Brown

McLaren CEO, Zak Brown has said that Formula 1 must remember that it exists for the fans, and to deprive the fans of access is “crazy”.

Formula 1 has often been criticised in the past for not putting the fans first, and for only looking after its own interests, and fans have often been unhappy about how secretive teams are at race weekends in comparison to other series.

This was especially so when Formula 1 was run by CVC and Bernie Ecclestone, but since Liberty Media purchased the company, teams have been more transparent, and the use of social media at race weekends and programmes like Drive to Survive have helped.

And, in recent years McLaren has been at the forefront of engaging with fans, releasing their own series on Amazon, Grand Prix driver in 2018, in addition to their fan involvement on social media.

Speaking at Autosport International, Brown said: “At the end of the day, the sport’s for the fans, so it all starts with the fans.

“If you don’t have lots of great fans from around the world, new ones, old ones, then you’re not going to have sponsors to pay for the racing.

“I think sometimes the sport has forgotten who we are doing this all for and I think at times we feel we are doing it for us. We are doing this for the fans.”

Brown also believes that Formula 1 is also about providing entertainment as well as racing, and he is encouraging McLaren to ensure that fans can get as much access to the car and drivers as possible.

“This is sport entertainment, and so to me it feels quite natural to want to open up the team,” added Brown.

“I know being a fan myself, I love seeing what is going on in Formula 1, meeting the drivers, and seeing what is going on behind the scenes, so I think to deprive the fans of that is crazy.

“So, we have gone the other way when we started doing the Amazon film, and then obviously we were very early to participate in Netflix, Lando and Carlos were here [at Autosport International] last year, we’re again, Lando is [here] today and I think without fans, we don’t have a sport.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Very wise words indeed, however, McLaren is guilty itself of establishing a ‘them and us mentality’ between their own fan base, having created an exclusive Papaya Membership Program, which is awarded directly by McLaren to specially invited fans only. Once awarded such membership, these select band of fans gain exclusive privileges and access to the team and events that all other fans can only dream of.
    So all fans are in no way treated equal as a result, so this statement is somewhat contradictory in itself!
    Before anyone attempts to defend the above as being acceptable, let it be known that if your argument is going to be that all McLaren are doing is recognising those few ‘die hard fans’, those that have gone well above and beyond what anyone else has done, in following and supporting McLaren, you are simply deluded!
    Yes, there are those that have made it their life’s ambition to follow McLaren to the ends of the world, to invest large sums buying team merchandise and for regularly tagging McLaren on social media platforms, I applaud them!
    But these are a minority, where the vast majority of those receiving this Papaya membership from McLaren have not and do not compare anywhere close to those! In fact there have been ‘fans’ who have received this recognition after barely supporting the team for a year and in that time, all they have done is been prevalent on social media, nothing more, and even more interesting is that there have been many instances whereby recent recipients turn out to be buddies of other Papaya members! Purely a coincidence? Given the huge number of fans out there, worldwide, I hardly believe that to be the case!
    So if the sport is for the fans, if the sport indeed is nothing without the fans, why do anything that creates a hierarchy within ones own fan base? Openness, fairness, clarity and access for all, is what it should be about!
    Just don’t forget here that a fan that has no disposable income, and has never had the pleasure of attending any race event, one that has never afforded to buy a team cap or shirt etc, is still a fan and should be accepted as a valued asset to any team. If one is able to commit time to social media, money on merchandise and attending races and relevant events, then excellent, but they are no more or less a fan by doing so! The whole situation is flawed and totally ridiculous!
    A fan is a fan, plain and simple! Young, old, veteran fan or newbie, completely irrelevant! Male, female, straight or otherwise, irrelevant! Following a team because one has the hots for a driver or team member, irrelevant! A fan is a fan!
    Until this situation is resolved, you are always going to have disagreements, debates, name calling, trolling and all the other totally unnecessary fallout that will do nothing to potential new fans to the sport, other than put them right off, which is the complete opposite effect, to what should be trying to be achieved here!
    I am a fan of motor racing, and wish to see an end to all forms of elitism, when it comes to the fan base, this simply doesn’t help the cause at all.

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