Chief executive officer and executive chairman of the Formula One Group Chase Carey says that Scuderia Ferrari inviting the young fan to meet Kimi Raikkonen at the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix was down to “a sense of freedom” which has been created under the sport’s new ownership.
After Kimi was forced to retire at the start of the race in Barcelona, television cameras immediately picked up six-year-old Thomas Danel crying, with the footage spreading across social media very fast. The Maranello team members then tracked Danel down, inviting him and his family into the paddock, where the Finnish driver gave the youngster a signed cap and posed for a photograph.
American mass media company Liberty Media completed its takeover of Formula 1 earlier this year and Chase Carey, who replaced Bernie Ecclestone, thinks that such a gesture would not have been possible until now: “We got all this press about the little boy who got pulled down, and they [Ferrari] did it on their own, having a sense a freedom that they wouldn’t have had a year ago. I didn’t tell them to find the little boy, there are people [within the team] who did it on their own, thought it would be a special moment, and indeed it was.” – the American executive confirmed, as reported by Tuttosport.
Liberty Media is hard at work to improve fan experience during the race weekend and has made several changes in the paddock at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which marked the first European round of the 2017 F1 campaign. An expanded fan zone featured a zip line, pit-stop challenges and a competition to win a ride in the new two-seater “Formula 1 experience” car were just some of the attractions ahead of the race on Sunday: “At Barcelona we launched no transforming events, but a number of things that almost everybody to a man said created a fresh sense of energy and excitement. We’re finding a tremendous level of enthusiasm that hadn’t existed, and to some degree you could say there was almost frustration for people who felt there wasn’t anybody to engage with. There’s no question that some things will move faster than others. We had more events, some great moments like [Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton] bumping coming out of the pits, and we sort of let them go.” – Chase Carey concluded.