Written by Olivia Hartley, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
A new trend has surfaced in the world of Formula 1 Instagram, taking the form of the handle @plus(driver number)world, with the most talked about of these being @plus44world. Subsequently to the creation of this Instagram account, followed solely by Lewis Hamilton, a series of other accounts have begun to appear. Among these is @plusfourworld, an account seemingly related to McLaren driver, Lando Norris. Posts put out by the account are criticising the sport’s governing body, the FIA, for decisions being made about next year’s Formula 1 calendar and the format of the race weekend. Some fans are speculating that these pages have been created by the Formula 1 drivers themselves, as second accounts to stand up against the FIA and voice their concerns. Others claim that the accounts are fake, so what is the truth?
There is little debate over the genuity of the @plus44world account. As stated previously, this account is followed by the official Lewis Hamilton Instagram page. In addition to this, Hamilton recently shared the account to his Instagram story on 20th August 2022, quickly putting to bed any rumours regarding whether this account is real or not. Fans have used this to suggest that the other accounts must therefore be authentic. However, none of these accounts have been followed or publicised by the drivers.
The posts that accounts such as @plusfourworld have put out include statements that “the FIA are planning on making fundamental changes to the format of race weekends starting next year”, suggesting that the current grand prix format will be replaced by a ‘3 sprint race’ format. The accounts also confirm that the much beloved Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps has no place on next year’s calendar and that Silverstone may be under threat of losing its place in favour of additional Middle-Eastern circuits such as that of Kuwait. The individuals behind these posts express disapproval of these changes, using words such as “disgraceful” and saying that it “undermines the integrity of the sport”. This is presumably based on the popular idea that Formula 1 are beginning to put money above all else, prioritising countries that are able to pay them upwards of $40 million a year to stay on the calendar (such as those in the Middle East) over countries like Belgium and Great Britain, which are only able to contribute roughly half of that. Fans who believe in the authenticity of these accounts and their claims also express a justified displeasure, leaving comments that they wouldn’t continue to engage in the sport if such changes were made.
However, many are quick to point out holes in the narrative. Firstly, it is Formula 1 who are responsible for decisions regarding which circuits are to be removed from or added to the calendar, and not the FIA, who are only responsible for approving circuits in a technical sense. A Formula 1 driver would be very much aware of this, and unlikely to make such an error when discussing the matter. Additionally, many fans have since identified a website corresponding to the @plus44world account with the address, https://plus44.world/password, the page source of which comes from online retail platform, Shopify. Furthermore, a company named Plus44 Streetwear Ltd has recently been registered in the UK, as of 18th July 2022. This combination of information has led people to speculate that Hamilton may be launching his own clothing line, and that this is the real reason for his new Instagram account.
This certainly seems a more likely explanation. It is probable that Hamilton launched this account, leading Instagram users to take advantage of the opportunity to convince fans that their accounts were also genuine, by replicating his Instagram handle. Lewis Hamilton is widely praised for his fashion choices in and out of the paddock and so, if this speculation turns out to be true, a clothing line would definitely excite many.