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Formula 1 Newsletter 58

The pros and cons of social media

Every year, shortly before Christmas, a letter arrives from a woman I have never met. The only connection between us is that she is the second wife of a friend from long ago, whom I haven’t seen in more than 20 years, yet for reasons unclear she assumes a deep interest, on my part, in the activities of every member of her family, all of whom – her husband apart – are unknown to me.

nigel newsletter f1  The pros and cons of social media
Jorge Lorenzo’s message to fans in 2010

I have long been mystified as to why this should be so. It is a ‘one size fits all’ letter, word-processed, printed, hand-signed, then mailed – presumably to all nations. There may, I suppose, be those who find it diverting, but, being unfamiliar with its cast of characters, it is never too long before my interest wanes in the endless chronicle of babies, exam results, holidays and illnesses.

An uncharitable response? Yes, probably, but even in this voyeuristic age I’m at a loss to understand why this person should believe it profits me to receive a detailed update of the lives of complete strangers. Over time many people have asked me why I am not on Twitter, and – sidestepping the fact that it always seems faintly ridiculous to hear grown men talking about ‘tweets’ – I invariably cite this annual Yuletide letter as my justification.

Not being on Twitter, I rarely have sight of tweets, of course, but thoughtful friends occasionally send on to me examples of the genre they have encountered and found pretentious beyond the norm – in particular those from one minor figure in Formula 1 who apparently feels a constant need to share with the world his random thoughts on everything under the sun, not the least of which is his own surpassing importance.

I need help here. I need someone to explain to me quite why folk should have a compulsion to keep everyone up to date – ‘Just going for a pizza’ or ‘Having a picnic with the kids’ – with the minutiae of their lives. I mean, good for them, and I hope they enjoy their Napolitana or whatever, but why one earth presume anyone else needs to know? It’s like those maddening people on the train, who sit there mesmerised by their mobiles, and use them to tell others they are… on the train.

nigel newsletter f1  The pros and cons of social media
Hélio Castroneves tweets a picture of himself after winning at St Petersburg, 2012

Many users of Twitter, while fundamentally agreeing with me about all the above, nevertheless strongly assert that it does have its benefits, not least as a business tool. Quite often, they say, it was a tweet that first alerted them to a story bubbling away under the surface, and I’ll concede that I can see the value of this, that perhaps I’m foolishly leaving myself out of the loop. That said, the grapevine in motor racing is such that in this era of numberless websites nothing is ever a secret for more than a minute and a half.

I’ll admit, too, that Twitter makes me nervous, in the sense that I’m no different from anyone else, and have been known to overreact to a piece of breaking news, and to say something I come swiftly to regret. That’s fine if you’re chatting with a bunch of like-minded mates, but if you’ve committed your instant response to Twitter, it’s too late – it’s out there, and known to one and all. A friend of mine did just that a few years ago, and if his tweet was extremely funny, indeed widely applauded, it cost him his job.

Once in a while an F1 driver, too, has had cause for regrets. Think back to Spa in 2012, when McLaren brought a new rear wing, which Button opted to stick with, and Hamilton did not. By the time of qualifying it was clear that Jenson had done the right thing, for he took pole position (and went on to dominate the race), while Lewis qualified only eighth, and seemed rather to lay the blame for going with the older wing at the door of his engineers. Not so, one of them tersely said: the driver had been fully involved in the decision.

Unfathomably Hamilton then took it upon himself, by means of ‘social media’, to put up for public scrutiny the team’s ‘trace’ of his, and Button’s, best laps, so as to show his followers – and all the other teams – where he had lost time to Jenson.

nigel newsletter f1  The pros and cons of social media
Hamilton at Spa, 2012

After demanding that Lewis delete the image with all haste, McLaren personnel sought to play down the incident, describing it as ‘an error of judgement’, but unsurprisingly their private responses were rather more robust. Later Hamilton allowed that his action hadn’t been the smartest, and these days he is apparently far less active on Twitter than in times gone by.

Others, though, use it all the time, not least Fernando Alonso, who has more than once raised eyebrows and – in Maranello – hackles with some of his observations. It’s a risk you run, I guess.

And perhaps, now I think about it, in this instance we should be grateful for the existence of Twitter and the like, for quite often they are the vessel for revelations – and true responses – which might otherwise never surface. No one, after all, needs to be reminded of the tedium inherent in virtually every F1 press conference, wherein drivers make clear their disinterest in the proceedings by chatting to each other while another gives a banal answer to a predictable question.

Unless the circumstances of the day are more than usually controversial, the abiding challenge for all present is keeping awake, and I think it sad that nowadays the drivers feel under such constraints that, in most cases, publicly they come across as far less interesting and amusing than they are.

To some degree the same applies in one-to-one interviews. Chatting to a driver in the paddock is one thing – this is when he’s likely to say what he thinks – but sit him down in a motorhome for a formal interview, and it’s a very different matter, for today it is virtually de rigueur for a member of his team’s PR staff to be present, recording the whole thing.

nigel newsletter f1  The pros and cons of social media

It may be dispiriting to have it inferred, if obliquely, that one is not to be trusted, but I have to admit that on many an occasion drivers have been misquoted, and it’s in a way understandable that teams would wish to have their own record of what was actually said. As well as that, of course, the presence of a PR offers them a further benefit, for it necessarily has an inhibiting effect on the driver being interviewed, he being far less inclined to speak ‘off the record’.

In just these circumstances I one day interviewed Barrichello in the Ferrari motorhome, and asked him a question about his relationship with Michael Schumacher. Rubens was always unusually open, but in this instance he conveyed by means of facial expression and a slight sideways nod of the head that he couldn’t give me a proper answer. I got the message, and didn’t push it, but later in the afternoon he caught up with me, and apologised: “You know how things are,” he shrugged. “Anyway, what I would have said is this…”

Misty-eyed, I think back to Hockenheim in 1981, to the aftermath of the German Grand Prix. Alan Jones had had a bad day, and as I walked to the car park with him and Frank Williams he gave vent to his feelings, not least about Goodyear, who had recently made a mid-season return to F1 after a few months away, and in his opinion were falling short. “Please don’t say anything about Goodyear, Nige,” Frank murmured, but Alan would have nothing of it. “No!” he yelled, hurling his briefcase – from some distance away – into their car’s open boot. “Bloody write it! If you do, something might get done about it…”

nigel newsletter f1  The pros and cons of social media
Alan Jones at Hockenheim, 1981

You don’t get much of that sort of stuff nowadays, which greatly pleases team principals seeking to keep a lid on anything discordant, but is inevitably a disappointment to journalists, for whom ‘good quotes’ are the bread of life. Perhaps, therefore, I should change my attitude to Twitter, for it can’t be denied that occasionally it allows insights into a driver’s true feelings on a given matter in the sport.

I still think there are pitfalls, though, beyond boring people stiff with tales of pizzas and picnics. Sir Alex Ferguson, I’m told, banned his Manchester United players from using Twitter, and no surprise there. No surprise, either, that Sebastian Vettel doesn’t go near it, preferring – unlike some – to keep his life as uncluttered as possible. A smart lad, the World Champion.

Click here to read more from Nigel Roebuck

nigel newsletter f1  The pros and cons of social media

Add your comments

58 comments on The pros and cons of social media

  1. Stephen Errity, 24 October 2013 11:36

    There are indeed pros and cons to Twitter, but I’m sick of people constantly trotting out the ‘I don’t care what you had for breakfast’ line to criticise Twitter. Social media is what you make it, and requires ‘curating’ on the user’s part to be worthwhile. Yes, there are people who post banal updates, but the simple answer is don’t follow them. There are plenty of people sharing insightful, interesting or just plain funny stuff to make it worthwhile.

  2. Jean Musy, 24 October 2013 11:38

    It’s name says it all…….TWIT.

  3. Daryl, 24 October 2013 11:59

    Great article that I agree 100% with. I’m not yet 40 so not an old fogey by any means but cannot for the life of me understand the lure of twitter, facebook etc. In work, colleagues sit there in a group at lunch playing with their bloody phones, presumably Twitbooking ‘freinds’ or whatever it’s called…

    “I’ll facebook you.” Please dont, call me instead.

    Rio Ferdinand and Joey Barton are reason enough why Twitter should be exterminated.

    By the way, the pic above of Hamilton says it all about modern day F1 drivers – he needs a ‘lady in waiting’ to hold an umbrella for him as he ponces around.

  4. Mike Hamilton, 24 October 2013 12:05

    Thanks Nigel, for another thought-provoking piece. Ironically, I found out about it through both facebook and Twitter.

  5. Bill, 24 October 2013 12:10

    “I one day interviewed Barrichello in the Ferrari motorhome, and asked him a question about his relationship with Michael Schumacher.”

    Yeah, poor Rubens Barrichello. The Dutch F1 reporter Olav Mol once had an extensive interview with Jos Verstappen about his relation with Rubens Barrichello when they were teammates at Stewart. he revealed that Rubens was so favored he usually had engines several specs above his teammates, and throughout the season demanded all new wings and bits on his car, and if he didnt get it, he would go on a whine about it all weekend. I wonder what Jan Magnussen view on him being a teammate with Barrichello would be. Similar, I guess.

    I think such a different light on Rubens Barrichello would rarely, if ever be covered by you, Nigel Roebuck, and thats fair enough, but twitter brings a lot of these drivers much closer to the fans, and they also interact much better. Alonso holds many Q&A with his followers, for instance, and ill never forget my conversation with Ferrari F1 team twitter official who got rather upset when I asked him why he, Domenicali, and Massa always use the words ‘for sure’ in their sentences.

    Other than that, I think twitter is the fastest news outlet currently available. No website or media can beat it. I follow various international journalist and opinion makers all around the world and its amazing how much you learn. Also, some are very funny. Mark Webber usually is very upfront in his tweets. The trick is to not follow too many people, about 400, so you can keep oversight on the timeline feed.

  6. Paul Leeson, 24 October 2013 12:14

    Well my first comment is to comment upon Will Buxtons tweet, which likens your view to that of his daughter claiming not to like a food she’s never tried, but then, perhaps Will might need to actually poke himself in the eye with a sharp HB2 before making a judgement as to whether its wise or not.

    Twitter is like any tool, its only as good as the craftspesron utilising it and as a 50 something i’ve enjoyed trying to get to grips with it, if you’re ruthless about who you follow it can be a great source, of both mirth and information but as the artcle states it can have serious consequences, Personally i managed without it before it arrived, and its not a life changer so each to their own, not every advancement turns out to be a real advancement, some of the newer communication can be quite intrusive and just a little to persistent, now and again its nice to be incommunicado, and it usually means that whatever follows such a spell is well considered.

  7. Rob Christoph, 24 October 2013 12:19

    Nigel, social media (especially Twitter) is a wonderful thing. I’ve been reading your stuff since the 70s and you were once my only window on a world that was exclusive to all but a few. The fact that a driver can now express himself instantly can only be a good thing. True, it sometimes backfires, but no more than a bad or deceitful press release from the past did. I for one would follow you the moment you ever decide to join Twitter because I’m interested in what you have to say. And that is it in a nutshell – you decide who you want to hear from. Check out Mario’s twitter feed – it’s always a class act.

  8. Garry Honiball, 24 October 2013 12:24

    What an odd article Nigel!

    Poltical Correctness has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. It is a very rare occasion that anyone in the public eye speaks with truth, honesty or transparency. Its the way of the world and its how the big corporates (F1 teams amongst them) operate.

    Facebook or Twitter have no bearing on this fact whatsoever. I use Facebook and Twitter for any number of great reasons, keeping up with far distant friends and family and, quite significantly, to follow Motorsport Magazine and its army of exceptional journalists.

    Social media yields what you aim for. Direct contact with a sportsman or public figure that would othewrwise be out of reach? Public Debate? The odd (honest) rant from a frustrated Ferrari F1 driver?

    I am not sure what your point was.

    P.S. I had French toast fro brekkie and am now at work.

  9. Richard West, 24 October 2013 12:34

    I could not agree more with this article…. but then I am a 50+year old.

    I just really enjoy the Earthiness of your articles and observations that glue the whole of Motor Sport together. And you are not afraid to speak your mind in clear English. Autosport’s loss has been Motor Sport’s gain…. do not lose him, as I am sure that I speak for the vast majority of readers that HIS is the first article that is read when the Magazine is published. The rest of it is pretty damned good as well.

    I had better get back to some work now.

  10. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 24 October 2013 12:41

    Hello Mr Roebuck.

    Yes, I was going to say that Vettel doesn’t use ‘twitter’. He’s in a very good place, so why botch it up?

    Both Hamilton and Alonso have actually gotten in ‘trouble’ with their teams – both at Spa in 2012 and 2013 respectively – after ‘tweeting’.

    With Hamilton, it’s the case you cite.

    With Alonso, it was when he ‘tweeted’ that his Q3 spin was irrelevent because he didn’t have enough fuel for that final flying lap as the track dried out rapidly. It was a ‘tweet’ to mask his error as his spin/off cost him about 8 seconds and he missed the timing beam by just 2 or 3.

    Well, Ferrari refuted that ‘tweet’ by telling the Italian press that Nando did indeed have enough fuel for that final flyer.

    It wasn’t a happy time in the Alonso-Ferrari relationship, book ended by Hungary/post-Hungary “ear tweaking” (as opposed to eat tweeting (hehe)) and, then the berating of the team by Alonso in the radio during Monza qualifying.

    Vettel, as you say, is smart for staying away from it. I mean, i’m not on ‘twitter’ but i’ve seen some of Alonso’s ‘Samurai’ quotes. They’re absolutely childish, to say the least.

    PS

    I do feel quite sorry for you having to edure the strange lady’s Yuletide message every year.

    Look at it this way: At least she is thinking of you as she signs off the letter.

    PSS

    Be thankful you don’t get these letters from Bill.

    Aha ha.

    (Just joking, Bill!)

  11. GRP, 24 October 2013 12:55

    This morning I did travel to work by train mesmerised by my mobile. I was reading one of your articles on this site Nigel. The confounded things do have some uses.

  12. Bill, 24 October 2013 12:59

    Id follow Nigel Roebuck on twitter in a hearbeat, Ray! ;) Besides the odd digs at Schumacher, it would be very interesting to read, no doubt.

  13. David A Whalley, 24 October 2013 13:04

    Twitter, et all – you have to take the good with the bad I guess.

    I use Facebook, more for keeping tabs on my brother’s pictures & I do use Twitter, but that’s more for keeping up to date with news, both in the ‘real world’ but also in the Motor Sport world. (Yes, I do follow @Motor_Sport) I just think its the way the world moves forward (or maybe sideways)

    How some people must have hated the thought of having a mobile phone and anyone – who had your number at least – could call & talk to you!! In a way we are at that same stage where we can find out what a particular celeb is doing in their 47th bedroom or whatever rich people do these days..

    I do think what Alonso does for his fans is pretty top class & would be nice to see some others – in different sports as well – following suit (as long as it’s genuine!)

    Food for thought perhaps, but in the mean time I will RT this article on my Twitter page….

  14. alan Burden, 24 October 2013 13:07

    Nice article Mr Roebuck but don’t weaken. Most , well may be many, people who tweet are twits, at best. Of course there are wise, sensible people who contribute but I strongly suspect most are simply fulfilling there need for, as Andy Warhol put it, there 15 minutes of fame. Incidentally I simply won’t read circular letters. If the person can’t be bothered to write to me personally , well, frankly stuff them, straight into the waste bin. Hamilton has improved of late but that business over the wing was appalling and he didn’t even need his 15 minutes

  15. Bill, 24 October 2013 13:07

    A story just surfaced on twitter, that the Indian authorities are seeking a judge ruling to cancel this weekends F1 race.

  16. David A Whalley, 24 October 2013 13:10

    @alan Burden – at least you get letters…

  17. Rodriguez 917, 24 October 2013 13:19

    I don’t use Twitter, I’m not anywhere nearly interesting enough to let people know what I am doing. However as a fan I love the fact drivers are on Twitter. I regularly follow not only F1 drivers but Indycar, Nascar and BTCC drivers as well as pundits and journos. It allows you to learn more about your heroes, how many people knew that Montoya collects radio controlled planes or Franchitti is reading the book ‘Brothers Rodriguez’ or know Webber gets up on his roof to clear out the drains!

    Also without Twitter the said incident at Spa last year wouldn’t have happened and all the journos wouldn’t have been able to write about it. Nigel, just think of it as another means to get some good stories.

  18. David Goddard, 24 October 2013 13:36

    Notwithstanding his understandable frustration with Ferrari, Alonso’s many affirmative tweets are a pleasure to read. He takes evident pleasure from interacting with his fans, and has a clear desire to give something back.

    I suppose his Samurai quotes might not suit everyone. Personally I find them thought-provoking and worthwhile. The TV “interview” which Alonso and Webber conducted with each other earlier this season showed them both to be driver-philosophers, valuable to the sport.

  19. R.E.B, 24 October 2013 13:37

    Iam bursting to know who the “minor F1 figure” is!

  20. Anthony Kett, 24 October 2013 13:39

    I started reading Motor Sport in 1950, and could not be more in agreement with Nigel’s views. Yes, I am old, but Twitter reminds me of the WWll slogan “careless talk costs lives”…. or more recently money, for ill considered remarks.

  21. Paddy Willmer, 24 October 2013 13:57

    I dont use twitter either. I come from a wartime generation who like their privacy and won`t divulge anything in haste. Even when I edited Safety Fast!, the MGCC`s Magazine I resisted personal comments being introduced. I regard Twitter as something rather evil.

  22. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 24 October 2013 14:28

    Bill: “A story just surfaced on twitter, that the Indian authorities are seeking a judge ruling to cancel this weekends F1 race.”

    *DREAD*

    I’m sure Bernie & Co are shaking in their boots.

    Not!

    See?

    You have to sift through the rubbish to get to the golden nuggets. Needless to say that ‘tweet’ is pure rubbish!

    If I were on ‘twitter’, I’d “follow” the engineers – like Symmonds or Newey or Lowe or Brawn or Allison or Stella. I think they would be worth reading.

    Someone mentioned the benifits of being “incommunicado” for a spell.

    But guys like Raikkonen are in ‘perma incommunicado’! And it builds a mystique/persona which can be a ‘branding’ in a way.

    I can certainly appreciate Webber’s ‘tweets’ – but I can also appreciate (and respect) that Vettel and Raikkonen go their own way in terms of privacy.

  23. Rob Christoph, 24 October 2013 14:32

    Nigel posted an article, people read it on a computer or similar device and then gave their opinion. Damn it… this is looking suspiciously like a Twitter page. I hate to break it to the non believers but you’re already converts!

  24. Stan, 24 October 2013 14:35

    Twitter? It’s a fantastic tool: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! You don’t have to be an active tweeter you can simply be a passive recipient of the information, entertainment and education that it provides; either directly or via links to pictures and longer articles.
    As for separating the wheat from the chaff, follow only those people or organisations you find interesting or useful and ignore the rest – a bit of trial (and error!) soon trims down your ‘follow’ list.
    I have to confess I’d be lost without it: it’s a constantly illuminating window to the world of your interests.

  25. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 24 October 2013 14:47

    Hello Bill.

    I would also “follow” Mr Roebuck. [My first ever motor racing book from childhood was 'Mario Andretti World Champion' by him. So, I have been following him for a few decades].

    Perhaps Mr Roebuck should get an account too?

    It would be good for him to get in on the juicy gossip once in a while – with-in seconds (as opposed to minutes or hours)…and, i’m sure, it would be good for a laugh or two for him from time to time for him as well.

    Laughter is always good medicine! ;)

  26. Brian McCuaig, 24 October 2013 15:00

    Only twits use twitter!

  27. Golden Turtle, 24 October 2013 15:03

    I agree with Nigel, although one positive thing about Twitter is that drivers actually refer to themselves rather than the Royal F1 “We”. Imagine ET interviewing a F1 driver, without having seen a race. They´d think they were driving buses, with a whole team load in them: “We overtook…. We spun, We entered the pits….”

  28. eric, 24 October 2013 15:03

    Vettel IS on Twiiter. Check your facts before whining.

  29. Bill, 24 October 2013 15:11

    I’d love to read more about Nigel’s opinion about that idiot piers morgan, for instance. :) Twitter is excellent for that.

    BTW, Ray, Ed Foster reported on that ‘rubbish’ too. ;)

  30. Paul Hadsley, 24 October 2013 15:14

    It’s easy to be down on twitter, seems like an easy, received opinion these days.
    The fact is twitter isn’t some magic medium for waffle, its a means of communication.
    When you got that boring letter you didn’t blame the royal mail, you blamed the person sending it.
    Twitter is the same, as long as you only follow the people or accounts that interest you and don’t feel the need to follow anyone you don’t want to hear from out of politeness.

    One of my favourite uses of it is during the grands prix themselves. Some people get uppity about the use of hashtags but the various f1 ones have allowed me to find and be part of almost an f1 family with tweeters around the world.
    And whatever your opinion on twitter you cannot be against the account that tweets every team radio message transmitted, not just the tip of the iceberg we get on tv (usually just focused on jenson being negative for some reason)

    That really helps to get a new perspective on the race as it unfolds and that’s the great strength of the thing. More information than you get on tv, and all of it informative.

    Ok I’ve gone on for a while and I sense those who are against it will never change their minds, and fair enough
    But to condemn it for the “I like toast!” Sort of posts are to miss the point entirely.

    People are twitter. There are good people and bad people everywhere, the trick is just finding the good ones, twitter os

  31. David A Whalley, 24 October 2013 15:25

    @Paul Hadsley – Team Radio Twitter account? Really? I’ve got to find this asap!

  32. Bill, 24 October 2013 15:34

    @F1PitRadio and @F1PitRadio2 broadcast all transcripted teamradio messages on twitter during any F1 session. Really nice.

    As others mentioned…even just passive use of twitter is a great addition for news gathering.

  33. David A Whalley, 24 October 2013 15:43

    Sweet, thaks Bill :)

  34. John R.Wright, 24 October 2013 15:44

    Hi Nigel:
    Recently on a Canadian Broadcasting Company program there was a debate on whether or not the internet was making us smarter or stupider. The jury is still out on that debate but twitter,Facebook and other social (anti-social?) media make it easier for any idiot to voice his or her ill considered opinion. God must have loved idiots as he made so many of them….
    Cheers from Canada
    John R. Wright

  35. Alejandro A, 24 October 2013 15:51

    @NigelRoebuck
    Thanks to Twitter this article was read as quick as i could get here. Thanks @willbuxton.
    Nigel, please get onboard if only to tweet that you’ve just uploaded a new article. Don’t save all of your great one liners for your close and personal friends, indulge those who care to follow .
    Twitter is SELF curated.
    If Fangio, Castellotti, or Nuvolari would have tweeted before a GP, do you think we would be following? Hell yes.

  36. Bill, 24 October 2013 18:19

    If I may offer some advise to you and/or your friend, Nigel Roebuck: its outrageous someone gets fired for a social media message but it does happen.

    Your friend seemed to have missed that other vital part of twitter: you can make an account under whatever name you desire, and remain anonymous.

    Many, including me, have 2 accounts, one where you keep your family, friends, relatives, business and you adjust your behavior accordingly. And one with a fake name, fake picture, made for days when I want total unrestricted venting on whatever subject. The people you trust, they are the ones you give the fake account to, and the people who dont take life and themselves too seriously will follow anyway.

    But the whole concept of twitter is something id recommend to anyone. Its an enrichement of your daily news gathering, and a fun and quick way to talk with whoever you like (or dont).

  37. David H, 24 October 2013 19:29

    As some say, it does get the info out earlier sometimes… hopefully as a favor to f1 community (oh, they’re already here???) the Indian supreme court will use it to notify the teams 30 seconds earlier if they’re to cancel the race.

    (Thanks India. If a Hollywood scriptwriter wrote such a weekend plot I expect most would dismiss it as too ridiculous to be believed. Monty Python would’ve loved y’all.)

  38. Rich Ambroson, 24 October 2013 22:03

    “Over time many people have asked me why I am not on Twitter, and – sidestepping the fact that it always seems faintly ridiculous to hear grown men talking about ‘tweets’ ”

    I’m still reading the article, but already this line is right up there with some of the best I’ve read from the great Mr. Roebuck. OK, considering all he’s written over the years, maybe not quite that high, but still spot on and quite enjoyable.

    OK, back to the rest of the commentary.

    God Bless Nigel Roebuck!

  39. Tony Geran, 24 October 2013 22:08

    Nigel, I’m with you I just don’t understand the fascination with twittering. The fact that politicians use it is reason enough not to. TV reporters for the Australian Broadcasting Commission which doesn’t carry commercial advertising – even to the extend that they don’t name sponsors of sporting events to the extent that say the Buick Open is referred to as a USPGA Tour event – have their hash tag and the Twitter bird, not their name on the screen in their reports. Seems to be a double standard there somehow.

  40. Justin Frost, 24 October 2013 22:48

    I frankly can’t get into tweeting at all. I like to think it will one day be remembered as a fad that drifted away as soon as the novelty wore off, just like some the ‘buy-into’ trends of my youth: Space Hoppers, Pogo Sticks…Alas, due to the fine work of the marketing departments behind the tweet technology aligned so well to our human responses, I may be proved wrong.
    Ref F1 drivers going direct to fans: where I fortunate enough to have any authority in the management or PR activities of an F1 organisation competing at the highest level in a global sport, the thought that a driver – dealing with the pressures and emotions of a demanding race weekend – might impulsively tweet something inappropriate or inaccurate that could damage the reputation of the team or even worse the image of the teams sponsors, would be a sure recipe for keeping me awake all night. Alex Ferguson clearly took the correct approach. And it worked!
    Mr Roebuck is most definitely a very fine communicator of all that is fundamentally relevant in an around FI. A luddite he most definitely is not.
    J Frost.

  41. Rich Ambroson, 24 October 2013 23:36

    To those extolling the “virtues” of twitter, can you please explain how limiting someone’s posts (“tweets”, gaaack) to 140 characters advances conversation or understanding? Or how twitter is anything other than glorified e-mail/web posting?

    I think those who are downplaying the criticism of that “medium” are missing the point Nigel and those of us who abhor twitter are making. We are not against greater availability of information. The web and articles like this are a boon to fans and others. Twitter and to a large extent facebook are not innovative at all, nor do they really expand on the availability of the information on the web already. Rather, they are glorified extensions of the web, and don’t really provide anything new; instead they tend to dumb down the information provided.

    Perhaps one of the (many) reasons I find twitter and fbook so distasteful is my location in “Silicon Valley” where so many people are infatuated (or worse) with these trendy companies, and can’t seem to pull their head out of their phones to save their (or others) lives. Literally. There are too many “accidents” (accidents are not avoidable, collisions due to negligence i.e. texting/tweeting/reading one’s mobile device while driving are) down to fools using their mobile while driving or walking in a heavy traffic area. As well as the just plain narcissistic ***holes who blare out their petty lives to all who can’t avoid hearing them.

  42. Rich Ambroson, 24 October 2013 23:37

    Twitter is not really any more informative than the great articles and pages here on MotorSport or other websites. And frankly, there wouldn’t have been a Motorsport website without the great longstanding PRINT magazine. Long may the original print magazine live.

  43. Uncle Iberian, 25 October 2013 01:14

    More often than not twitter scandals are done on purpose – let’s be honest about it, but yeah, drivers/riders do tweet stupid things most of the time (LH is top of the list, very uninspiring). It generates some publicity, well, a lot of publicity!

    I recently completed a survey on the use of Twitter by IndyCar: funny questions, like how important to me were picnic pics vs. race track pics drivers normally post; I was told I’d be contacted by their Twitter expert to further expand on the meaning of tweeting, nothing happened so far. Dudes in the US understand a value of good PR, looks like drivers are contractually obliged to tweet/interact with the fans. Funny stuff, aye? I had a nice verbal fight with Kony Tanaan on twitter, for instance. It’s good fun.

    Generally speaking, nothing lasts forever. MySpace is a good example. Twitter & FB will become less important when something new comes up. I can feel it. Not sure what it is, which shape of form it’ll take but mark my words: Twitter & Facebook are doomed in the long term.

  44. Paul Hadsley, 25 October 2013 02:10

    I am liking the arguments about how team managers should prevent their drivers from tweeting lest they upset the team or sponsors! What amazing brainwashing F1 has managed these days.

    That’s right, F1 has managed for too long to but many various barriers between its personalities and the fans, we should support those barriers and even think of ways to create more.
    What’s this? A method allowing direct communication between a driver and fans?
    Shock Horror!
    We must put a stop to it!

    Another post asked why Twitter is interesting when it only has 140 characters.
    Well, that’s exactly why. When people are limited in their means of communication, they become self-editors and have to refine what they’re intending to say so they only communicate the most important points.
    You cannot go on a long waffle about a point and bore people to tears, you have to get to the knub of the matter very quickly on twitter.
    Indeed, a 140 character version of this post would be a lot more “punchy”, I’ve gone on a bit myself!
    I’m not a big fan of facebook, whenever I log into my personal account I’m besieged with invites to gigs I’ll never go to or to play games I have no interest in.
    Tweets, good or bad, are just 10 seconds or so of your life, then they’re gone. Not really worth all this ire, eh?

    I’ll always support any method that brings the sport and its fans closer together. All the posts here defending the status quo, keeping F1 away from the fans behind closed doors, seem old fashioned, out of touch, and churlish if I have to be blunt.

  45. Rich Ambroson, 25 October 2013 02:32

    Being anti-Twitter is in no way “pro-status quo”. Paul missed some points. Maybe the short attention span that the 140 character limit creates limits critical thinking…

  46. Brett, 25 October 2013 06:32

    It may take the death of Bernie Ecclestone, but one day, the rulers of F1 will give what the fans want; competitive racing. Not processions.

    To achieve this, the ‘aero package’ must be discarded completely.
    Think about it; qualifying demonstrates that only one second’s difference often covers many cars. However, within moments of any GP’s start, cars spread out with one to two seconds between every car. It has to be this way, because this is the only way that a GP car can get full effect from it’s ‘aero package’. It needs fully constituted air. It will not corner effectively if it is in ‘dirty air’. It will destroy the tyres rapidly if any of the drivers enter the turbulent, low pressure area, as it will be relying on tyre traction more than tyre/’aero package’.

    One aspect to this is what do the drivers think? In that these people are born to race, yet the rules won’t allow them to. It must be enormously frustrating for them.

    Thankfully, soon, Mark Webber is moving to Sports Cars and may be able to be frank about F1′s faults.

    One day, there will be a very fine day.

  47. Brett, 25 October 2013 06:33

    DRS does not satisfy because it does not, nay, CAN NOT allow close racing through corners.
    And when I write ‘close’, I mean a distance between any two cars smaller than a cars length.

  48. Brett, 25 October 2013 06:34

    And while I’m in such a whingeing mode, I will add that I want to watch racing drivers who are not as greedy for money as Bernie Ecclestone.

    But they can be as greedy for speed as they wish!!

  49. Steve W, 25 October 2013 08:45

    I don’t use Twitter or Facebook, because I know I’ll get in trouble with them… I have a tendency to speak my mind and say what I think – blue-collar language and all – without thinking much beforehand. Nigel, you’d love me as a Formula One driver, but I doubt if I’d keep my job for very long.

    So, e-mails and texts for me. For now.

  50. Bill, 25 October 2013 10:17

    @ Rich: the appeal for me, and the whole idea of Twitter is to fold messages into 140 characters and keep it light and/or short. You want long conversations, there are plenty of other media formats to do that. If thats your sole aim for social media, then Twitter is not for you. If you want an additional news feed, with tweets linking to pages where you can elaborate much more, then Twitter might be something to try.

    As a source of news, there is no quicker or broader format. You get eyewitness reports on any event much broader and quicker than any other media could possibly give. You get access to people and institutes that is unthinkable in any other (online) form. You may not like it and I respect that, but for me its been a very rewarding development in software applications.

  51. Alan K, 25 October 2013 20:03

    The reason that Will Buxton felt obliged to comment on this story (on his Twitter feed) is that he is so obviously the “minor figure” to whom Mr Roebuck referred… I’d say Nigel overstated Buxton’s status.

  52. PeteH, 25 October 2013 23:15

    Quite happy to be appraised of Nige and co’s thoughts via these blogs. Fairly glad they all have more than, what is it, 140-odd characters to play with.

    I came here because, well, I visit this website pretty much every day. I don’t need twatter to let me know there is something at Motor Sport magazine worth reading – there is ALWAYS something worth reading.

  53. cliff, 28 October 2013 14:53

    Well said Nigel. Spot on -couldn’t agree more.

  54. chrisb, 30 October 2013 19:40

    Dear Nigel, gosh so so so right, yet again, although i am beginning to suspect that you are starting to find topics that wind up certain participants just for the fun of it, and wow do they bite!

    i despise fbook and the twits sorry tweets, what astonishes me are the responses, 54 in all, impressive, and 3 on Piquet, yes right, what does that say?

  55. Alastair Warren, 1 November 2013 22:49

    Webber’s retirement at India meant Grosjean went from 17th to the podium, with pundits saying he’s now turned a corner and finally come good.

    Nigel mooted in print whether Hamilton kept his foot down into that first corner shunt at Spa in 2012 helping Grosjean’s car up and over Alonso’s Ferrari. Hamilton Tweeted the qualifying telemetry overlaying his lap with that of Button. Seeing Hamilton’s telemetry from that first corner at Spa last year would prove, or disprove, doubts that Hamilton may have kept his foot down. Seeing that telemetry may help erase one blot from Romain’s copybook?

    It seems Webber’s ill considered hitchhiking at Singapore meant that Derek Warwick was subjected to a torrent of abuse via social, or should that be anti-social, media. Well done to Peter Windsor for giving Warwick a right to reply on his videocast, if nothing else that gave two sides and some perspective to that incident and penalty.

    Like the 2012 Spa pile up, who was the culprit and who was the scapegoat?

    With Nigel’s roots and political leanings it’s difficult not to cite how Adrian Smith, a committed christian, was set upon for posting his view on same sex marriage on his FaceBook profile that also mentioned his employer was Trafford Housing Trust. It read like his opinion expressed on FaceBook was all the excuse some colleagues needed to interfere into his life. It happens.

    Look at how the PR guru used by the 3 police federation members before meeting with Andrew Mitchell MP may have shot themselves in both feet with their Tweets. Leave it to the likes of Sally Bercow.

  56. Dave Densmore, 21 December 2013 11:43

    Nigel:
    Great column touching on an issue that effects everyone in motor racing. Still remember fondly your trip to the States and your visit to Chicago with John and our drag racing team and wanted to let you know that, like Vettel, Force doesn’t indulge in social media beyond an occasional on-line chat. And, you can still get some candid responses from him, like when he told US journalist Jon Asher that his near fatal 2007 crash “was the best thing that ever happened to me” and then proceeded to cite the reasons. I think Simon Tayor got a big dose of Force for his “Lunch with…” staple and am looking forward to his take on the 16-time champion. Always enjoy your stuff. Bet wishes for the holiday.

  57. Johnny H, 17 January 2014 14:20

    I just fed the cat

  58. Phil Grice, 24 January 2014 00:54

    Like you I don’t see the point of twittering, so I don’t. I don’t do facebook either for the same reason.

    I consider most tweeters to be empty vessels.

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Nigel-Roebuck-2011

Nigel Roebuck

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