Following Tuesday’s Silverstone break clause bombshell that threatened to dampen this year’s British Grand Prix, F1 needed a tonic. What a difference a day makes, with Wednesday’s F1 Live in London event delivering a pre-race pick-me-up in some style.
Accessibility on an unprecedented scale, incredible noise and drivers allowed to express their personalities and share an incredible experience with those who consider them superheroes. What’s not to love?
#F1LiveLondon was the first opportunity Liberty have had to flex their creative muscles. This was an event clearly aimed at introducing new audiences to the sport, perhaps even generating a few additional ticket sales for this weekend’s British GP prior to Thursday lunchtime’s ticket booking deadline.
While ticket sale metrics as a direct result of the event will be impossible to accurately conjure, it’s evident that this event will have changed perceptions of the sport.
For once, drivers were accessible. While Little Mix entertained the masses on stage, drivers enjoyed the company of the fans, with Felipe Massa, Esteban Ocon and others taking selfies, Daniel Ricciardo attempting to break the world record for high fives completed on Whitehall and Fernando Alonso even hugging fans!
This came after a sensational parade of some iconic cars including the McLaren MP46, Red Bull RB11 and Mercedes W06. As regulars around the F1 scene, it is all too easy to underestimate the appeal of these cars to new recruits to the F1 sphere and undoubtedly the spectacle created by a collection of brilliant machines will have won some fans.
This was an unprecedented case study in F1 fan engagement. A British GP Fans’ Forum on a much bigger scale, with all teams, (almost) all the drivers and outside of a Grand Prix weekend too. It borders on absurd.
Hopefully, this is the first of many similar events. A Grand Tour of the F1 circus to other key cities based around the unfolding calendar. Let’s wait and see what F1’s ideas men have up their sleeves.
As for Lewis Hamilton’s non-attendance, the Englishman has scored quite the own goal. Just three weeks after the Baku bust-up, it was Sebastian Vettel who enjoyed the adulation of the London audience, while mentions of his championship rival were met with the unmistakable expression of dissatisfaction.
No-one likes to hear booing. It has no place in motorsport. However, at an event where 19 drivers were present, on a race-week Wednesday, it is unsurprising that many fans were left confused and disappointed at Hamilton’s absence.