Take two content creators and an award-winning artist who all share a passion for F1, join them on a video call for an hour and what do you get?
An illuminating insight into everything from the gender imbalance in F1, to dealing with haters, and the sport's explosion in popularity due to Drive to Survive.
If you're an F1 fan and you're on TikTok, you're likely to have stumbled upon videos from content creators Hannah Atkinson, aka @f1hannah, and Lissie Mackintosh.
With about 50,000 followers apiece, they're using their passion for the sport to fuel their creativity and make their mark with videos that are equal parts entertaining, informative and innovative – Lissie even finds the time to host Going Purple, the F1 podcast that's open to all and delves into the sport's biggest topics.
London-based artist Juls Gabs, meanwhile, is just as innovative, with her artwork exploring the relationship between the physical and the digital and the merging of these two worlds.
The Spaniard's multidisciplinary approach sees her combine painting, augmented and virtual reality, crypto, NFTs, artificial intelligence and social media as she seeks to celebrate diversity and raise awareness of some of the most pressing issues facing society.
The trio are joining us at the British Grand Prix, with Hannah and Lissie hosting I / AM LIVE from Silverstone and Juls unveiling artwork that depicts our 'All in. All welcome. All celebrated' team philosophy, but we couldn't resist the opportunity for a thought-provoking, three-part, three-way Q&A ahead of our home race.
There are more and more women who work in Formula 1 who are inspiring me and so many others.
Part 1: The Drive to Survive effect
So, what attracted you to Formula One?
Juls Gabs: Like many Spanish people, I started watching when Fernando Alonso was winning. After that, I followed a little less closely, but I really got into the sport when Formula One: Drive to Survive came out on Netflix. It's opened the sport up to a wider audience.
Lissie Mackintosh: I had a similar experience: I started following Formula One well before Drive to Survive – I'd check the results and watch a race every so often. But when Drive to Survive came along it breathed new life into the sport and I've been a huge fan ever since.
Hannah Atkinson: The sport, the drivers, the teams, have all become so more relatable and open since the series launched: just look at all the content they put out on social media now, like driver challenge videos – you just didn't get that before Drive to Survive.
What's interesting is that when you're a new fan, at first, the people and the stories don't really matter because you don't know anything about them. What grabbed my attention was the on-track action.
The first race I watched, I remember seeing Lewis Hamilton's last-lap tyre blowout at Silverstone and thinking, 'Wow, this isn't like anything I've ever seen before.' Ever since then I've been compelled to consume every piece of F1 content I can. [Laughs.]
LM: Drive to Survive has brought so many new fans in, especially female fans, but it's seen the emergence of a new term, the 'Drive to Survive fan'. I see it in so many social media comments and it's used in a derogatory way, but why is it a bad thing? Why is it bad that Drive to Survive has brought fans to F1? It's great to have new fans involved in the sport, no matter how they become interested in it.
How does Formula One become more accessible? It has traditionally been a male-dominated sport. Do you think that's changing?
LM: The sport needs to be more inclusive. I'm often asked: 'How do you get job in F1 as a woman?'
I would love to get to a point where we're not talking about being a woman in the sport and we're just talking about being a content creator or whatever your role is; that's only going to happen by having more female representation and role models in F1. If you can see it, you can be it.
HA: Better representation is essential. Recently, we've seen more female presenters, like Naomi [Schiff], and engineers come into the mix; things like that are starting to address the gender imbalance.
You see that these people are just like you and you think, 'That could be me if I want it to.' The same applies to content creators, people watch our videos and are inspired to create their own content – I absolutely love that.
JG: By having better representation, you're giving people who see the sport, particularly young people, the chance to realise they can be a part of it – that it's a place for them. You're creating an opportunity for them to say: 'Oh, this is exactly what I want to be, but I didn't know it until I saw it.'
LM: Being an F1 content creator is something that never even crossed my mind. When I was younger, I thought that to get into F1 you probably had to be male because pretty much all the drivers, team members, pundits and journalists were – but that's changing now. Like Hannah said, there are more and more women who work in Formula One who are inspiring me and so many others.
You see that these people are just like you and you think, 'That could be me if I want it to.'
Part 2: Standing in front of 50,000 people
You say that being an F1 content creator never crossed your mind, Lissie, but there must have been a moment where that changed for you? What was that moment?
LM: I always felt like I had all this creativity inside me, but I never really knew how to show it – how to let it out. Then I found TikTok and started positing funny little videos, talking about F1 news and stuff like that, and it made me feel fantastic. I was able to unleash my creativity.
I remember posting my first news roundup and thinking, 'Oh my God, what's going to happen? Should I take it down?' When I woke up the next morning and I called my mum, I was like, 'Oh my God, 10,000 views!' She said, 'No way?! Keep going, keep doing it!' That was the moment I realised this is what I wanted to do.
As creators, you're putting yourselves out there through your work – it's a brave thing to do. Do you ever think about all the people who are seeing it?
LM: Honestly, I try not to think about it. [Laughs.] When someone says to me, 'you've got 50,000 followers', I look at it as just a number. But if you actually think about standing in front of that many people, it's just crazy. I don't think I could film with all those people right in front of me.
More followers can mean more haters and, as a content creator, you have to grow a thick skin very quickly. You have to remember that it's not a personal attack on you and learn to separate the haters from all the people who support you – you focus on the good as much as you can.
HA: The people who comment nasty things, they don't know you personally – it's so important to keep that in mind. There will always be people who disagree with you and that's fine if people are respectful – everyone has their own opinions.
LM: Yeah, I'm totally open to hearing other points of view, but when you see comments like: 'You're so stupid', 'You know nothing', 'Get off my screen', 'This is why women shouldn't be in sports', it goes too far and is unacceptable.
HA: It is so hard, and it's impossible to know what everyone's reaction to a video will be. If I upload a video that I love and I'm really proud of, I immediately put my phone down and don't look at it for a while because the last thing I want to see are negative comments. You could have 100 comments – most of them positive – but it's the horrible ones you concentrate on. It's hard not to.
What about you, Juls? Would you ever paint in front of 50,000 people?
JG: Come on… I get overwhelmed when I have 20 people around me! [Laughs.] I think when you're an artist, it's your work that people are seeing rather than you. But when your artwork is unveiled, it's exciting because you get to see how people react to it and, because my paintings are interactive, how they engage with it. One of my favourite things to do is to go to a gallery or a museum to see people's reactions to artwork – it's fascinating. I've learnt that I'm just as interested in the people as I am the painting!
What if the reaction to your work is not good or what you expected?
JG: I think it's important to remember that we're all on a journey. As an artist, the first piece of artwork you create is not going to be as good as what you create in the future. You need to fail otherwise you will never get better – it's all part of learning.
I actually love it when people say, 'I think this is wrong, and this is wrong, and this is wrong…'. I find people with a completely different opinion fascinating, as long as they are respectful, because it's an opportunity to learn something new.
It's impossible for everyone to have the same opinion and if we didn't have different perspectives the world would be a poorer place. Diversity of thought is what helps us grow.
You need to fail otherwise you will never get better – it's all part of learning.
Part 3: The people's team
What makes Aston Martin F1 the team for everyone? How are we making fans part of the story and bringing people with us on our journey?
LM: Just take this interview, for example, you've got three creative women talking about their passion for F1 and their involvement in the sport. Aston Martin F1 is the team providing the platform for discussions like this to take place – it's the people's team.
JG: The 'All in. All welcome. All celebrated.' philosophy of Aston Martin F1 is what really appeals to me because it brings people together – it's exactly what I try to do with my art.
When the team approached me to create a painting, I was like, 'Now this is a project I want to work on and a team I want to work with.'
Look at all the photos you see from the team on social media: they are almost always of its people working together. You can see that Aston Martin F1 really focuses on its people – it really cares about them. That's one of the reasons why I accepted this project.
LM: The team really values its fans too; it's incredible to see and something I massively appreciate. Just look at the competitions: attending the launch of its 2022 F1 car – I didn't see many teams doing that, if any, to be honest – and this weekend the team is welcoming I / AM members to its Silverstone HQ for an AMF1 British Grand Prix experience.
HA: Having this fan event on Saturday, where hundreds of fans are going to be at the HQ, is insane. I'm so excited about it because, as a fan, it helps you feel better connected with the people that you interact with through social media.
LM: That's what's so special about an event like this: it's a chance for fans to come together to share their passion for the team and F1 – an opportunity to create meaningful connections.
It's so important that everyone is welcome in Formula One and that's why I love Aston Martin F1: they welcome you, as you are, into the team and the sport. We can't wait to see everyone at Silverstone.
Hannah and Lissie will host our I / AM LIVE TikTok stream from the Silverstone paddock on Thursday 30 June, and again on Saturday 2 July from our AMF1 British Grand Prix experience.
Lissie will also record the latest episode of the Going Purple podcast live from the event where she will be joined by AMF1 reserve and development driver Nico Hülkenberg, before teaming up with Hannah for a fan meet and greet on race day at the AMF1 pop-up store in the F1 Fan Zone.
Follow @astonmartinf1 on TikTok to #DriveTheLive, and make sure you check out @f1hannah and @lissiemackintosh on TikTok and the work of @julsgabs on Instagram.
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