Ranking the F1 Grid by Drivers' Use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
The great thing about sport is that everyone has their own ideas on who’s the man of the moment and who needs to buck up their ideas.
For countless years, such opinions have been voiced over a cup of coffee in the office canteen or a quiet pint or two down the local pub.
Not any more. Since the invention of social media, athletes have opened themselves up to scrutiny and fan worship in equal measure through online avenues such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ever wondered who the most popular Formula One driver is through sheer number of followers? We’re about to find out and some of the results may surprise you.
For a driver with so many avid fans, it comes as something of a surprise that he doesn’t have a personal Twitter or Facebook account. Or does it?
Raikkonen is a fiercely private man away from the circuit and if his press conference for the Hungarian Grand Prix is anything to go by, social networking just isn't his thing.
“I don’t have a Twitter, I don’t have any other things so I can’t comment,” he said in the above video.
He does have an official Facebook page, set up by his management, with postings about his latest activities. It has 31,337 'likes' at the time of writing.
But if you count posting clips on YouTube, then Raikkonen is a phenomenon. Type in his name and you’ll get back over 1,000,000 results.
Official Facebook: /KimiRaikkonenOfficial/
Instagram: /#kimiraikkonen1: 53 photos; 6694 followers; 0 following.
Twitter: @Dany_Kvyat: 2,620 tweets, 172 following, 11,377 followers
Another of the F1 rookies on the 2014 grid, Toro Rosso new boy Daniil Kvyat’s prolific tweeting is not reflected by his sparse number of followers, perhaps due to the fact that the Russian is a relative unknown and has sprung from relative obscurity to make the jump up to the highest level.
He also has his own Facebook page but it’s not updated to the same extent as his Twitter account.
"Very sorry to hear the news about John Button passing away.. Condolences to whole Button family , stay strong."
"Back to UK ! Milton Keynes .. And wow , it's raining !"
Twitter: @SutilAdrian: 88 tweets, 26 following, 16,868 followers
The new Sauber driver is relatively inactive on Twitter, having posted only 88 tweets. His lack of social networking activity is reflected by a small following by world athlete standards.
"I Just want to let you know that I’m not on Instagram! It’s a fake account"
"Today I enjoyed a busy day at the #ASI14 in Birmingham. Thanks to everyone who made me feel comfortable"
Twitter: @KevinMagnussen: 50 tweets, 138 following, 27,168 followers
Kevin Magnussen appears as new to this Twitter lark as he is to Formula One, the McLaren rookie driver posting only 50 tweets at the time of writing.
But the young Dane’s following is set to grow and grow before the season starts as F1 fans get to know more about the latest driver of one of the sport’s most successful teams.
Just as he’s learning on the new McLaren simulator, he’s learning the power of social networking to build a fan base and has been tweeting a lot recently in the build-up to the new season. His fan base is bound to grow and grow quickly.
You would think that the most successful driver currently in the sport would also be at the front end of the grid when it comes to interacting with his fans through social media but with Sebastian Vettel it really isn’t the case.
Vettel has absolutely no interest in Twitter or facebook as a way of interacting with his fans, as quoted late last year in Brazil's Totalrace via autoweek.
"I have no interest in sharing everything I do in my life. Maybe I am too boring."
On first glance it does appear that Vettel does have an official Twitter account but it hasn’t been updated since 2010 with just 16 tweets from the great man. But although it is called his official account, it is not the case and is actually a fake account set up by a fan.
The same goes for his Facebook account, which reads: "Welcome to my official page, where I'll be keeping you up to date with what's going on on track and between grands prix."
The trick seems to have fooled many as the page has a massive 1,391,150 likes!
Twitter: @ValtteriBottas: 800 tweets, 67 following, 51,493 followers
Facebook: /ValtteriBottas: 5,716 likes, 435 talking about this
Valtteri Bottas has been a busy man on Twitter recently, posting regular updates and pictures of his winter training exploits.
Bottas also keeps his Facebook page up to date, again mostly with comments about his training and he’s also on Instagram.
"Had a great full month in Finland - always enjoy it. Now time to get going again! #F1 #2014"
Twitter: @Gvandergarde: 3,174 tweets, 310 following, 67,839 followers
Facebook: /giedovendergarde: 21,556 likes, 502 talking about this
For a man whose Caterham future is under threat at the time of writing, Giedo van der Garde does reasonably well on the social networking stakes, perhaps because the Dutch sporting fans are so passionate.
Still, he’s way behind his teammate when it comes to Twitter followers and the same applies to his Facebook account.
"Good training today with @carloscorell in the mountains this morning, and just came back from a gym session"
Twitter: @Jules_Bianchi: 1,435 tweets, 294 following, 76,262 followers
French Marussia driver Jules Bianchi is a regular tweeter with over 76,000 followers at the time of writing.
He also has his own Facebook page, which is open to view posts and recent photo postings.
"RIP John Button. So sad to hear that. All my thoughts to @JensonButton and his familly."
Twitter: @maxchilton: 2,916 tweets, 130 following, 79,481 followers
Instagram: instagram.com/maxchilton: 317 photos; 6630 followers; 83 following.
Chilton is a prolific tweeter and he keeps his account updated with at least two posts a day, many of them complete with photos of his daily activities.
He also really values his fan base and runs regular competitions via his Twitter account to win items of merchandise such as signed caps and miniature helmets.
Chilton has his own Facebook page that he updates regularly, though not as much as his Twitter account.
""Win or lose you will never regret working hard, making sacrifices, being disciplined or focusing too much." - John Smith"
"So sad and shocked to hear the sad passing of John Button. One of the greatest characters in the paddock & will miss him dearly. #RIP"
Twitter: @EstebanGtz: 2,077 tweets, 114 following, 103,451 followers
Facebook: /EstebanGtzonline 42,889 likes, 6,725 talking about
Like many of his South American counterparts, Sauber’s Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez tops the 100,000 mark for followers on Twitter.
Amazingly, he has almost exactly the same amount of tweets posted as compatriot Sergio Perez at the time of writing although Perez trumps him in terms of followers.
Gutierrez also has his own popular Facebook page and Instagram account that he updates with regular photos.
"John Button R.I.P Great man and big loss for F1. My dearest condolences to @JensonButton and his family."
Twitter: @JeanEricVergne: 692 tweets, 53 following, 109,866 followers
Facebook: /jeanericvergne: 61, 133 likes, 1,684 talking about
With close to 110,000 followers on Twitter, Toro Rosso’s now senior driver comes in towards the higher end of the grid in terms of social networking activity.
Vergne broke through the 100,000 followers barrier before Christmas and tweeted his delight at reaching the milestone: "We are more than 100.000 😊! Merci à tous pour votre soutien. Thanks a lot for your support."
The Frenchman is a regular tweeter and attaches plenty of pictures of his daily activities to keep his fans interested and also keeps his Facebook and Instagram accounts ticking over.
Twitter: @Charles_Pic1: 1,085 tweets, 87 following, 162,993 followers
Facebook: /charles.pic.officiel: 34,325 likes, 36 talking about
At the time of writing, Charles Pic is yet to be confirmed in Caterham’s line-up for the 2014 season and as such he has been relatively inactive on Twitter.
His fans still love him, however, and he's bang in the middle of the grid when it comes to Twitter followers.
More active is the CaterhamF1 account, which recently tweeted about the timeframe for the new driver announcements: "Sometime before 9 o'clock on Tuesday 28 January [when the Jerez test starts]"
Twitter: @danielricciardo: 872 tweets, 99 following, 160,934 followers
For a driver who is Sebastian Vettel’s teammate and has the luxury of driving the dominant car on the grid over recent seasons, it’s a little surprising not to see Ricciardo a little further up the social networking grid.
It may be because he doesn’t update his Twitter that regularly and it’s rare to see him tweet more than once a day.
He also has an official Facebook account that is updated just about as regularly. Expect both networks to grow in size with the new season, especially if he starts winning!
"Great day for the Aussies on the cricket pitch and on the court. Whitewash in the ashes and big Lleyton still putting on spectacular clinics."
Twitter: @RGrosjean: 726 tweets, 82 following, 228,772 followers
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grosjeanromain: 53,464 likes
Instagram: grosjeanromain: 81 photos; 14939 followers
Judging by his Twitter following, Romain Grosjean is a popular man indeed with close to 229,000 followers at the time of writing.
Although not as prolific a tweeter as some other drivers, Grosjean does keep his social networks ticking over nicely.
"Yes yes yes I have got my first number choice : 8"
Twitter: @NicoHulkenberg: 265 tweets, 20 following, 230,382 followers
One of the more popular drivers on the grid with over 230,000 followers on Twitter, Hulkenberg is not only a driver on the way up but his good looks also may have something to do with it. Chances are he has a great deal of female admirers!
Hulkenberg doesn’t appear to have his own Facebook page but like many athletes has an official one set up on his behalf, NicoHulkenberg.official, which has 38,500 likes at the time of writing.
"So many asking why 27? Pretty simple 1. it's my Bday dates together 19.8 and 2. it's simply a cool Number😀👍"
"So sad to read about the passing of John Button! He was a great man and will be missed by many - including myself! RIP"
Twitter: @nico_rosberg: 829 tweets, 4 following, 449,683 followers
Facebook: /nicorosberg: 175,912 likes, 9,282 talking about
Now we’re really getting to the sharp end of the grid where Formula One’s mega stars gain hundreds of thousands of followers simply because of who they are.
Rosberg is a reasonably regular tweeter but surprisingly isn’t too interested about the activities of others as he follows only four accounts himself, two of those being Bild and one Autosport.
Most of his Twitter page is filled with what others are saying about him, rather than what he’s saying himself, so it practically runs itself.
His Facebook page is also extremely popular with fans and is approaching the 200,000 mark in terms of likes.
"Cool. got number 6 for my remaining F1 career! My future wife's and my dad's lucky number. so it has got to work for me too! ;)"
Twitter: @Felipe1Massa: 855 tweets, 216 following, 487,650 followers
Facebook: Felipe Massa Professional Sports Team
It comes as little surprise that the ever popular and evergreen Felipe Massa has a following of almost half a million on Twitter, the vast majority likely to come from the passionate Brazilian fans.
Equally adept in English and his native Portuguese, Massa keeps his tweets nicely balanced to cater for his followers in both languages and recently took part in a Twitter Q&A with his new Williams team.
His official Facebook page is regularly updated with pictures from his travels.
"Very sad day for formula 1 John Button one of the best person in the paddock lost his life yesterday…"
Twitter: @SChecoPerez: 2,056 tweets, 89 following, 555,180 followers
If his Twitter account is anything to go by, Sergio Perez is one of the most popular drivers on the grid with over 555,000 followers.
Because the majority of his tweets are written in Spanish, one can assume that much of his mass following comes from South America but there is the occasional post in English.
His Facebook page is also regularly updated and has 91,549 likes at the time of writing. And to make it easy for his fans, his Instagram is also @SChecoPerez.
"Such a nice guy!! RIP John Button!! You will be missed in the Paddock!!! All the best to you and your Family JensonButton !!!"
Twitter: @Pastormaldo: 1,600 tweets, 354 following, 588,250 followers
It comes as something of a surprise to find Pastor Maldonado near the front of the grid in terms of Twitter followers given his very public accusation of his former Williams team sabotaging his car.
He’s also not that prolific a tweeter and it can be days or sometimes weeks before a new Maldonado tweet pops up but he does post in both English and Spanish.
There’s no obvious Facebook page for fans to follow Maldonado on either with the most popular fan creation gaining just over 21,000 likes.
Twitter: @JensonButton: 3,074 tweets, 124 following, 1,656,634 followers
Facebook: 200,782 likes, 21,712 talking about
Always one of the most popular drivers on the grid, Jenson Button has embraced the medium of Twitter more than any other driver on the grid with 3,074 tweets to his name at the time of writing.
Sadly, his most recent tweets have been to thank fans for their kind messages following the sudden death of his father and to pay his own tributes to his greatest inspiration.
Both Twitter and Facebook have been flooded with messages of support for Button during this difficult time, showing the strength of social media as a way of communication and support between groups of people.
"Rest in Peace with the Angels Your son XXXX"
"Papa you cannot believe how very proud I feel to be able to call you my Dad. I love you Papa Smurf, you'll forever be in my heart,"
"He was such a big part of my life I'm going to miss him so so much..."
"Thank you all for your lovely messages about my Dad, it's so nice to see he touched so many people..."
Twitter: @alo_oficial: 2,462 tweets, 45 following, 1,904,956 followers
Facebook: /Fernando.AlonsoOfficial: 151,493 likes, 3,069 talking about
To Alonso’s credit, he is reasonably active on Twitter and it’s not often that more than two days elapse without a personal post.
His Facebook account is also popular with fans although it often mirrors what’s on Twitter.
"Helmet getting ready with the design for this year. No big changes, some details on the side and rear."
M"y condolences to all the Button family, especially to Jenson . Very sad news. John....a great man, a friend, we will miss him."
Twitter: @LewisHamilton: 1,345 tweets, 262 following, 1,853,629 followers
Facebook: /LewisHamilton: 1,696,771 likes, 67,645 talking about
Instagram: https://instagram.com/lewishamilton: 296 photos; 278208 followers; 60 following`
It’s unsurprising to see one of the most popular drivers and best qualifiers on the F1 grid grabs pole position on the social media grid as well.
Lewis Hamilton is a prolific user of both Facebook and Instagram but recently got in hot water with a small minority for posting pictures of his winter training camp shortly after Michael Schumacher was seriously injured skiing.
It’s one of the perils of social media that it’s also a medium where fans can interact with and often vent their frustrations at those in the public eye. But Hamilton has quickly moved on and continued to embrace all aspects.
The 2008 world champion realises how valuable his fan base is and uses social media to offer a unique insight into his private life. As such, he regularly posts pictures of himself on holiday, relaxing at home and enjoying time with his dogs.
"Bulldogs in the shower"
"Last day of training here in the mountains, it's been such a blessing to be able to train here! Back to work!!!"
"Deeply saddened by the passing of John Button. I'm so sorry @jensonbutton John was such a great man and will be missed by so many. God bless"