Lewis Hamilton, Will Smith, Yas Marina, 2018

F1 enlists “A-list celebrities” for new entertainment offering

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 has announced it will launch a new “global broadcast entertainment platform” featuring “A-list celebrity guests” in 2020.

The events will take place at city centres during race weekends in the 2020 F1 season. They will include celebrity guest appearances, “pre-filmed stunts” and live music performances.

Westbrook Studios and Apollo World Touring will collaborate with F1 on the new event. According to Formula 1 Management the aim of the new offering is to deliver greater “fan engagement” and broaden the sport’s appeal.

Last week F1 and Westbrook Studios launched “Will Smith’s The Bucket List”, based on the actor’s appearance at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Smith, a co-founder of Westbrook, will be the executive producer for the new project.

“I’ve always been a massive fan of the Formula 1 world and fell even more in love with the sport while shooting an episode of ‘Will Smith’s The Bucket List’ with Lewis Hamilton at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,” said Smith in a statement.

“F1’s commitment to creating engaging and inspiring content for its fans mirrors our mission at Westbrook Studios. The synergy of our storytelling is undeniable, and I’m excited for fans to join us on this wild ride.”

F1’s managing director for commercial operations Sean Bratches said the collaboration is “an amazing opportunity to attract even more star power to F1 and the Grands Prix around the world, engaging with an even wider audience.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 50 comments on “F1 enlists “A-list celebrities” for new entertainment offering”

    1. Well that sounds horrible

      1. It’s definitely not targeted at us, mate :)

        1. I want to say this is targeted towards Americans(like myself) but I don’t see that point. If I ventured a guess, I would say FOM want to use these “A-List” celebrities to show up at various F1 races around the world, do on-air appearances or even commentary on post race interviews(like Elton John did at the USGP a few years ago) and maybe a short promo for the event/series and not just show up for the pre-race grid walks. If Smith’s latest movie, live action remake of Disney’s Alladdin, doesn’t bomb at the USA box office like this weekend’s opening of the live action Dumbo movie, I guess he is A-list. In a sense, the USGP could use some top-notch Hollywood-styled promotion because it is wholly lacking.

          1. As Phylyp points out, this is not aimed at existing F1 fans. People need to realize that motorsport desperately needs to attract new fans. This is doubly true of F1 now that it’s moved away from free-to-air TV everywhere (thanks CVC) and has fewer races in regions where there is an actual fanbase.

            That means appealing to normies, which by definition will not really be of interest to anyone invested in the sport enough to read and comment on a site like RaceFans.

            When F1 was at its zenith of popularity, many of those fans were not hardcore. That’s where it needs to get back to. The alternative is easy to see—it’s called IndyCar, which has some of the best racing on the planet and struggles to get more than 400,000 people to watch each race.

            1. @photogcw – I wasn’t alluding to it being targeted at Americans, although bringing more of them onboard is something Liberty would definitely like to see. As @jonathan points out, it is more of an age/interest demographic that is being targeted:

              Firstly, those younger than the average F1 follower today (notice how many of the commenters here are able to recall the glory days of various teams from recent – and not so recent – decades).

              Secondly, the casual viewer/family – as a foil to the carnival atmosphere that FE has already been using successfully for a few seasons now.

              Liberty are well aware that the Y250-aware fans need engaging in a different way, and that is something that Brawn will separately be spearheading (e.g. quality of racing), leaving this sort of engagement to Sean Bratches.

      2. I does doesn’t it. Some trumped up hollywood luvvies venting their empty brains all over our otherwise perfectly fine sport. They belong in films and on the sofa talking to Graham Norton, not in the pinnacle of Motorsport.

        Get ’em out of here.

        1. An American company literally owns formula1… we are willing to share it, if you behave… but it never belonged to you, so I dunno why you think you have the authority to show ANYONE the door…

          This attitude is why nobody is interested in watching f1, except for us fanatics.

      3. Remember US 2017 and boxing-like drivers’ entrance?
        Just wait for 2021!

        All teams and drivers will have new contracts, obliging them to follow pre-written scripts created by geniuses of US Entertainment! Just like WWE!
        I heard the first episode (presumably Australia 2021) will start with Vettel hitting on Hamilton’s girlfriend, and Verstappen leaving a meter-long scratch on Ricciardo’s (non-F1) car!

    2. I look forward t the event they will be hosting in Wigan – as long as it doesn’t clash with Rugby League of course :)

    3. Celebrity. The pursuit of the talentless by the mindless. Thanks but include me out

    4. Oh dear…. how cringing was it to see Beckham there on Sunday.

      I’m not against them inviting celebs, just don’t put them on TV. I don’t care who a celeb, that’s never seen a race before, thinks will win.

      Let’s leave the commentary to the professionals and any extra screen time to the true fans.

    5. Suffering Williams Fan
      2nd April 2019, 10:55

      If the guests actually know something about the sport (how big is that pool??) and are interested in it, it might not be completely awful. If they just pick random celebrities, it will be terrible.

    6. Wait… Will Smith is ‘A’ List?

      1. Well, a new Star Wars is coming this year, Schumacher is driving a Ferrari, Kimi is driving a Sauber, a Rammstein and a Die Ärzte Track dropped within like a week, so it clearly is the early 2000s. So yeah, yeah he is.

      2. Will Smith is definately A list… not that I care.

    7. Dude, april 1st was yesterday. You’re a bit late.

    8. F1 really is ‘reaching’, rather than reaching out. Find a way to make it free to air again instead of this garbage. I can imagine some pathetic hook up of kardashian and Hamilton, oh god. I recently signed up to a sport package, but only because it also had f2, ndycar and motogp.

    9. Expect, and already seen, a lot of complaints in the comment section.
      But this is city centre entertainment for those who like it. Might actually help the local race weekend, spectators through the gate, and income for promotors.
      Why can’t we just look positively to an initiative like this?

      1. Sush Meerkat
        2nd April 2019, 12:05

        I’m with @coldfly and @phylyp on this one

        We the sour hardcore F1 fans are not the target audience, complain all you want.

        It doesn’t matter how aux fais you are with computational fluid dynamics or drag cooefficency, your going to get Lady Gaga and Beyonce, suck it up buttercup.

        I would write more of my opinion but I am now depressed,

        1. F1 is better than this…it doesn’t need Film Stars, Kardashiwhatwhats or OhYeahHe’sThatDudeWhoWasInLoveIsland10YearsAgo to make it look good.

      2. @coldfly agreed. The so-called jewel in F1’s crown is Monaco which is special because of the glitz and glamour (in 2019 read celebrities) so I’m not sure why people are so quick to criticise initiatives like this.

        F1 struggles connecting to population centres as most tracks are out in open space so anything that can take “F1” at least as a brand into the city centre should be a positive thing. I remember reading about Turkey when they still had a GP, great track near a great city in Istanbul but if you were in the city on a race weekend you’d never know it was there as there was no promotion or real marketing. Of course you could blame the local promoter but they had Bernie’s escalating race fees to pay etc. This is where F1, a global brand, should be able to use it’s scale and connections to really energise a city and local economy for a week thus justifying the hosting fees and allowing people to make a profit.

      3. @coldfly Does it though, did Justin Biebers presence really add something to the 2016 Monaco GP?

        1. Probably yes, @montalvo, people like you are still talking about it 2 years after it happened :P
          Do you know who made the podium though?

          1. Yes, Lewis, Daniel and Sergio. Without looking it up, can’t proof that, but you have my word.

      4. The thing is, Will Smith did actually actively make the race a whole lot less enjoyable for me last year. And its hard to ignore the way they jam it down your throat, too.

        i’m still shuddering at the thought of that ‘team radio’. What a drive indeed.

    10. They will include celebrity guest appearances, “pre-filmed stunts”

      Now we knew where the 80 million of the new prize structure goes to.
      F1 Top Gear. For sure, they gonna mocked Formula E battery in one of its episode.

    11. This is the best news I have heard in a long time.
      At last we can forget about problems with overtaking as we all laugh hysterically at the wacky antics of top class comedians fooling around in the pits.
      The latest girl/boy/thing bands will all be there to intrigue us with their views on motorsports in general during the boring bits of the race and hopefully sing songs about racing greats of the past.
      Who knows – maybe even Kanye and Kim will bless a race with their magnificent talents for us all to admire and enjoy.

      Actually I feel a bit sick now thinking about that lot happening.
      I agree with most of the other posters though … this shouldn’t affect F1 fans in the slightest …. thank God.

    12. Cringe. I have that. But it must be targeted at some very specific audience that follows everything their beloved “celebrities” appear on. Or something to “trend on twitter” or whatever.

      In any way it sounds horrible and it’s probably going to be horrible.

    13. And may other drivers than Lewis interact with these A-list celebrities? My guess is that they (the other drivers) don’t want to, but still. I hate using the word ‘cringe’, but boy we have seen some cringy Lewis-celeb interactions the last few years, the celebs doing the worst part. Justin Bieber, Usain Bolt, Will Smith, Millie Bobby Brown etc, it was all just awful.

    14. Lewisham Milton
      2nd April 2019, 13:56

      Cunning pre-filmed stunts. Aren’t the drivers big enough celebrities?

    15. Lewis interacting with celebs always makes me cringe, it’s seems so stilted and awkward and the ‘celeb’ never really seems to know what to say (which in itself I guess is part of the problem).

      But the reality is that it’s not for ‘us’, the average age of the F1 fan must be rising like crazy, all the years of ‘Rolex’ and other ‘mature’ branding, well those people got mature and some died. The ‘kids’ are needed, Bernie never seemed to grasp anything ahead of himself other than the end date of the contract.

      There was never a long term plan, and if this is the way progress looks, it’s not for us to decide. Pass it on, allow them to enjoy it as they see fit. We can look away when Justin Bieber gives the starters orders hovering in a jetpack above the grid. We can still go back to a Scarbs article on ‘outwash’, nothing is lost.

      If this is what’s needed, then let people enjoy as they say fit, and then we can complain that Senna or Schumacher would’ve done it better, just as my elders told Jim Clark would’ve done it better.

    16. OK, I get it. This is not aimed at those of us who spend what hours we’re not watching racing to read racing blogs. It’s aimed at getting new viewers. Personally I hate it when the camera cuts away from the race to show whatever vapid celeb is in this or that team’s pits, but if it gets someone who wasn’t interested before to be a fan, then I suppose it’s not all bad…just mostly bad.

      1. Personally I hate it when the camera cuts away from the race

        Yeah, I want the focus only on the racing and team staff from lights to flag, no celebrities, no WAGs. Pre and post race, they can go celebrity crazy.

    17. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      2nd April 2019, 15:31

      I’d rather have the grid girls back.

      1. Best post in this thread.

    18. I don’t mind exhibitions that demonstrate the cars capabilities even more. Today, it feels like Red Bull are the ones who best showcase their car in zany ways (other teams also do, but not as much as RB), and that is something that can be built on.

      As a hypothetical, there’s that old chestnut about cars generating more than 1G of downforce – imagine demonstrating it with a car that is upside down or driving up a wall. Not a realistic example, but that just goes to illustrate how we could do a better job of illustrating what’s technically cool about F1.

    19. “A-list celebrities” – more like preening Z-listers and never really made its.

    20. Panagiotis Papatheodorou (@panagiotism-papatheodorou)
      2nd April 2019, 16:22

      Call me gatekeeper, but this is just a ploy to pull in American audiences.

    21. Sander van der Ent
      2nd April 2019, 16:35

      How about a celebrity race before the gp, with all celebs in the same type of car?

    22. I’d rather have my celebrities OFF TRACK (will Smith) , rather than On (mick Schumacher)

    23. I guess it remains to be seen whether Liberty is building F1’s coffin or simply nailing it shut at this point.

    24. This sounds like the screenplay for a bad 1990s movie

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