A temporary gantry that faced away from the grid was erected on the main straight where American rapper LL Cool J presented each driver to the fans ahead of the US national anthem.
Meanwhile, Will.i.am led an orchestra that performed his and Lil Wayne’s new F1-inspired song ‘The Formula’, which was released on the Saturday of the Miami GP weekend.
Owing to the revised format, drivers were summoned 23 minutes prior to the planned race start compared to the 16 minutes of the more traditional anthem ceremony used previously in Baku.
But the changes garnered a cold reception from drivers, who voiced reservations in a briefing on Friday night, as they view the procedure to be too long and are reluctant to see a repeat.
Russell calls out distracting ‘show’
“I’m here to race. I’m not here for the show. I’m here to drive and I’m here to win.
“It is distracting, because we’re 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, you’re out there in the sun, all the cameras on you and making a bit of a show of it.
“I can appreciate that in the entertainment world. But as I said, we only want the best for the sport. We’re open to changes. But I guess we wouldn’t want to see it every weekend.
“The thing I love every single race is the national anthem, that pumps you up and it’s sort of respectful to the country that we’re racing at. Mixed feelings on the additional show.”
F1 intends to make occasional use of the ceremonial introduction, the championship having experimented with a similar spectacle for the United States GP at the Circuit of The Americas in 2017 when famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer welcomed the drivers.
Norris: drivers are already exposed enough
He said: “None of the drivers like it, but it’s not for us at the end of the day.
“We do a lot of things. It’s 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…