With Americans now owning the once noble sport of F1, you can expect some changes to spice up the Grands Prix. We have already had the MC introducing the drivers a la boxing at Madison Square Garden, for example “Looowisss Hamilto-o-o-on”.
But that is just the start. Liberty Media (AKA The Owners) will be introducing more sizzle, but without the sausages because they can cost money. There will be those silly girls, called cheerleaders, with the short skirts and pom-poms as eye candy, and ‘success ballast’ to try to artificially bring the cars together to provide a better “show” for the spectators. DRS hasn’t worked, so let’s try something else.
We have to face the fact that F1 is no longer a sporting competition, it is a “show”, complete with purple pom-poms (or green ones for British drivers and silver for Germans).
As the spectator numbers for F1 have fallen, MotoGP is on the ascendancy. And it is easy to see why. There are 20 riders putting their life on the line in a harsh environment. People know them by name and number, Valentino Rossi number 46, Marc Marquez number 93. They are within the distance for gloves to be thrown, and become treasured keep-sakes for young boys, the next wave of dedicated spectators.
What does F1 do? Makes the drivers untouchable, imagining that they are thought of as gods. Sorry, but they have clay feet. The spectators will go to MotoGP. Sorry, not “will go” – they are already going.
Back in the days when JC played for Bethlehem United, I signed my first motor racing contract. In that document was the proviso that after each race, I was to wait with the car in the pits for 30 minutes to answer questions, and sign autographs.
OK, so it wasn’t F1, but it was motor racing such as that when 40,000 people set off to watch cars competing at Oran Park they were told on the radio to turn round as the traffic tail back was just too long. Motor racing was very popular – way back then.
Can those days be recreated? I believe it would be possible, but it won’t happen. The step backward is just too great. Television and advertising rule the roost. The FIA has let all this happen (don’t blame Bernie), far too preoccupied with inconsequentials and avoiding the real problems.
Red Bull’s Verstappen and Ricciardo are very ‘marketable’ items but the environment they race in is too restrictive to hold the attention of the spectators. We need some more gladiators, and maybe a pride of lions?
(PS, If you were wondering, Bethlehem United beat Nazareth 2-1.)