F1 calls on Zoom to deliver virtual race-day fan experience

Virtual Paddock Club offers engagement and potential new commercial options.

F1 calls on Zoom to deliver virtual race-day fan experience

Getty Images

  • Digital experience to give fans exclusive behind-the-scenes access
  • Users to be given first taste during Budapest Grand Prix on 19th July
  • F1 also seeking opportunities to work with brands and teams at future races

Formula One has signed a new digital partnership with the Zoom communications platform to help deliver the global motor racing series’ first ever virtual hospitality product. 

Tested at the most recent Steiermark Grand Prix and set to run during the remaining European stages of the 2020 season, Formula One's Virtual Paddock Club will invite fans to take part in a range of online experiences via Zoom. 

Officially launching at the Budapest Grand Prix on 19th July, fans will gain behind-the scenes access on the race weekend, including live updates, as well as insights from personalities and former Formula One drivers.

The partnership, facilitated by CAA Sports, is set to expand with Formula One seeking additional experiences ‘in-line with FIA regulations at future races’. The motorsport series is also looking to incorporate its global partners and racing teams into Zoom activations.

The new Formula One product draws on similar elements to the virtual offering created by McLaren. As revealed by SportsProMcLaren Slipstream was launched ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix to provide extra value for partners shut out of Grands Prix by Covid-19 safety regulations with exclusive live video content.  

The Zoom partnership also appears to heed the call of Hans Erik Tuijt, Heineken’s director of global partnerships, who told SportsPro that the beer brand is exploring ways to amplify the digital conversation with Formula One fans watching from home.   

Ben Pincus, Formula One sponsorship director, said that the partnership with Zoom will help deliver a live sporting experience and could also present new business opportunities.

“Zoom by its very nature is about enabling and connecting businesses remotely and this partnership, which has been developed virtually, is an example of just that,” Pincus said. “We are excited to work with Zoom to continue to connect businesses and their VIPs through this virtual hospitality experience.

“We hope this will be the first of many innovations we roll out in the coming months for our partners. Over the past few months, through Project Pitlane and Virtual Grand Prix races, we have seen the ability to innovate is imperative as we collectively adapt to an environment that continues to evolve.”

Janine Pelosi, Zoom’s chief marketing officer, added: “During this challenging time, organisations such as Formula One still need to provide engaging experiences for fans and enterprises need to offer unique opportunities for their top prospects, and Zoom is here to help.

“The Virtual Paddock Club is the best way to recreate that VIP sports experience from home. Long run, there’s an opportunity for a hybrid virtual/in-person model so distance is no longer a barrier to sports hospitality.”

The video conferencing platform has become a popular tool in recent months while more people have been required to work from home during the Covid-19 lockdown. In April, the company facilitated a company-record 300 million daily meetings.