Formula 1

Formula 1 failing to use testing as a promotional tool

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If you're someone who follows Formula 1 like a religion you'll know that currently all the teams are in Barcelona for the final pre-season test before Australia.

Yet, while I try my best to report the latest goings on for you here on GiveMeSport, if you are someone who follows every part of the F1 year, away from the Autosport text commentary, finding somewhere to follow the day's events as they happen or a detailed account on what took place is often very difficult.

Hidden truths

Most of that comes from the fact a lot is done by the teams to hide new innovations and disguise their true pace from their rivals and that over an eight-hour test day the only really noteworthy incidents are red flags and fastest laps.

But when the cars are out on track very little can be done to hide whatever they cover up when they return to the garage and when drivers complete long runs, short runs and aerodynamic testing there is a good amount that can be learnt and it can entertain fans.

F1's limited social media presence

So why then is coverage of testing so limited? After all, the three tests are put on in Jerez and Barcelona so that the FIA can check the legality of new cars but also for the benefit of the media, otherwise the teams would more than likely conduct tests elsewhere and very much behind closed doors.

Most casual fans often don't realise that once the curtain is closed on one season in late November, preparations for the next begin merely five or six weeks later and without keeping those fans engaged in the sport they are often the first to not turn on when the cars line up in Australia the following March.

Looking through the official F1 Twitter page, something that the sport began to use a little more frequently towards the end of last year, there were links to coverage on the mobile app and one or two photo shots of what was taking place.

As for the official website, again there was no access to live timing that is always available for Grand Prix weekends, no video at least showing a few snippets of the cars out on track and only a brief report on each team's performance followed by some quotes in reviewing the previous day's action.

And what about highlights and video reports on YouTube? Well there needs to be a channel first.

Dedicated pay TV channels underused

Now, given F1 viewer-ship is continuing to fall, wouldn't you think every effort to put the sport into the public domain would be made? Twitter, Facebook etc, could all be used to keep current fans interested and perhaps attract new ones but also on TV there could be room for improvement.

Many countries are now broadcasting the sport on pay TV and some European countries have their own dedicated F1 channels so why not make a least a portion of testing available to follow?

Follow the MotoGP model

MotoGP broadcasts several hours of testing from the post-season test in Valencia so why can't Formula 1 do the same?

I understand the whole day would be quite dull with only a handful of cars on track at any one time, but usually in the afternoon there is a regular flow of cars completing race simulations and the fastest times often come towards the end of the day too.

What only a few hours of coverage per day would do is also allow teams to complete some work they may not want broadcast live to be done when they know the cameras are not rolling.

Visit new places, attract new fans

From the wider audience there is also how F1 can use testing to visit places it doesn't currently on the calendar.

Spain has always been the traditional testing destination, with the venue of the Spanish Grand Prix the circuit of choice. There have been efforts to go to countries with more representative conditions ie. Bahrain, than the cool and often damp weather than hampers teams preparations, but money issues, yes that again, mean it is more cost effective for smaller teams to stay in Europe rather than go to the Middle East.

If Europe has to be the destination then why not go to Portugal, a country that hasn't hosted a Grand Prix for years and has two very good circuits in Estoril and Portimao. If the Middle East can be afforded why not visit Qatar or the Dubai Autodrome rather than using venues that already host Grand Prixs?.

That way fans who don't have a race in their country could go and watch the cars in action and create enthusiasm among possible supporters as well. While it wouldn't work so well for F1, MotoGP use Sepang in Malaysia for testing, but if a final test was to conclude a week or so before Melbourne why not have a final test in Asia.

So much potential wasted

The issue of how F1 promotes itself is one that continues to frustrate those who see such great potential in how social media, proper marketing and a bit of giving to the fans could attract a new wave of interest to the sport. The lack of interest in using testing to do so is just another missed opportunity.

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