Fan interaction in motorsports

What would you do, if you can decide wether it is left or right, or if somebody can go fast or not? How can fans contribute to motorsports?

As I am starting my master thesis in the field of digital media, I came across the question of interaction and sports. How do we, as the audience and fans, can interact with our favorite sports? Since the internet evolves, there is more opportunity to be in touch with sports persons, clubs and leagues as well as the news around it. We can grasp information in an instant of a second, always and everywhere. But what else is the role of a fan? Can we somehow contribute to our sports?

The Formula E has made a great effort to develop the traditional racing on a circuit into a more engaging spectacle. First of all the use of electric cars is new and stands in contrast to other racing series. Furthermore the Fan Boost is a tool, which allows the fan to vote for their favorite driver and to help him gain boost during the race. Therefore the Formula E is the first competitor in racing to open up to the fanbase having an active role. Contribution by fans and putting them into a new role is a key factor to create new and interesting experiences. Out of this, I want to research how people would like to shape a racing series on their own. What actions does the fan want to control, where he wants to interact?

“The future will be about making sports fans part of the show"

Luca Colajanni, Formula E

A future and digital oriented racing series

To begin with, I think all the new technology available on the market and the growth of cloud services will not only change our behaviour or how we work, but it will as well affect other parts of life. One part will be sports and motorsports is a part of it. This might end up in dramatic changes for a traditional racing series, like Formula 1 for example. Through technology we stay in contact with people from all over the world and are used to get a constant stream of information. This also triggers our need and desire for more personal shaped and created content. We want to be part of our heroes on track, in the pitline or oversee everything happening in a race. We want to be involved in the adjustment of rules or regulations, which can make a race more interesting and thrilling. Small grasp hidden information in the teams grab our attention and we want to know about it. Out of this, a new role-not only for the racing series as a brand-will emerge, but also for us as fans. So what would you like to change or where would you like to have influence during a race? And how would you deal with the point of maintaining fairness and true sportsmanship after all?

But the questions is not only where to interact and what to control, but furthermore also with what kind of media are you willing to do that? Or what are your expectations? Is it an app you can use on your phone while sitting at the race track or is it VR, which allows you to take a seat virtually in the race?

I would appreciate your ideas, thoughts and any comment on what you think could be done, to put the fan more into action and make them a part of the show.

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Comments (10)

  • Personally I'm admittedly a bit of a dinosaur and couldn't care less about social media etc.. One of the things that drew me into the sport was that the drivers were practically god like beings and what few seconds of non race footage or conversation you could source was jumped upon and added to the whole mystique of them. I can't quite help but feel that reverence is lost somehow when u get drivers tweeting what they have for breakfast and taking selfies in the paddock!

    However, I do understand that there has to be that kind of engagement now in the world we live in and the markets that F1 operate in and if having live feeds from driver briefings/track walks/training etc is the way to draw youngsters away from whatever apps they're glued to and into the sport then I'm all for it.

    There does however have to be a very clear line in any sport involving fan inclusion. As soon as the lights go out, whistle blows, gun goes off, the fans have ZERO influence over what happens. As much as we all wish we could get involved, like the kid that goes to a football match in full kit incase a raft of warm up injuries has rendered him his teams only hope of fielding a full team, we are not there to perform. We are there because we want to watch people do something that we couldn't or wouldn't do ourselves. So much in F1 and sport in general is changing but please let's not go and start moving the goalposts of what a sport actually is.

      1 year ago
  • I am pretty torn on this. On the one hand, Fanboost in Formula E is a great way to get fans involved and give them a way to make an actual impact on the race. But on the other hand I kind of feel that the fans' interaction should be kept apart from the racing. The racers should race and not be helped/hindered by artificial impetus. But, I do think fans should get interaction with the stars outside of the racing itself somehow.

      1 year ago
  • I can't get on board with interaction that plays a part in the sport itself, I think it detracts from the work that the drivers and teams put in if 'banana skin' type factors are introduced at all, let alone placed in the hands of the fans. Fan boost was an excellent way to get people involved in FE but it's being scrapped next season in favour of something that will be moderated by the drivers and I think thats a good thing because it became clear that the most popular drivers were getting it every time. This highlights another issue with fans interfering in races, the fact that some drivers are more charismatic and attract a greater following than others. Take F1, for example, if a fan boost type thing were introduced here, it would be Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen and Leclerc who got it. The best drivers on the grid receiving aid to pull even further ahead (with the exception of Lec). These things never work out fairly.

    That said, I think that interaction is a good thing. The look on fans faces when they get to meet drivers is priceless and I still remember the first time a driver interacted with me on social media. I think it is important for keeping people engaged in the sport, particularly those who are new to it and, therefore, more inclined to drift away from it. I just think there are ways of doing it that leave the sporting side untouched

      1 year ago
    • Yes I totally agree, the fairness is also one of the main aspects that keeps me thinking about what kind of interaction could be contribute and how it would be most meaningful, without making things unfair.

      Do you have any source for the...

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        1 year ago
    • My bad, fan boost is staying, its in addition to the additional power modes. Which is a pity as I dont think it needs it and, as I mentioned, it is the same people who get it all the time (Abt, Buemi and di Grassi) so its a bit dated. Never the less,...

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        1 year ago
  • Welcome Christian!

      1 year ago
  • Hey Christian!

    Welcome to DriveTribe. What a great article!

      1 year ago
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