Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton would like to see Formula 1 throw more American style razzmatazz and showmanship into the mix after the sport’s new owners jazzed up the pre-race show on the grid before the start of the United States Grand Prix.
The extended pre-race show saw drivers stepping out one by one through a tunnel while boxing announcer Michael Buffer presented them to the crowd with plenty of fanfare.
Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders performed in front of the grandstand, Hollywood actors appeared on the starting grid and Jamaica’s Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt waved the cars off for the formation lap.
Afterwards, former United States president Bill Clinton presented the winner’s trophy while Bolt conducted podium interviews.
“I think it’s great. The Americans are way better than us Europeans in putting on shows. You look at the Super Bowl, the NFL games, the NBA games. They are way more fun than other sporting events in Europe,” Hamilton told reporters.
“They are more showy and its more of an atmosphere and I like that its starting to spill over into this. I think that’s the best start of a grand prix that I’ve seen,” added the Briton, who won for Mercedes.
“If we can bring that more into Formula One culture I think it’s just going to be more exciting…the sex appeal was there. That’s what motor racing has been missing for a long time, I think.”
Hamilton, who entered Formula One in 2007 and can win his fourth title in Mexico this weekend, said the sport had put up with “the same old boring thing” for years.
Traditionally, drivers have parked their cars, leaving mechanics to prepare them while VIP guests circulate and the national anthem is played.
United States based Liberty Media, who took over the sport in January, have said they want every race to be like a Super Bowl in terms of atmosphere and build-up.
“It’s America, isn’t it? We’re under new ownership, we have to be prepared to try new things,” commented Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
”If that engages the American public then why not? It didn’t detract from the race and seemed to get the crowd excited prior to the race. I don’t think it would be everybody’s cup of tea, I can’t see that working at Silverstone for example but it was an interesting introduction for this grand prix.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel felt German fans would want a more traditional approach, “I think Americans appreciate that sort of atmosphere and entertainment a lot more. I think Germans are maybe a little slower on that front.”
Big Question: Is the Austin style pre-race ‘show’ the way to go?