Bringing F1 to the fans: Twitter, Facebook...
Amongst my browsing the other day I came across Nelson Piquet Jnr's twitter account - yep the real Nelson Piquet Jnr. It made me think - in the last couple of months a number of teams (and now drivers) have come to interact with the fans in ways I've never encountered before. So here's my roundup of the official F1 web 2.0, social media, whatyamuh.., hoofer-doofers.
Lets start with Twitter. Twitter enables anyone to chat to anyone, and anyone else to overhear and join in too - it's incredibly simple yet powerful and I love it.
As I already said, there's Nelson Piquet Jnr. As far as I know he is the first real F1 driver to embrace Twitter (there are lots of fakes), and although his first tweet was on Friday I think he's got it right. A good mix of insight into what he's upto, candid photos, conversation, and he twitters in both English and Portuguese - a nice touch.
Teams using the service currently are Force India, Brawn GP, McLaren, BMW Sauber and Renault. I've listed them in what I'd consider twitter constructors championship. Force India (@clubforce) have taken to Twitter like a Piquet to gravel (damn.. must stop doing that now @NelsonPiquet_'s around!). Mixing paddock insight, pitlane atmosphere and informal chatter, I really think they've got the tone right.
Brawn GP (@OfficialBrawnGP) while joining the Twitter revolution a little later (just like their track debut this year :o) ) they really are right up there with Force India. Perhaps trying things out, and how and when to use Twitter, they really are getting the hang of things with regular updates not just through a race weekend but a snippet or two each day between events too.
McLaren on Twitter (@TheFifthDriver) is slightly different, in-so-much-as you seem to get a person's view working for the team - that is rather than centering around grand prix session updates. Whoever he/she is, they make great use of TwitPic - that is candid photos posted to Twitter. I've seen signets on the lake at HQ in Woking, Pedro dishing out cake in Spain and the inside cockpit of Bruce McLaren's M7A. All that said I do get the feeling (and I get this feeling about many McLaren initiatives) that it's a little cold and corporate, you know that thing you can't quite describe when you're trying to write a blog piece! (Added later: I think it might be a crossover from the sometimes wayward tone I get from McLaren's other Twitter account @McLaren_eshop)
BMW Sauber (@BMWSauberF1Team) and Renault (@rf1paddockpass) are both just what's called Twitterfeeds - that is tweet with headlines and links from their official websites whenever they are updated. Better than nothing but I hope that both of them pick up their Twittering and follow the lead that the other teams have shown - its a shame to be so near and yet so far.
Just before I was about to publish this piece, I was alerted to Red Bull publishing an iPhone App (which is pretty good - and free (iTunes link) - and I'll probably do a piece on it in the next few days) and within the app there seem to be two official Red Bull twitter accounts @redbullf1spy and @redbullF1. Like I said I've only just found these, but hopefully Red Bull will bring something slightly new and different to the ahem twittersphere.
Some of the teams have also launched official Facebook ; pages. The ones I've got are BMW Sauber, McLaren, and Brawn GP. Facebook's great, but I'm having a hard time using it of late, so its quite possible that there are other official F1 pages or groups on there, if you come across any please post them up in the comments.
The last medium that I'd like to mention that makes me feel closer, even sometimes part of the team are podcasts. Williams, Renault and Force India do them - and I'd probably rate the Williams one as the best. Some of the strange and sometimes silly features that they do with the team, and drivers really do make you feel that little bit more connected to the people their personalities and their sense of humor in Formula 1.
Have I missed any Twitter accounts, Facebook pages or podcast malarkeys? Which are your favourite? Let me (and everyone else) know in the comments :)