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Sport needs to engage with fans says Montoya

NEWS STORY
09/07/2015

Former F1 star Juan Pablo Montoya believes the sport needs to give fans greater access if it is to flourish.

"Something that IndyCar does really well is, as a fan when you go to the race, you have access to the drivers," said the Colombian at the FIA Sport Conference in Mexico City.

"We do autograph sessions, they can go to the garages, you can see the cars, we can't cover anything. It's a completely different mentality, it's designed for the fans," he added.

"What they really need to work on in F1 a lot - and it won't be easy because they always want to keep it as this exclusive thing - but to grow in places like Mexico, they really need to give more access to the fans," warned Montoya.

"The reason they failed in the US (in the early 2000s) was that people went there and just stood in the grandstands, and a lot of those people would go and watch IndyCars, and they could go and walk around the cars and feel part of it. It's never been like that in Formula One."

Winner of seven Grands Prix, finishing third in the championship twice, CART champion, Indy 500 winner and now back in IndyCar following several years in NASCAR, Montoya has over one million followers on Twitter, saying he uses the platform to give fans a glimpse into his real life, thereby hopefully creating stronger engagement and an interest in finding out about his next race.

"I use it not so much for the racing side, but to give people access to see who I am outside the races," he said. "At the race what you see is what you get.

"Outside I'm the guy who loves mountain bikes, wind surfing, my family, flying my radio-controlled planes, that's who I am. I think it separates the ‘big star driver' from the normal human being."

Hard to believe, but in the past, for a small additional charge, F1 fans were able to access the paddock where they could meet and chat with drivers and team personnel. However, as the sport gained popularity so the fans had less and less access to their heroes.

Whilst the sport has introduced autograph sessions in recent years, along with a driver parade on Sunday mornings, this still falls far short of what NASCAR and IndyCar provide.

While most drivers are on Twitter and other social media platforms these days, there is a suspicion that only a few of the accounts are actually maintained by the drivers.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by TheDarkKnight, 10/07/2015 7:22

"Quality racer, great personality and one that F1 fans definitely miss. I know I do."

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