“Why do we race in the United States; it’s all just about the spectacle. It would be much better to race at tracks like Monza or Spa-Francorchamps.” This was the most common criticism of the Las Vegas Grand Prix last year before the city streets hosted an exciting race, perhaps one of the most entertaining of the 2023 Formula One season.
It is undeniable that Formula 1 has changed in recent years, attracting an increasingly large audience, altering its social media strategy, and turning drivers and team principals into true stars. One wonders what the champions of the 80s and 90s would have thought in front of the boxing-style presentation that was seen last November before the race.
A reflection on this matter came from Martin Brundle, commentator for Sky Sport UK and former driver for Tyrrell, Williams, McLaren. The British former racing driver, with one of his columns on the British website Sky Sport UK, took a dive into the past. “I stayed in the pit lane for a while, just looking around and admiring the scenery, the Sphere, the lights, and the screens, thinking about how Formula 1 has evolved in recent decades. The staff for my first race at Tyrrell in Rio in 1984 consisted of 12 members, including Ken and Norah Tyrrell and us drivers. There was no hospitality, no motorhome; Stefan Bellof and I sat at the back of the garage or truck. There were no interactions with sponsors, and the only media activities happened when we ran into journalists in the paddock.” – he explained.
“But we had a race with sports cars between drivers; Bernie Ecclestone was at the entrance making sure programs were sold and tickets were checked. On the day of the free practice, they were still finishing painting the paddock, and there was no roof on the main grandstand to cover the fans from the sun. So, the firefighters were spraying people with hoses. Now we’ve arrived at these spectacular locations, watched by tens of millions of viewers and sponsored by the world’s largest companies. But all of this doesn’t matter if the race isn’t interesting.” – the Sky Sport UK commentator concluded.