Editor’s Desk: Hamilton silence, click-baiting, weak journalism & other matters

Editor's Desk: A time for reflection and calm before the storm fans monza-001 Editor's Desk: A time for reflection and calm before the storm

Grandprix247’s second Editor’s Desk edition, was inspired by some really lively and interesting discussions in the site’s community over the last few days.

Following the posting of two articles on Grandprix247 (Verstappen Chills and Trains as Hamilton Broods and INSIDE LINE: Media Scraping the Barrel Thanks to F1 Teams’ Media), there was a surge of comments on them, both on the website and our new Facebook page, GrandPrix247Official (while the old one remains hijacked by hackers, but that’s a story for another day).

We have always taken pride in the work we do at Grandprix247, and the material we offer our readers, while we are even more appreciative of the community that has developed around our “small slice of F1 heaven”, be it our readers, the group of frequent commentators, and of course our staff of contributors.

I will complete my first year as a Grandprix247 contributor/editor later this month, and to be honest it has been a hell of a ride, with a steep learning curve and enriching experiences, all while doing the work I love, related to the sport I am extremely passionate about, and that is Formula 1.

What made my experience even more worthwhile, is the past season we have witnessed in F1, which saw Max Verstappen win his first F1 Drivers’ Crown, with Lewis Hamilton suffering his first defeat since 2016 at the hands of his teammate at the time, Nico Rosberg.

I will not go into the season outcome and the controversies that surrounded it as I feel we are all looking forward to moving on and going racing in Bahrain next March, with all-new F1 cars taking to the desert track in Sakhir.

But until we get to see the new cars running in anger, we are stuck in this barren F1 winter season which – after the thrilling racing season of 2021 – does not seem to be moving fast enough, while many points are still on hold, mainly being the FIA investigation into the proceedings of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, and the ongoing silence of Lewis Hamilton.

Before I go on, please rest assured that I will neither analyze, nor speculate the future of Lewis Hamilton or that of Michael Masi, which should be decided after the conclusion of the FIA investigation on March 18.

Having said that, let’s get down to business…

The two aforementioned articles posted on our website have stirred up quite the reaction from readers, with some agreeing, more not thrilled about them, where some comments even being off-topic, but in the end it is what it is and we are all entitled to our opinion, which some may like and others may not.

And while we welcome comments no matter how harsh, and we do learn a lot from what our readers tell us, Grandprix247 has never tolerated derogatory swipes from a few, and will never do so.

The website is our “Pub”, and we cannot have anyone disrespect it. All is welcome to come in and have a civilized discussion, but like in a real pub, when you attack the bartender for no valid reason, you are out. We look at it as a family, and families must be protected.

Criticizing Lewis doesn’t mean you’re anti-Lewis

Which takes me to the first of the two articles regarding Verstappen and Hamilton, something that lead many to say that we are anti-Hamilton or being unfair to him for going under the radar for so long.

The fact remains that if we criticize Lewis, or any other driver in this regard, his fans will not be happy and we cannot change that, but it is our right as an F1 news platform to express our opinion with independence, something many other platforms cannot do for various reasons.

Worth noting, that I myself was once labelled by one of our readers as a Hamilton fan when writing my opinion on one of the numerous incidents he had with Verstappen last season. We have even been accused of being pro-Hamilton fanatics. Which is fine…

However, when we express our dismay with how Hamilton has conducted himself after Abu Dhabi, that should not be taken as an attack on him, rather than as our way of saying that we are disappointed with how he has reacted, which is not befitting of a driver of his calibre.

Lewis has all the right to protect his privacy, but as a public figure, has to agree to relinquish part of his freedom

No one is asking to know what Lewis had for lunch, but being such a figurehead of the sport who has gone through such a traumatic experience, and before going away to recover (fully his right), his fans and the F1 community at least deserved a brief message, something like: “Hey guys, I need some alone time to digest what just went down…” something like that.

Also coming out on Christmas and New Year with a brief message to the fans would have been nice, but instead things kept silent until his bizarre message on Chinese New Year which came out of nowhere and seemed more like a media obligation, similar to his schools’ initiative he announced with Sky. No ill feelings against any of the two gestures by the way.

But it is that kind of behaviour from Lewis that triggers obvious speculation, prompting words such as “Sulk” and “Brooding” which, in reality, is how many actually believe he is acting. They are entitled to their opinion.

But we have also suggested before that he is probably enjoying his downtime, the social media silence, and training somewhere splendid, getting fired up for the epic F1 season in store for us.

I am sure many Hamilton-aficionados will not like this, and will fiercely fight to protect his right to privacy as if it were their own, and linger on the serious matter of how he was robbed of an eighth Title. Fine it’s their right, as long as it remains civil, with the worst-case outcome being: Let’s agree to disagree.

Grandprix247 has no Clickbait in its dictionary

Now on to the Inside Line by Grandprix247 editor-in-chief Paul Velasco, published on February 2, which has also angered some who went on to fling barbs such as “weak journalism”, “click-baiting”, and attacking us for “speculating”, you name it. Some comments on Facebook were bordering on hate and certainly abusive.

Let’s set the record straight here. Grandprix247 has never and will never publish any unfounded news, and all our reports are based on credited sources. In the case where we make a mistake, we are not afraid to admit it and publish a retraction, as our intentions are never malicious.

As for “click-baiting”, that is not how we roll here at Grandprix247, and our headlines are backed up with relevant content. This website has been around for over 13 years now, since the days of being called YallaF1, and you don’t achieve this kind of longevity when you click-bait. That turns off readers.

With regards to speculation, it is part of journalism since it began, and when you base it on what people say, that is analysis not to be frowned upon as it adds canvas that makes F1 a unique masterpiece in global sport.

Speculating about Lewis’ future – all things said and considered – is expected, it shows his value to F1, and while the prospect of him retiring is not outlandish, it wouldn’t come as shocking as Nico Rosberg’s 2016 retirement for example.

Continuous news flow a necessity to all

End of the day, we are not a major news platform, we are a small family-run B&B, not a five-star hotel, and this project has been run by true enthusiasts of motorsports in general and F1 in particular. And for those who have followed us for a long time, we have always worn our hearts on our sleeves, and the frustration Paul expressed in his Inside Line is simply that.

Yes, F1 should keep the news flowing, especially when they are so vocal about attracting new fans into the sport, and even more so after such a record-breaking season as the last.

The world now is a different place with COVID-19, and its consequent travel restrictions changing how everyone does business, Media included. Forget COVID, the age of social media we live in today has created a news-hungry beast that needs to be fed nonstop.

When Liberty Media took over F1, they complained about the analogue state of the sport under the Bernie Ecclestone reign, and went on trying to modernize and digitalize the sport, but have they succeeded in that yet? I don’t believe so. Having daily tweets with no real content simply does not cut it. And I am sure that voicing our concern will not fall on deaf ears within the F1 Media community, as in the worst of cases it may start an interesting discussion.

Facts are, many new fans tuned in to watch F1 after the epic battle Verstappen and Hamilton had, and the only way to keep these new fans engaged until the new season starts is keeping the news flowing, teaching them about the sport, the new rules, the drivers, the teams… the whole lot, because all the new F1 fans know about the sport are Hamilton and Verstappen. Some don’t even understand how Red Bull is an F1 team…

After all, 2022 might turn out to be a humdrum of a season, with no guarantee whatsoever of retaining the new followers of the sport, because they lack the in-depth knowledge of its history and fascinating details, something that should be developed by spreading media material frequently to make all newcomers hardcore F1 fans, willing to follow the sport through boring and exciting times.

F1 media off-season silence is damaging, build-up from teams helps plug the hole of fake news

That does not mean that we condone fake news, but this point also gets more weight once you factor in that we are merely weeks away from an F1 regulation revolution with the new aero rules we are having this year, and as we set our eyes on 2026 when the new power unit rules will come into effect, making the F1 winter silence even more damaging to the sport.

So as F1 enthusiasts first and foremost, it hurts us to see the state we find ourselves in during the offseason, and as much as we would love a long break from typing, we would appreciate reporting on some interesting stuff even more, and there is no shame in saying that we need to maintain a steady audience, as this benefits F1, our readers, as well as Grandprix247.

I will finish this by quoting my predecessor and mentor Will Dodds who remains a friend of Grandprix247 when he told us the other day: “GP247 is the only F1 site I look at. Can’t stand the mainstream now.”

I believe that sums up who we are, so folks leave the anger at the door, come hang out in our “Pub” and brace yourselves to what may yet be another cracking F1 season.