Formula 1 Racing

F1 driver intros ‘right for US market but not Silverstone’ · RaceFans

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Formula 1’s much-maligned new driver introduction ceremony, which debuted at last weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, has been defended by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

The pre-race presentation of the drivers to the fans, which Liberty Media previously experimented with at the 2017 United States Grand Prix, was revived for Sunday’s race at the Miami International Autodrome. F1’s owners intend to incorporate it into the pre-race build-up at around eight grands prix this year.

All 20 drivers are required to take part in the introduction ceremony. While some such as Lewis Hamilton praised the change, others including his team mate described it as an unwelcome distraction.

However Horner believes it was a worthwhile change. “If it’s good for the business it’s fine. For me it’s all about the two hours from when the lights go out.”

Such ceremonies are common in American sports. The Miami Grand Prix – which joined the F1 calendar last year on a temporary track that runs past the multi-purpose Hard Rock Stadium and uses it as its paddock – is one of three grands prix being held in the United States this season.

“We’re obviously in a different marketplace,” said Horner. “You can see the drivers perhaps looking a little awkward, some of them. But if it’s embracing a new audience, then that’s down to the promoter. I’m more interested about what happens as soon as the light goes out.”

In Miami, the organisers called on LL Cool J to introduce each driver while an orchestra conducted by played his F1-themed track “The Formula”.

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Horner’s drivers were among those who seemed unimpressed by the change. Sergio Perez said drivers’ own pre-race preparations needed to be taken into consideration given the proximity of the ceremony to when the race starts, and team mate Max Verstappen said he preferred not to be put under the spotlight during the build-up.

“I think there’s a lot of experimenting going on,” added Horner. “This is a new market. US sport is different. You’re not going to see drivers running on through dried ice at Silverstone.

“It’s different things for different markets. And of course, you can understand Liberty and the promoters exploring different things because they’re competing with other sports. But I think it’s finding that balance that’s right and appropriate.”

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