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Opinion: How Formula 1 is becoming a spectacle rather than a sport

With 20 drivers, 10 teams and cars with a top race speed of 360km/h (223mph), and an acceleration time of 2.6s, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport.

However, with the take over of an American company, Liberty Media, the sport has divulged into an almost unrecognisable circus.

A showcase of this is the most recent Formula 1 race last weekend at Miami. Over the three days there is usually a lot of press talks after qualifying and sprint races and driver/press interactions but never usually an orchestrated driver entrance, hosted by LL Cool J and Will.I.Am conducting an orchestra next to him, minutes before the race.

Formula 1 drivers, team principles and fans seemed to come to the same conclusion about the driver’s entrance, that fact that it wasn’t necessary.

Drivers such as reigning F1 World Champion Max Verstappen, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas, all had strong opinions against the drivers introductions.

In an interview with Sky Sports F1, Max commented: “Personally, I think it is just a personality thing. Some people like to be more in the spotlight, some other people don’t. I personally don’t, so for me I think that naturally what they did today was not necessary.”

Which is understandable, Max is known for being fairly stoic before a race but it’s more than that, as fans we agree that the drivers are already in the spotlight no matter who they drive for so what they did was both not needed and irrelevant.

Lando Norris similarly pointed out with Motorsport Week that “as drivers, we all just want to sit down and focus on what we want to focus on, not to do so much TV and everything. […] There is not one other sport where you do this. We do so much, there’s a limit to how much we should do. We’re here to focus on doing the job of what we’re doing and not just being in front of a camera the whole day.”

Similarly with The Race, Valterri Bottas said: “If I’m really honest, it’s distracting because the things starts half an hour before the race. We have the drivers’ parade already before that. Plus, other interviews. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary, they see us many times throughout the race.”

He then later agreed with Norris that “no other sport does this”.

The overwhelming “it’s not necessary” from the drivers really does feed in to what fans are saying on social media and at home, why does the sport need this?

There are already driver press meetings before a weekend, ‘fun contents’ with different drivers courtesy of Sky Sports F1 and podium talks after races. The new owners do seem to be trying to ‘Americanise’ the sport moving more towards IndyCar and NASCAR territory.

Other sports may like the ‘entertainment’ for the fans but for a sport like F1 it’s definitely a culture shock.

However, some drivers have said that they don’t mind this change, one notable driver Sir Lewis Hamilton, who spoke to Sky Sports F1 on the matter: “I think it is cool that the sport is continuously growing and evolving and they are not just doing the same things they have done in the past.

“They are trying news things, they are trying to improve the show and I am in full support of it.”

Final Thoughts

Overall, the true heart of the sport, is still there underneath all the pomp and pageantry.

It is understandable how the sport needs to evolve and grow with the times but as a long standing racing institution, tradition and ceremony should still apply.

However, what fans truly want is to what their favourite team or driver battle it out over 50+ laps to see who wins in a bid for the World Championship, not Will.I.Am standing on a block conducting an orchestra – no matter how good it may be.

The spectacle that is F1 will inevitably aim to grow larger and more out of control, but as long as the core of the sport, the races and racing, then these differing opinions are just as pointless as the Miami driver introductions.



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