Horner: F1 show balance needed as razzmatazz at Silverstone a no-go
By Ian Parkes
Saturday 13th May, 2023 - 1:34pm
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner feels it is incumbent on F1 to strike the right balance when it comes to the pre-race razzmatazz that was experienced in Miami last weekend.
The traditionalists in F1 were appalled at the glitz and fanfare as the 20 drivers were introduced onto a makeshift stage on the grid by American rapper LL Cool J just over 20 minutes before the start of the race.
Appearing through clouds of dry ice, and with cheerleaders waving pompoms and music icon will.i.am conducting an orchestra in the background, this was F1 playing to its burgeoning American audience.
Of all the teams on the grid given its marketing over the years, Red Bull could closely identify with the hype.
“If it’s good for the business, it’s fine for me,” said Horner. “But it’s all about the two hours from when the lights go out.
“Obviously, we’re in a different marketplace, and you could see the drivers perhaps looked a little awkward – or some of them.
“But if it’s embracing a new audience, then that’s down to the promoter. I’m more interested in what happens as soon as the lights go out.”
“US sport is different” – Horner
Of the drivers, the top-four finishers – Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso, and George Russell – all complained, predominantly about the proximity of the ‘show’ to the race start given that time is normally reserved for preparation.
Suggested to Horner the drivers should simply ‘get on with it’, he replied: “To be honest with you, to be running through dry ice and high-fiving A-listers when they’re probably not quite sure who they are, then thrown into a national anthem and then expected to deliver, there are not many sports where athletes have to do that.
“We need to be respectful,” before jokingly adding: “Maybe it should be the team principals coming through the dry ice.”
He then added: “We just need to find a balance between what is show and what is the sporting element.”
Recognising F1 owner Liberty Media’s attempts to embrace the needs of the US market, Horner said: “There’s a lot of experimenting going on.
“This is a new market, and US sport is different. You’re not going to see drivers running on through dry ice at Silverstone – maybe in a cravat and a tie!
“But it’s different things for different markets. Of course, you can understand Liberty and the promoters exploring different things because they’re competing with other sports.
“I think it’s finding that balance that’s right and appropriate.”
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