This spring, Motorsport Network named Jon Wilde as Editor-in-Chief, Motorsport, one of the biggest global brands for the most popular motorsports. As interest in F1 grows, we spoke to Jon about his passion for motorsports, plans for the Motorsport brand, and opportunities for collaboration.


Can you talk about your own relationship with motorsports?

My arrival in motorsports is not unlike a lot of other folks who early on in the pandemic found themselves looking for something new and exciting that could pique their interest. I'd always quietly watched dribs and drabs of motorsport, particularly F1. It felt global, and it had a sense of broadness and to some degree, cultural cachet that attracted me.

Netflix's ‘Drive to Survive’ kicked in and really ramped things up in my own interest and I’d find myself getting up at horrible hours on weekends to catch the race. I found myself intrigued by everything from tire strategy and sidepod aerodynamics to also this fascinating circus, this beautiful soap opera pageant that happens within F1. The story of what happens on track is sometimes not quite as interesting as everything that's happening around it, and the fact that this thing shows up for a week in some beautiful country and executes this massive project and then moves on to the next one, it seemed like it was so big and cool and unexpected. It was like every week was a bit of a Super Bowl. It is a unique sport in and of itself, and one that I was excited to get closer to with the opportunity to join Motorsport.


Can you describe the career background that has brought you to Motorsport?

My career background starts with coming out of college and going immediately into print magazines; I spent the first 10-12 years in print magazines. That was wonderful, because you really homed in on a type of storytelling that needed to be not just about today or tomorrow; it needed to have resonance with a wide audience, and it needed to live for at least a month or more. It also came with high expectations because you’re spending a lot of resources.

A big inflection point in my career was finding myself at GQ magazine here in the US in 2011. I started off doing just print and then I segued over to the digital side. I did that because, frankly, I didn't read a lot of physical magazines anymore. I became an editor on the website at, and then had the opportunity over the next few years to grow into a bigger role that ended with me being a Global Digital Director.

At GQ I was able to do anything and everything. I’ve covered what you’d broadly term lifestyle and culture. That meant everything from fashion and travel to automotive and tech. Lifestyle became my space, on top of doing things like packages and features. I come from a space where stories need to be human, they need to be useful to some degree. They need to give you information or give you something you can trade on or build on.

I come from a place that is less about the ‘newspapery’ day-to-day beat work, and a lot more about getting the thing that feels definitive or unique. How do you surprise your audience? How do you make sure that what you're delivering is not something that anybody else gets?


How are content creators fitting into coverage of Formula One?

It's fascinating. You see this dual skill set of creators who are really deep within a sport or a space, who can also craft something meaningful and special and unique for social media platforms – which everybody thinks is easy but is absolutely not – and abiding by the God-awful algorithms that dominate what works and what doesn’t. 

It’s driven by pure fandom. Most people don't have a salary from it, but they do it because they love what they're talking about.

I’m in awe of their ability to find new audiences, using Instagram reels or TikTok and speaking a language that is more useful or more loose. Those are things that can be brought into a place like Motorsport – I'm very eager both to collaborate with some of the great content creators that are out there, and also to create a space within Motorsport for someone with those skill sets to operate.

It's easier said than done to install somebody like that and say ‘your job is to go do content creation’. There are myriad reasons why it gets a little bit tougher within a larger publication operation, but I think it can be done. I'm excited to build that out within Motorsport.


What advice would you give to a journalist wanting to move into a new sector?

I think it comes down to a few things. One, are you ultimately trying to set up something for yourself or do you want to be part of a larger institution? Those two things look very different these days.

The world of creating your own Substack and having a really high velocity social presence has massive amounts of stress, but you get the benefit of, to some degree, owning your audience and becoming a brand yourself. I think if you're doing that, there's no time like yesterday. You're not going to find your space and your rhythm without just getting it going and letting it iterate on itself.

Whether you're in my role, joining something new and trying to help shift it and remold it, or whether you're somebody who wants to pivot or start something new, you have to believe in the power of iteration. 

If you’re trying to join an institution, say you're trying to go from being an X type of reporter to being a business reporter, you still want to use those same platforms. You're trying to carve out your space very specifically and showcase that you could fit in within something. To some degree you’re always speaking a little bit to that institution, when you're writing or whether you're putting content up. Those things can look alike, but you've got to be aware of the voice you’re operating with. You need to be super aware of what a publication does and what they don't do, what they allow and what they don't allow. A lot of them are looking for new voices and new people to bring on, but they're certainly not looking for somebody whose presence doesn't really dovetail with theirs.


Do you have any other more general advice that you would give to a a someone who is early in their journalism career, maybe advice that you would have wanted to hear?

The funny thing is, I graduated from college in 2003, which feels like it was about 97 years ago in media terms. I don't know if there is any version of advice you could have given me then that translates to now. I certainly know that I just got lucky: I got lucky that I got an internship at a magazine that then offered me a job. The thing that got me through was grit and hustle and being a yes-man. If you needed a thing done, I would stay late. 

Certainly you need something like that. You need to think, this is not going to be easy and I'm going to do this for the love of the game. That said, the smart thing you have to do now is get yourself out there and to not wait for somebody to give you the opportunity, whether that's a Substack or a TikTok or an Instagram or something else entirely.

Something I believe that has always been hard for folks in our space is: do not be shy. Shout about it from the rooftops. Tell everybody you know ‘I'm doing a thing!’. Every time you make something that you're excited about and proud about, do not be shy. You have to be willing to be your own best advocate and your own PR person, whether you’re making a pivot or starting out.


For our PR readers, what do you expect from a solid pitch?

An awareness of who it is you're pitching to, what that looks like and what we do. That's a little bit complicated by the fact that the Motorsport of today isn't going to be exactly the Motorsport of tomorrow – we're going to be building much more lifestyle and culture coverage. We're not going to leave our in-the-paddock access behind, but we're going to add on to it those things that I come from: news culture, entertainment, travel.

Also, realistically know the value of what you're pitching to somebody. If you feel it is truly valuable to them, make sure that you are very quick to say why. If there's something big here for me or genuinely exclusive, great: make sure I know about it in the top line. If you think something is a bit of a shot in the dark, great, send your e-mail, but don't necessarily expect a reply.

The third thing I would say is, you'd be surprised how much I don't need an interview with your CEO or CMO. Particularly in a lifestyle reporting world, it's rarely useful to me. It's not the part of the story that I need to tell my audience. My audience are people or consumers, they're not a B2B audience. 


Is there anything that you want to add? 

I've joined Motorsport because I've fallen in love with motorsports, but also because we’re building a whole new operation following last summer’s acquisition. This fall you’re going to see a new and exciting Motorsport. 

We're going to be leaning into everything from social to video to newsletters, places we've not really put a lot of our energy in the past. It's going to be more culturally driven, I'm looking to build the stories that tell the entire story of motorsport and the experience of it. We’re going to focus on what the fan experience is, which is about being a part of the excitement.

Stories that help me tell that fan experience are wildly valuable, if you can genuinely bring me closer to a story that hasn't been told, or to some action, or give me advance notice. I look forward to making a lot of friends in the PR industry who see motorsport as something as exciting as I do and we do here at Motorsport.

About Natalie Beale

Natalie is a Senior Editor for Cision, based in London. In addition to interviewing journalists and media industry experts, she manages the US and UK Media Moves newsletters, which showcase the latest journalist news and moves.