Formula One fans have begged the sport to 'never again' subject fans to boxing-style introductions of all 20 drivers as seen at the Miami Grand Prix, after it was labelled a 'gimmick' and drew criticism not just from viewers but also the drivers themselves. F1's first of three races in the US was held over the weekend, with rapper LL Cool J introducing each driver one by one accompanied by an orchestral soundtrack, cheerleaders and smoke machines.
The US market is one F1 owners Liberty Media have been keen to tap into, with the championship also headed to Las Vegas later this year as well as the regular race in Austin, Texas. However international fans were broadly unimpressed by the display of American showmanship ahead of the the Miami race.
While some drivers had more fun with the spectacle than others - Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda got into the spirit of things with a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque jump and pose when he was called - many were left irritated that crucial time that could have been spent preparing for the race with engineers was taken up with the showy presentation. American driver Logan Sargeant, Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton and reigning champion Max Verstappen were the only three to do a brief interview with LL Cool J before moving on.
The likes of Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas all felt the showmanship was unneccesary, with Alonso suggesting other things like the parade lap should be scrapped if F1 were to persist with the show like it was in Miami. On social media, the likes of former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson felt it had been a cringeworthy spectacle.
“This Miami intro. Can such a thing never happen again ever,” Clarkson said. He wasn't alone, with F1 blogger Rob Myers labelling it 'gimmick city' and attributing it to Liberty Media's need to make the sport more entertaining for US fans.
“None of the drivers like it but it’s not for us at the end of the day,” McLaren driver Norris told The Race after the grand prix. “We do a lot of things, probably the only sport where we’re so close to the fans, we do so much publicity for the fans...as drivers we all just want to sit down and focus on what we need to focus on and not do so much TV and everything.
“It’s a business at the end of the day so it’s what we’ve got to do but adding more and more stuff like this, no driver likes it.”
This Miami intro. Can such a thing never happen again ever.
— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) May 7, 2023
One of if not the most boring races of all time. The cringe introductions were the icing on the cake
— Badfish (@Badfish_l) May 7, 2023
— Rob Myers (@RobLMyers) May 7, 2023
— vk (@vkbhuji) May 7, 2023
@F1 what the hell was that cheap intro with cheerleaders, orchestra, and LL Cool J
driver introductions? That was just freaking embarrassing. It was inconsistent and amateur looking, also kind of embarrassing some of the things said for the introductions.
— HipOldGuy (@hipoldguy) May 7, 2023
— Harley Hirst (@harleyhirst85) May 7, 2023
F1 drivers unimpressed by 'cringeworthy' driver intros in Miami
Alonso, who finished third behind Red Bull's Verstappen and Sergio Perez, was also not particularly thrilled about the introductions. He said F1 was right to give fans a great experience, but ultimately needed to prioritise what the sport is actually about - racing.
“If we have to do it, I think we need to remove some of the other stuff we are doing like the parade lap or something, because it’s really in the middle of the preparation with engineers and the strategy meeting,” Alonso said.
“And I disagree a little bit… if we do it, we have to do it everywhere because I don’t think that the Miami fans are better than the Italian fans in Imola or in Spain or in Mexico or in Japan. I think we need to make every [race has] the same rules, the same show before the race.”
Alfa Romeo driver Bottas agreed, saying F1 drivers were required to do much more purely in service of the fans before the race begins than in any other sport. “There’s no other sport where the athletes do so much stuff before the start of the race or event,” Bottas quipped.
In addition to LL Cool J acting as MC for the introductions, Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am was in charge of conducting the orchestra's soundtrack for the event. Fans felt F1 had been 'pandering' to the US market which it has struggled to win over until recent seasons - with many attributing the increased interest to the success of Netflix series Drive to Survive.
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