Ferrari fan gesture unlikely under previous F1 owners - Carey
Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey believes getting a young Ferrari fan to meet Kimi Raikkonen during the Spanish Grand Prix was an example of how the sport's approach has changed under new ownership.
Live television pictures showed of an extremely upset Thomas Danel reacting emotionally to Raikkonen’s early retirement from the Barcelona race.
The image was also circulated on social media, before F1 and Ferrari personnel were able to track down the youngster and his family and invite them into the paddock.
This received widespread praise and is something Liberty Media representative Carey described as a “special moment” F1 would not have provided under Bernie Ecclestone/CVC’s stewardship.
“We got all this press about the little boy who got pulled down, and they did it on their own, having a sense a freedom that they wouldn’t have had a year ago,” he said.
“I didn’t tell them to find the little boy, there are people who did it on their own, thought it would be a special moment, and it was.”
The Spanish GP weekend was targeted by Liberty as an opportunity to enhance its F1 experience, which lags behind several other series.
As a result, the so-called fan zone featured a zip wire, pitstop challenges and the chance to win a ride in a Minardi two-seater F1 car.
That, combined with the wheel-to-wheel battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel for the victory, left Carey extremely satisfied.
“At Barcelona we launched no transforming events, but a number of things that almost everybody to a man said created a fresh sense of energy and excitement,” said Carey.
“As we’ve been connecting the various parties, we’re finding a tremendous level of enthusiasm that hadn’t existed, and to some degree you could say there was almost frustration for people who felt there wasn’t anybody to engage with.
“There’s no question that some things will move faster than others.
“We had more events, some great moments like [Vettel and Hamilton] bumping coming out of the pits, and we sort of let them go.”
Carey admitted parts of F1’s fan set-up were too out of date – such as merchandise areas that “feel like a carnival 20 years ago” because they are just stacked with team shirts.
He also said that while creating a greater experience for fans was a priority, Liberty would focus on how to monetise that.
“We could probably sell that sponsorship five times over for the zip line and go into profit,” he said.
“We didn’t, but I can imagine the right sponsor wanting to identity with it.
“Properly executed we should make money, not spend money, creating a platform when you’ve got 100,000-plus people and television and people with phones pulling them out and taking pictures at events like this.
“There’s a pile of people who want to take advantage of that, and it gives us an opportunity to make money off it.”
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