Being born and raised in Buckinghamshire in the south-east around the High Wycombe area in England, Matt Gallagher was just a little boy with a utopian dream.

Today he works in the world of motorsport as a part of WTF1 which is very well-known within the branch. I got to talk to Matt about his journey, why he loves Formula 1 so much and how he handles the pressure caused by social media.


Ever since watching Formula 1 as a tiny tiny child with his dad, Matt had been hooked. Witnessing Michael Schumacher in all his glory made him a huge Ferrari fan. But there was much more to it for him.

Matt : The speed, the intensity of wheel-to-wheel action, I don’t know. I just love it as a high-octane piece of entertainment. I love the format, I love that it’s racing. It has just ingrained in me.

When he got older, Matt decided to start a YouTube channel called ‘xMattyG’. To him, it was purely for fun. He wanted to show other people his skills in racing games. There were no expectations. He told me that reaching 100 subscribers took a hell of a long time. But he always kept sharing his videos and the links to his hot laps in forums. In the end, his channel got quite successful with around 49.9K subscribers. Even though it was just a part-time thing to himself, it played a major role in his whole career path.

Matt : It was fun you know, it was a part-time thing. Never in a million years did I think that I would end up where I am today and have the opportunities that I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of. I have to pinch myself to realise the things that I’ve done so far. You’ve to consider I was just a kid with a dream. But it kind of just went from strength to strength and I wouldn’t have thought I would become a presenter. Back in school, I was not the most outgoing individual ever but I’ve learnt to be energetic and to be the outgoing personality on camera.

‘Never in a million years did I think I would end up where I am today’


While realising that he couldn’t live off his YouTube channel, Matt got an offer that forever changed his life. WTF1 or rather just it’s founder Tommy Bellingham asked him to be a part of their team. Making such a big decision is not easy but for Matt, it always felt right.

Matt : I never expected an offer from WTF1. I saw them as the cool people. If you ever got a tweet from them you knew you had done well.

Tommy told me that this was the gig where I could work in F1, I could present, I could be in charge of the content on the YouTube channel. It was a dream job that just came out of absolutely nowhere. I couldn’t believe it. And the fact that I’ve been there for nearly 4 years shows that it was definitely worth it.

‘And the rest is history.’

Deciding to be a part of a unique and risky project was never a big deal for Matt. His mum wasn’t a big fan of the gaming all night and day when he was younger but when he got this job, his whole family supported and encouraged him. Clearly, it was all part of the big ‘master plan’.


By being trusted with such a big project comes a lot of responsibility. Matt has to check that everything is done correctly and that all plans are in place. And he seems to do a great job. The channel has over 600K subscribers as it stands and is slowly heading to 1 million. But of course, Matt wasn’t always an expert at his job. Since doing his first projects he has developed not only as a person but also as a presenter.

Matt : I don’t think I was a natural talent in the sense that I took to it like a duck to water, I definitely didn’t. I remember my first test shoot for WTF1. It was at the Birmingham International motorsport show. That was my test shoot. I was very nervous, incredibly nervous. I didn’t know what to do with my hands, my body language was just completely off and it took a long time for me to get the personality, that I get now out on camera. It took a while and it certainly wasn’t easy to get confident. Especially from someone who is naturally shy and has had confidence issues. But it was my dream job to work so I had to make it happen and I feel like I did.

To say Matt has one of the most unique and creative jobs feels definitely right. He gets to create different types of videos, he even works with drivers and gets to travel the world. So to ask him what he loves the most was a must.

Matt : I like the videos where we just go out and have fun. The ‘forgotten tracks’ series was really cool. I like doing ‘Grill the grandstand’ which we obviously haven’t done in a long time due to COVID. I generally love doing fan engaging things because without them we would be nothing. What better way to repay them than to involve them in a YouTube video. Obviously also the interviews with the drivers are great. I like almost all the content we create. I mean my first weekend involved interviewing Lewis Hamilton. I had to ask one question but I was so nervous. To be honest I would still be nervous having an interview with him today. You put those drivers on the pedal stool. The likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc were really friendly. Lando is great of course and Ocon as well. My favourite to work with was definitely Daniel Riccardo. He’s just crazy and so nice. Off-camera as well. He cares about what you’re getting up to. If I’m going to interview an F1 driver and they ask “How are you?” and stuff like that, it shows that his values are great and he isn’t just self-obsessed.

From the outside, all of this just looks amazing. Travelling while working in such a special environment seems so enjoyable. But Matt also gave me a very good view of the rather ‘negative’ aspects.

Matt : Races and events are amazing for sure but what people don’t understand is the production side of it. We worked for Baku a week long. It was intense. We worked hours, especially when we ran their social media. It was not only a job just for us but for them to do as well. So there are very long hours sometimes but going to the events like car launches, races or Silverstone classics is something I absolutely love. It’s a real dream for me as a fan and I will never take it for granted.

 


Since Matt joined WTF1,  almost 4 years have passed. He always believed in its success but of course, there were also doubts. Would people like the content? Was their view on motorsport unique enough to stand out? Today WTF1 is part of almost every motorsport fans timeline. But while the popularity of it as a project grew, the people behind it also got in the public eye. A completely new and astonishing situation.

Matt : It’s weird to be so popular. You see numbers and all, but only when you go to events you see the people that you’ve affected in some way, maybe even inspired. It’s awesome and a feel-good thing to see people out there enjoying what you do. 

I haven’t had too many weird experiences. The only thing is that back in the day in school people were rather nasty to me. I used to get bullied in school that’s the reason for the confidence issues. I would say that a few of them become all of the sudden incredibly friendly when they see me in town. But most of the friends that I have, have been there before WTF1.

‘ It’s a lovely feeling in my heart to know someone out there is watching my video and getting cheered up. ‘


Now moving on to 2020 which was certainly not an easy year. Luckily events come last minute, so it wasn’t particularly difficult to change anything for Matt and the whole WTF1 team. But keeping the channel fresh and everyone motivated was not an easy task. Without too much recent content there were always challenges but they did a great job in my opinion. After getting into a bit of a routine the ‘Virtual Grand Prixs’ took place. Matt got to take part in some of them due to his E-sports work. He also did some casual streaming alongside Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc as he knows them pretty well.

Matt : It was really nice to be invited and thought of as I’m a massive gamer. It all just comes with the job which is amazing.

When racing finally returned we got to witness something truly amazing. Matt got to be a guest commentator for Formula 1 and Formula 2 alongside Alex Jacques. Something that meant the world to him.

Matt : Back in the day when I had my own YouTube channel, I did some commentary and I even had a banner on it that said aspiring F1 commentator. To Actually be involved in commentary for F1 and F2 was a dream come true. It was something that I was so proud of. When I just sat there, I thought: ‘Wow, you’ve come quite far.’ I was incredibly proud of myself and it’s a moment I will never forget. I would love to dip my toe in it and do it again but I don’t think it’s where my future lies. It was a pleasure to work with Alex Jacques. He’s such a nice guy and made me feel comfortable.


Matt truly has already had a fabulous career full of great moments. To think that he still has so many years ahead of him in this business feels crazy. But not everything was love, peace and harmony. When there are fans you also have haters.

Matt : The best moment was certainly the F1 drive. I think it will stay the F1 drive for many many years to come. But there are tough moments for sure.      Seeing people online saying nasty things about you isn’t nice. I’ve kind of grown a thick skin to it all now but sometimes when there is a wave of hatred for very little reason it can be tough. You just kind of have to shut yourself off from social media. As much as it’s great at connecting people it’s also quite tough sometimes when people might take things you say out of context or just generally hate on you for no reason. They might not like the content, they might not find me funny, they might think I’m arrogant, they might think I was this and that. They are allowed to have their own opinion but I personally don’t really understand why people would share stuff like that online. If I don’t like something, I don’t follow them. I don’t go after them or anything like that. I will just stay clear of them and let them get on with their lives. Unfortunately, not everybody is like that. I know that some people go through a lot and use social media as a vent.


Matt never thought he would be so lucky to work in Formula 1. There were too many questions. How would he get there? Would he be confident enough? But in the end, shouting in his kitchen and posting ridiculous videos got him to it. From the outside, all of it doesn’t seem like hard work but when you are passionate about something, you always want it to be perfect. Being in his current position is where Matt feels comfortable. One day to be forced to leave it would be a nightmare for him. He believes strongly that keeping up the hard work will eventually lead you to your goal.

Matt : Create your own YouTube channel if you’re creative. If you want to write articles just keep writing them. Even if you get only two or three views just keep writing, keep sharing, keep poking people in the industry to look at it. Don’t be disheartened, it doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen in the first month or year. Just keep pushing. If it’s your dream you will get there eventually. And if you’re not good enough, get better. Learn!

Matt really lives the life he always aimed for. With hard work, he got the job that means everything to him today. But when I asked him about what he loves the most in his life, it wasn’t easy for him to decide.

Matt :  What do I love most about my life…? That’s a really difficult question because I do love a lot of things. My girlfriend Sophie is a fantastic part of my life and with my job, I’m able to share my passion with others which is just an amazing feeling. I basically like everything I do and I think it comes across on camera. As I already said before, I don’t want to let it go and I hope that people will continue to like what I and WTF1 do. Whatever my career path in the future will be I  hope that I can always be in this space. So, what I love is F1 and I want to keep it that way and stay in the circle.

‘I wouldn’t be able to live as happily without watching it and going to races.’

 


A huge thank you goes to Matt Gallagher for taking his time to answer my questions.

I loved hearing his story and I’m very grateful for this opportunity!

Picture Credits: @mattwtf1 on Instagram

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