But who has the greatest reach in Formula 1 and how do they use their respective platforms? Formula 1 drivers and teams predominantly use Twitter, Instagram – and its accompaniment Instagram Stories – to reach their followers.
The championship and its stars still lags behind some sports, with the leading protagonists from the world of football, the NBA and NFL attracting a far greater reach than Formula 1’s main superstar. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, has a staggering 196 million Instagram followers. His girlfriend has a larger social media following than any Formula 1 driver.
That of course is Lewis Hamilton, whose 13.9M Instagram followers and 5.6M Twitter followers far out-weighs his opponents. Hamilton is comfortably the most successful current driver, is the second-most experienced driver on the grid, and has significant interests outside of the sport, ostensibly boosting his following. He and his social media team regularly post updates from grand prix weekends while Hamilton himself takes to Instagram Stories to chart his life, regularly with personal thoughts and opinions on social matters. Hamilton has made his opinion known on animal cruelty, world politics and the environment. At grands prix he has live-streamed the podium ceremony, post-race celebrations and press conferences.
HAMILTON HAS THE LARGEST SOCIAL MEDIA FOLLOWING AMONG CURRENT F1 DRIVERS
On Instagram Hamilton has as many followers as his nearest seven rivals combined. The up-and-coming superstars Max Verstappen (2.8M) and Charles Leclerc (2.6M) have shot up the order in recent years while Daniel Ricciardo (2.6M) is widely regarded as one of Formula 1’s most charismatic and entertaining drivers, regularly posting silly and engaging videos on his profiles. Remember Ricciardo and Leclerc filming each other on a flight this year? Kimi Raikkonen shunned social media for years but in late 2017 launched an Instagram profile and his video and photo updates – typically with very brief captions – are followed by 1.7M people. Valtteri Bottas (1.3M), Lando Norris (1.2M) and Carlos Sainz Jr. (1.1M) are the other drivers in seven figures. Norris’ following has rapidly grown through his self-deprecation, use of memes and milk obsession.
LEWIS HAMILTON IS ARGUABLY AS FAMOUS FOR HIS OFF-TRACK ANTICS AS HIS RACING SKILL
On Twitter only three drivers join Hamilton in having over a million followers. Sergio Perez is the surprise second-placed man with 2.1M followers, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo on 1.7M and Max Verstappen on 1.1M. Next up is Romain Grosjean on 854K.
But what about (or is that aboot) the bottom end of the spectrum? Well, that honour falls – perhaps unsurprisingly – to Lance Stroll and Formula 1’s sole 2020 rookie Nicholas Latifi. Stroll has 212K followers on Instagram and 40K on Twitter, while compatriot Latifi has 42.8K (Instagram) and 11K (Twitter) respectively.
And while teams and drivers have grown their profile it has not always been without a storm. In 2014 Lotus had to apologise after a posting a Tweet about the Winter Olympics, which featured two men kissing, perceived as a criticism of Russian laws over homosexuality. Two years previously, in Belgium, Hamilton posted an image of his and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button’s data on Twitter, showing the difference between their respective components and set-ups. It also contained sensitive information, angering McLaren, with Hamilton swiftly removing the tweet and subsequently apologising. It was revealed years later, though, that the image was actually of simulator data.
Not everyone, though, is a fan. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel has the grand total of 0 followers, for he does not have any personal social media account.
VETTEL SAID ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA
“I just can’t identify with a generation that wants to share everything, at all times,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports in 2019. “It’s not that I have something to hide, not at all. I think many people are thinking that life of a Formula 1 driver is a lot more exotic than my life is, but I actually like to have a normal life, and I think I qualify as living a normal life. But I don’t have the desire to share. Why? I don’t get the point. Why do you need to tell people what you are doing?“
FIGURES CORRECT AS OF JANUARY 2020
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||528K||1.1M||1.3M||10|
F1 2020 NEXT RACE
|Australia GP||15 March|
|02h00 - 03h30||Free practice 1|
|04h00 - 05h30||Free practice 2|
|04h00 - 05h00||Free practice 3|
F1 2020 WINTER TESTING