1 March 2015
Arrivabene calls out Ecclestone over fan engagement
Maurizio Arrivabene puts his desire to see F1 engage with its audience better into practice by sitting with them in the stands during testing.
Maurizio Arrivabene says he wants to 'provoke' Bernie Ecclestone into establishing a greater connection between Formula 1 and its fans, saying the proposed measure to reduce paddock passes is 'not acceptable'.
The Ferrari team principal has already made his feelings known about a desire to make F1 more engaging and exciting for fans, proceeding to demonstrate his point by taking himself, reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez and sporting director Massimo Rivola to the stands to sit with spectators during pre-season testing.
An attempt to show that F1 should be reaching out to the public, rather than keeping them at arm's length, Arrivabene said the move was a reaction to the rumour that it will be harder to general public to get hold of paddock passes in 2015.
“I heard that in Australia the will apply more restrictions in terms of passes and I think this is not acceptable,” he said. “So I said to the guys if we are going to have a situation where the paddock is going to be empty it is better we start training by going with the people and sit in the grandstand.
“It was a very good experience, the people were very well educated, they were respectful, they were asking for pictures, which we did, it was a good experience and I hope to have future experiences like this. At one stage it was very funny when the people began to run out of the paddock to go to the grandstand, that was funny!”
Indeed, though Arrivabene understands the desire to keep F1 'exclusive', he maintains it can still retain that without feeling the need to push them further away.
“If you want to keep the exclusivity of this part, it doesn't mean to have an empty paddock,” he continued. “This is my statement and I was using the example of golf last time. I was watching golf and saw it was one of the most exclusive sports but when they play there are thousands of people following the players.
“This is not deliberate or working against the exclusivity of the sport. I want to say it was a kind of provocation. I loved doing it. I said 'we need to take Formula 1 to the people by sitting in the middle of them'. I don't like to see, now or in the future, the paddock empty. It is not right. I'm expecting a phone call from Bernie.
Arrivabene went on to joke that he will consider sitting with the tifosi during the Italian Grand Prix if it helps connect with fans
“I would go and sit in the stands with the fans at Monza, why not? I can say some words in Italian to keep them calm. It's going to be more comfortable for me in Monza.
“Jokes aside, nothing is decided yet. We have certain communications to us that the number of passes is going to be reduced. Normally when you have certain rumours in F1 and it becomes reality.”
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