I hear your complaints. We were given a 6+ hour web broadcast with expert analysis, features and a multi-camera format. Oh… you were complaining that this was too much coverage? That the other rookies in the field will not receive the same amount of hype? Hell, that the rest of the field won’t get this amount of hype?
I hate to break it to you, but Fernando Alonso is a driver of a different bread. A star of a different caliber. This has nothing to do with his driving prowess and everything to do with the stage he performs on week in and out. Conservatively, F1 is watched by 400 million people a year across the globe. They care about Alonso and demand coverage when he is in a racecar. Sorry, but Marco Andretti just doesn’t carry that kind of international weight. And he never will, and neither will any other regular indycar drivers.
In another blogging life, I would have pulled a bunch of twitter numbers for multiple drivers and made averages and find the percentages and a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t really matter. Sufficed to say that Alonso has nearly 2.5 million followers verse almost 280,000 followers for IndyCar proper. Not much of a comparison and no reason to pull numbers for other specific drivers. We all want indycar to grow so it is everyone’s best interests to shovel as much Alonso information into the world as possible. It will be consumed. Rabidly.
Alonso pulls the views. I’ve read reports that across all media platforms his test garnered almost 2 million unique views throughout the day. How many people will tune in to watch Jack Harvey complete his rookie test? 7? No offense, but no one but me, you and the other 5 readers of this article will care what Jack does in his rookie test. It’s not a stretch to think that those 7 people who care about rookie orientation will actually be live at IMS that day. Projected viewing numbers dwindling.
The regular stories through the ‘Month of May’ will still be there. Those stories will also still be told through the normal media outlets, and we will still consume them. As always, studying wing angles, following money trails and comparing trap speeds. But there will still be millions of motorsport fans curious how Alonso is doing at all times. Indycar is obliged to feed that demand.
Was ROP any more intriguing for Alonso that anyone else? No. absolutely not. The difference was that people care. We also got to see how competent and damn smart Alonso is. Once ROP was over, he dove straight into scenario training for race day. Fuel savings, pitting from T4 at full chat, restart procedures, working a crowded pit box entrance, the list goes on. It was impressive to watch. More impressive than watching a pure rookie? Absolutely. A pure rookie is only looking for comfort miles. Alonso needed about 2.5 before he was looking for more advanced practice items to complete.
Is this a once in a generation/lifetime experience? No. Ask anyone who was around when Mansell came to play and they will tell you this pales in comparison. Then why all the attention? Because people will consume Alonso pounding the track alone for hour after hour. Guys aren’t going to give indycar another chance if some other rookie was showcased during this broadcast. Alonso and only Alonso is what brought the 2 million views; more eyes than have watched the first 3 races of 2017 combined.
There are plenty of racing fans who only have just seen their first taste of indycar, and they are buying into the hype. And that is the only reason indycar needs to broadcast as much Alonso coverage as they possibly can. Let’s continue to ride this building wave of good fortune that has been pushing indycar to higher and higher places in the past few years.