Verge caught up with Tom McCluskey aka Tommo F1 to find out a bit more about him and to talk about how much he loves F1. Tom has grown his YouTube channel into one of the new favourites for F1 fans. You can check it out here.
Have you always been into F1?
For as long as I can remember. No idea how and why though, none of my close family or friends growing up were remotely interested in motorsport. But obviously, as a kid, if you’re going to gravitate towards any motorsport via your TV, it’s going to be Formula 1. Early 2000’s was the earliest era I remember – Schumi, Hakkinen, Coulthard, Montoya.
Favourite driver, probably Alex Albon. He’s from my neck of the woods and is such a humble, awkward lad.
How did you start up your F1 YouTube Channel
I just thought I’d give it a shot. I released my first ever YouTube video way back in 2015 (Rocket League gameplay), and for the majority of the last 5 years, have been creating football content. I’m a lifelong (struggling) West Ham fan. After falling a bit out of love with F1 2012-2016ish, since 2017 I’ve gradually moved it back to the forefront of my sporting following. You can blame West Ham’s appalling ownership in part, for that. And since falling away from creating football content (so saturated, and a genuine loss of passion for it), I decided I was either going to take my content down either the design or Formula 1 route. So in August 2019 I started Tommo F1, rebranded my football channel (Sporting Tommo) to Tom McCluskey, and started releasing content on both. The F1 stuff popped off around Christmas, and here we are today!
Do you have a day job and does it make running your YouTube channel difficult?
I’m a digital designer by day, have been for the last 4-5 years, working most of that time within social media. As jobs go to compliment starting a Youtube channel, this is up there. The graphic design and animation skills I have, have all been nurtured through my day job. I love a bit of photography too – jack of all trades me!
Do you have a favourite team and driver?
Favourite driver, probably Alex Albon. He’s from my neck of the woods and is such a humble, awkward lad. He’s so endearing, and I really really want him to do well. Team, gotta be McLaren. They’ve got that underdog status now, and Lando & Carlos are such a likeable pair. Results don’t matter that much to me (being a West Ham fan), it’s the heart and passion behind the drivers and teams that resonates most with me.
Have you met any drivers in real life?
How do you feel coverage of F1 has changed over the last 5 years?
I think it’s moved forward for sure. The TV coverage itself is a bit ropey, but the behind the scenes and out of race coverage has come on a tonne. Plus allowing the drivers to express themselves much more via social media, is only a positive thing IMO.
I’ve got a great bunch of people who watch my stuff, and as I respond to every comment I receive, I get a true gauge of who the real OGs are.
What did you think of Netflix’s Drive To Survive Series? Anything you’d like to see more of?
Absolutely, really enjoyed both series! The storytelling factor is great, I love the focus on a distinct ‘plot’ in each episode. Ultimately, if they throw more resource behind it next time, they can capture more of the stories we want to see. For example, Daniil Kvyat got missed out big time in season 2, even though his story of his return to Toro Rosso, and scoring a podium, was one of the most impressive of anybody on the grid.
You’ve become one of the new favourite faces for F1 fans on YouTube, what’s that like?
Haha! Well, I guess what has helped me set myself apart, is the fact that you even see my face! There’s a lot of fantastic F1 Youtubers out there, but I saw from early on that not many were actually putting themselves in the videos they were making. That’s where I saw an opportunity to stand out, and I think the rationale behind that has proven to be effective. I’ve got a great bunch of people who watch my stuff, and as I respond to every comment I receive, I get a true gauge of who the real OGs are. It’s still bizarre though, having made stuff for so long, to finally get something back. I’ve not bumped into anyone randomly IRL who watches my stuff, but I can imagine that’ll be a weird one.
How did the channel grow so quickly?
When things blew up, of the 7 videos I had out, 2 were decently clickable. One being my video on ROKIT (Williams sponsor), and the other my Rich Energy vs Red Bull video. I always thought the latter had the potential of mini virality, and it was proven so. The growth coincided with another F1 YouTuber, Josh Revell, releasing his 1k sub special – with some Rich Energy. It’s no coincidence that I blew up on literally the day he put that video out, and I’m convinced the recommendations from his video had a big part to play in my growth. Thanks Josh! So yeah, creating content people actually want to engage with, plus a sizeable chunk of luck. Oh, and my pink thumbnails stand out.
Be prepared to get nothing in return for a long time. Work hard on it, and you’ll reap the rewards.
What’re the best and most challenging things about being a “YouTuber”?
Getting things out regularly. I’ve not stuck to a strict upload schedule for this reason, you should see a new video every 3-4 days. That’s manageable within my life right now, but still tough. Maintaining the quality levels too, is hard. Right now views have definitely settled after the initial mad growth, which was inevitable. I just want to keep pushing it up and up though, which is a challenge I’m more than prepared to accept.
What advice to anyone who wants to start a YouTube channel?
Do it for the right reasons. Do it because you have a genuine passion for the subject matter. Then it won’t feel like a chore. Creating videos is something I’ve done for so long, with zero monetary gain. If anything, it’s cost me money. But to still have the drive to keep creating, tells me that it’s something I truly am passionate about.
Try and make content that you’d actually want to watch. Put yourself in the content too, people will always engage more with a person they can actually see and hear, rather than just hear. Be prepared to get nothing in return for a long time. Work hard on it, and you’ll reap the rewards. My confidence has come on a sh*t tonne since I started, which is more valuable than any amount of money I’ve made. Lame, but true.
Lastly (when we get the season gets started) What’s your top 5 driver prediction?
I’m sticking fairly firm with my 2020 driver predictions. The only reason Charles is so low, is because I ain’t got faith in Ferrari.
1. Max Verstappen
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Alex Albon
4. Valtteri Bottas
5. Charles Leclerc
You can watch Tom’s channel here.