MIAMI – Formula One turned to will.i.am and LL Cool J to add some razzmatazz around the build-up to the Miami Grand Prix but drivers remained unconvinced about the introductions they had to take part in before the race.
In a departure from the conventional pre-race procedure ahead of Sunday’s main event, a portion of time was set aside for LL Cool J to introduce the drivers in reverse championship order while flanked by cheerleaders from the Miami Dolphins.
As that took place, will.i.am was conducting an orchestra playing his new song, The Formula, written specifically for F1 and released ahead of the Miami race, now in its second year.
The pre-race show was discussed at the Friday drivers’ briefing and ESPN understands objections to it were raised. Sources have indicated that F1 wants to push ahead with similar introductions at certain events but is yet to convince all the drivers of the merits of doing so.
“None of the drivers like it, but it’s not for us at the end of the day,” McLaren’s Lando Norris said after the race on Sunday, when asked about the introductions.
Williams driver Alex Albon was equally dismissive, saying when asked about it: “It’s the show. We’re in the show business now”.
F1 has been keen to fully lean into the American market where possible this year — with November’s Las Vegas Grand Prix joining the long-established U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, the country hosts three races in a calendar year for the first time since 1981.
Mercedes driver George Russell complained about having to stand for so long in the sun while fully dressed in race overalls.
“It is distracting because, you know, we were on the grid for half an hour in all of our overalls in the sun. I don’t think there’s any other sports in the world that 30 minutes before you go out to do your business that you’re out there in the sun, all the cameras on you, and making a bit of a show of it.
“We spoke about it as drivers on Friday night. Everybody’s got different personalities. I guess it’s the American way of doing things, doing sport.
“Personally, [it’s] probably not for me. But you know, that’s just my personal opinion.”
Race winner Max Verstappen said it is natural to have drivers who like it and others who do not.
“I think this is a personality thing, right? Some people like to be more in the spotlight, some people don’t,” Verstappen said. “I personally don’t so for me I think that naturally what they did today was not necessary, I prefer to just walk to my car, talk to my…