Inside F1 Technology

What started as a school project is now a full-blown website where the avid F1 supporter can satisfy their hunger for detailed technical information. ‘It was an assignment for computer science in high school’, Steven De Groote states. ‘Because there was no technical website about Formula 1 back then, I kept expanding it.'

Quite a challenge, on top of your day job.

Yes, it is. It takes a lot of work to keep the content up to date. Our visitors are mainly looking for technical background information on the cars. Of course, we also process press releases from the teams, so we also offer news and images.

Currently, we welcome between 20 000 and 30 000 unique visitors per day. During periods when we provided more topical news, it was a multiple of those numbers.

Steven De Groote

You say ’we’. Is there a full-fledged editorial team?

'Gosh. There are about five of us, all volunteers. To keep everything up to date, that's necessary. Otherwise, you'll see the numbers of visitors drop quickly. I also worked 80% for a while, so I had more time on Fridays to write about the free practices and the qualifications.'

So how many visitors are we talking about?

'Currently, we welcome between 20 000 and 30 000 unique visitors per day. During periods when we provided more topical news, it was a multiple of those numbers. A large group of visitors mainly returns to the forum. There are still several hundred posts submitted daily. You need a moderator or two to keep things running smoothly.’

Could you make a living out of this?

(laughs) 'Maybe if I gave it my full attention. It's still a hobby that got out of hand. Currently, with the advertising revenue, we can pay for hosting, a photographer, and some ads. Compared to before, numerous F1 websites popped up and it is very difficult to be - and stay - relevant on all subjects.'

My last interview was with Stoffel (Vandoorne, currently active in Formula E). He set aside a quarter of an hour for the Dutch-speaking press. Very sympathetic!

Steven De Groote

Where do you source the news items from?

'Besides the teams’ press releases and tweets from drivers, we also regularly attend press conferences before a race or during the winter test drives in Barcelona. By asking good questions - or being very on– we can sometimes score a scoop. My last interview was with Stoffel (Vandoorne, currently active in Formula E). He set aside a quarter of an hour for the Dutch-speaking press. Very sympathetic!'

Do you have to remain neutral as a journalist?

'Haha. I do have a favorite driver if that's what you mean. I've been following Fernando Alonso (Renault, McLaren, Ferrari) for years. But I'm not super fanatical, I try to be open to all the teams and the beauty of the sport.'

You are one of the old hands at Sofico.

'Yes, I've been Since back when we only had two teams: a development team and a web team. I'm still involved in the latter, web development. My colleagues used to laugh at me: you're going to be stinking rich with your website. It didn't quite work out that way although my English has improved a lot because of it.'

left: the 2005 website design

Any tips for the future?

Well, I think that Théo Pourchaire could become a very big man. He is 17 years old and last week he was on pole in F2. Surely that's very clever at that age.'

'I do miss the live interviews, the races, and the real interaction too. That 'field work' makes maintaining such a website extra special...'

Merci Steven!

Tags


Share this story  —   Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Xing

More life at Sofico