F1 Drivers To Be Consulted About Pre-Race Celebrations After Miami Complaints
F1 drivers threw a tantrum, and it appears to have worked.
The second-annual Miami Grand Prix brought a uniquely American twist to the culture of Formula 1. The fanfare and pageantry were welcomed by some and decried by others. With many on the grid frustrated by the event, though, changes are on the horizon.
The Miami race was preceded by driver introductions by LL Cool J, with the racers appearing flanked by cheerleaders amidst an unimpressive cloud of fog. The ceremony was for the benefit of the fans but drew the ire of almost every driver on the grid. As reported by Motorsport.com, F1 chiefs have heard the pushback and responded. Drivers will now be consulted ahead of the introduction ceremonies planned for six more races this year.
Most complaints around the event concerned timing. The introduction ceremony took place immediately before the race and required the suited drivers to stand around in the sun for some time. Typically, drivers would instead use this time to prepare for the race ahead and consult with their engineers. Several drivers had expressed resistance to the idea ahead of time at Friday's GP Driver's Association meeting, though there was an agreement to trial the new format nonetheless.
Going forward, F1 plans to speak to drivers to understand how best to tweak the format. The aim is to maintain the excitement and spectacle for the fans while putting less pressure on the drivers in a critical period. Talks are expected to take place when the GPDA meets at the upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
As reported by Yahoo News, much of the grid didn't appreciate the format. George Russell complained the introduction event was "distracting," while Norris bluntly stated that "none of the drivers like it." It bears noting that some positives came out of the new driver introduction ceremony. "I thought it was cool, no issue from me," said Lewis Hamilton, noting that "They are trying to improve the show and I am in full support of it. Similarly, Nico Hulkenberg expressed his enjoyment of the spectacle. he noted that he "had some goosebumps, actually" when he heard the roar of the crowd.
The added ceremony is all part of Liberty Media's efforts to build F1's profile, and many involved don't see that as a bad thing. "Ultimately, this is a show," said Tom Garfinkel, managing partner of the Miami GP. “Everybody tries to do the best and it was exciting for the fans seeing the drivers come out one by one," stated Mercedes supremo Toto Wolff. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was marginally more on the fence, noting that a balance had to be found between what's good for the spectators and good for the sport. "If it's good for the business, fine for me, it's all about the two hours from when the lights go out,” said Horner.
It's easy to see the value for F1 in showcasing its biggest stars, both to the audience at home and at the track. It seems likely that with a few tweaks, the introduction ceremony could become a more enjoyable event with less pressure on the drivers. We could expect more of the grid to enjoy a hero's welcome from the fans if timing and comfort concerns are appropriately addressed.
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