May the best man win
Title Showdown 2014
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Hamilton lets some off steam in NASCAR Chevy
McLaren Mercedes
hamilton
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jun 2011   |  3:22 pm GMT  |  135 comments

The Mobil 1 seat swap footage is now out, with various content from Watkins Glen in upstate New York. Lewis Hamilton, fresh from his nightmare weekend in Montreal, was driving Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet Impala, while Stewart climbed into the cockpit of the McLaren MP4-23, the car from 2008, Hamilton’s title winning year.

Despite some fairly mixed weather, the pair seem to have enjoyed experiencing each others’ machinery on the long course at “The Glen”, which is a 3.4-mile road course.

There is a deeper strategic play going on here. The seat swap is quite timely and is part of the F1 teams attempt to get a deeper understanding of how to market itself in the USA ahead of next year’s US Grand Prix at Austin. We had a lively discussion on this subject at the FOTA Fans Forum in Montreal, with McLaren’s marketing guru John Allert explaining that, “The best way for us to show people what F1 is about is to get the cars out and about across the US and Canada. We need to give people the experience that gives people the tingles on the back of the neck. It’s a sport that’s very difficult to appreciate only on TV. Seen up close, heard and smelt, it’s extraordinary.”

Ferrari sent its head of communications Luca Colajanni to Kansas the weekend before Montreal to attend the NASCAR race and he had a series of meetings with teams and NASCAR officials to take a deeper dive into the US racing scene and come up with some ideas for how F1 can connect better than it has in the past.

“It was a very different experience to what I am used to, but I saw 70,000 passionate fans, ‘ said Colajanni. “I cannot understand why we can’t reach the same level of interest as NASCAR in the US. We have such beautiful cars, but it’s up to us. We have to do it this time.”

Renault team principal Eric Boullier meanwhile, revealed that the team has begun an in depth strategic review of how to market the sport and the team in the USA.

Having tried and failed a few times in the USA, it’s clear that this time the teams and trying to find a more sophisticated and coherent plan.

You can see the rest of the video content at Car Swap Video

Featured Video
JensonTrialthlon
Sign up for Jenson’s Triathlon today!
Featured News in mclaren
MORE FROM McLaren
LATEST FROM THE MCLAREN MERCEDES COMMUNITY
Previous
Next
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
135 Comments
  1. Robert Lujan says:

    Looks like the whole of F1 is going to the states now! I hope the race in Austin is really a great one and brings in more SERIOUS F1 interest. Not like Those two clowns that wanted to start an all American race team. What were their names again?? ;-)

    With Petra Eccelstone buying a house in L.A. I guess we are getting some of the F1 Glamour as well. She just put out over $150,000,000 for the old Spelling house. It is huge! What is she gonna do there all alone!?!?!

    1. terryshep says:

      Run a F1 race?

    2. F1Fan says:

      F1 will likely continue to increase its fan base in the USA, even with the Austin GP in place. To begin with, the timing of the races present a challenge for all but committed fans. The Montreal race is the only one available at a reasonable hour. The European races start at 8 am Sunday mornings, and the Asia races are in the over night hours, usually around 3 or 4 am. And that’s just for us on the East Coast. And while we fans will make that sacrifice for our love of the sport, that kind of commitment is a big barrier to entry for the casual fan now looking to get into the sport.

      In addition, there is the cultural aspect, however exaggerated. NASCAR is viewed a down home, while F1, as Sam Posey pointed out, is seen as glitzy, celebrity infused, and as much about the trappings as about the racing. And even though Indycar is filled with foreign drivers, it’s still a home grown sport. On the other car, F1 has no American component, either from the team or driver perspective, and so there are no instant fans to be had. Some Americans too interest when Scott Speed was in F1 but that quickly dissipated. And last year when Windsor and company raised hopes for an American based team more interest was generated, but again was quickly lost.

      And to clearly put things into perspective, Speed TV here did not show the Montreal qualifying live. It was delayed to show NASCAR qualifying, even though F1 qualifying is arguably much more interesting.

      I am sure that the Austin GP will again raise the profile of F1 in America, but all the issues I raise will remain. Football provides a sobering example for F1. It is hugely popular among kids and even at the college level, but it remains a minor sport at the professional level. Football and racing are very different of course, but as long as there are more accessible alternatives the challenge for viewership will remain. And racing is not helped by the sports segments on the daily news show, which will always show the horrific crashes, as they did for Le Mans, even as they won’t provide details of the race, even to say who won.

      We are truly a dedicated bunch, aren’t we?

      1. F1Fan says:

        Apologies. That first sentence should read “F1 will UNLIKELY …..”

      2. Joe says:

        I’d say we need to get F1 off Speed TV. it needs to be on free to air – something that has given it such great exposure and success around the world.
        Other than trying to get F1 on free to air they need to do a lot of demonstration work year round.
        I recently went to Bathurst to see Button in the Mclaren and my immediate thought was that if everyone got to see a formula one car just once in their life it would be leave an impression on them and create an even larger fan base.
        Whether thats driving through new york streets or downtown LA or at Nascar events on road courses, we need to expose people to the experience that is Formula 1.
        TV does not capture the essense and violence of motorsport – but thats another issue.

      3. Bill Johnson says:

        Well, I disagree. The FOX coverage of Montreal was abysmal – no half hour pre-race show, we wouldn’t have seen a green flag start had there been one, no James Allen in the interview room (of course, they _were_ heroic in staying with the two hour rain delay). It was good to have Bob, Steve and David rather than second tier commenteers, so there is that.

        But I prefer the Speed coverage over the FOX, or the older ABC – they just don’t think it’s important enough. Just compare that to the buildup to a NASCAR race on FOX…

  2. Ben G says:

    To make F1 popular in the USA?

    Put Fernando, Lewis, Kamui et al on an oval track.

    1. You assume too much… I live in the US and I cannot stand oval track racing. And many, many people here prefer road courses to oval tracks.

      The problem, as far as I am concerned, is that the various road racing governing bodies in the US have ruined a variety of series too many times and have turned too many fans off.

      If done properly, F1 could easily rise in the US. This would mean feeder series and coordination between Europe and the US. So, basically, it won’t happen.

    2. Tim. says:

      ONLY a few in the USA like ovals :)

      1. ron says:

        Not a fair comment. American here, and a huge F1 fan. Would love to see the sport grow here in the States.

    3. DB says:

      I like ovals and road courses. I’d like to see F1 on an oval once a year in the USA or anywhere else in the world just to see how they’d do.

      I understand superspeedways need special equipment. The oval in Rio de Janeiro would’ve been perfect. I bet Monza aero specs could be used there. Shame they demolished part of it… ¦¬(

  3. Ed says:

    Nascar fan levels have shrunk over the past few years.

    “It was a very different experience to what I am used to, but I saw 70,000 passionate fans, ‘ said Colajanni. “I cannot understand why we can’t reach the same level of interest as NASCAR in the US. We have such beautiful cars, but it’s up to us. We have to do it this time.”

    The next race on June 19 has tickets prices of $35 to $115. When tickets to F1 events are 4 to 5 times this level it does tend to limit the ability to pay.

    Just a thought.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      That’s a good point. To go to a F1 race, you need to mortgage the house or sell a child ;-)

      The problem is that Bernie is squeezing the circuits so much, they have to squeeze the spectators to survive.

    2. But, NFL teams routinely sell out their games for F1 prices. It isn’t the price so much as it is the value. People are willing to spend money on something they want to see. Apparently, the people no longer want to see NASCAR (at least not as it is now).

    3. +1 on that, my daughter wants to go to a grandprix ,, but at the prices they are at !! not to soon

      Matt

    4. Eduardo says:

      Very true, F1 is currently too expensive. I went to 3 GPs in São Paulo in the last years, the prices have been raising around 20% a year. I’m not planning to go again anytime soon.

    5. unooc12 says:

      But Bernie wants his money.. how else would he give 1 billion to his wife and buy two 50 million pound + houses to his daughers each.

      I haven’t even gone to a GP, despite the Australian GP being less than an hours drive form my home. Simply for 2 reasons
      1) I can’t follow it aswell
      2) It’s bloody expensive. Sure you can save, but you can get so much more for that money elsewhere because of how much it is

      1. Illoraz says:

        Yes, you are absolutely right. I’ve been only once at GP race in Hungary, on Saturday I was lucky to get a gift: a quali ticket for Gold stands (which was not bad, but the price of it was horrendous), on Sunday I bought the cheapest ticket (100 euros – next to me a group of Amercian fans), which was expensive anyway and what I got for that? The view from so called general admission area is terrible. Using binoculars doesn’t help, for there are no big screens there. So what you see is only a small fragment of race track. After a couple of laps you no longer know at what place a particular driver is. And all that for “only” 100 euros. Give me a break. For those money they earn they should at least enable you to follow the events on other parts of the track on huge excellent quality screens.

    6. iceman says:

      You hit the nail on the head there Ed. F1 is just not priced at a level to have mass appeal to new fans. I’m already a massive F1 fan, and it’s too expensive for me. For the price of an F1 ticket I can attend an entire season of a good domestic championship. If I’m not willing to spend that money on F1, what chance of someone not already a fan doing so.

    7. Williams4Ever says:

      Bingo, You have hit the nail right on its head.

      While Tony George and ego trip of Indy promoters single-handedly destroyed open wheel road racing in their no holds barred fight with CART/Champcar series, one good thing that Tony did was keep the ticket prices affordable for the F1 races held at Indianapolis. I know Bernie/CVC have a lot of say on the track side revenue, which is root cause of F1 ticket prices being jacked up for all F1 races around the globe, in that context those associated with running F1 at Indy have to be recommended to keep the ticket affordable.

      I hope the people associated with Austin project keep that in mind when deciding ticket prices.

      After all whats the point in charging 300 dollars for tickets and have half empty venue when you can have full venue for 100-150 dollars and make same amount of money.

  4. AlexD says:

    It started the same way for Kimi. Good luck, Lewis:-) For some reason as soon as a F1 drivers becomes a cool guy and finds pleasures in glitz and glamor, he is not longer deep in F1:-)

  5. Michael says:

    For one, this time they could not start a race with only six cars competing.

  6. Jolyon says:

    D’you have a link to footage of Stewart in the McLaren

    1. Nick F says:

      The video James linked to is a 5 part video. If you go to Youtube you can see the other parts. Stewart drives the Mclaren in part 5.

      Go here to see them all:

      http://www.youtube.com/user/TheNARLtv

  7. kalofer_bg says:

    That was a nice show. That what is needed for the USA fans to start understand and love F1. I came to USA back in ’99 and when I was asking or try talking F1 racing majority of the people did not know what I’m talking about.
    The problem is that the sport has almost no coverage beside FP1, Q and Sunday race. That is all. SPEED has 30 min block called “Inside GP” that shows what is behind the curtains, but this is not enough and with USF1 failing there is no marketing of the sport in the States.
    Anyway there are hard core F1 fans and solid fan base throughout North America and hope F1 return to America is successful.

    1. Agreed! Marketing, marketing, marketing…

      Most people think IndyCar and F1 are the same here… Which they most definitely are not. And if not the same, they think they are equal, which they most definitely are not.

      The FIA, FOM and FOTA have a lot of work to do in the US, but the rewards could be huge for them.

      1. Simon says:

        kalofer_bg

        It depends where you are. I’m part of an F1 fan group in New York that gets over a 100 people watching every race of the season in different venues.

        The fan’s are there but the timezones require some dedication.

      2. James Allen says:

        Let us have the details. We can link in with you at a race.

      3. nick says:

        Hasn’t Simon hit on one of the real problems – the time zone. I believe that most of the races start at around 5am on the West Coast, 8am on the East. Dedicated fans may be prepared to watch at these times, but you’re not going to get any newcomers to F1 doing that, so I don’t see how you can build up a fanbase. Whereas with NASCAR, there’s a whole series of racing at convenient times.

      4. Simon says:

        James,

        Thanks for the reply. Realized I wasn’t too clear: we get 100 people meeting up in New York itself to watch the races in various bars in the city.

        We did get 40 or so people to Montreal itself this weekend.

        If anyone is ever in town and wants to come hang out with some F1 fans our meets are at:

        http://www.meetup.com/formula1NYC/

        Have a total of around 800 members.

        Nick,

        Yes, the European races are all at 8am for us. Asian races are at around 3 or 4 am.

      5. James Allen says:

        Nice one. We should link up some time. Maybe set up a Storify. Let’s keep in touch

      6. Simon says:

        That would be a real pleasure and definitely make sure to let us know if you’re ever passing through New York.

        You can always email me at simoncharris[at]yahoo.com or on our page.

      7. Tim Hirst says:

        In a world of the PVR is there an absolute need to watch live?

        My work keeps me away from the TV two out of three Sundays. I PVR and watch when I get home. I try not to listen to the sports news on my drive home. When I watch the race three of four hours later I get just as much fun as watching it live. Would this work for a US audience?

      8. Bill Johnson says:

        You are right, they are not. No F1 car could go 500 miles in one race. But both are spec racers now…

      9. Dave C says:

        Why couldn’t a F1 car go 500 miles? The engines definitely can as they on average has to last for 3 race weekends so thats usually around 750 miles.

  8. AlexF says:

    Colajanni cannot understand why Nascar has so many fans. Just watch a race! and then watch a F1 start under safety car. Spot the difference?

    1. F1 starts under the safety car when the conditions dictate it, but at least they start. NASCAR doesn’t even open their garages if it looks a little foggy out.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Ovals in the rain mean instant slide to the wall if it does anything more than sprinkle. You can’t race on an oval in the rain.

    2. Tim. says:

      ….and how many times a year or in the past ten have they stated behind the SC

    3. devilsadvocate says:

      And NASCAR is a lot better with rolling starts every weekend?

  9. Jo Torrent says:

    F1 will never succeed in the USA for a simple reason, Americans are only interested by sports based on their soil.

    Football himself isn’t a success in USA even though it is the main sport in the world and even if Americans do play football more than any other sport at young age.

    Americans want the sport they follow to be based in the USA, to have many Americans participating in it and to be culturally American.

    F1 can’t simply fill the grid with Americans and organize 3 races in the USA just to steer interest there.

    F1 suffers as well from the NASCAR hegemony there. People who love motrosport in USA, love pre-historic NASCAR cars with 1000 races per year with a 1000 overtakes per race. It leaves little time to discover other forms of motorsport. Not only that but they have their own open-cockpit series.

    For F1 to succeed there, it needs to convince those busy NASCAR fans to take time to watch F1 and even if they do, they’ll find it hard to understand the sport and enjoy it at first sight. Add to that how closed is the F1 world compared to NASCAR and you end up with a very unattractive sport for Americans.

    In the middle east or the far east, the sport has a bigger chance to become popular because there’s no alternative. In USA though, I can’t see the sport succeeding.

    Maybe the only chance would be if an American becomes a multiple F1 world champion, the same way Alonso opened the door for F1 in Spain, but in Spain F1 doesn’t have a rival series.

    F1 should leave Americans to their business and concentrate on the old world. The teams want to go there because there’s more money to make there than anywhere else but is F1 goal is the never-ending chase of money.

    1. ACB says:

      I don’t think you realize how many people you insulted with that remark. I grew up in the US, lived in Germany, travelled to Austria, France, and to the middle East. I’ve been a Ferrari and Formula One fan since I was a boy, which adds up to about 40 years for me. What will put Americans off isn’t that F-1 is too ‘complex’ (oh dear are we colonists just too stupid to get this sophisticated EUROPEAN sport?) but rather F-1 purists being dismissive of our native sports and talking down to us. I’m not a NASCAR follower, but it has it’s appeal, and most of the people have actually been to a Nascar race have a good time and enjoy themselves. Yes, there is a never ending chase after money, F-1 is a buisness after all.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        it was never my intention to insult or to describe Americans as stupid. I think F1 is complicated for any newcomer be it American, European or whatever. The problem with American is that they have an alternative so they won’t go through the painful process of understanding the sport.

      2. devilsadvocate says:

        100% agree on this one, jingoism certainly exists due to ignorance but it also exists because of the extreme arrogance displayed by the Europeans, as evidenced by the majority of posts in this discussion, it’s a shame because there really is a huge and ever growing sector of motorheads over here who understand handling and weight are more important than raw power and most of us understand multipoint fuel injection carburetors a longtime ago, and I think culturally both sides could learn a lot from the other. Roll on Austin!

    2. CanadaGP says:

      F1 does not have to be as popular as NASCAR or any home series to be successful in the U.S. It just needs to have the audience for one or perhaps two Grand Prix races. NASCAR is a season long series. F1 is just one or two races in America.

      When the US GP was in Indianapolis it was getting the audience despite the tire fiasco. The Canadian GP in Montreal has never had a popularity problem.

      One of the problems is Bernie charges such a high race fee to organizers that they struggle to be profitable. Whoever owns F1 in the future has to have a long-term view that it is OK to lose money in the first few US GPs until like any new business it has established itself. Everyone sees America as a place to make tons of money and that can be true but one can not be greedy because there is more competition for the Americans’ disposable entertainment spending than in any place in the world.

      Austin can be successful but there needs to be a second US GP in a major population centre like New York City or Los Angeles. Imagine a street circuit around Central Park. That would be classic.
      The Long Beach street circuit was very popular with the fans in the 70s and 80 and is still used for Indycars so probably needs minimal improvements to host F1 but Bernie keeps asking for too much money and the city of Long Beach is not willing to pay the fee.

      There are many Canadian, American and Mexican F1 fans that would happily fly to 4 or 5 GPs held in North America every year. That would be like a mini-series.

      Mexican fans would be crazy about Formula One especially with Sergio Perez. The popularity of F1 in Canada is tied to the years that Gilles and Jacques raced so you can’t underestimate the long-term value of having a successful driver of one’s country in F1. Mario Andretti had enormous American support and is of course still a household name in the US. Perhaps Toro Rosso s/d use one of its development seats for an America – how about Hildebrand who almost won Indy this year as a rookie and has tested in F1?

    3. nando says:

      MotoGP seem to have taken that approach in Spain :).
      The problem isn’t a cultural one, notice all the American sports are designed to be very slow for frequent interruptions.
      The American want something where the suspense builds to a crescendo whether it’s a homerun, big crashes or a TD.
      The type of coverage of the Mclaren and Red Bull pits we got during the red flag is what they expect before and throughout the race in american racing series.

      1. Peter C says:

        There seem to be a few people telling the Yanks what they ‘want’. there are enough Americans on this blog to speak for themselves.

        No need to patronise them.

  10. bones says:

    It is a cool thing,BUT F1 will never be popular here in USA.
    Same thing for football(soccer for americans).
    I understand what F1 is trying to do but it won’t work,what they have to do is
    A:to be sure that the track in Austin will provide a lot of overtakes and be sure to put a good show for the F1 fans.
    B: and more important, give us a great tv broadcast,WHICH IS NOT THE CASE AT ALL RIGHT NOW.
    Not only Speed coverage is terrible with an awful lot of comercials,there is not more air time besides that,no shows,nothing.

    1. Jose Arellano says:

      +1000000000 and its not only a matter of the broadcaster its also FOM feed that could be A LOT BETTER

      1. James Allen says:

        I thought they did a very good job in difficult circumstances in Montreal

      2. ACB says:

        I agree James, and the actual feed itself with the overhead shots was excellent.

    2. ACB says:

      Never say never. Actually soccer has quite a following in the US, not nearly as much as American Football but its there, most average sized schools have it as a part of their athletic department. My best friend has been a soccer coach and offical for ten years. Its easy to play on stereotypes that fit with our presuppositions but that isn’t the way to advance the sport and grow interest. And while we’re at it, maybe we should consider the part that the United States has played in Formula One/Grand Prix racing in the past. Start with Drivers like Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney and even Caroll Shelby; look at the venues we’ve had in the US like Watkins Glen. Its not as if none of us remember the good old days and wish that we had a permanent venue on the schedule.

  11. Rob says:

    Did he hit anyone or get a penalty from the stewards…

    …In all seriousness it was probably good for him to have a bit of fun whilst driving unlike his last few F1 races.

  12. John M says:

    “I cannot understand why we can’t reach the same level of interest as NASCAR in the US.”

    Very simple. There is (or, will be) only one F1 race in the US. I suppose you could count Canada and say there are two. But, that is nowhere near the saturation of Nascar.

    Other obvious reasons:

    No U.S. team or driver involvement.

    Time of races. Middle of the night times are not conducive to drawing in casual fans.

    Poor network coverage in the U.S. Speed does a good job, but the abbreviated coverage on Fox leaves a lot to be desired.

  13. Bayan says:

    nice clip James. Keep these coming. They make the wait between races more bearable. Thanks again for this.

  14. Brace says:

    Er, shouldn’t it be Bernie and FOM making all the research and studying? This is exactly the reason why FOM/CVC shouldn’t own even 20% of the revenue.
    Teams are doing everything. Bernie and CVC are just milking it. It’s so wrong.
    Teams can do studying for their own merit, but CVC and Bernie are the ones who should be going all out trying to study US market and then proceed with marketing F1 in there.

    1. Steven says:

      Bernie doesnt need the money, he makes the money from the race fee, the teams are the ones that need F1 to be popular in the US in order to sell merchandise. If the sport is popular in the US, theres more sponsor oportunities for the teams.

  15. This is exactly what F1 needs to do in the US. The major teams need to come to the US and run demonstrations in all the major cities. They need to work hard to market F1 as the premier racing series in the world.

    The successful sports series in the US (MLB, NFL, NBA) work very hard to market their product, F1 needs to do the same.

    The US is the largest economic market in the world, and everyone in F1 wants to be here. The problem is they think we will just blindly accept them.

    We don’t know what F1 is (I mean the US in general). We think F1 and IndyCar are the same, or on par with each other. We think F1 is fragile and silly. We don’t see F1 as the technical and talent fueled marvel that it truly is.

    F1 needs to stop by every single road track in the US and destroy the lap records. Put the US on notice that F1 is a force to be reckoned with. Put the top drivers in their cars and let them tear down city streets. Let people hear the engines scream past the buildings. Put on a show like none we have ever seen and I guarantee that tickets will sell and eyeballs will be glued to the TV. We have very whet appetite for sport here. We appreciate the types of dramas that play out F1.

    When was the last time we saw a commercial for an F1 race in the US on primetime TV? Nobody even knows that there are races going on! NASCAR advertises itself continuously and has reaped the rewards (in the past).

    AND…

    Develop a real US based feeder series for F1 that is on par with those in Europe so we can get our drivers back into F1.

    1. ACB says:

      I agree with you on the feeder series, in fact they could go even farther than that and sponsor a carting series. There are plenty of small tracks for that, and the key is getting a younger and new generation interested in the sport.

    2. Joe says:

      Shane, your 100% right.
      F1 needs to understand that success in the US is going to come from Marketing itself just like the NBA, NFL, MLB, NASCAR,etc.
      I reckon we need to get out there and destroy lap records and get on the streets around the country and demonstrate!

      Feeder series is the best thing we could do long term i’d say.

      And as i said earlier we have to get real TV coverage not these weak 30minutes here and there no it needs to be an event!

    3. Mark V says:

      I agree, particularly the part about getting F1 cars on road tracks and crushing the lap records. Americans will always respect something that is the best in the world. After all, the winning Super Bowl team is routinely called “world champions” despite the fact no other countries compete for that trophy…

      One other thing that perhaps F1 overlooks in its marketing is how to appeal to the everyman. My NASCAR lovin’ cousin from North Carolina could never understand why I prefer F1, saying “those F1 cars are nothing like what regular Joes like us drive on the streets, but stock cars are.” I responded by saying “yeah, but you and I don’t exactly drive our ‘stock’ cars on banked ovals, do we? We drive them on roads that have curves requiring us to turn both ways and use the brakes too, right? Well F1 races on circuits designed to mimic the experience of driving on real roads.” He had to admit I had a point.

    4. Bill Johnson says:

      But F1 demands such standards that most US tracks just can’t qualify. Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, Laguns Seca, Sears Point, Road America, Barber Motorsport, Lime Rock – we have great tracks that F1 doesn’t approve of. And we’d never hear the end of the ‘middle of nowhere’ comments like those that did in Magny Cours…

      1. ACB says:

        That is an issue, bringing wonderful tracks like Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen up to F-1 standars would be nigh to ruining them. And I’ve been to Road America many times, great track too; but it’s about 50 miles past nowhere.

  16. Mark F says:

    As a huge F1 fan in the States, I think SPEED’s coverage of F1 is fantastic! but the replays of the races are at 1pm on a Tuesday. You won’t get much of an audience at that hour. Also, F1 keeps trying to give FOX Sports 4 races a year and the coverage is terrible. Another thing is the 4 races they get are usually the worst tracks for overtaking, so F1 is marketing the most boring races to a market they want to get into.(though Canada this year was FANTASTIC, if they kept any viewers after a 2 hour rain delay!) You turn on the tv and the race is just starting. Then, they don’t show the podium celebration or the interviews. If you don’t get these drivers talking to the audience and show them without a helmut on F1 will never get a fan base to keep a race here. If they gave a pre-race show to educate people on the sport and interview a number of people and show the celebrities who show up to these races and interview them as well, the US will want to get involved. For all of Bernie’s smarts, he sure is stupid about how he goes about breaking into the US market.

    1. Bill Johnson says:

      Along with watching in HD (praise whoever!) the DVR or TiVo is your friend. Although you can’t watch the FIA live timing along with the race…

  17. Stephen says:

    Chevy. Not CheVVy.

  18. Gene says:

    I know how this may sound, but it’s an indication of how far I think the sport truly has to go: How about putting easily identifiable numbers on the cars? When the commentators are having difficulty picking out Schumacher from Rosberg, how confusing must it be for the new fans attempting to come into F1? Yes yes… it’ll take up some potential sponsor space, but looking up and down the grid, there seems to be no shortage of that at the moment.

  19. CARSON44 says:

    AlexF,
    I don’t understand your point. Safety car starts are rare in F1 and personally I can’t think of another more exciting event in motorsports than an F1 standing start. The NASCAR fan expierence has a lot less to do with the racing than in F1. That’s my close-up observation of each.

  20. Becken says:

    Oh Dear Lord, what irony…

    After watch the special Speed Channel coverage of the “Seat Swap” and, at the same time, see all the criticism against Lewis Hamilton’s ‘Celebrity Life Style’ — even here in this blog — I´m convinced that HE is the right man to lead the new F1 assaut at North America.

    The man is the right marketing tool to revamp F1 there: He likes to say what he thinks, has charisma, a pop singer girlfriend, a spectacular driving style

    1. ACB says:

      I agree as well, he’s charming, well spoken, young and hip. He’s my wife’s favorite driver.

    2. Joe says:

      Hey Becken your right Lewis is the man for the US!

      Lewis is an F1 marketing machine and we all forget that F1 would be quite dull without Lewis not only for his on track style but his off track value.

      Ultimately, Lewis is the only BRAND in F1 in terms of drivers – he has universal appeal and you can’t say that for Vettel or Alonso.

      If we are serious about growing F1 globally we need to embrace Lewis not give him a hard time. Yeah he pushes the limits on the track and thats what we want even though we whinge when it goes wrong. H has the glamour lifestyle and famous friends and thats what we need we shoudl eb happy Rihanna is at an F1 race rather than bagging Lewis out for his mates.

      Mind you I am a tradionalist and would prefer Lewis act more like he did in the early days as he came across as a wonderfully well mannered boy.

      But when your talking about the US market we need personalities like Lewis who can grow the sport and capture the heart of the many.

      1. CanadaGP says:

        That is precisely why Lewis is an ideal match for Red Bull. Sorry, McLaren fans but LH is going to be in an RBR seat in 2013. It doesn’t matter what Vettel or Horner think, they are just employees. Dietrich Mateschitz is going to want LH, and LH who values WDCs more than loyalty to McLaren or Ron Dennis is going to want to be in a Newey car.

        Red Bull is a global brand and LH is the most effective Marketing face for them. Red Bull targets the younger market segments and Lewis is the edgy, multi-racial, hip-hop brand icon they can use. Picture all the publicity the brand will get as LH battles Vettel, the cool wise-cracking but goody two shoes white kid.

  21. Adam Taylor says:

    Slightly off subject but in accordance with this one. I think it would be great if there was a chance for the F1 drivers to take part in big races like Indy 500, Daytona 400 and especially Le Mans. This would surely be a way to increase the profile of F1 in America. This would be great for all sports involved

    1. CanadaGP says:

      I can remember in the 1960s the likes of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, etc. raced NASCAR stock cars and Indycars in the U.S. None of these publicity car swapping but actually raced them and of course Clark and Hill won the Indy 500. Bruce McLaren, Dennis Hulme and Stewart also raced in the very popular Can-Am series with the big sports cars with 7 litre engines.
      American oval track drivers like Andretti, Foyt, Parnelli, etc. also used to regularly race in Le Mans and in sports cars and won.

      I wonder why you never see F1 drivers racing in non-F1 series anymore. You don’t even see them in Le Mans or sports car races. I can understand in the Schumacher era when testing was unlimited so F1 was a full-time job. But these days of almost no testing, don’t F1 drivers have time to race in other events or is it because their contracts prohibit them now. (The Kubica incident a good reason why.)

  22. jonrob says:

    I think Ed has put his finger right on it!
    The impossibly large Bernie fees make the track owners have to charge ridiculously high entrance fees. Unless this changes F1 will just be a joke in the US, why on earth would they pay four or five times the normal ticket price to see F1 as opposed to NASCAR or Indycar.

    Austin by the way still has problems, it’s not yet a done deal, there are financial issues (surprise!) which the local/state authorities do not feel like paying and making it look like a long term loss maker, just as it is now in many other countries.

  23. seth1066 says:

    Hamilton seemed perhaps a little nervous and not himself in the “swapping” show.

    1. Craig D says:

      Lewis seemed ok to me. To be honest though, I don’t think he i as comfortable in front of a camera as others, especially in unfamiliar circumstances. For example, whenever I watched team public speaking occasions with Jenson, he never seems as at ease as Button does. But that’s fine, he’s there to race not to be the next Jonathan Ross or what have you!

      1. James Allen says:

        He’s more introverted than Button, but he knows how to present himself.

      2. Craig D says:

        Oh for sure, I wasn’t suggesting he’s not professional (well most of the time)! I just think he’s not quite a natural in front of the camera as others.

        But maybe I’m thinking in terms of a humour thing, which isn’t really fair. Out of the whole grid I feel Button and Vettel appear to be the most personable and humourous to listen to when being interviewed. But we (or I) never know what they are all like away from the media and all people cope differently to varying degrees when in front of a camera, on stage, etc. I know I’d be an utter shambles! In fact I’d ramble on in a press conference like those Isle of Man TT riders! Hilarious!

      3. Joe says:

        He is younger and will develop that side of himself as he grows up in both age and experience.

        Not many 20 somethings would carry themselves as well as Lewis and he is very well spoken

  24. Jodum5 says:

    There are A LOT of other things going on in the U.S. that F1 will have to compete with: College Sports (Basketball, Football), Pro level sports (Basketball, football, Ice Hockey, Baseball, Soccer), Tennis men’s and womens, Nascar. That’s a lot. I hope the sport is wise enough to come up with an intensive 10-20 year plan to break into the market. What ever they come up with won’t compete head to head with nascar as long as 90% of the F1 drivers lack or won’t show their personalities and aren’t American. Sorry, but even as a massive fan, it’s just not going to happen.

    With all of that, F1 CAN do a very good job of raising awareness here and raising viewership figures exponentially, however, forget about competing on par with NASCAR.

  25. Steven says:

    The audio wasnt that great, did he actually lap faster than Tony?

    1. adam says:

      Lewis was 7 seconds a lap faster in the tintop.

      1. Robin says:

        Tony was also 8 seconds faster than Lewis in a F-1. It was just the weather creating havoc with the lap times.

  26. monktonnik says:

    Honestly?

    To get F1 in the US I would try and get the kids involved. Get a cgi/real life race going on between Lightning McQueen and Michael Schumacher (who appeared as a Ferrari 360 in the original Cars film).

    1. LT says:

      he was an F430

      Lewis is in Cars 2 as well

      1. monktonnik says:

        I thought he was a 360 because of the smaller air intakes on the front.

  27. Nick Hipkin says:

    Very interesting watch, I thought it may have got Lewis thinking about Nascar but he sounds like he still has unfinished business in F1 for many years to come yet. Its got me thinking about the latest Red Bull rumours and my theory is this. Any thoughts?

    Remember back to 2007 when Mclaren had to make a decision as to which driver was the best to lead them into the next few years. They chose Lewis Hamilton over Fernando Alonso, Alonso did kind of make the choice for them but at that point they had the youngest hot property on the grid with his whole career ahead of him. A man they could build the team around.

    Fast forward to 2011 and Mclaren, now under Martin Whitmarsh are taking a big gamble on the future of the team, on the one hand they still have arguably the fastest driver in F1 who given the right tools will deliver multiple world titles.
    On the other hand they have a very good, solid driver in the other car. However this driver doesnt have the outright speed of a Vettel or Alonso and is always a couple of tenths behind his teammate. Add to that the fact that he probably has 3-4 years left of his career as opposed to another 10 years for Lewis. Who would you choose to build your team around?

    Martin Whitmarsh could be about to make the most grave error so far of his reign as Mclaren boss by letting the future of the team sign for their nearest rivals all because he prefers his solid, nice smiling and non threatening other driver.

    The point is Jenson Button should in no way be the future of Mclaren, by doing that Whitmarsh will be throwing away the driver who really should have been the man to take Mclaren into the next 10 years.

    Personally I think Lewis will sign for Red Bull because he fundamentally looks like he is unhappy and no longer wanted by Mclaren, ironically a little like Alonso did after a few months in the team.

    1. Anthony Smith says:

      Why the hell would Red Bull want Lewis Hamilton? They’re already at the top of their game with Vettel for God’s sake. Hamilton’s already got the car to win with, he just needs his brain re-wired.

    2. Steven says:

      WHen did MW choose JB? Nobody made any choices, and Im sure McLaren will do everything in their power to keep Lewis. You’re just making stuff up…

    3. Mark L says:

      Are you a reporter for the Sun or something?

  28. RA109 says:

    I was there! After six or so years of following F1, I finally got to see a real F1 car on the move. Incredible! The sight and sound of Hamilton blasting down the straight for the first time was an amazing sensation.

    It was so great being there that the SPEED coverage was awful by comparison. All they did on the show was talk talk talk. To see Hamilton drift – yes, drift! – the stock car around the final corner was just awesome.

    Stewart and Hamilton both seemed – sincerely – to love the Watkins Glen track. Hamilton’s own words were something like “They don’t make them like this anymore.” And that, I think, is part of the problem. If the Austin track is as boring and predictable as most of the other new tracks in F1, the spectacle is handicapped from the beginning. Look to The Glen! :)

    1. Peter C says:

      Laguna Seca???

    2. **Paul** says:

      Glad to hear you go to see an F1 car, an F1 car at full pace is a sight and sound to behold. TV doesn’t do F1 cars justice. I think most people get a bit of shock when they first hear one because they’re so incredibly loud and brake so incredibly late.

  29. Joe S says:

    It’s probably been mentioned but, just wondering how James and others see the latest Hamilton link to Red Bull. Would you say it’s typical story-hunting nonsense?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s downplayed it, but there’s a game at play here. I can’t see it personally, but you never know in F1.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        IMO he is trying to put pressure on McLaren with 2 goals :

        - push them harder to deliver, but knowing how competitive are the McLaren guys they don’t need much pushing

        - obtain a better contract (financially) and it is not about money as much as about allowing Hamilton much more control on his image and less involvement with the team’s sponsors.

        If he really wanted to move to RBR, the contacts would’ve been as discrete as possible. I understand in this case, he didn’t hide at all to meet Horner.

  30. DH says:

    Wonderful clip, thanks James. Re marketing, makes me wonder how it’d be if there was a Nascar event of any sort mixed in with the Friday and Saturday F1. Or even a few of these swaps like in this video. Delightful to see the boyish enthusiasm Tony and Lewis had for this, just plain cowboy fun for each.

  31. Fastestguy says:

    With all the money the teams collectively have budgeted for promotion and advertising, imagine if for this coming year only they united in a group campaign to let the US know who they are and what’s coming to Austin. If the average sports fan was hit 2-3 times a day with some kind of F1 video or sound clip, people would begin to talk about them and ask the “racing guy” in the office some questions. Maybe for one month they could run a series of 2-minute ads to lay a solid foundation of knowledge.
    There are plenty of race fans here, they just need to know what’s different about these cars. Plenty of hi-tech fans, too, who would be intrigued by all the design and development that springs from these cars.
    This time around, a widespread effort of introduction and education might just establish F1 on the racing scene once and for all. Make that the focus…

    Imagine if the demand was so great that supply-and-demand made the ticket prices look reasonable!
    Naah. Sorry, I got carried away…

  32. devilsadvocate says:

    I think something awesome to do would be one of those F1 vs racecar vs roadcar demos like mclaren used to do at silverstone for the US we could have a Nascar cup car vs a corvette ZR-1 vs an F1 car around the new Austin track, I think that would be huge and would give the average fan an idea of just how fast an f1 car is. Most people I talk to when I try to explain why in love F1 so much just don’t understand. Most people thinl of those giant airplan wings teenagers put on their honda civics when i talk about downforce, then I show them one f those old mclaren vids. and suddenly everyone is just bagfle at how quick the F1 car ia. It would be a pretty cool PR event and they could probably even get the local news to show it. Till then people will Continue thinking Indy and f1 are the same and it’ll die off again like Indianapolis did, then my city council will pat themselves on the back saying “I told you so” while they crucify Tavo Hellmund

      1. Mattoz says:

        They also do the same thing in Melbourne with a McLaren, V8 Supercar and roadcar – always gets the crowd’s attention. Could do a similar thing at the NASCAR roadcourse rounds this year at Watkins Glen and Sears point (think they still go there)to whet the appetite for Austin in 2012.

  33. Tim Parry says:

    Hope all parties involved learned from the mistakes the last time around at Indianapolis. There were plenty made and they came from all directions. The circuit wasn’t anything to write home about but it was the scene of some pretty fair racing (as well as one infamous non-race). I haven’t figured out who tried to shake-down who, but it seems big money played a role in killing it. Maybe, with the world economy in the toilet, the money isn’t as big (at least to F1 standards) and this version of US F1 will have a fighting chance.

  34. Adam says:

    F1 has plenty of fans in the USA, what are you all on about? When at Indy more people attended than MANY European races can muster! And most people flew in or drove across the country to a location that is not easy to get to! It is a LONG way from both coasts, just as Austin will be. But Austin is a more upmarket town and that suits Bernie.

    Now why did it not get bigger in the USA? Well gifting the race win (MS) and only a handful of teams racing when the tires were not up to snuff is the big issues and Bernie and FIA have that all within thier power to fix. MS treated the US spectators as a joke and so did many of the teams. Why would Renault worry when they dont sell cars in the USA? They will now Infiniti is on the Red Bulls! Sure Speed can do a lot better with TV coverage,and when Fox has the rights not broadcasting live is just stupid! Those of us that get up all hours the rest of the year are not well served, we are the fan base! The crowd that went to Indy was not as large as they get for the 500. Big deal, it would be if they had treated the people that did turn up with the respect of staging a race and ensuring the winner won! So it is not the number 1 form of racing in the US Market. Not going to be either. But that does not mean that there are no fans here and it is a tiny market! It is big despite the stupidity done here in the past. Imagine what it could have been if it was treated with the respect it is due! People will pay the price IF you deliver the product! But Bernie, the FIA and the teams failed to deliver, so it is amazing they still have the opertunity to come back at all!

  35. Bobby says:

    On aside, Hamilton and McLaren were able to step foot on one of British motor sport’s greatest venues. Colin Chapman and his Team Lotus’ first win was here in 1961 with Innes Ireland’s only win. Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, and James Hunt also won here.

    If you noticed during the broadcast, as this was Fox Sports/Speed, the standard Fox Sports motorsport graphics package was used (it’s used on domestic graphics during F1 races). The standard used since 2001 in NASCAR’s Cup level with the car numbers replaced by the graphic as shown on the car has now become standard in US motorsport; ESPN adopted it for NASCAR Nationwide in 2007 and INDYCAR (wing plate numbers, US Broadcasts only) in 2011, Speed adopted the system for the NASCAR Camping World Trucks in 2008, MotoGP in 2010, and F1 this season (although the car colour background is replaced by the driver’s nationality flag on the starting grid, it’s easy to see Vettel’s #1, Alonso’s #5, et al). The Fox/Speed version is based on the main Fox Sports package used where the graphic and player’s name is in team colours, henceforth the Day-Glo red on Lewis Hamilton’s graphic.

    Some circuits have adopted new colour scoring pylons using the car number graphics instead of just a number or initials.

    The hardest graphic to decipher, IMO, with the Fox system is MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, whose #1 as shown on Speed is faithful to the “JL” plate.

    By doing this, the graphics artists that work on liveries are now pressured to design art that melds into the car, since the number graphics are shown on US television.

    As for promotions, NASCAR does a “Winner’s Circle” policy where teams who won the most the previous year are asked to participate with the circuits to promote ticket sales. Austin has the advantage of being close to Mexico where Sergio Perez could easily bring a home base up the Rio Grande.

    The other issue, while not as well-mentioned, is how natural terrain courses and seating are designed. Most tracks feature just one “main” grandstand, on the pit straight, and the rest is spectator mounds with camping permitted. Typically, the American road racing spectator is likely to camp out and make it a weekend camping on the mounds, with much of the circuit viewable or a large-screen nearby, and no grandstands interfering. Miller Motorsports Park (Superbike) is an example of this design. This is why Tilke’s idea of a Stadium at Hockenheim style section doesn’t work.

  36. “It’s a sport that’s very difficult to appreciate only on TV. Seen up close, heard and smelt, it’s extraordinary.”

    It’s funny that Allert is saying that in reference to F1, as it’s a statement I would say applies even more strongly to NASCAR. I’ve known many motorsports enthusiasts who like to look down their noses at NASCAR…until they actually go to a race and then they’re hooked. The cars may look crude and be technoligically quite primitive (although they do some interesting things aerodynamically), but there are a myriad of setup options and tactical challenges that make it a real thinking driver’s game.

    There’s a purity to oval racing that really appeals to me. Driving flat out for lap after lap after lap, three or four corners that have to be taken with the most minute precision, and adapting to changes in the car, tyres and track on a lap by lap basis, all while you’re right on the limit. And that’s before you’ve even got involved with other cars!

    The first step has to be having a successful and exciting USGP to go with Canada, but I don’t think American teams and drivers are necessary. It seems like the bulk of the IRL field is from overseas these days and it doesn’t seem to matter too much.

    I think the biggest problem F1 faces in America is the different nature of the racing audiences. We’re all fine with the glamour, the parties, the carefully managed team branding and images. Rail thin, pretty-boy drivers with supermodel girlfriends, driving exotic space age cars that need constant coddling: keep this hot, make sure that stays cool, change to this engine map, use that KERS harvest setting, etc etc. And an endless list of driver excuses: “I couldn’t find a good balance, I couldn’t get the tyres working, the tyres were graining, my water bottle stopped working, the traffic slowed me down, the team’s strategy was wrong and so on, ad nauseum.

    Your average American racing fan, particularly a NASCAR fan (and forgive me if I’m stereotyping too much) likes a driver to look like a real man, be married to the prom queen, bring a huge trailer to races and kick back with a couple of beers after a race. He wants to see him jump into a two ton car that’s basically part brick, part jelly mould and hammer round a track at 200mph all afternoon without saying a word while it bakes him alive and incinerates his backside and feet in the process. When the car starts to get loose or his tyres degrade too fast, he talks to his crew chief and together they deal with it.

    That, for me, is the biggest problem facing Formula 1 in the States. We worship F1 drivers as exotic, superhuman creatures capable of feats we can barely comprehend. America likes its drivers to be real men who they can relate to, who fight it out with one other using only a combination of balls, skill and cunning. That’s why drivers like Alan Jones and Nigel Mansell went down so well over there.

    F1 could certainly boost it’s popularity in the States, but I feel like the target market they cater to in the rest of the World just doesn’t exist over there to the same extent. F1 might become a curiosity that NASCAR and IRL fans dip into, much like an F1 fan might casually follow the IRL or DTM, but I don’t see it progressing much beyond that without a major change in ideology and image.

    1. James Allen says:

      I have to say I went to Pocono to watch a NASCAR race and it didn’t do much for me. I quite liked oval racing when I did IndyCar in 1994, but NASCAR has a relentless flow about it which gets rather monotonous after a while. I’m open minded though and should maybe try a bit harder next time to ‘get it’

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        All of these are good points, especially the general anti-glam nature of racing here. The biggest two races – the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500 – have always been exceptions to that rule; they are unique events. And It isn’t just NASCAR. USAC and NHRA have that too.

        Oval racing and drag racing are not easy to do well, but they are enduringly popular here because they are elemental forms of racing that are easy to relate to: Everyone understands a foot race or a horse race – the 100 yard dash, the runners’ explosive start and a rush to the finish line; who gets there first wins. Just like a drag race. Or the Kentucky Derby: The pack fires out of the starting gate, bunches and thins with thundering sound and blazing colors; who gets around the oval fastest wins.

        Here, even the non-racing fan here immediately recognizes these parallels, even if they don’t articulate it. The ancient Greeks with their Olympic foot races and the ancient Romans with their chariot races would recognize it too. What was the Circus Maximus but an oval speedway? Different kind of chariot, but the idea was the same.

        James, did you ever get to any NHRA, USAC or World of Outlaws races when you were here? And have you ever had a chat with Sam Collins of Racecar Engineering? He’s a huge NASCAR fan and has written some very interesting stuff on the technology and tactics of the sport.

      2. James Allen says:

        Went to short track at Indy for sprint races, loved that. Never seen NHRA. Not met Sam Collins, no.

      3. tyler says:

        They should definitely take a look at NHRA far as fan involvement, there is nothing like an NHRA weekend…great fun.

      4. tyler says:

        Every race fan should attend an NHRA weekend…there is nothing like it…great fun. F1 should look at the way they do business for some ideas on fan involvement.

    2. Peter C says:

      Thanks, Kenny. Well thought.

    3. Mat says:

      Hi Kenny,

      I have to agree with you. I am both and F1 and a NASCAR fan (and DTM and BTCC) and I find the constant changes to the car setup during a Sprint Cup race fascinating. There is so much that can be gained by the driver giving good feedback to his crew chief on what his car is doing at that point on the track.

      That being said my favorite tracks are Watkins Glen and Sonoma so maybe I prefer road courses to ovals.

      Ironically the reason I started watching NASCAR was through F1 when I followed Montoya’s move into the series. It’s just a shame it’s so hard to get the full Sprint Cup races here in the UK – but I manage ;)

  37. ACB says:

    I’m glad to see FOM is doing more to promote the sport in the United States. I think Tony George did a good job of promoting the USGP at the time, but I think George was more interested in promoting IMS than Formula One. The ticket sales were good at Indy so the interest for Formula One is there, but I think if FOM and FOTA want to make going back in the US worth their while long term, they’ll have to do some work on building a new fan base themselves, rather than expect Tavo or the Austin chamber of commerce to do it all.

  38. Paddy says:

    Having lived over in North America for a couple of years, I was always interested about what people thought of formula1. Its pretty simple answer they just don’t get it. To get my mates to watch formula 1 was hard as most of them think its like NASCAR before they watch a race. n The most common answer is i don’t want to watch cars go around in circles for the next few hours. After explaining formula 1 to them and getting them to watch a race most of my buddy’s said it was pretty cool but I don’t think most of them would watch a race again. They don’t see motor racing as something well to do people got involved in. Its for the Billy Bobs double barreled people of this world and not for anyone else. There is no glamour in motor racing in North America and the only way people will start to watch it is if Brad Pitt hosts the formula 1 event and all the stars come to the show. Also they don’t really get the history of F1 etc. etc. Maybe the Senna film will stir some emotion and get people interested in the event. Who knows i hope its a success Ill be heading to Austin to watch the first race that is for sure.

  39. Craig D says:

    Although, F1 will never be the biggest sport in America, I’m sure a decent fist of it can be made if they get the marketing right (and most importantly, the track is decent of course)!

    The trouble is, as has been pointed out before, F1 hasn’t been great at marketing itself. In fact only in the last couple of years – with items such as James’ professional, in depth and digital media linked site, tools like twitter and also the BBCs excellent coverage (including the Forum and podcast) – have I personally started to feel able to get more closely connected to the sport.

    But from a marketing point of view they need to really push the boat out with the US. I’m 100% no marketing person with no idea about costings and logistics, but here’s a couple of ideas I had:

    - getting the culture of F1 across to Americans. First focus on the people already interested in motorsport. So why not at events like NASCAR, pay to show clips of classic, historic F1 moments on the big screens at the circuits before the main race and inbetween supporting races? Make 90 second shorts detailing amazing events, like championship showdowns and races such as Spa ’98, for example. Give them short snappy tasters of the sport at its best.

    - advertising in sport and commercials are huge in America, and it’s important to get the drivers’ faces and teams well recognised. So in the build up to the US race, they should saturate commercials during sports events with quick 15-20s adverts about a particular driver or team or classic circuit. E.g. “BANG” LEWIS HAMILTON!: give his background/achievements, his best (and worst) moments, etc. Maybe with some crazy dramatic music and graphics!!! I hate to say it, but Americans love the exaggeration of Wrestling, so maybe really play up each driver’s perceived character, Lewis: aggressive, best overtaker, Jenson: smooth, happy-go-lucky, Fernando: talented but this-town-ain’t-big-enough-for-the-both-of-us! type, Mark, Aussie grit, Sebastian: the fast kid and ‘pretender to the throne’, Michael: the old hand… And teams like McLaren and Williams are special (they should already know of Ferrari)!

    I dunno, my mind’s going off on one a bit! But my point is Americans like everything big and brash and dramatic. F1 has a lot of what Americans would like, but it’s all hidden under the surface! I took a non-motorsport fan to see Senna and he loved it for the drama beneath the sports surface of 20+ cars circulating what could be any old track in any country (exception Monaco) to a non fan. F1 should focus on marketing its culture and drama as well as positive events such as getting the cars out on track to the public over there. Costly marketing for sure, but if they want to make money they’ve got to be willing to spend some too!

    1. James Allen says:

      Some good points, thanks

    2. Rudy Pyatt says:

      This, + 10,000.

  40. Craig D says:

    *And WHY teams like McLaren and Williams are special…

  41. GWD says:

    In a way it’s good to see this cross promotional stuff. It let’s both the drivers and the fans see how skilled each driver is in their own field. So thanks for the article James.

    On the US f1 market, I can think of a few things not mentioned here yet.

    + Night/Evening Races – Qatar and Singapore have proven they can be done safely and the drivers aren’t apprehensive about the few that have been staged at night so far. Shifting a few specific races to a Saturday Night in the european summer at those races expected to be the hottest would benefit all attending and give the US some more time friendly starts.

    + Place coverage back on Free-to-air TV. This is a big issue for middle US, I would think (I’ve certainly heard US friends from other forums report this as a problem…) – I’m so glad Australia still has in on free-to-air, as I certainly can’t add pay tv to my monthly budget, so it would lose me as a fan. And in the interim, all US people can watch via the web through Aus’s one.com.au feed – they get to see our ‘neville’s’ host it, but they do chat with your good self James (best pre race report currently on TV anywhere, by the way everyone…), and get to here the (world version) BBC feed from a great couple of former F1 drivers and informed, intelligent & Job-aware Pit stalkers.

    + Get a knowledgeable & personally affable US Pit reporter on the BBC world feed that the US audience can connect to – I felt watching the Australian Le Mans race feed from SpeedTV recently was something I could connect to due to Leigh Diffy on commentary. Leigh has also a good repore with the guys in the box and the guys in the Pits, and it made it easy to watch – more so than say 4 or 5 guys with French or German accents.

  42. tim says:

    It’s “Chevy.”

  43. Rudy Pyatt says:

    That this event occurred at Watkins Glen is ironic. The truth is, F1 never firmly ESTABLISHED itself here until it began racing at The Glen. The truth is, F1 has never RECOVERED here since Bernie took the race away from The Glen.

    Notice how enthusiastic Lewis was about the track. And he’s right; they don’t make ‘em like that anymore. NASCAR races there. Indycar races there, and on the full length GP circuit. So does the SCCA, GrandAm and I think ALMS as well. In other words, everyone except F1. Go back to The Glen.

    What Bernie did here – chasing the glamour of New Money with a series of Frankly Boring Street Races (Dallas, Phoenix, Detroit) – prefigured his globe trotting New Government Money New Boring Venue approach of the last decade.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Having said all this, this event is EXACTLY the kind of thing F1 needs more of to expand its fan base here. And it’s appropriate, because McLaren has a storied history at The Glen, and from the CanAm even more than F1. I’d love to see the same thing happen at Indy (on the oval), or Laguna Seca or Road America, where McLaren also has a rich history. It would be awesome to see Lewis take this car around Indy, and then get some laps on Johnny Rutherford’s M16 USAC racer, currently sitting in the Speedway Museum. And, of course, going through the Corkscrew at Laguna would be epic.

      For all the flaws they may have – at various times, both have been called immature and arrogant – Stewart and Hamilton seem to be two of a kind. Smoke is known for being willing to drive any car, anytime, anywhere. And Lewis goes up a couple notches in my book for taking this on. I’m not sure many others in the F1 paddock would willingly do it, and he clearly enjoyed himself.

      Hey! Bernie! They just showed an F1 car going fast at The Glen and looking thoroughly at home doing it. TAKE THE USGP BACK TO THE GLEN, ASAP! FOTA, if you guys are reading this, make that happen.

  44. BMG says:

    James how many times has F1 been to the U.S and what kinds of reports, “into why it failed” have been done?
    Surely they would have learnt from passed mistakes.
    If you can make it successful in China/ Australia, then you should be able to make a go of it in the U.S.

    1. James Allen says:

      How do China and Australia compare?

      1. unooc12 says:

        I think USA might be a bit more like Australia than China.

        China = Money for it, but not exactly a hit with the fans

        Australia = Lots of pressure on Government to spend less money and does it really provide value for money BUT heaps of people go, even at the rediculos prices. Lots of support.

      2. Matt B says:

        Surely there are no real comparisons. The US as a whole has no real need for F1, and the fans are a minority.

        It is unique in the sense that the teams need a race in the US far more than the US needs a race there.

        Places like China and Bahrain etc need F1 to give them an oppurtunity to be present themselves on the world stage. The US already has that luxury.

        F1 is the small fish in a big pond over there, and i many in F1 have become lazy in their marketing strategies as they’ve been courted rabidly by up and coming nations for a while now.

  45. Alex W says:

    The vid with Hamilton was great, no doubt Lewis does good things for the promotion of F1 in the US.

    Some have noted that USF1 should have a Brad Pitt factor – that is not a bad idea, get the celebs involved, it couldn’t hurt.

    The timezone factor is a big one, living in Australia we have a similar problem most of the time, I have an idea that would be great. Imagine if you could tune in at a convenient time each Monday afternoon and watch an unbeliveable F1 delayed telecast. I’m not talking about a replay of the live feed, I’m thinking of a replay (in realtime), but with the hindsight of 12 hours editing time. It would be like a F1.com race edit on steroids, every single highlight, every little mis-step, every drivers outburst (perfectly bleeped ofcourse) would be shown, it would be 3 hours of NON STOP ACTION and drama. I for one would tune in for a replay like this, and I think many Americans would too!

    1. ACB says:

      USF1 needed a “Warren Buffet” factor, i.e., much more capitol than they had. And a “Ross Brawn factor,’ meaning a principle/owner who knew his business. But I agree that a few more F-1 related programs would be good. In particular it would help so that new fans would get to know the drivers, teams and tech. Right now in the US we have the race and we have a recap of the previous weeks race. All good but when you look at Nascar coverage it is ten times as much.

  46. zxzxz says:

    if you simply want fans to show up at the race, i think there are a number of tracks in the usa that can pull a crowd.

    but if the goal is to build a television audience then the primary issue is the scheduling.

    most of the races occur in the middle of the night/early morning for americans, which is workable with dvr for diehard fans, but you can’t get large numbers like that. and delayed broadcasts are unfeasible in an internet world.

    you’d really have to go out of your way and schedule the whole series around a north american initiative.

    have races that are unfeasible to air live in NA banked together at the start of the year. then try to move to late start/night start euro races, and finish the year with a NA run of 3 to 5 tracks.

    even better if you can some how scheme a way so that those NA races occur after the end of the NASCAR season, so that NASCAR fans are in racing withdrawal and may be more willing to watch.

    or they may be better off focusing on non nascar markets in more progressive areas like the northeast, big areas like NY and CA, or making canada or mexico a major focus.

    also, buying off a major NASCAR driver to enter a key F1 team would be a huge move. jeff gordon would have been ideal 15 years ago, jimmie johnson is probably too old to transition also. but wait for the right guy and steal one of their stars.

    1. ACB says:

      Yeah, that crossover would be a big draw to F-1. Unfortunately most of the drivers who are household names in Nascar are too old, or too committed contracturaly to make such a move; and why risk one’s reputation. Not to mentione that they are two significantly different disciplines when it comes to driving. A.J. Allmendinger could do it I think, since he had some time and success in Champ Car, but he’s not the name or the brand that Johnson, Gordon, Stewart or Earnhart are so he might not be as big a draw, and he’d probably have to pay to play whereas he’s making good money in Nascar and can go home every week.

  47. eric weinraub says:

    I’ve been attending races on and off since I was a kid… Dad was doctor at ‘The Glenn.’ I don’t think it’s all that complicated… 1) There is NO American in the sport let alone competitive with the best… 2) F1 prides itself on its inacessibility…. Indy did well with its pit walks and driver signings, which were not the norm as a whole 3) Americans LOVE racing not processions … 1 driver has won all but 2 of the races… 4) F1 treats the sponsors better then the fans… In America, no fans means no sport. 5) No American corp sponsors NOR factory involvement from American auto manufacturers

  48. tyler says:

    One think I think is missed that makes Nascar and other series so appealing in the U.S. is fan access. F1 needs to lose its elitist attitude and make all aspects of the sport more accessible to the fans. Nascar has done this…F1 has not.

    I live in the U.S. and i’m not a Nascar fan. Although I dont get it, you cant argue with sold out races every weekend.

  49. Douglas says:

    Any chance you could do a feature on how Brembo make the brakes? “Shooting ions at a carbon husk” or something, and taking 6 months to produce one pad. (This is from the SpeedTV commentary) Sounds absolutely intriguing!

    1. James Allen says:

      THat’s a great shout. I’ll get onto them. Thanks

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH McLaren Mercedes
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer