In the brave new world of Formula 1 – post-peace between FOTA and the FIA – marketing men up and down the paddock are busy getting busy.
As the world starts to climb out of recession, most in the sport are hoping for a return to the good times with the resulting influx of blue chip sponsors for all.
It’s a challenge, and one that really could decide the future health, wealth and wellbeing of Formula 1, but some brave decisions have to be made.
By their very nature grand prix teams are a conservative bunch, almost always preferring the tried and tested approach. As a result the progressive marketing (outside) world sees them as inhabiting the past.
Stateside, NASCAR goes from strength to strength; as McLaren supremo Martin Whitmarsh said on Friday afternoon at Valencia, “No one does it better”. Those good ol’ boys put on one helluva show.
Renault boss Flavio Briatore agreed: “We need more energy, we need more fun, we need to change a lot.” He’s right on that score, but his suggestion that the best F1 news for a while was the prospect of an unfit ex-world champion returning was wide of the mark. Relying on drivers past to give a public relations boost is hardly being bold when it comes to thinking outside the box, is it?
Mind you, almost anything would be preferable to the Scuderia’s ridiculous decision to put a man in their vacant car so far out of his depth as to be frightening to behold. The sport is made to look amateurish by such actions, which serve only to do every competitor down.
The Ferrari brand’s standing around the globe is one that all other teams in the paddock can only dream of, and as a leading light in the FOTA organisation they really should be setting a better example.
Perhaps FOTA could consider some of the following additions to its ‘change a lot’ agenda:
A central PR agency working for the good of all – so that, for example, visiting A-listers aren’t hidden away by team personnel so as not to be seen with a more glamorous rival.
Insist that world champions put a little back by going on a post-title promo tour – and, if they start throwing their toys, enshrine it in the superlicence.
Produce some good-looking team apparel – surely some ‘names’ in the fashion world would love to overhaul F1’s garish fare. If Brawn, with Henri Lloyd’s help, can do it, so can all.
Open some shops on the coolest streets in, say, London, Tokyo, Paris, Milan, Melbourne, Barcelona and Singapore.