necessary to go through the trouble to post an article about this?

    I don’t think anyone is basing any important decisions on this poll or be stupid enough to think that the result actually represents anything more than the opinion of those up to 50,000 people who voted. Additionally, to imply that Ferrari would actually rig the poll to achieve preferred result sounds downright ridiculous, what could they possibly have to gain from that?

    Even if the Ferrari poll was designed badly I don’t think you can trust the polls here much more than there. The fact that you have to go through the trouble of registering before you can vote alone causes the result to become greatly inaccurate. It might represent the opinion of a group of die-hard, active F1fanatic users but nothing more really (of which an unrepresantatively [is that even a word?] big part are British).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:01

      @tmekt I’ve already seen reports in national newspapers which take the poll’s results at face value and it is clearly part of Ferrari’s attempt to lobby for changes in the sport so I think it’s absolutely necessary to debunk it.

      • Giggsy11 (@giggsy11) said on 3rd April 2014, 23:52

        @keithcollantine but surely any media outlets with influence to the general public on F1 matters would know how ridiculous this poll is?

        So whats the idea behind the article? To educate every fan about how bad the poll is then? That would make sense however this website does not get enough traffic for this to really have any impact. A clear majority of people on this website (reading through the comments) disregarded the poll as they used common sense to figure out how invalid the results are, so the assuming you want to educate people on this website, then I think we can agree that this is not the correct platform to carry out your ambition. Therefore, this leads people to believe you are “Ferrari Bashing” as there is no other reason for it.

        A few magazines and newspapers will run the story for a week/month whatever to get traffic on their website and everyone will have forgotten about it by the halfway stage.

        I enjoy your articles Keith but I’m not really sure this one was really warranted.

        • Mike (@mike) said on 4th April 2014, 2:19

          Therefore, this leads people to believe you are “Ferrari Bashing” as there is no other reason for it.

          Only if you’ve got your stupid hat on.

          If you read the article he explains why.
          If you read the comments many people have also explained why.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th April 2014, 8:46

          @giggsy11

          but surely any media outlets with influence to the general public on F1 matters would know how ridiculous this poll is?

          We can judge that by seeing which publications that cover the story also point out how flawed the poll is.

          Among those already taking it at face value are the Daily Mail (the second most-read newspaper in the UK) and Pitpass.

  7. Nick (@npf1) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:05

    I’m getting to the point where I hope the rules are changed, not because I don’t like them, but because the whine of the F1 fan community is louder than any Turbo whine I’ve ever heard…

  8. lebesset said on 3rd April 2014, 21:12

    correct me if I am wrong but keith tends to present his polls as the opinions of those who follow this site
    ferrari , at least in the reports I have read , is presented this as the views of 80+ percent of fans , when it is in fact only of those who purported to vote in the poll , and that number probably statisticallyapproximates to 0% of the fans

  9. Sam (@) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:14

    You know what they say on the interwebs,

    ‘67% of all statistics on the internet are made up on the spot.’

  10. BTW I would have loved for Ferrari to ask their fans what were their views on the F14T… I am very disappointed and just wondering if changing a lot of Italians for Brits was adding any value???!!!
    Only joking guys! :-)

  11. AgBNYC said on 3rd April 2014, 21:32

    The tone of this “article” is very strange – the Ferrari poll is clearly a fluff poll – would the billionaire Bernie be so easily swayed by a cheesy internet poll by Ferrari??? Would LdM need or resort to using the poll as a “weapon”?? Please…

    • fluff or not, Ferrari fans are happy to be questioned, I guess any F1 fan likes his favourite(s) team(s) to interact with him. Everybody knows there were almost only Ferrari fans who took the poll and nobody is going to argue with that.
      Please take this poll for what it is: An opportunity for the fans to tell the team what they feel. It has no other value. On top of that Ferrari has much more powerful weapons in their hands to get them were they want to go :-)

      • Albert said on 3rd April 2014, 22:04

        It has no other value

        Nothing big companies do “has no other value”, much less one as political as Ferrari (or any other top F1 team for that matter). It’s naive to suggest otherwise.

        Just because Ferrari has other political weapons (which they most certainly do) it doesn’t mean they are ready and willing to get more.

        • Being naive is one thing, seeing the devil everywhere is another one. As AgBNYC wrote ” would the billionaire Bernie be so easily swayed by a cheesy internet poll by Ferrari???”
          This poll can be challenged in so many ways…. It made the fans happy, and it is good enough to make some “noise” on the Internet, no more than that at the end of the day.

          • Albert said on 3rd April 2014, 23:33

            What you call” Seeing the devil” I call simple common sense.

            Coincidentally Ferrari runs a vague poll thay fits their needs while their lobbying for rule alterations.

            Btw., this isn’t meant tomsway Ecclestone, he has been against these rules since the beginning. This is an attempt to give the perception that everything about F1 is wrong and gain extra pressure from the media (everybody who’s reporting that poll) etc over the FIA.

  12. Seba (@f1fan123) said on 3rd April 2014, 21:58

    Pretty rich coming from someone who owns a website with .co.uk in it, with often biased as biased can get content on it. There was also an article which showed a vast majority was shown to be supporting british drivers, so any poll running on this site is just as skewed as the one by ferrari. The fact that a 2011 chinese GP dull as it was got a 9+ speaks for it self.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:44

      someone who owns a website with .co.uk in it

      I could go buy a .com or .net domain tomorrow and the content on here would differ not one iota, so how does the domain suffix make any difference?

      There was also an article which showed a vast majority was shown to be supporting british drivers

      Well fancy that, I never knew Kimi Raikkonen was British.

      The more important point is that if you think driver or team support has a bearing on how people on F1 Fanatic voted, you have an easy way of taking it into account because we know what the proportions of readers are that support each driver.

      Not that it’s likely to have had any benefit on how they responded to the question I asked about engine noise. But when you use such a broad question as Ferrari did, it’s much more likely that was influenced by driver or team preference.

  13. sracka said on 3rd April 2014, 22:06

    Facepalm F1fanatic, just facepalm… You better delete this, because it’s emberrasing.

  14. TonyX said on 3rd April 2014, 22:07

    This article by an FIA apologist is as self-serving as the Ferrari poll it attacks. Exhibit a : the poll F1 Fanatic conducted earlier this year, in which large numbers though the noise was OK. Really, judged from TV broadcasts which had naturally amplified the volume? If you’d been there in Melbourne you would have been shocked at the lack of noise. But don’t let the facts get in the way of an agenda, which is to support the new rules no matter what.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:46

      an FIA apologist

      Genuinely the funniest thing I’ve ever been accused of. You would have to ignore an awful lot of stuff I’ve written in the past to believe that.

  15. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:10

    Yhe teams and drivers need to get.on with their own jobs of devloping amd driving the cars.

    Only people who don’t have a hidden agenda for their opinions like the majority of us fans should be listened to… but hell if that happened we wouldn’t have double points in the last race of this season.

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