Imagine interviewing a two-time Formula 1 world champion one-on-one; well now you can! VELO, in partnership with The McLaren Formula 1 Team, are giving fans around the world the ultimate power to ask Mika Häkkinen their burning questions – marking the first time that fans can interact with a Formula 1 great through conversational technology. To experience this motorsport milestone first hand, simply head over to People’s Paddock, an online hub providing F1 experiences designed to drive deeper fan engagement in the world of motorsport.
For years, fans have wanted to get closer to the action; to ask the crucial race questions, to get behind the scenes, to speak to a driver one-on-one. Now, through conversational technology, VELO has made it possible to open up the exclusivity of the Paddock, giving fans the power, to take control and get behind the helmet. Through the launch of the Mika Häkkinen led experience, VELO and The McLaren F1 Team are giving fans an experience like never before. This isn’t a digital version of Mika; it really is the two-time world champion, in the hot seat and ready to answer questions! Whether fans want to know Mika’s biggest accomplishment in his racing career or how he thinks the upcoming racing season will compare to previous ones, racing enthusiasts can become their own F1 journalist by typing or asking Mika a question.
Mika Häkkinen has been brought to fans by In The Room, who specialises in Conversational Media that spotlights a person of note with expert knowledge, offering them the opportunity to impart their wisdom from lived experiences. Through this technology fans can dive deeper into the world they love, resulting in hyper-personalised experiences that allow them to engage in a whole new way. Compared to synthetic avatars, this technology blends authentic video content with machine learning and natural language processing to produce a personalised interactive video experience for every fan. Using hours of video content and almost 100 questions where Mika talks about his Formula 1 career and his time with The McLaren Formula 1 Team, the technology offers interviewers an authentic insight into Mika’s world.
Mika Häkkinen, two-time Formula 1 world champion with The McLaren F1 Team, comments: “Fans have played a huge role in my driving career; I’m sure all drivers would say the same. They’re at the heart of motorsport and motivate the whole team to do bigger and better things each season. Which is why, when the Velo and The McLaren F1 Team asked me to be the first person in motorsport to be asked anything through conversational technology, I jumped at the chance. What a way to speak to the fans and answer their F1 questions!”
The first of many ways to bring fans closer to the action, Mika’s one-on-one interview opportunity is a prime example of embracing technology and looking for new ways to give fans more of what they want. Fans are at the core of the Love the Unexpected campaign, launched last year by VELO and The McLaren F1 Team to provide wonderful opportunities for the people at the heart of the sport. The campaign is focused on putting fans first, showcasing the fantastic ways they celebrate motorsport and looking to make F1 experiences better for all fans, not only those who can attend races.
John Beasley, Global Head of Brand Building Digital & eCommerce, BAT comments: “The digital age is continually shaping the sporting landscape and we are proud that Love the Unexpected is pioneering change in motorsport. At VELO we are all about the fans, the people whose passion and enthusiasm fuels F1, bringing them closer to the action to help them to engage with the sport they love. Which is why, for the first time ever we have brought a motorsport legend to the homes of fans across the globe. Fans will be able to speak to Mika Häkkinen, one-on-one through, their phone.”
Louise McEwen, Executive Director, Brand and Marketing, McLaren Racing, comments: “McLaren Racing’s fans are at the centre of everything we do. We are fortunate to have a passionate fanbase spread around the globe, and we are always exploring innovative new ways to connect them to our brand. In collaboration with our partner VELO, we can now offer our fans unique access to McLaren legend Mika Häkkinen through this exciting conversational technology. We look forward to continuing to put our fans at the heart of the Love the Unexpected campaign, while embracing new and ground-breaking possibilities with VELO.”
The Mika Häkkinen experience is the latest activity in VELO and The McLaren F1 Team’s Love the Unexpected content series which has placed motorsport fans in pole position, diving into the unexpected world of fans and uncovering their unique stories. To date, the series has showcased three wonderful fan stories, highlighting the love these fans have for the sport that is driving the new face of motorsport culture.
BAT is a leading, multi-category consumer goods business with a purpose to build A Better Tomorrow™ by reducing the health impact of its business through offering a greater choice of enjoyable and less risky products for adult consumers.
The company continues to be clear that combustible cigarettes pose serious health risks, and the only way to avoid these risks is not to start or to quit. BAT encourages those who would otherwise continue to smoke to switch completely to scientifically-substantiated, reduced-risk alternatives*†. In order to deliver this, BAT is transforming into a truly consumer-centric multi-category consumer products business.
BAT’s ambition is to have 50 million consumers of its non-combustible products by 2030 and to generate £5billion of New Categories revenue by 2025. BAT has set stretching ESG targets including achieving carbon neutrality for Scopes 1 & 2 by 2030 and eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic and making all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
BAT employs over 50,000 people. The BAT Group generated revenue of £27.65 billion in 2022 and profit from operations of £10.5 billion.
The company’s Strategic Portfolio is made up of its global cigarette brands and a growing range of reduced-risk*† New Category tobacco and nicotine products and traditional non-combustible tobacco products. These include vapour, tobacco heating products, modern oral products including tobacco-free nicotine pouches, as well as traditional oral products such as snus and moist snuff. In 2022, we had 22.5 million consumers of our non-combustible products, a rise of 4.2 million on full year 2021.
* Based on the weight of evidence and assuming a complete switch from cigarette smoking. These products are not risk free and are addictive.
† Our products as sold in the US, including Vuse, Velo, Grizzly, Kodiak, and Camel Snus, are subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation and no reduced-risk claims will be made as to these products without FDA clearance.
About McLaren Racing
McLaren Racing was founded by racing driver Bruce McLaren 60 years ago in 1963. The team entered its first Formula 1 race in 1966. McLaren has since won 20 Formula 1 world championships, 183 Formula 1 grands prix, the Indianapolis 500 three times, and the Le Mans 24 Hours at its first attempt.
McLaren Racing competes across five racing series. In 2023, the team will compete in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship with McLaren F1 drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with Arrow McLaren drivers Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with NEOM McLaren Formula E Team drivers René Rast and Jake Hughes, and the Extreme E Championship with NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team drivers Emma Gilmour and Tanner Foust. The team also competes in the F1 Esports Pro Championship as McLaren Shadow, having won the 2022 Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships.
McLaren is a champion for sustainability in the sport and a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Commitment. It is committed to achieving net zero by 2040 and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture in the motorsport industry.