Formula 1 claim their fan research has revealed a very positive response to the bonus point for fastest lap which was introduced this season.
When the bonus point was announced in March “avid fans were erupting like in an outcry, how dare we add a gimmick, we’re trying to be like NASCAR or whatever,” said Roberts. “And then actually, after the first few races we did some surveys and everyone said they love it.”
In a poll which RaceFans began in August, 49% of fans who have responded so far disagreed the bonus point for fastest lap had made the first 12 races of the season more exciting, while 36% felt it had. Max Verstappen has said he “doesn’t see the point” of the rule.
Robert admitted surveys “aren’t perfect” for understanding fans’ opinions. The sport also uses social media monitoring to track fans’ reactions, which Roberts said this proved useful for contentious changes such as the bonus point for fastest lap.
“On Reddit and Twitter and Facebook they were complaining about it. We had done some research around that, I think it was last season or the season before, and that had come up as the one that people would be most interested in and would find most appealing. So that did help inform some decisions and research.
“People did say they wanted that, it’s just once it was announced you suddenly got the fear factor of the avid fans going ‘How dare you do that?’”
Social media is a valuable tool for marketers because it gives them access to fans’ unfiltered views. “With Reddit conversations, they don’t know that their words are being monitored, so they’re just speaking freely,” said Roberts.
Another hotly-debated change which social media monitoring gave insight to was the new F1 logo, which was revealed at the end of 2017.
“With things like the logo, on Twitter the Twitterati came out and said ‘How dare you change the logo?’,” said Roberts. “But when we did research after, ‘Do you like it?’ most people went ‘Yeah, it’s fine’. They said the logo was great, it was fine.
“But very few people said, ‘I really, really hate it’, so I think the rule is don’t always listen to what people say on Twitter.”
How else does Formula 1 use social media and other tools to monitor fans’ opinions? Read the new RacingLines column by @DieterRencken later today on RaceFans to find out
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