Putting The Fun Back In F1
Watching the excellent MotoGP at the weekend, it is obvious what F1 is missing. It’s not ground effects or KERS, it’s the “F” word. Fun. In the last few years, F1 really seems to have lost touch with its fans as it has grown bigger and bigger. F1 is now under such a draconian state, that a driver can no longer please the fans by doing a donut or burnout without being slapped with a fine.
Sure, allowing drivers to do burnouts isn’t the be all and end all of the problems that F1 currently faces. But it can’t hurt. Seeing Lorenzo climb a tyre wall and celebrate in front of his fans and then jumping in an artificial lake, it is obvious that people like to see the “human” side of the sport we love. The emotion, the passion and what it means to the guys who succeed is something even the most casual fan can surely connect with, yet in recent years, F1 seems to have been hell-bent on stamping out any chance F1 drivers have had to show their personality.
Can you imagine what fans would think if MotoGP officials denied riders the pleasure to celebrate? I personally could imagine that there would be an outcry about it.
And the fun factor can go further than just allowing drivers to celebrate. Actually allow drivers to mould their personalities. Want to know why Valentino Rossi is so popular wherever he goes? He’s got bags of personality, and he’s not afraid to hide it just because of the sponsors. Over the years, we’ve got to know and love “The Doctor” with his proud yellow colours and day-glow 46 number.
He’s not alone. Lorenzo has “Lorenzo land” and number 99 and recently played along as “Captain America” at the Indy MotoGP race last year. Capirossi, the most senior rider on the MotoGP is proud of his knickname, “Capirex”. Nick Hayden wears his number 69 with pride. All the riders come out with crazy helmets and different colour schemes for their home races.
Meanwhile, the only recent thing like this that has happened in F1 was David Coulthard wearing a Superman cape on the podium at Monaco, courtesy of the Superman branding Red Bull was carrying at that race. The year before, Red Bull had “Storm Troopers” and Darth Vader walking around the pit and paddock due to a new Star Wars movie that was being promoted.
Especially for a younger audience watching, who idolise these figures, imagine what they would think if these “super heroes” were allowed to truly show off their personality. I personally don’t buy all this rubbish that F1 drivers don’t have any personality. Kimi Raikkonen, whilst he gave the most boring press conferences ever, also put some fun in F1 from dressing up in a monkey suit to his occasional funny comments on the grid.
F1 has become too business like for its own good. Now is the time to follow MotoGP’s lead in becoming a fan friendly, fun race series that people can actually relate with. F1 has forgotten about who really matters now. It is not the sponsors, it is the fans. If it wasn’t for the fans, F1 would be nothing.
Allow drivers to speak out, allow them to mould their personalities without worrying about what the sponsors think.
The formula is simple. Put the fun back in F1.