Hamilton says F1 must embrace social media

He believes sports like football, the NBA and the NFL harness social media “a lot better” and says allowing drivers to use it more freely would help attract new fans to the sport.

Lewis Hamilton during the Mercedes Formula One Car launch on Thursday.   -  Reuters

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton urged Formula One’s new rulers Liberty Media to bring the sport up to date today by opening it up to social media.

The Mercedes driver is a committed user of social media and came under fire last October after messing around on photo app Snapchat during a drivers’ press conference prior to the Japanese Grand Prix.

He believes sports like football, the NBA and the NFL harness social media “a lot better” and says allowing drivers to use it more freely would help attract new fans to the sport.

“You’re not allowed to do social media, at all,” Hamilton told AFP during the Mercedes season launch at Silverstone. “I mean, you can take a picture and post it, but (that’s it). Everyone has a phone, everyone’s on their phone a large portion of the day.

“Everyone wants live, exclusive footage. Something as small as me being in my room, saying, ‘Hey guys, I’m getting ready for my session, this is my suit, blah blah blah.’

“Those are things people want to see and I think excluding that is a negative for the sport, so allowing that to happen is going to be great. You (the media) are going to end up doing it, if you go to a race, fans are going to do it more and it’ll be like a good ‘disease’ that spreads.”

This year marks Hamilton’s 10th anniversary as an F1 driver and he will embark upon the season with a new team-mate after Valtteri Bottas came in to replace Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg pipped Hamilton to last year’s Drivers’ Championship before abruptly retiring and with the British driver now 32, he admitted the day he walks away from the sport himself could arrive “soon”.

“I don’t think about (retiring) a huge amount, but of course I do think about it,” Hamilton said.

“At the end of each season and particularly at the beginning of each season, when you’re going through the tough training, how fit you are. “I got in the car today and I was like, ‘Ah, I can still drive!’ So that’s a good thing. I really don’t know when is going to be the time. It could be soon, it could be far away. That’s the exciting thing about life.”

‘More powerful beast’

Hamilton was speaking after taking his new W08 car for a spin on a damp, blustery day at Silverstone, 80 miles (129 kilometres) northwest of London.

The new car has a black, silver and teal chassis and is lower, wider and heavier than last year’s W07, reflecting new design regulations intended to make F1 cars faster and more demanding to drive.

Hamilton described the new car as “the most detailed piece of machinery I have seen in F1” and said it was a “more powerful beast” than last year’s car.

Bottas, a 27-year-old Finn, has joined from Williams to succeed Rosberg. As well as the departure of Rosberg, Mercedes has also lost executive technical director Paddy Lowe, who is expected to join Williams, with James Allison set to arrive from Ferrari to take his place.

But executive director Toto Wolff believes the upheaval could be positive. “Disruption can be a very positive factor in a company’s development,” Wolff told a press conference at Silverstone.

“When Nico decided to call it a day, of course the initial information came as a surprise. But we quickly realised it provided an opportunity. Having Valtteri now in car is an exciting opportunity for us. In terms of Paddy, it’s a little bit the same.

“You can either follow the concept of ‘never change a winning team’ or try to emphasise what’s important for the future.”

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