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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

American flair is detrimental to Formula One racing

Formula One runs three races in the US: Austin, Texas, Miami and Las Vegas (none pictured.)

The average speed of a Formula One car is 231.4 mph. America is trying to change the speed in the sport — not in cars, but in expansion.

Formula One is a high-speed, high-action race where 20 drivers split between 10 teams compete across 21 countries in the pursuit of the drivers’ and teams’ championships.

The motorsport’s expansion to the U.S. is at least in part due to the wild success of “Drive to Survive.” The 10-episode Netflix docuseries is a backstage pass to Formula One, giving us an inside look at the thrilling, real-life drama behind the racetrack. By humanizing the drivers, revealing the intense rivalries and showcasing the high-stakes nature of the sport, it has made Formula One into more than just a race.

The addition of “Drive to Survive” has brought more viewership to the sport, which led to new U.S. races in Las Vegas and Miami on top of Austin, Texas, which has been on the calendar since 2012. The Las Vegas and Miami races both debuted on the race calendar in the last two seasons in 2023 and 2022, respectively.

One aspect “Drive to Survive” hones in on is taking the fans into the eyes of the drivers pre-race.

Pre-race is a time for the 10 teams to look over race strategy with their race engineer, complete reaction drills and get in the zone, whether it is listening to music or meditating. While there are pre-race driver introductions in all races on the calendar, the flashiness of Miami and Las Vegas takes these introductions and makes them more of a show.

In races outside of Vegas and Miami, the driver introductions are quiet. Each driver’s name is announced from a PA system, while they walk onto the grid and stand next to their cars, providing fans with an opportunity to see them.

The 2023 Miami Grand Prix pre-race festivities, including performances from rappers LL Cool J and, left many dissatisfied, myself included.

The drivers weren’t even interested in the shenanigans. If the drivers showed a slight look of interest in the pre-race introductions, maybe it would change my mind. I became dissatisfied with the length of the introductions. I wanted to get to the race — the whole point of race weekend.

While these types of introductions are new to the sport, they happen minutes before the race and the added distraction causes problems within the paddock.

McLaren driver Lando Norris said after the Miami Grand Prix that none of the drivers liked the pre-race introductions, stating that drivers already do publicity for fans and that pre-race is when they need to focus.

During the Miami Grand Prix weekend, Verstappen said after the race that while he knows the entertainment value of the introductions, he prefers to talk to his engineers and get ready to drive.

I agree with Norris and Verstappen’s take on the pre-race introduction because racing requires more focus than any other sport. A single misstep in the car could jeopardize both the driver’s and the car’s well-being and result in millions spent on repairs, so maintaining the right mental focus is crucial.

It’s hard to ignore the shift in Formula One with the inclusion of races in flashy locations. While the intention might be to attract a broader audience and elevate the appeal of the sport in America, the emphasis on showy location seems to overshadow the traditional racetracks that have been integral to the sport’s legacy. It’s essential to create a balance between expanding to America and making sure the sport stays to the traditional ways.

The recent criticism from drivers like Norris, highlighting the distracting nature of the introductions, brings the need for a reevaluation of the American approach to the sport.

It’s time for Formula One to consider a more balanced and race-focused introduction. Addressing these concerns can enhance the overall racing experience for both drivers and fans alike.

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Ryan Johanson
Ryan Johanson, Associate Sports Editor

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