Judges Chambers: F1, Social Media and Freedom of Expression

The F1 authorities and money men need to grow up and get with the 21st century. Their continued attempts to control the media outlets together with corporate images and messages they attempt to ram down our throats is pitiful.

These offerings conceived by PR companies and advertising agencies are as transparent as the gazillion dollar cathedrals of glass in which they reside.Google+-steel-style-logo-icon

TheJudge13 is partly a social media project as well as a great place to find F1 news and gossip, learn about the technical aspect of the sport and discuss all this with fans as passionate as you from across the worldwide village.

Pause for a moment, and try to consider life without the World Wide Web….. It is fairly hard to do and whilst the majority of my life was spent prior to this incredible revolution, at times I struggle to remember life without the internet.

Social media and its ongoing and developing forms will be considered in time to be as equal a revolution if not greater than the WWW. The internet is merely a platform, social media is people joining together and being empowered to act and exist in ways never before possible.

Melbourne Grand PrixI came across this article, “How can social media change the World”. In an instant I was humbled and realised my understanding of the impact of the phenomenon was microscopic when considering the range and scope of its reach, and actual effects.


(SM) Social media is…

Deconstructing complex policies, making the previously ‘out of reach’ accessible

Providing greater transparency that forces people to be accountable

Delivering previously untapped data and large scale job creation

Impacting the methods and manner of international diplomacy

Eliminating Paediatric AIDSAiding birth control


Empowered the previously unimpowered to stand together and cause a revolution called ‘the Arab spring’

We fans of course all have our favourite platforms like F1 forums, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and a host of new methods of communicating spring up with every passing month. However, Twitter and Facebook are still giant structures in the quickly expanding world village.

I have to say my introduction to Twitter was slow and painful, but as I say if you click on the ‘About’ tab in the menu above – the day TJ13 was launched I saw that Prof Sid Watkins had died about 9pm that night – many of the established F1 media only knew the following day.

10 minutes ago on twitter at times is like ancient history.

So back to F1 and the ‘grown ups’ who are in charge. They will take a very long time to ‘get it’ – and for a global sport that should be punching better in terms of inward revenue’s F1 is way behind the curve of opportunities that SM brings.

The big boys don’t ‘get it’ because they see SM as a channel for their chosen disbursements, as a method to shape the image they wish to portray and not as an agent for inward change, action and engagement.

‘Bringing the fans closer to F1’…Bla bla bla. Whilst this may be the goal of TJ13, very few others who claim this to be their guiding light are delivering this objective en masse. It should be noted that James Allen and Shell Motorsport make significant efforts to achieve this mantra, but are a rare example of flashing synapses in the giant bloated cerebrum that is the mind of F1.

What has provoked this Judges Chambers furore you may ask? I’ll tell you.

We all know about Lewis and his Twitter faux pas last year, and of course tweeting confidential team data – whilst delightful for our consumption – doesn’t help the cause for freedom of speech we wish Lewis to be committed too.

Whatever you think of Hamilton, he is a heart on his sleeve kind of guy, and I for one feel that is great to see and for us to identify with. In Barcelona testing 1, Lewis did a SKY interview on the final evening and was visibly depressed if not suicidal. I thought Roscoe was going to be toast.images-5

Toward the end of Barcelona 2, the contrast in Hamilton’s demeanour was dramatic indeed. Why do we want him to restrain from being this person? Lewis is who he is and fundamentally won’t change.

Hamilton set his cards out on the table when he joined twitter stating, “Life is a journey, and I want my share with my fans – my passion, my drive, my ups and downs and my efforts to be the best,” he has 1.4m followers

We have recently seen tweets and pictures from Hamilton about his, dog, girlfriend and music (punctuation carefully observed) – beautiful banalities against the backdrop of the ruthlessness that is F1

I personally quite enjoyed the run in last year when Alonso took to Tweeting in the guise of a Samurai warrior. Prior to the Korean GP he posted this, “Five great races coming! If the enemy thinks in the mountains, attack by sea. If they think in the sea, attack by the mountains.”


The psychological battle – whether effective or not – is of interest to those of us who try to interpret the banal flood of dull speak and read the F1 tea leaves to discover the heart of the matter.

Yet it appears that there were those who were furious with Alonso and even Massa for their Red Bull jibes. The metaphors of guns and battles drew comments from an influential Ferrari supporter who described their behaviour as ‘tasteless’ and accused the Maranello drivers of ‘behaving like children, not thinking before they speak/tweet.images-3

The words Fernando chose in the above quote are from 17th century Japanese Miyamoto Musashi, who set out in his ‘Book of Five Rings’ teachings ranging from strategy, philosophy and battlefield tactics to self-control and spiritual calm.

Musashi’s conviction that “there is more than one path to the top of the mountain” clearly struck a chord with Fernando and the inference is that his own ascent to the title was slowed by others and incidents beyond his control.

I suggest to you that this was not a childish case of ‘speak first – think later’. Alosno had thought very clearly about exactly what he was saying, and part of it was directed inward at his own team’s failures.

Then we have ‘the greatest driver of this generation’ – some say -.the loveable, warm and open Sebastian Vettel. He says that he won’t use Twitter or Facebook because, “I’m rather old-fashioned. I don’t understand the need to communicate really, I like to communicate directly and personally and make contact with the fans, for example, at autograph sessions.”

Somehow I hear that clinical, clipped monotone clearly through the very translation I just penned, and maybe we should expect nothing less. Bernie keeps trying to get Seb to ‘show his personality’, but I suspect he is doing that quite adequately – and has been for some time.

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or in print or broadcast, the F1 corporate clones need to wake up and recognise nobody is suggesting we want F1 to become a TV show of ridicule… al la… the WWE. Yet the public interest in these exorbitantly paid individuals will not diminish and neither will we the fans believe the party lines they are forced to toe, and the bull they are given to say.


In fact, in the sport of F1 we have a rich diversity of actors on the stage. Some thinkers, some analysts, there are comics along with a few drama queens; and of course some very, very efficient individuals whose obsession is world domination.

Fernando has tweeted this year, but so far has restricted his topics to training and being generally in a very happy place. I believe Fernando demonstrated last year he is no respecter of persons when he ridiculed the La Stampa story about his row with Pat Fry – even though that story was sanctioned by Il Padrino himself.

So I hope when the tensions begin to rise and the pressure is high, we see Fernando re-incarnated into another form on Twitter. I would advise Fernando to look to his national heritage and deliver to us the wisdom from an ancient heroic and philosophic Matador de toros.

On the note of Social Media. Why not join us on our Facebook page for some live chat during the Australian Grand Prix. An event has been created which you can access by clicking  2013 FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX. Once on the page you can “like” us and then join the event which will allow you to post to the event wall. Lets see how it goes for this race and we can run events for the other races if there is a demand.

23 responses to “Judges Chambers: F1, Social Media and Freedom of Expression

  1. Good post. Not into that stuff much myself, but even I recognize how backwards F1 is in all forms of non-TV media.

    • Fair enough on not wanting to do SM.. but the SM demand created the demand for simple internet publishing software like the WordPress I use to make blogging simple for non IT bods.

      So by being part of TJ13 you are contributing (much appreciated) and enjoying the social media revolution.

      • Maybe because I am an “IT bod” I find the whole social media thing overhyped and pretty much a buzzword. My take is it won’t be remembered as something as great as the WWW but will just be subsumed by it, just like multi-media was years ago (remember those CD-Roms)? Social media was also around in forms before the WWW (Usenet for example) and of course email.

        I’m also old enough to remember the last internet .com bubble in the late 90s, so forgive me if I’m being a tad cynical with all this social media stuff 😉

    • “The F1 authorities and money men need to grow up and get with the 21st century. Their continued attempts to control the media outlets together with corporate images and messages they attempt to ram down our throats is pitiful.”

      The most recent example of this was when FOM issued “cease and desist” orders on unofficial timing websites at the pre-season tests. One of the best such websites is/was
      It would be fantastic if FOM bought the software from the publisher of that website and used it to publish live timing data – not only for tests but also at practice and race weekends.

  2. “doesn’t help the cause for freedom of speech we wish Lewis to be committed too.”

    If Hamilton was a bank employee and tweeted your account info would you be standing up for his freedom of speech? What he sent out was information that belonged to McLaren. What it shows is how juvenile Hamilton really is.

    • That is a bit hyperbolic because, frankly its not as serious as personal bank information is it? It was notionally releasing information to competitors, but It was hardly crucial infomation, little more than a bit of an embarassment for the team.

      I’d stand up for Lewis doing that, and I’d also stand up for McLarens right to fire him for it if they so choose to do so. It wasn’t the cleverest thing to do, but its no more juvenile than that which most the F1 grid gets up to, even the master of wisdom Alonso was hardly a paradign of maturity in 2007. I personally enjoy Hamiltons sincereity far more than Vettel and Alonsos nonsense, but the whole truth does come at the price of seeing how petulant, and juvenile he (and indeed most people) are. Unlike his detractors, I don’t think holding these up as an example of what he is, is accurate, just as I’d hope people don’t categorise me by all the stupid things I have said and done. Shining the bright light of the worlds media, especially since the advent of social media, has pushed this more to the fore than ever, and I for one think its a great thing.

      Nice article judge as ever!

      • “even the master of wisdom Alonso was hardly a paradign of maturity in 2007.”

        ”We were not racing Raikkonen, we were racing Alonso.” – Ron Dennis

        • I think by that point in the season, alonso had lost any claim to the morale high ground, frankly I’d have backed hamilton too. But hey, does this mean you are allowed to behave immaturely if you are unhappy within the team or feel, or are being, treated unfairly… or does that only count if you are not Lewis? Interesting.

          • Of course when Hamilton blocked Alonso’s qualy run at Hungary Dennis said nothing. Yet he reacted differently when Alonso held up Hamilton in the pits. But most Ferrari fans, myself included, are grateful Mclaren treated Alonso badly because he drives the red car now.

          • Now now now. This sounds like Man Utd fans and Liverpool FC fans..

            Some matters of propriety. We can handle some stereotyping – Gallic flags, German rockets, Mounties and Mooses, and Redneck ‘Gee I like that red racing car, howbowt you?” etc etc.

            No worries…. English pigs, stupid English standing in line when those on the continent do not, However as far as I’m aware – and I’ve seen this alleged many times elsewhere – it is not the case the entire populace of England’s green and pleasant land is assuming a posture of blind, unerring and devoted worship of Lewis.

            Passion is fantastic and most debates cannot be won – and Cav Ferrari, Alonso, Massa, Il Padrino et al will get a proper lashing from me at some point this year I guess – as has Mercedes, McLaren, Force India, Toro Rosso, Caterham, Lotus – but I think I’ve stayed the gavel on Marussia and Sauber thus far.

            By the way – are most German fans big Vettel fans too – anyone know?

    • @CavallinoRampante
      ” “Whatever you think of Hamilton,”
      Not much.”

      Me, quite a lot. Very much actually. Without Lewis, F1 today would be a dull place. That is why he gets paid gazillions of dosh, and poor you and I discuss it here.

        • Why are you asking a personal question about my nationality? Why does it matter whether I am English, Irish, Scot, or Welsh or Chinese for that matter?

          • This is what often happens, when support is shown for button or hamilton, must be blinded by mindless patriotism, our judgement impaired. Naturally, such things only work one way.

        • To: CavallinoRampante
          1. I hold a British passport – if that has any relevance to this site.
          2. Over recent months I have enjoyed reading your posts here.
          3. During the past day or two I have not enjoyed your curt remarks.
          I hope ‘Normal Service Will Be Resumed Shortly’…

  3. Gahh… Why Facebook? I don’t have an account. Because I’m that old… I do have a twitter account however and I love it (Yes I follow you on twitter). Fantastic site and I look forward every day to your musings. Thanks again for all the hard work.

    As far as Lewis goes, I feel like Merc have their hooks deep into him, and, sadly, it will be a long time before we see any interesting social media from him. According to @DanielPerkin he will be doing a twitter Q and A next weekend so I will be delightedly hoping to be proved wrong, but not holding my breath.

    • Because the guy who runs FB page can make it happen and I can’t. Just sign up for one… It takes 3 mins.. You don’t have to use it.

      We have a new software platform coming in the summer, and well do live chat events on the main site the…

      Thank you for your encouragement and support.

    • @mattpt55 – ” According to @DanielPerkin he will be doing a twitter Q and A next weekend so I will be delightedly hoping to be proved wrong, but not holding my breath.” –
      Well lewis himself has tweeted earlier today that “Also, next weekend I’m gonna do a chat on here with you all.”
      Here is a non clickable link to his tweet
      twitter.com /LewisHamilton/status/309582172099080192

  4. The problem with social media, especially instant messaging like Twitter, is that it is unsubstantiated. Waiting for a formal media report may be frustrating, but depending on the medium, good journalists double check their sources before going to press.

  5. Ironic that Bernie was years ahead of anyone with digital tv provision, but gave up because no country had the infrastructure to use it. Indeed it was partly as compensation for this, that Max let him lease the commercial rights for next to nothing ($330m) for 100 years. But as P King indicated above the FIA still come across as a stuffy collection of pompous individuals firmly rooted in the early 20th century, whose main objective is to meet only quarterly and have big dinners in grand style. (Professors at the Unseen University spring to mind) This image is unfortunately enhanced by the almost invisible conduct of it’s current president Mr Todt who appears so laid back that he needs to fly somewhere occasionally lest the F1 community think he is dead. When did you last see him on tv?

    However Twitter to me is rather like shouting in the school playground, I do follow some F1 twits, but rarely learn anything that is not also on the web in a newsfeed.

    Facebook I don’t bother with, because I’m over 14.

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