Formula One relaxes social media rules as new owners turn to fan engagement to rekindle excitement around the sport

Teams and drivers have begun posting video content from the F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona

Social media regulations around Formula One have been relaxed as new owners Liberty Media look to strengthen the entertainment value of the sport and allow teams and drivers to strike a deeper bond with fans.

Contractual restrictions with the sport’s broadcast partners previously meant drivers and teams were prohibited from posting video content in and around the paddock area, however the recent changes will now give fans and sponsors greater access to the sport.

Pre-season testing at Barcelona commenced this week and drivers have already begun to make use of the changes, with the Mercedes team and three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton posting video content from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Hamilton, who has 3.8 million followers on Instagram and 4.16 million on Twitter addressed his followers on social media promising more access.

His coverage consisted of footage from inside the pit lane and then the garage, but he did not film the track, in what amounted to a 10 second sequence.

Similarly, the Renault team posted a short video of their 2017 car leaving the garage at the start of Monday morning's first test.

"You've probably noticed the teams are putting out a bit more content of what their drivers are up to in the paddock,” said Red Bull team principle, Christian Horner, when talking to reporters trackside.

He said Liberty Media seemed “very keen to embrace ideas to make the sport more accessible and entertaining” and added that it could “perhaps be made slightly more accessible".

The greater level of access is likely to prove attractive to sponsors and could help turn around the decline in sponsorship revenue which has hit the sport in recent years.

Shortly after the takeover of the company, F1’s new chief executive, Chase Carey, openly criticised the lack of social media output from the sport.

“We’re not marketing the sport,” said Carey. “We’re not enabling fans to connect with it on the platforms that are available today, our sponsorship relations are one-dimensional, the events feel old, the hospitality feels as if it’s at least 15 years old.”

Liberty Media has made fan engagement a priority and the recent changes show how it plans to build the brand through social media and digital channels.

The changes mirror similar approaches to social media in other sports such as football where Sky Sports- which holds the exclusive broadcast rights to F1- has begun showing more action from the Premier League across its own social platforms such as Snapchat.

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Tony Connelly

I cover media, marketing and sponsorship news within the sports industry. This includes breaking news as well as writing feature pieces with insights from experts in the sports marketing world.

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