Button: Formula 1 needs Pokemon appeal

Date published: September 16 2016

Jenson Button thinks Formula 1 “should be” more interesting than playing Pokemon and is hoping the sport’s new owners will look to encourage a younger generation of fans.

The McLaren driver recently announced that he was relinquishing his race-seat to reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne but has made it clear he doesn’t intend on retiring from the sport.

Liberty Media last week agreed an $8billion takeover of Formula 1 and confirmed that Bernie Ecclestone will remain in his current role as chief executive.

Button admits he is still learning about the company but he has been encouraged by what he has heard so far.

“I’ve only heard a couple of things, I don’t really know much about them. I think them being American is a positive, bringing the sport more to the States and getting people there more interested in the sport.

“From what I’ve seen they’re interested in getting a much younger audience involved the sport [too], which is again something we need. The average age is much too high for where it should be considering we have an 18-year-old on the grid.

“I think the average age is high 30s, maybe early 40s. That needs to change, we need to target youngsters and the younger generation.

“And from what they say they are still very interested in keeping historic tracks on the calendar, that’s important to them and it should be because it is the heart and soul of Formula One.”

Pokemon Go, which has overtaken Twitter in terms of active daily users, is a phenomenon that Button is struggling to get his head around but he hopes Formula 1 can appeal to more of their demographic.

“There’s always ideas but it doesn’t really matter what my opinion is, so it’s a waste of time mentioning it. But they [Liberty Media] have an idea of what young people want with social media and technology.

“This is a very technologically advanced sport, Formula One, so you would think there would be a lot of interest from youngsters but there isn’t. As soon as youngsters sink their teeth into the sport they’re going to love it.

“I filmed [something] last night, I was in the shopping mall and posted it, and this is the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen! Have you ever seen the films of the future, how people are going to be – this was last night in the shopping mall. All these people walking one way, you know why? Pokemon.

“There must have been 2,000 people all walking to one spot, through the shopping mall, across the road because there’s a Pokemon there to grab. I don’t even know what you do with them. Do you win money? Or presents? Chocolate?

“You’d do it for chocolate wouldn’t you. Come on! Is Formula One not more interesting than that? It should be, I think it is!

“If they can get that many people interested at trying to flick something at a yellow dot which isn’t really there – you don’t really touch it – I think we can make Formula One better than it is.”