Conducted and Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Meghana Sree
Content creation is always a challenging job. Being successful in this world requires a creative mindset, unwavering consistency, and immense dedication and passion. Getting the attention of your target audience, and retaining this audience in a space that’s constantly evolving and developing stands as the biggest challenge for any content creator.
Be it someone with a large fan following or someone just starting out, all content creators face the same challenge. They must evolve their content in line with the current trends, and find innovative ways to display this content to their audience. Content creators have differing routes to success, and many have found their ideal mantra to succeed in this world.
One such content creator based in the financial capital of India, Mumbai, has found his mantra to success through statistics. His name is Sundaram Ramaswami, but he is best known by his social media handle ‘F1 Statsguru’. Sundaram’s statistics have caught the eye of broadcasters, drivers, and teams alike, and he has received plenty of well-deserved praise for his work. Sundaram has also been inducted into the WTF1 Talent roster recently, and this signing speaks volumes of his skill.
An Interview with Sundaram Ramaswami (AKA F1 Statsguru)
A chat with Sundaram reveals his desire and passion to flourish in the field of content creation. He is an avid storyteller, and loves to narrate his personal experiences while answering a question. This is a huge advantage when it comes to presenting content on social media.
On the topic of his first interaction with the sport, Sundaram quickly takes us back in time, beginning in 1998, when he used to reside in Bahrain. Having grown up in the typical Indian family, cricket was a staple in the household, and his dad used to be an avid cricket fan. This helped Sundaram develop a fascination for cricket during his childhood.
Fast forward to 2003, and Sundaram narrates his first instance of being exposed to Formula One. As he was browsing through a magazine, he came across an article about a young Spaniard doing wonders that caught his attention. It was an article from a Bahraini daily, as he recalls, covering Fernando Alonso’s triumphant drive in the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix that got him into the sport. It was on this day when Sundaram decided to root for Alonso, and this was his first brush with Formula One, in his words.
Sundaram also vividly recalls an instance of meeting a fellow Formula One fan, during his school days. Having been assigned a school project in grade nine, he chose to do it on Formula One. Sundaram then recalled how he cut out a few clippings of Formula One articles from a local newspaper, and had written a few details about the drivers.
When he headed to school the next day, a classmate took interest in his project. When a page having a picture of all the drivers on the Formula One grid back then was flipped to, he was amazed at his classmate’s ability to recall each and every Formula One driver in the picture, including drivers from teams lower down the grid such as Giorgio Pantano and Zsolt Baumgartner.
This fascinating discovery played a key role in cultivating Sundaram’s interest in the sport, and he began to read up even further about the sport. He recalls his classmate’s avid interest in the sport back then, in an era where ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’, and other motorsport shows didn’t exist; and how she used to collect magazines, season reviews, and other F1 memorabilia passionately.
Having mutually agreed on her legendary status as the key person in fueling Sundaram’s fascination for F1, we moved on to the social media side of things: Sundaram’s celebrated Formula One account.
On Setting Up a Social Media Account
Sundaram says he was initially writing about cricket, back in 2012. However, he then states how this never went to plan, having gotten into a full-time job at the time.
He then recollects coming across a famous content creator in 2015, and remarked on her consistency, attention to the minute details, and the appeal she got from her fans for posting content on social media. This gave him the drive to start posting motorsports content, and his content creation journey began in the form of YouTube videos.
Sundaram then looks back on his YouTube journey: having made a few videos, he realised it was “no easy game” in his words. Editing and getting the videos onto his channel took plenty of time, and it used to be a cumbersome task. Regular work then took over once again, he says, until 2018.
It was in 2018 when Sundaram desired to resume his content creation journey. Shifting jobs gave him a lot more free time, and he decided to continue pursuing his dream of starting a Formula One content account.
It was also in 2018 when Sundaram found an interest in podcasting. Having listened to the ‘Inside Line F1 Podcast’ (the same podcast he works for today), he decided to start his own podcast. Having started his own podcast, and released his own episodes, Sundaram recollects an important lesson he learnt: “Creating content is no mean feat. It’s easier to say you can create content, but when you are doing it, you realise how much effort goes behind it.” A quote that truly caps off the importance of consistency and dedication in the field of content creation.
With a brand new podcast in his hands, Sundaram now had to market it to his audience. And this is where his Instagram content creation journey truly began. He created an Instagram account in 2019, and marketed his podcast episodes.
Versatility of content is important on social media, and Sundaram too understood the importance of this. He then began to report regularly on F1 news on his account, attempting to grab the attention of the audience.
A quick conversation then follows about Indian content creators, and Sundaram seconds the point of India having plenty of creators producing high-quality content. A largely curious audience, attempting to learn more about this sport which still has a niche status within the country, provides more incentive for these motivated creators to keep doing what they do best.
On Challenges Faced While Starting an Instagram Account
Sundaram mentions a big challenge, being in the form of getting to know how content creation works. Validation within the field is the biggest challenge when you start an account. Fine-tuning and experimenting with your posts to observe what relates with your audience is the key to success, and Sundaram himself is a perfect example of this point.
Having started a news page in 2019, Sundaram used to put out news regularly, and consistently. In 2021 though, he realised news wasn’t the best way forward, and naturally, his interests turned towards statistics in Formula One. He says his interest for statistics stemmed from cricket fantasy leagues, and when he used to read up about records within the sport as well.
He was fascinated by statistics, and in September 2021, he began delivering Instagram posts relating to statistics within Formula One. He quickly realised it was a hit among the masses, as people usually like to view posts about F1 records and data. This breakthrough in the world of F1 content creation for Sundaram is represented by his large following on social media.
To sum it up, Sundaram names three characteristics every content creator must have: Consistency, belief, and being able to cater to your audience. As he says: “You won’t see results within a week, or even a month.” Passion and connection towards a sport also plays an important role here, he says, as one could plan out the posting of content on social media better when one is fully invested in the sport.
Finally, refining your content for the audience also goes a long way towards receiving validation on social media, he says. Keeping your content likeable, updated and ahead of the trends in motorsport, along with creating varied content for different social media platforms all go a long way in a content creator’s path to receiving validation.
On the Craziest Stat He Has Ever Made
Sundaram smiles, and then says it was around the 2022 French Grand Prix. He first speaks about the presentation of his statistics, and says people tend to consume statistics that are presented as graphics, being visually appealing, and therefore easier to understand.
Coming to the statistic, he says it pertains to drivers not winning a race after their 300th race start. No driver has indeed done so. Sundaram recollects the process, saying it began with Lewis Hamilton reaching a triple century of races started. On the Wednesday before the race weekend, Sundaram himself wondered if any driver with so many race starts had won, after starting their 300th race, and subsequently did some research on the topic.
From Michael Schumacher, to Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, and Fernando Alonso, none of them had been able to break this deadlock. Sundaram made a quick post about this, late into the night, and went to sleep. The next day, he noticed that the post had blown up on social media.
Another quirk in the post was under Alonso and Hamilton’s statistics. Under the Spaniard, he had inserted zero race wins, but under Hamilton, he had inserted a question mark, suggesting a chance of Hamilton winning again. This sparked curiosity among his followers, Sundaram recalls.
This was also a major topic of discussion all through the weekend, from press conferences, to weekend warm-ups, and interviews. People wondered if Hamilton was indeed going to break this streak. However, the zero below Alonso’s stat in the graphic could be converted into a question mark, as the Spaniard has regularly flirted with the front of the field in 2023.
On Broadening India’s Motorsport Presence
When asked about broadening India’s motorsport presence, Sundaram dives back into his Bahrain diaries, and recollects the case of the Middle East nation, it too having been in a similar position some years ago. The promoters ensured the continuity of the race, making sure it stayed for over six to seven years at a stretch on the calendar. This helped them cultivate an audience, as Sundaram narrates.
He also jokes about how most people used to attend the race only due to the post-race concerts or shows over the weekend, in the early days of the race. However, as the race gained popularity, people eventually began to show up for the race, and were genuinely enthusiastic about the sport itself.
This is the recipe for India to follow too, he says. “It is important for the race to be on the calendar, in order to generate an audience for Formula One.” A number of other factors must be taken into account as well, such as television broadcasters for the race (there is no official broadcaster for Formula One in India, in 2023). He also speaks about the financial viability of the sport in the country. “Is there enough demand for the sport? Will any broadcaster be looking to telecast the sport in India?” he questions.
“It’s never a two-year plan or a three-year plan,” says Sundaram. The Grand Prix should have been on the calendar for longer, in order to cultivate a mass audience for the sport, as was the case for the Bahrain Grand Prix. “It’s great to launch something, but very important to sustain,” he remarks.
Having attended the inaugural Hyderabad E Prix in February, Sundaram recalls some people still trying to understand the sport. How was it different from Formula One? How was the format of a Formula E race weekend different? As of now, the status of the Hyderabad E Prix remains unknown, going into 2024, as the circuit isn’t on the initial Formula E calendar for next year. Sundaram’s point about sustaining an event holds plenty of weight in this scenario.
“With the introduction of ‘Formula One: Drive to Survive’, there was plenty of interest, but motorsport will only happen in India if a promoter can host the event well, sustain the event, and generate profits from the event, or it seems financially sensible for them,” says Sundaram. He also appreciates the emergence of content creators within the Indian subcontinent, who are also covering lower rungs of Indian motorsport in the present day. One needs to have general interest and appreciation for lower rungs of motorsport within India to gradually build up to the reintroduction of F1 in India.
Sponsorships and academies should also be set up within India, not just for engineering, but for other fields such as marketing and the like, in order to put India firmly on the motorsport map in the future, says Sundaram, concluding with a strong point. One could say that truer words hadn’t been spoken.
On watching other series, Sundaram pauses for a while, and then says he is a die-hard cricket fan, and apart from Formula One, finds it difficult to keep up with other motorsport series. However, should he take up his content creation job full-time, he says he would love to dive into the world of Formula 2 and Formula 3, and learn more about the road to Formula One.
He adds he would love to cover different races from series such as IndyCar, WEC, and Formula E in the future, should time permit. He remembers watching the Indy 500 and Le Mans a few years ago, and was extremely delighted, wondering how the races were so different from Formula One, and yet so fun to watch.
On his future plans, Sundaram says he would love to be Formula One’s official statistician one day. However, he understands the scale of work that comes with the job, and says he will have to work a lot harder to be in that position. He also wishes to be a full-time content creator, as he possesses the passion for the job, and is a great storyteller, a true benefit for the job. He would also have plenty of freedom in his work, should he pursue content creation full-time.
Sundaram also hopes to expand his coverage further onto Twitter, YouTube, and other forms of social media; narrating the events, and behind-the-scenes of a race weekend. He also wishes to cover more motorsports series such as MotoGP, and understands the vastness of statistics within such sports as well.
Sundaram is a brilliant content creator, and an avid Formula One enthusiast who loves storytelling through statistics, and he curates some brilliant content on social media for his audience. The team at Divebomb wish Sundaram plenty of success on his future endeavours, and would wish for him to achieve his dream of being an F1 Statistician someday.