Carlos Sainz Jnr, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023

Pre-race ‘driver intro’ returns at Vegas for first time since unpopular Miami debut

Formula 1

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Formula 1 will hold a driver introduction ceremony before the Las Vegas Grand Prix for only the second time this year, after its previous attempt in Miami was poorly received.

Many drivers criticised the pre-race show in Miami, complaining it took too much time away from their preparations for the start. Although F1 had previously indicated several races this year would feature introductions, none have taken place since that first attempt in May.

However it has been revised for this weekend’s inaugural event at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit. It will be held along with the rendition of the national anthem in a ceremony beginning 22 minutes before the formation lap is due to start.

The format of the Las Vegas driver introductions will be different to that seen in Miami. Valtteri Bottas says F1 has taken drivers’ criticisms on board and revised its plans.

Drivers already participated in an official opening ceremony at the track on Wednesday. “The whole thing took 30 minutes of our time,” said Bottas afterwards. “So that’s okay.

“It was much more efficient than what we, for example, did in Miami, that presentation thing. I think what they’re doing here before the race is going to be a shortened version of that. So I think they’ve learned some lessons from the previous trials.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
Drivers criticised the driver introduction ceremony in Miami
Charles Leclerc said it is essential F1 respects the drivers’ needs to prepare themselves properly before the start of a race. “This is exactly where there’s a line that should not be crossed,” he said.

“Today we are on Wednesday so it’s fine that we have got this opening ceremony and all of this. Then 10 minutes before getting into the car, that’s where we need to be in our zone and not disturbed with whatever is going on around the race. That has to be protected.

“I think for us drivers this moment before the race, not only 10 minutes before, but I think from the laps to the grid onwards, we should be left alone so we can focus on the actual racing.”

The Ferrari driver expects the grid to be packed for the Saturday night grid. “It’s going to be crazy, I think,” he said.

“But these are the kind of things that maybe needs to be tweaked a little bit in the future. But it’s the way it is now. I don’t think we can change it for Saturday.”

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2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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24 comments on “Pre-race ‘driver intro’ returns at Vegas for first time since unpopular Miami debut”

  1. Apparently Max is not very impressed by the whole thing. That’s the impression he gives in an interview or comments he made that the BBC is reporting at the moment. I have just read it. Not reported on here in quite the same way though.

    Oh what a circus we have here.

    1. I don’t blame him one bit. It’s utter cringe. Embarrassing. I’ll be delighted to watch this event BOMB!

    2. Max’s indifference to anything non-racing gets kind of boring after a while.

    3. I got the quotes from an article on a dutch media site and tried to translate. The quotes regarding the track and conditions were covered pretty well in another article here, so I left those out.

      “To me they can skip all these things. It has nothing to do with the performances of the artists, but I’m standing there and I just look like a clown. This is 99% show and 1% a sporting event. I just want to focus on performing to the best of my abilities. I’m not interested in all the side shows. The track, having so few corners, just is not interesting. I’ll always give it my all, but this is just not for me.”

      Verstappen has no idea if F1 listens to him.
      “They still make a whole lot of money with this, so it’s not up to me. But I’m not going to pretend I enjoy all of this. I’ll always give my honest opinion, be it positive or negative. That’s just how I am.
      Some like a bit more show better, I don’t like it at all. I enjoy being in Vegas, but not that much when it’s about racing. I don’t very much like street circuits in general. Especially with the heavy cars we have nowadays.”

      At the same time Verstappen understands that F1 has come to Las Vegas.
      “There’s two ways of looking at it: from a sports objective and from a business objective. Us drivers, we’re not shareholders so we just have to play along. I’d probably have done the same if I was the owner of F1. I wouldn’t listen to the drivers either. If they want more show in F1, we just have to deal with it. And if everything is going well this weekend, they can say it all worked out. But let’s see for how long the fans keep enjoying this.”

      1. I think he’s just saying what many of us are thinking. I suspect some senior figures in the F1 sphere are thinking it as well but are obliged to present their prepared script on how wonderful it all is.

        1. In this case he definitely is saying what most are thinking. Whether anyone able to make changes cares to listen is another matter and I suspect they won’t care at all unless the event flops spectacularly (and even then they’ll spend months going through various excuses and promised “fixes” (just like the sprint format, really))

  2. For goodness sake stop it Liberty! No more of this tacky americanised rubbish please!

  3. In Dutch media Max is commenting he felt like a clown at a pre-race event yesterday and that this is 99% show and 1% sporting event.

    1. You could argue he was being generous with “1%”

  4. Honestly F1 is better than this. I’m a fan of street tracks generally but the ‘show’ is the cars on the track, and the support races that come with them. Not this nonsense.

    I’m happy that Max is saying how he feels hopefully all the drivers can give some honest feedback as well.

    1. There are no support races this weekend, and quite frankly the current generation of cars are not that great of a ‘show’ in real life. Quieter than expected and they look ‘lazy’ on track compared to previous generations. I’m all for attempts to bring the drivers forward as the draw of the weekend and to enhance the ‘show’, just cars on tracks is not enough in my opinion.

  5. I would have loved to have seen what Kimi Raikkonen would have made of this all.

    1. he would be gambling or drinking

      1. gambling or drinking

        Are you absolutely sure that this would be an “or”, not an “and” ?

      2. he would be gambling or drinking

        gambling or drinking ??

    2. Just leave me alone. I know what I’m doing…

  6. Based on what i have heard Max’s view on this stuff is shared by essentially everyone in the paddock.

    However there is 1 driver that actually does genuinely like this stuff.

    Most of them just say what they are told to say or at least try to be a bit more diplomatic in not giving it a screaming endorsement while also not outright saying they hate it.

    Although apparently several drivers refused to turn up to some of the events they were asked to attend yesterday. And others have indicated they don’t want to attend some of the other activities that Liberty have told them to attend over the weekend.

    There is a lot of frustration in the paddock about the direction of things and especially the times sessions will take place. Quite a lot of outright anger about the session times actually.

    1. Miami was already VIP cringe, this is just going to be worse

    2. Yeh, Daniel Ricciardo does get into it.

      1. @tsgoodchild I should’ve guessed but instead I could only think about Lewis as the 1 driver, lol.

        1. Ah well, there must be more than one person then.

  7. One reason they are doing this is that there are no support races or other things going on to amuse the crowd between sessions. Spectators are going to be bored silly with the hours’ wait between cars on track. I hope they’ve put plenty of one armed bandits around the venue to keep the rabble content.

    1. The crowd that can afford to be there is barely going to be watching the racing anyways.

  8. We need a character like Trevor from GTA V in F1. I wonder how he would fare at such driver-intro.

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