As one of the most iconic teams in motorsport, there are high expectations when it comes to Scuderia Ferrari, both on and off-track. Press Officers play a vital role in managing a driver’s relationship with journalists, raising their profile and therefore that of the team. This, in turn, attracts more fans and of course, sponsors. Ferrari’s media team is one with a huge amount of experience and is actually quite female-dominated, a phrase almost unheard of in the majority of areas of motorsport. There are three key figures at the Italian team: Silvia Hoffer Frangipane, Britta Roeske and Mia Djacic, all of whom are playing a vital role in transforming the team’s fractious relationship with the media.
SILVIA HOFFER FRANGIPANE
Ferrari’s Head of Communications is Silvia Hoffer Frangipane. With a huge amount of experience, she is one of the most knowledgeable and well-respected people in the paddock when it comes to PR. With her Formula One career beginning in 1997, previous to this she had been involved in the automotive world, spending six years with Bugatti followed by a year with Ducati as their PR Manager. Silvia’s first role in F1 came when she joined Minardi as a Press Officer. After spending a year with the Italian team, Silvia joined Williams from the 1999 season where she spent over a decade working alongside drivers such as Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Juan Pablo Montoya, where she again was a Press Officer. In 2010, Silvia moved to McLaren to become the team’s Press Officer Manager. Spending nine years based in Woking, she most notably handled the PR for Fernando Alonso, joining the Spaniard for his Indy 500 debut in 2017.
Her next career step came ahead of the 2019 Formula One season, when it was announced that Silvia had left McLaren and was heading for Maranello to become Ferrari’s Head of Communications. The team had become infamous for their approach towards the media, creating an unfriendly and negative environment, however it appeared change was afoot in 2019. Mattia Binotto was named Ferrari’s new Team Principal, young star Charles Leclerc was signed to the team, along with Silvia’s appointment, whose arrival signalled a new era in Ferrari’s relationship with the media.
Britta Roeske is a figure that will be well known to many Formula One fans as longtime PR Manager for four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Britta grew up interested in media, going on to study economics, with French and German, though with a particular focus on the world of journalism. Following the end of her university studies, she secured a two-year apprenticeship in Renault’s communications department. After a chance meeting with Flavio Briatore, at the time Renault F1’s Team Principal, and Patrizia Spinelli, the team’s Communications Manager, Britta was offered a role with the F1 team.
However, in 2005 she joined the newly formed Red Bull Racing F1 team, with her work with Sebastian Vettel beginning when he was promoted from Toro Rosso in 2009. The pair worked closely over the following four years which saw Vettel dominate, taking four consecutive World Championships. In 2015 when Vettel made the move to Ferrari, Britta too joined the Italian team. Unlike Silvia and Mia though, it is thought that Britta is not employed directly by Ferrari, but by Sebastian Vettel. However, she is still a crucial part of the team’s media department, with her often seen alongside her colleagues organising Vettel’s media activities and arranging interviews.
Along with her PR commitments, Britta also plays a vital role as a confidant and support for Sebastian, a famously private person, with her seemingly a loyal part of his small inner circle. It is also believed that Vettel doesn’t have a manager, and so Britta is also responsible for helping in this area. Having spent over a decade working with Vettel, to this day Britta remains his PR Manager, and is expected to move to Aston Martin when Vettel drives for the team in 2021.
Mia Djacic is also regularly seen in the media pen alongside her driver, Charles Leclerc. Although still in her 20s, Mia has had an extremely successful career already, graduating from the University of Vienna with a BA in Mass Communications and Media Studies. She went on to spend nearly two years as the Communications and Marketing Manager at Swiss software company, Beecom AG who organise the Worldwebforum, an event which encourages companies to effectively use digital and technological developments.
In 2017, Mia entered the world of motorsport becoming the Junior Digital Communications Manager at Alpha Romeo Sauber F1 team, based in Hinwil, Switzerland. The following season, she secured a new role at the team as a Press Officer, which coincided with Charles Leclerc joining the team for his Formula One debut. With vast amounts of success behind him, Leclerc came into the championship with a lot of interest, particularly from the media. As his Press Officer, Mia was responsible for managing his media requests and all PR commitments, and as the buzz around the Monegasque driver grew, so did her workload. However, it appears that she impressed, as when Leclerc moved to Ferrari last year, so did Mia.
Although, for the first few races of Leclerc’s debut season with the team she was absent, she soon appeared by his side as the calendar continued. As a Media and PR Officer for one of the most iconic teams in the paddock, she surely has a challenging role, however much like Silvia and Britta, she is often seen with a smile on her face. Having been brought to Ferrari to work with Charles Leclerc, could she go on to become a key part of his team as Britta Roeske has become with Sebastian Vettel?
When it comes to Scuderia Ferrari, changes in approach are already apparent in everything from the wording of posts on their social media platforms, to the types of videos the team publishes on YouTube. This openness and willingness to embrace the way younger fans interact will surely only continue, especially with a young driver line-up from 2021. This cannot necessarily be attributed to the fact that Ferrari’s press team appears to be mainly female, with each highly skilled and talented regardless of gender, but then maybe there is something in it? In only two seasons, the view of the team from a fan point of view has certainly changed, and whether you agree with their strategic decisions or the way they handle their drivers, no-one can deny that Ferrari are definitely moving into the 21st century.
(heading photo credit: Kym Illman)