I feel a warm glow with every image that is shared of Manor F1 team as they set up their cars alongside Formula 1’s more established teams for this week’s season opener in Melbourne.
Their place on the grid reaffirms F1 appeal, adds to its brand value and embodies the original spirit of the sport’s pioneers.
Everyone loves an underdog
The team formerly known as Marussia embody the recent history of the sport; they followed their most successful season ever with bankruptcy, administration and eventually rose from the ashes with new backers. As I write this they are prepping their car for Free Practice 1 of the Australian Grand Prix and it is as yet uncertain how their car will fare.
One thing that is for certain is that they have one of the strongest followings on the grid. At the time of writing this article, the team has over 299,000 Twitter followers – that’s more than Force India and Sauber.
Manor’s plight has captured the attention of the fans, and in the process show that transparency and offering greater accessibility than the sport’s biggest names is key to brand success in F1.
The smaller teams are better able to innovate in marketing and PR. The now defunct Caterham team demonstrated this with its attempt to secure its long term future through crowdfunding, allowing fans to realise a dream by owning a stake of the team. Ultimately the window proved too short and the target of £2.35m too steep, but that is not to say that this approach would not succeed for other teams.
F1 greats like Colin Chapman and Frank Williams started with smaller teams operating on significantly reduced budgets but both are now, rightfully, heralded as legends of the sport.
I truly hope that Manor can take advantage of their enormous support and have a successful season. Full grids lead to happy fans, and I for one am delighted to see this David ready to take on the Goliath of global motorsport.