Liberty Media has wasted little time stamping its imprimatur on Formula One, making an instant and welcome impression throughout pre-season testing.
While it will require considerable time to claim fans’ hearts and minds, the sport’s new owner has already affected subtle improvements to the ‘show’, an enticing portent of grander changes in store.
Formula One’s erstwhile primitive social media affliction has thawed in the course of a fortnight, giving way to a tantalising, though by no stretch saturating, infusion of access to content considered taboo under the previous regime.
Footage from the confines of the garages – at testing no less – doesn’t seem like a huge deal in theory, though when reigning champion, Nico Rosberg captured action from the Mercedes camp at last week’s first test, the sport took a quantum step into the twenty-first century.
That Rosberg is a retired champion was an undeniable factor, yet it was a priceless realisation which the sport wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole as recently as last season.
Active drivers, most prominently and unsurprisingly, the German’s former team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, were captured entering their respective cockpits, taking supporters beyond the veil which surfaces whenever they’re out of the car or not frequenting the media bullpen on each day of a Grand Prix weekend.
The second initiative, more pertinently concerning not only the present, but the future – transcending F1, witnessed the advent of official FOM content streaming live from the Barcelona paddock via Facebook on the opening day of the final test.
Without expecting too much too soon, which further innovations can we expect in the immediate term?
Stopping short of strapping in alongside a desired driver from the moment they don their overalls, helmet, exit pitlane and line up on the grid, there are numerous concepts which can be utilised that would represent an immediate upgrade on the present complement.
Respecting the need for confidentiality, access to driver briefings and high-level team meetings are out of the question. Conversely, roving access to some of the more discreet personnel directly from the garages, in doing so gleaning morsels of relevant information would be an enriching experience, not least for the cerebral viewer wishing to feel part of the operation.
Enhanced access to team-driver radio dialogue in context, rather than delayed, would be a great advent, yet the line between transparency and confidences would understandably need to be delicately straddled.
On a more fanciful level, permitting drivers to field select questions from fans while at the wheel – if only throughout practice – has the ability to offer a first-hand acquittal in the heat of the moment which concerned supporters might have been pondering for years.
Away from the circuit, it goes without saying that opening the archive to historical content, long the exclusive preserve of the precious few documentaries, which have surfaced only in recent years, would be an immensely popular and pragmatic decision. Most would gladly part with a considerable sum for the privilege. Full race replays are a fundamental adaptation, starting now.
Liberty is only scratching the surface at this early juncture. Nobody can be sure which intentions are foremost, though if the initial acts of its tenure are any indication, the social beasts will render Formula One socially relevant, a long time coming, and what a sight that’ll be to behold.