Scores of commentators have expressed surprise on the Caterham F1 crowdfunding campaign launch. Why is a Formula 1 team begging in a sport awash with billions? Many fans are commenting that they are already paying high prices to go to a F1 Grand Prix, from travel fees to pricey seat costs. Why do they also have to pay for the operating expenses of a team with zero points in the season?
F1 baron Bernie Ecclestone states “We do not want a beggar”, dismissing entirely the crowdfunding campaign. He even offers business lessons to the F1 team. “Do not spend more than you receive”, Eccelestone says.
The crowd answers YES
In less than 24 hours, the crowdfunding campaign has raised no less than £520,000, from 1350 backers. That’s 22% of the total funds required. With the buzz on Twitter and press coverage, there should be many more F1 fans looking to back Caterham.
What Ecclestone overlooks is the passion of the F1 fans and their desire to be more than spectators. The F1 team gives fans a chance to get special edition T-shirts, gloves used at the Grand Prix, and even parts of the Formula 1 car. You can also get unique experiences and meet drivers, almost being part of the team. Most F1 fans dream of being on the tarmac, listen the sounds of the powerful engines, be there when the races start. Additionally, the funds are not used for operational expenses but for a specific project. If you back the F1 team and if there are results, backers can be part of history.
The end of elitism?
The F1 barons have played the game of politics and power. It has a disdain of the weak, the poor and the unprivileged. You pay your way in with millions. Crowdfunding platforms can contribute to democratize F1, with millions of fans supporters getting recognition. This is similar to filmmaking where you need a name and millions to call yourself a producer. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have revolutionized the filmmaking industry by allowing anyone to become co-producers. At the same time, the crowd can get early versions of the final product. Currently, this has allowed a new generation of directors to release experimental films; and this could be the future of racing sports!
Other platforms like makeachamp have already started backing athletes in 50 different sports. If crowdfunders present an ambitious athletic goal, and take time to prepare their campaign, we can see the crowd fully participating in the sport they love. Or would you prefer instead being ruled by media and corporate moguls?
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