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

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

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

    The Horse Whisperer wont take kindly to this @keithcollantine

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

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

  5. 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….

  6. 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.

  7. 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’.

  8. 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?

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. Kazihno (@kazinho) said on 4th April 2014, 2:12

    Just because you offer more response choices, doesn’t make a poll more valid than any other. Proper market research (eg. polling) and its interpretation is an art form in itself and not for the novice – although those with no experience in it often jump in at the deep end and fail.

    One major problem with the Ferrari poll – and any other online poll including ones on this site – is that they are self-selecting. True representative polls should take a random sample of views, not just anyone who is motivated enough to respond via one specific communication channel.

    How does this survey differ from the “Do You Like Double Points” poll on this website which the results are brandished around as evidence every second day that “F1 fans hate double points”? It doesn’t. Both are as worthless as a collection of anecdotal evidence. Same goes with “Rate the Race” polls used as evidence that a venue or season is a success/failure or “Driver of the Day” polls. They have no scientific value. They simply represent the views of a selection of people who are motivated enough to vote.

    Where is the demographic, geographic and psychographic analysis that a properly constructed survey requires for proper interpretation and dissection of the results? There is none. Ferrari’s poll should be seen as a tool for bargaining and negotiation. Nothing else.

    Online votes can be a bit of fun. But it should be seen as that, and not something concrete that represents an accurate, reportable and representative view.

    • timi (@timi) said on 5th April 2014, 11:53

      So glad I’m not the only one who understands polls, and their general application @kazinho. It’s hilarious how many people use these online polls of say, less than 1000 people to prove points about “F1 fans” as if 1000 fans is a drop in the ocean. Let alone the fact it’s from a very small section of said fans. Oh well, we can rest in the knowledge that we aren’t as naive as most of the world in blindly following polls :)

  12. vuntoosree said on 4th April 2014, 7:00

    Ferrari should stop conducting silly polls and get on with setting up their friggen wind tunnel properly, getting a half decent actually a decent for once car for their more than decent drivers to compete in

    • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 5th April 2014, 0:37

      Why shouldn’t Ferrari engage with its fans via online polls? Doing so doesn’t inhibit or otherwise prevent them from also calibrating and using their windtunnel, which is far more constrained by the rules…

      Windtunnel and CFD work are heavily restricted in the 2014 Formula 1 sporting regulations, which were published this week.

      The rules go even further than the limits brought in by the resource restriction agreement, with aerodynamic testing now reduced to nearly a third of what was allowed in the RRA before.

      Use of these two types of testing is now capped by a formula based on the number of hours the windtunnel is running and the amount of processing

      source: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/111847

  13. David Not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 4th April 2014, 7:11

    dismiss it mainly because of the drivers being forced to lift off to save fuel

    I might as well say that Ferrari bad form is mainly due to Luca. I wouldn’t have proof of that at all, but the same goes for the poll Ferrari website (which I don’t think is run by Luca) held.

  14. Kelsier (@kelsier) said on 4th April 2014, 8:20

    Though I must say that calling any poll on this site as what “F1 Fans” think is also somewhat dubious. This site is great but it does not represent average or all F1 fans. Especially since its mostly english language readers.

    • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 5th April 2014, 0:38

      That inconvenient fact wont stop KC from publishing clickbait articles trashing Ferrari for its efforts to engage with and give voice to Scuderia’s fans…

      And remind me, did Ferrari ever make any of the strawman claims that Keith is busy trying to knock down?

  15. First time poster – long time reader.

    Just felt I had to offer my thanks to @keithcollantine for all the work that goes into this site, particularly as he seems to be coming in for a lot of bashing for what is essentially an opinion piece.

    In my opinion he ‘s significantly less-biased about nationality or team than any of the other F1 sites/fora I read.

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