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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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

  4. 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.’

  5. 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! :-)

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:31

    I wasn’t surprised when this poll showed up on their website but I was shocked however to see there was only a YES or NO option. I can understand, they tried to keep it simple, and that is fair, but the fact remains the topic that concerns their question is far too complex to be a YES or NO question.

    Frankly I was embarrassed how stupid this poll was set up as a Ferrari man, clearly many Ferrari fans who like the new sport will still vote NO because of the poor performance so far. You can’t expect proper results from something like this.

    It saddens me to see how a poll form a website/blog like F1F doesn’t get picked up and this garbage is. Yes, it is dominated on here by British members but I think Keith’s data shows there are plenty of people from around the globe on here to make a poll “global”, more important there are fans from every team, driver and even just neutral viewers on here. How objective can any poll be?

    Frankly this is a poor show by Maranello, trying to get the sport to change on the basis of flawed referendum because they can’t adopt to the new rules they agreed to in the first place, purely because they wanted to push Red Bull out of their comfort zone. Do it on the track boys, you have the people and infrastructure, now use it dammit!

    Frankly I’m embarrassed in Ferrari’s place, shame on you Maranello, shame on you…

    @keithcollantine You have exposed them, you don’t have to swallow shamefull below the belt comments accusing you of bashing Ferrari. You are an objective writer, anyone how has been on F1F long enough knows this. You did the right thing here, I as a Ferrari fan thank you for your objective honesty and analysis you provide on F1F day in, day out! Keep up the good job!

    • David Not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 4th April 2014, 7:14

      Yes, it is dominated on here by British members but I think Keith’s data shows there are plenty of people from around the globe on here to make a poll “global”

      Surprisingly enough that’s not quite true (OK, even then F1F is still rather dominated by native English speakers).

  12. Lord Stig (@lord-stig) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:36

    While I would agree with your criticisms about Ferrari’s survey, any online survey is highly flawed. Anybody who has taken a basic statistics course would have heard the term voluntary response sample. Because this data is being collected from people who actively choose to participate there is a significant response bias. Generally those who have a strong view about a subject will respond, while those who are ambivalent don’t. To get any real useable data, you need to do a random sampling of F1 viewers.

  13. MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:43

    The Horse Whisperer wont take kindly to this @keithcollantine

  14. John H (@john-h) said on 3rd April 2014, 22:58

    I didn’t think anyone took Ferrari seriously anyway these days?

  15. Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 3rd April 2014, 23:04

    The day Ferrari win another championship is the day Ferrari are happy with Formula One. Much easier to criticise the rules than to build a title-winning car….

    • 872 races, 16 Constructor’s, 15 Driver’s, 221 Wins incl. 70 1-2, 207 poles, 357 first row, 229 Fastest Laps, 5000+ points, 678 podiums, 86 Hat tricks….
      Looks to me like they had already more “happy days” than anyone else… :-)

  16. I would only criticize this article for the fact the conclusions are far fetched. F1 website does 3 option polls. I voted on that poll and if you check the twitter feed people did say what the website states. Honestly I don’t put too much emphasis in Ferrari polls, why was FIAT picked? 50k is nothing.

  17. Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 3rd April 2014, 23:33

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

    We should pay attention to @keithcollantine‘s #F1 news “reporting”, not @f1fanatic_co_uk’s manipulative and unrepresentative ‘poll findings’.

  18. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 4th April 2014, 0:25

    I hate F1 because it’s Redbull and Vettel’s fault.

    1. Yes
    2. Yes

    Am I doing it right?

  19. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 4th April 2014, 0:25

    I don’t have any problem with @keithcollantine criticizing the Ferrari poll which was maybe badly made or saying that Ferrari have their own agenda and that they’re trying to apply it in the name of the fans, but what bothers me the most is that when it comes to Ferrari everything becomes suddenly dramatic and @keithcollantine becomes the ultimate advocate of the fair play and the spirit of this sport giving ethic lessons to the devil Ferrari and his soldiers (fans) where all the other top teams are producing the same politics everyone with its own style

    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

    Poor journalism or conspiracy theory ?

    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?

    Oh please, everyone has his favorite team with of course different degree of fanaticism, i used to love Ferrari before F1 when i was a kid and i was (still) obcessed with the F40, when i discovered F1 and knew that Ferrari are there i become a fan of this sport, this is just like saying are MU, Bayern, Barcelona… fans devoted to their teams or to Football

    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

    Same goes for you then, If Mercedes was the biggest winner from this potential rule change and Ferrari was the biggest loser we would have seen a very different article.

    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.

    Where were you when Dietrich Mateschitz was lobbying Mr Ecclestone after the 2013 Spanish GP to make an urgent tyre change (2012 specs) after Alonso’s win, or when Christian Horner was moaning last week about the fuel flow sensor ???

    • ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 4th April 2014, 1:47

      regarding the first point. i believe Keith was just using an example to show one of the potential flaws. i don’t think that is what happened here (the other shortcomings like simple “sampling bias” and oversimplification of the issue at hand are more obvious), and i doubt Keith does too.

      But i’ve seen many an online poll rigged via scripts and botnets, like 4chan’s Time Person of the Year and Mountain Dew raids. So it is a pretty common tactic these days.

      The majority of the rest of the points seem to tie in with my reference to sampling bias, and team conducting their own survey on their own site will result in results that are inherently flawed.

      Also i’d like to think if Horner was giving it the big ‘un with Bernie and ran a similarly crap survey, that Keith would’ve written a similar piece. Or any team with influence for that matter. i doubt we’d see an article if Marussia or Caterham tried it, as Bernie would just tell them to ***** anyway.

      And i found this comment piece that refers to Mateschitz’ lobbying, portraying the Austrian and his tactics in a poor light, and the damage done to the sport as a result. http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/05/18/f1-bungled-call-tyres/

      Nothing exclusively about the sensors. Though i believe RB can demonstrably prove more than one of their sensors are knackered, and teams seem to largely agree they were built by the lowest bidder.

    • Albert said on 4th April 2014, 2:18

      You mean the exploding tyres and the sensors that most teams have had issues with?

      I mean, ofc. RBR was being political and self-centered in both cases, but at least they had a solid point.

      Ferrari’s point so far is “we don’t like it”. That’s the difference.

    • palmerstoneroad (@palmerstoneroad) said on 4th April 2014, 9:50

      Look at the number of comments, author knows what team to talk about to get web traffic and people clicking on ads :D

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th April 2014, 11:12

      Same goes for you then, If Mercedes was the biggest winner from this potential rule change and Ferrari was the biggest loser we would have seen a very different article.

      On what basis do you make that claim?

      Regarding your last point, neither of them tried to use a poll and act as though they were representing all fans. Their lobbying was less likely to be taken seriously.

    • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 5th April 2014, 0:32

      @tifoso1989 – you give too much credit when you suggest a level of sophistication such that there’s even journalism at work here to consider poor in the first place…

      ciao grande!

  20. timi (@timi) said on 4th April 2014, 1:21

    Yeah Ferrari really screwed the pooch on this one.

    However, most polls can’t be trusted. That’s why I immediately disregard almost all stats I hear. Even if their poll had great criteria as outlined in the article, it would only account for a maximum 2% of all F1 fans in the world haha. It’s hilarious how people listen to polls, since they usually mean sweet fa, especially if you can somehow control the poll-takers. I remember about 5 or 6 years ago cancer research UK ran an awareness campaign that stated 2 in 3 people get cancer by the age of 30 or something. Turns out they did a study, of something ridiculous like 500 patients in a hospital. Stats are honestly b*llocks, they’re a great way of getting a point across, but can’t be trusted one bit.

    • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 5th April 2014, 0:34

      So @timi if “most polls can’t be trusted” how exactly did Ferrari “[screw] the pooch on this one”???

      • timi (@timi) said on 5th April 2014, 11:46

        Polls can’t be trusted, but most people actually trust in them (much like governments). However, if you conduct a poll that is too vague, people will pick it apart.

        The problem lies with the fact that most people are naive enough to believe polls are usually representative of the masses. So by Ferrari using such a vague option poll, they opened themselves up to scrutiny such as this article.

      • timi (@timi) said on 5th April 2014, 11:47

        @joepa Polls can’t be trusted, but most people actually trust in them (much like governments). However, if you conduct a poll that is too vague, people will pick it apart.

        The problem lies with the fact that most people are naive enough to believe polls are usually representative of the masses. So by Ferrari using such a vague option poll, they opened themselves up to scrutiny such as this article.

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