We all have our F1 favourites. Some are based on personal preferences, attitudes, driving styles… even facial hair. This got me thinking. Who is the most favourite? The favouritist… and how can I work this out?
Twitter seems to be the source of many news stories at the moment, especially within the sporting world, and F1 is no exception to this. Many of us now use Twitter as the second screen whilst watching F1. We debate and discuss, criticise and praise. With the majority of drivers on the grid happy to share their lives thoughts and (cough) car telemetry on this social networking site, it seemed that using this as a gauge for establishing popularity/controversy around the drivers might not be a bad idea.
For the sake of having manageable data, I have looked at the period March 1st through to October, thus covering the entire season and the few weeks leading up to the Australian GP earlier this year.
So who’s missing?
Working in social media and being a big F1 fan, I foolishly assumed that all the drivers would be on Twitter. I mean, everyone is… right?
Well, no. They’re not. In fact, of the 6 World Champions on the grid, 3 are not present on Twitter. Messrs; Schumacher, Raikkonen and Vettel are not on Twitter, with the later claiming that he “prefer(s) to have personal contact with the fans, for example in the autograph signings” (sic).
Unlike the drivers, all of the teams are present on Twitter, with some having more than one Twitter handle. In April of this year, fellow sett dweller Rachel Clarke wrote a piece on how the different teams were using Twitter to connect with their fans, concluding that Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren were the pack leaders. The below chart shows the teams, there handles, levels of engagement (@mentions and retweets), number of followers and the ratio between followers and engagement across the season so far.
Team Handle Mentions Retweets Total Engagement Followers Ratio
Lotus Renault Lotus_F1Team 99990 87069 187059 145705 1.28
Sauber Ferrari OfficialSF1Team 41320 40207 81527 84107 0.97
Williams Renault WilliamsF1Team 35264 32794 68058 78055 0.87
Ferrari InsideFerrari 102918 161034 263952 355409 0.74
HRT Cosworth HRTF1Team 22232 16086 38318 65761 0.58
Red Bull Renault RedBullRacing 53085 46941 100026 173436 0.58
McLaren Mercedes TheFifthDriver 70709 64231 134940 248401 0.54
Mercedes MercedesAMGF1 38913 38595 77508 158505 0.49
Marussia Cosworth Marussia_F1Team 22529 18052 40581 86123 0.47
Caterham Renault MyCaterhamF1 18141 11936 30077 89895 0.33
Force India Mercedes clubforce 15345 9732 25077 84618 0.3
Toro Rosso Ferrari ToroRossoSpy 2601 1129 3730 53122 0.07
The first thing that stands out is that Lotus is the only team to generate a ratio of followers to engagement of more than one. That means that, on average each follower of the Lotus Renault team has engaged with the team’s Twitter channel at least once since March. However, this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Ferrari and McLaren have the most followers, with the Maranello outfit generating comfortably more retweets and mentions than the other teams. Those who need to perform better include Toro Rosso, Force India, and Caterham. Big kudos to HRT too, who despite its perennial proper-upper status manage to finish 8th in terms of engagement and 5th in terms of follower/engagement ratio.
The below shows the combined Retweets and @mentions for all teams over the season so far.
Unsurprisingly, we can see key peaks in activity over race weekends, with the Malaysian, Spanish, European and Belgian Grand Prix especially generating notably higher peaks.
Ferrari’s wins in Malaysia and Valencia generated much reaction from its followers with the following two tweets generating nearly 2000 retweets between them.
Fernando Alonso’s close brush with the bottom of Grosjean’s Lotus and his subsequent Tweet to his followers was the higest individual in team mentions throughout the season.
In Spain, Pastor Maldonado’s glorius maiden victory and the subsequent fire in the pit lane generating a large number of mentions. Analysis of the mentions below suggest that the win was a popular one amogst the Twitterati, with terms such as “Congratulations, great and fantastic all commonly used in mentions of the team.
Using the same methodology as with the teams, the grid looks something like this…
Driver Handle Mentions Retweets Total Engagement Followers Ratio
Fernando Alonso alo_oficial 948833 454302 1403135 1175598 1.19
Sergio Perez SChecoPerez 241143 75968 317111 321980 0.98
Romain Grosjean Rgrosjean 48204 23349 71553 84768 0.84
Kamui Kobayashi kamui_kobayashi 36032 14769 50801 84296 0.6
Felipe Massa Felipe1Massa 84637 27881 112518 191458 0.59
Lewis Hamilton LewisHamilton 395597 188247 583844 1157151 0.5
Charles Pic Charles_Pic1 6446 968 7414 21379 0.35
Mark Webber AussieGrit 101267 55700 156967 464282 0.34
Daniel Ricciardo danielricciardo 12923 3825 16748 49769 0.34
Jenson Butoon JensonButton 287488 115097 402585 1201381 0.34
Jean-Eric Vergne jeanericvergne 8381 1264 9645 35287 0.27
Pedro De La Rosa PedrodelaRosa1 33928 10228 44156 187050 0.24
Nico Rosberg nico_rosberg 33995 13342 47337 210887 0.22
Paul Di Resta pauldirestaf1 30206 5568 35774 168480 0.21
Jerome d'Ambrosio thereal_JDA 4689 315 5004 23773 0.21
Heikki Kovalainen H_Kovalainen 30763 6829 37592 186073 0.2
Pastor Maldonado Pastormaldo 35504 13498 49002 286072 0.17
Vitaly Petrov vitalypetrovrus 14262 4040 18302 107782 0.17
Nico Hulkenberg NicoHulkenberg 12688 2922 15610 92839 0.17
Timo Glock realTimoGlock 9712 2096 11808 87601 0.13
Bruno Senna BSenna 44897 17692 62589 508969 0.12
Narain Karthikeyan narainracing 7134 972 8106 147968 0.05
But who’s under-performing? Step forward (much like real life) Bruno Senna and Narian Karthikeyan, who despite having a strong number of followers each (Bruno has over half a million!), fail to generate much interest.Once again, Ferrari and Fernando Alonso in particular rule the roost. Fernando has the highest number of retweets and mentions, but is piped in the number of followers by Jenson Button by a mere 25,000. Let’s just hope they have notifications turned off on their phones!
The below graphing shows the combined engagement for all drivers across the season…
Much like interaction with teams, we can see that activity is closely related to races throughout the calendar, with Malaysia, Europe, Belgium and Italy all notably higher peaks.
The most interesting though is again the Spanish Grand Prix where Pastor Maldonado’s win generated a large number of retweets, the most of any driver throughout the season.
“Today Venezuela shines in the world, I am proud to be Venezuelan and part of the golden generation. Viva Venezuela.”
“I am grateful for all the great support of our PDVSA the petrol of Williams and most Venezuelan drivers ….”
And I am especially grateful to President Chavez and his great team for making this a historic achievement for Venezuela
These three Tweets generated a huge reaction from Pastor’s Venezuelan following, with a total of nearly 9000 total retweets.
There is no doubt that there is a love affair between Twitter and Formula1. There were over 11 million mentions of Formula One on the social networking channel between March and now.
This season, Lotus, Ferrari and Fernando Alonso are the leaders in the social space in terms of interesting content and outright popularity, although notable mentions should also go to Sauber and Sergio Perez, who, much like in real life, are punching above their weight. As time passes, it’s likely that more drivers will start using this, and other, social channels to hopefully give us fans a further insight into what it’s like to be n F1 driver, and I for one can’t wait!