Russell calls F1’s new pre-race driver introduction an unwelcome distraction

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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George Russell did not enjoy the new pre-race driver introduction which Formula 1 held before the Miami Grand Prix.

All 20 drivers were required to take part in the pre-race ceremony on the grid in which each was introduced in turn by LL Cool J to an orchestra conducted by

“We spoke about it as drivers on Friday night,” said Russell in response to a question from RaceFans. “Everybody’s got different personalities and I guess it’s the American way of doing sport.”

Russell, who is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, said the new ceremony is “personally, probably not for me.”

“But that’s my personal opinion. But I’m here to race, I’m not here for the show, I’m here to drive, I’m here to win. But I guess we have to roll with it.”

The FIA changed the sporting regulations ahead of the previous race, requiring drivers to join the grid 10 minutes earlier than usual. Russell said he found the change a distraction.

“It is distracting because we’re on the grid for half an hour in all of our overalls in the sun. And I don’t think there’s any other sport in the world that 30 minutes before you go out to do your 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.

“I 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 FIA has indicated the new introductions will only be used at certain events.

“I don’t think it will be every weekend, I think it’ll be at the big races,” said Russell. “I’m not too sure, to be honest.

“I mean, the thing I love every single race is the national anthem, that sort of pumps and it’s sort of respectful to the country that we’re racing at. But I’ve mixed feelings on the additional show.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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30 comments on “Russell calls F1’s new pre-race driver introduction an unwelcome distraction”

  1. Tyson Fury can do a mad long intro coming out on a throne, knock out the scariest puncher the boxing world has ever seen, and then perform a concert to the fans. Don’t know what Russell is complaining about!

    Obviously that’s said in jest, today was very difficult and uncomfortable to watch. unless the drivers are showmen, ala Fury, it doesn’t really work. It was very strange.

  2. My girlfriend who has seen only a handful of races thought it was idiotic too. “This has nothing to do with racing. I would think they would want the pre race show to be about the race since this is a race we are about to watch”

  3. The pandering to the us audience is getting really tiresome.

    1. As an American, I agree! What makes F1 so great, is that it brings so many countries and people together for motorsport. If I wanted to see something with American appeal, I would watch Indy. I bleed red, white and blue just as much as the next American, but I liked F1 because it wasn’t dominated or pandered to everything American. We Americans have culture and other interests besides everything American….just saying!

      1. @ulfberht

        It’s interesting to hear your point of view. And whilst mine is only opinion, I do feel you have hit the nail on the head.

        I remember as a kid seeing the Harlem Globetrotters at Wembley. And of course it was chock full of cheerleaders, glitter, and razzmatazz. And importantly it suited the event.

        Imagine if they had decided that the show should be changed to remove it’s own character and tried to make it “more English”!!!

      2. @ulfberht Funny you should say that, I’ve been wondering for some time why Liberty didn’t just buy IndyCar, seeing as they seem to be trying to turn F1 into that!

    2. Liberty Media are trying really hard to tear F1 down to the ground. What I saw today pre-race was a complete clown show and just another new low for the sport since LM took over.

      This is a European heritage sport. Stop Americanising it.

  4. With American owners and three grands prix on the calendar, there is bound to be pandering in order to attract attention. I understand your opinion though because the whole thing is false and appears fake, but that’s how the Americans do things by adopting the Disneyworld approach. On the other hand I enjoy the difference from say Baku to Miami to Imola in a few weeks time. I wonder how many rappers will be at the Aqua Minerale?

  5. The opening didn’t even feel authentically American. It felt like a production made by a non-American who wanted to make it look over-the-top stereotypical American.

    I did enjoy the interaction between Brundle and Bancheiro though.

  6. When the driver intros started I shut it off and made lunch, then came back five minutes before the start. Worked wonders and I got to skip Will Buxton as well, a real plus.

    1. And I thought I was the only one that wasn’t a fan of Will Buxton. I can’t really put my finger on why, but I feel like he pushes all of the paddock gossip and drama like a tabloid.

      1. Yeah, Buxton is an over active idiot; I hate the way he keeps looping his leg around and is constantly wanting to interrupt. F1 TV please note, as I have found, after serious searching, no way to feed back re the coverage.

  7. As an American, I was embarrassed. Not only was the entire thing utterly cringeworthy but it doesn’t even match the feeling of pre-game introductions in North American sports. What an absolute fail.

    I applaud F1 for trying new things but I condemn them for not understanding what they’re actually changing.

    1. Agreed. The second they said LL Cool J was introducing the drivers, I threw up a little bit in my mouth! This isn’t F1…why in the name of everything holy, why F1, WHY!

  8. Having been an enthusiast for Formula One since 1950, having wormed my way into the Vanwall pits during practice for the 1957 British Grand Prix and having put up with the fiasco that has been developing over recent decades, I strongly feel that the Formula One ‘World’ Championship is fast evolving into the ‘USA World’ Championship for both drivers and constructors. Fortunately, I am now in old age and do not have to suffer the decline for much longer!
    What a farce F1 has become . . .
    But, the one thing that has really had me laughing, is the line that I read describing Free Practice at this year’s Miami Fun Fair – “Le Clerc has gone off into the barriers at The Fake Marina Corner!”
    What a stupid sport our Formula One has become. For goodness sake Liberty Media have your championships in USA only, the sooner you achieve your ambition, the sooner that I can switch off totally and live on the memories of vastly better times.

    1. Its less and less about motor sport and more and more about the glitzy Hollywood movie with the scripted drama, circus like fanfare, and flashy celebrities all treating their choice of teams like the latest boy band soliciting everyone for likes on social media. I’ll take the grease smeared paint jobs, sweat stained racing suits, dirty mechanics and authentic motorhead racer trying to ring every ounce out of whatever car they have, all for the possibility of points, over the PR driven, entertainment spectacle that it seems we’re headed for. Maybe its just me just not embracing change, but I liked it when it was simply about the car, the driver, the track, the speed, and more importantly, the sport. Sorry for the rant, I’ll go take my meds, put a smile on and be ready for the cameras tomorrow!

  9. Another World Wide Wrestling Federation production

  10. Why are you like this America!?

    1. It certainly isn’t me. I hate this shyte.

      1. To SteveR, I have spent time working in Nebraska, South Dakota and at Lancaster in Pennsylvania and found the people to be really pleasant to get on with – mostly farmers and contractors. As an introduction to the country, we were given a tour of Hollywood. We could not get out of there fast enough!
        As a result, I have great admiration of the US farming community – it was a great work experience.
        Hopping for a good race in Monaco.

    2. Why are you like this America!?

      America isn’t, at least from the mix of folks I’ve met from the east coast and the flyover zone, but with that level of synthetic, I half expected the music to be some Disney theme.
      Still, as others have said, the off switch works…

      Should we talk about something slightly less faux, like the sprint?
      I did say “slightly” :)

      1. I guess it’s just how it is with vast countries. Usually the sold stereotype does not really match a big chunk of its society, as in the USA, Brazil, China, Russia….

        I half expected the music to be some Disney theme.

        I don’t know how Disney tunes are this day, but from the ones I grew up with, I’d take’em without thinking twice over this “F1 drivers Assemble” piece of crap. 🤷‍♂️️

        1. Stereotypes are never accurate across a group of people. People from Yorkshire rarely for the stereotype of English people, people from Leeds rarely match the stereotypical Yorkshireman. Stereotypes are, at best, our brains trying to simplify things so they don’t have to process as much data. Anyone who actually believes them to be accurate needs their head wobbling…

  11. Driver intros! The Horror!

  12. I just saw it on youtube. What was the point in doing it? Barely anyone seemed interested.

    1. I saw it today, so cringey the pre race drivers introduction

  13. I don’t think there’s any other sport in the world that 30 minutes before you go out to do your do your business

    This said it all

  14. I don’t mind that introduction thing & it was at least better than the 2017 US GP equivalent.
    However, having such introductions is effectively only fitting for the US races.

    1. Oh great, can’t wait to see what nightmare intro they have planned for the Vegas GP. Maybe we can have the drivers slide down a stripper pole through a bevy of dancing girls all while the announcer assigns each driver a stripper name. Here comes Yuki Tsunoda ladies and gentlemen, now known as Cinnamon, Cinnamon Tsunoda ladies and gentlemen. And next its Sergio Perez ladies and gentlemen, we’ve chosen Snapper for the Mexican defender let’s give it up for Snapper Perez…..

  15. Introductions were stupid, the race a bore as usual. IndyCar is so much better.

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