Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Hamilton welcomes “cool” new driver introductions but rivals aren’t convinced

2023 Miami Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton praised Formula 1’s new pre-race driver introduction which was used for the first time at the Miami Grand Prix yesterday.

However several of his rivals did not enjoy the new addition to the series’ pre-race show, during which the drivers were introduced to the audience by LL Cool J.

“I think it’s cool that the sport’s continuously growing and evolving and they’re not just doing the same stuff that they’ve done in the past,” said Hamilton. “They’re trying new things. They’re trying to improve the show always and I’m in full support of it.

“I mean jeez, I grew up listening to LL Cool J and now LL Cool J’s there, that was cool. Then you look over, you’ve got, who’s an incredible artist. You’ve got Serena and Venus [Williams sisters] standing there. I thought it was cool, it wasn’t an issue for me.”

However Max Verstappen said he would have preferred to start the race without going through the extra ceremony.

“I did have enough preparation before, to speak to my engineers and stuff for the race. But personally I think this is just a bit of a personality thing. Some people like to be more in the spotlight, some people don’t. I personally don’t.

“So for me, I think that naturally what they did today is not necessary. I prefer to just talk to my engineers, walk to my car, put the helmet on and drive. But of course I understand the entertainment value.”

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F1 has indicated the new ceremony will only be used at some rounds, which Verstappen thinks is the correct decision. “I hope we don’t have that every single time, because we have a very long season, we don’t need an entry like that every time.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
Alonso said F1 shouldn’t single out some races as special events
“It also depends a bit on the crowd, I think, in terms of what you want in terms of entertainment. So I think it’s just a personal preference as well from the drivers – for me personally, not [preferred].”

However Fernando Alonso said it would not be fair to hold the introductions at some but not others.

“I understand the point of view of everybody but I’m not a big fan of those kinds of things just before the race,” he said. “If we have to do it, I think we need to remove some of the other stuff we are doing like the parade lap or something like that, because it’s really in the middle of the preparation with the engineers and the strategy meeting.

“I disagree a little bit: If we do it, we have to do it everywhere because I don’t think that the Miami fans are better than the Italian fans in Imola or in Spain or in Mexico or in Japan. I think we need to make everyone with the same rules and the same show before the race.”

However other drivers prefer to keep the procedure to a minimum. “As long as we don’t do it on too many occasions, I think it’s nice to do it once for the crowd,” said Sergio Perez.

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“But we also have to be very respectful of the drivers, that we need our own time to get ready. It’s just minutes before the race start and I think as long as this doesn’t happen very often, it’s okay.”

Pierre Gasly said the ceremony took “too long” and left him with “not enough time before to jump in the car.”

“I don’t know how the other drivers feel, but I feel like sometimes you need to be down and kind of in your bubble right before you jump in the car,” he added.

But he believes it was a worthwhile experiment and expects to see improvements to it in the future. “It was good to try and I’m sure we’re going to do small tweaks next time we do a similar thing.”

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2023 Miami Grand Prix

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    37 comments on “Hamilton welcomes “cool” new driver introductions but rivals aren’t convinced”

    1. I didn’t like the driver introductions, as they were done. They were cringe-worthy and added nothing to the show, for me. Plus, after F1 went to a lot of trouble to get rid of grid girls, seeing all-female, scantily-clad cheerleaders there seemed like a backwards step.

      That said, it wasn’t half as bad as I expected. If they want to do it more often, I won’t particularly object. I already normally use the national propaganda song to make a cuppa/go to the loo/etc before each race, so a few more wasted minutes for this kind of thing won’t really affect me.

      However, speaking of national propaganda songs, that was probably the best rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I’ve heard by a famous singer for a long time. Most use it as a chance to show off and need around too much. That was actually quite beautiful.

      1. She was much beter then previous singers to sing the Stars Spangled Banner. I am glad we had Floor Jansen to sing our national anthem as that is the best vocalist at the moment.

      2. Electroball76
        8th May 2023, 11:46

        Those aren’t ordinary cheerleaders. They are the drivers in next year’s Formula Cheer Superstar Women’s Racing. That’ll be 10 rounds of track action and a human pyramid at every pitstop.
        Part of a new FIA initiative to get more cheerleaders into racing.

    2. As Dutchman i could speak for the rest of the country this is not what the Dutch wanted in Zandvoort. It’s typical for the States Miami and Vegas i think CotA doesn’t want this either but will be not outdone by the other two.

    3. Pristine B
      8th May 2023, 7:48

      Yes it was a bit silly. As most F1 driver’s built is relatively small compared to Americans and the way camera angles were set. It was not a great spectacle. Specially when you see Tsunoda and Nick DeV, they looked like a kid.

    4. Lewis has always been more interested in the show element of the sport, so that does make sense. I guess it’s a matter of perspective. In an EU dominant sport it can be expected this does not go down well for the majority of viewers. But times change and I do not get the feeling Liberty is driven by customer feedback, but rather revenue optimisation despite fans being loyal or not. They seem to be fine with passing tourists spending their dollar.

      1. More like: Hamilton is a diva and loves adoration. It was nothing but cringe.

        1. Loool a Driver can’t agree without being called names like “Diva” at the end of the day it’s his personal opinion

        2. Or it could be a double bluff by Hamilton, as anything he likes is sure to have the rules changed.

      2. Exactly, Lewis personality has been a big factor in growing the sport in the US. He’s comfortable before the cameras, so of course he would welcome another chance to play to his strengths.

    5. If Max came out on a throne and then belted out American Pie it may have been a worthwhile spectacle.

      1. couldntstopmyself
        8th May 2023, 9:05

        They still have the throne from last season, MTG to hold the sword, Burger King as sponsor, and FTX administrators can trade the NFTs ;)

    6. Cringe inducing but also, it’s not something I’m going to care about. I’m sure people will have some very strong and important opinions on it though

    7. I just rewatched. I think the intentions are good. I like that they had a real orchestra, some proper stars joining…it’s just…not F1 (yet)?
      If you look at the introductions of NFL players (for instance), it’s the same thing, but the players come running onto the field in full gear – they literally soak up and bring the energy. In Miami however…there’s some guys gently walking out in their cooling vests, waving two times and then being puzzled about where to go afterwards. Crowd didn’t seem to go wild either.

      I don’t think you can force this on the drivers, so I wouldn’t blame them. It just…should go more hand in hand?
      Also: in the cool down room there were jerseys for Verstappen, Perez and Alonso with 1, 2 and 3 on them. They put that together pretty quickly and I bet that every American sports person would’ve noticed and showed enthusiasm for that on camera, but these guys just are put together differently (and that’s fine).

    8. Driver introductions are pretty standard in IndyCar and Nascar, albeit usually in a more laid-back form, and earlier in the track schedule, which addresses some of the driver concerns here. In person, these things do serve a purpose for fans. Casuals get a chance to learn some names and maybe pick a driver or two to follow. And it’s always interesting to see who in the crowd is supporting whom. It’s less about being dazzled by “the show” and more of a chance for fans to identify themselves and show drivers some support (or some boos).

      But they don’t really transfer well to TV, which is why they’re rarely broadcast. And as a fan at home, I don’t need it to be a part of the broadcast every week.

      I think if you’re going to make it part of the TV package, you need another level of production. It would probably work better at a night race (hello Vegas), where you can have more control over lighting. I’ll say that this wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and I think LL Cool J’s performance as emcee went underappreciated — he brought just the right tone and energy to a tough gig and a smooth delivery to an awkward script. But I’d consider hiring some music industry producers to consult on the broadcast side for the inevitable reboot in Vegas.

      1. Good point on the differences between track and TV audiences. Some things work better for fans in attendance, and that’s fine. Maybe adjust the timing a bit so there is no rush, but it’s generally a good idea for the fans to be recognised.

        As an aside, somewhat amusing to see F1 go back to having girls as decorative setpieces after their moral grandstanding a few years ago.

        1. Completely agree WRT the cheerleaders. Backwards step there: “Hey, girls! Look at all the need coming out to drive cars. If you work really hard, you can look pretty and wave pom-poms next to them!”

      2. I’d buy your point that it works better for fans at the track, except that in road racing (parking lot racing?), only 20% of fans in attendance, along pit straight, can see the festivities. So, I don’t even buy that it’s great for most fans in attendance. What would be better, is if this time were allocated to support races.

        1. At road courses, the introductions are often broadcast around the track on the big TVs, which of course is also how most fans experience the national anthem and the podium ceremony (and typically, most of the race itself). There are plenty of IndyCar weekends with a multitude of support races that still find five minutes in the prerace ceremonies for the driver introductions. That’s not an argument that driver intros must be done, but that if drivers and fans think they’re worth doing, you don’t have to choose between one or the other.

    9. MachineF1kelly
      8th May 2023, 9:56

      It’s part of the American sport culture, so just play along. F1 is a business…need to attract new viewers and it’s air time for the sponsors who pay these moaners salary.

    10. Its a whole load of american barf, i dont get it

    11. Even the small sample on highlights TV I saw looked horrendous. Objectification (which directly contradicts the FIA’s regulations), an overly-pally bloke who I think was last famous 15 years ago and (for me) was barely audible past the aural artifacts (I don’t think I’ve ever heard “Perez” garbled that much before and it seemed like an equipment issue) and a presentation that still somehow managed to look tacky despite clearly having spent a lot of money on it. I am confused as to what level this was supposed to be successful (the rubbish and far-below-F1 standard one did at Austin a few years back was as bad).

      This (and other parts of the weekend) felt like Liberty throwing everything it learned about F1 in the past few years in the bin to try to force a worse way of doing things down F1’s throat. (And since it’s not clear that Channel 4 didn’t get a choice about whether to show what it showed of the introductions, it’s not like I can leave the room and know how long to be gone before it’s OK to come back).

    12. It just feels odd to me. You’d do this if you really don’t know any of the drivers yet, or to build up an atmosphere in the seconds before a boxing match. But as there is still a lot of time before race start I’d imagine it’s for the fans that are relatively new to the sport?

    13. I felt the cringe when they tried the Ready to Rumble introductions at COTA a few years ago but even so that was a much better attempt.

      This one was a half-effort. The introductions were lame, and the drivers didn’t really feel anything, the atmosphere was lacking… Maybe Lewis, since he’s into that bit of culture (the celebs, that genre of music) likes it, and it’s fair, but the others seemed so out of place! I suppose it’s easier in american sports because most of the athletes are american, so it’s more coherent in a way. The music they play, or whatever they get to show, everyone understands it and plays along…

      In F1, not so much… unless the topic they chose is universal among the drivers, but that probably wouldn’t resonate that much with the spectators that want a “show”.

    14. Chris Horton
      8th May 2023, 11:46

      Cringy as expected.

      Also, the drivers were being announced with all this razzmatazz and there was zero noise from the crowd. Embarrassing.

    15. Let the other drivers get on with preparing to race, and just do one of these intros for Lewis, with a couple of tennis players and an incredible artist standing around. Then everybody’s happy. (Unless Max wants one too because it’s so unfair)

    16. I didn’t like this whole driver introductions thing.

    17. LOL Hamilton was star struck so enjoyed it.

    18. If it’s once a season in Miami, it’s tolerable. Well apart from drivers standing unnecessarily in the sun just before an exhaustingly hot GP. The reception for Perez was cool to hear. The rest was kind of awkward and felt pointless.

    19. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
      8th May 2023, 16:28

      I’m so glad I missed this…

    20. Steve holmes
      8th May 2023, 17:03

      It brought little to the event. Not embarrassing but just unneeded.
      All race weekend Miami let it be known that their attendance was up 30k. So how much $USD were made on this glamorized driver intros? All of it makes me think what would Jim Clark think about F1s state of mind???

    21. I had to look at the picture several times before I noticed Max.

    22. Damn i missed the cheerleaders!!! Lol! They have to do this intro again…

    23. I wonder if it would be better to do it as Teams, so introduce both drivers for a team bit like they do for the 4x100m in the olympics?

    24. isthatglock21
      9th May 2023, 22:20

      They’re awful but fact Americans love it & find the outrage crazy they will stay. Americans are an odd bunch when it comes to sports, need to be entertained like toddlers. Not surprised re lewis, he’s been the darling of F1 in America since 2013 onwards & even Bernie loved him for keeping F1 relevant at the time. I do respect Lewis speaking out on LGBTQ issues in the state however despite backlash, at least he’s consistent & didn’t back down like a coward in a market where all his sponsors/brand is by being political. I was surprised as by his own words he never spoke on American things before as he thought it would hurt his image/plans to retire there. Amazed at how Lewis got his biggest backlash from locals/politcans by 1 single comment in the worlds superpower & free speech nation when he is much more vocal in other countries who never fight back despite public challenges to authority by Lewis.

    25. Of course Hamilton likes it. He’s spent the last 10yrs trying to be an American.

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