Formula 1’s controversial pre-race driver introduction ceremony that debuted at the Miami Grand Prix is set to feature at more grands prix this year, even outside of the three American races.
The 20 F1 drivers were brought out one-by-one around 20 minutes prior to the start of the formation lap with American rapper LL Cool J announcing each driver in turn.
The drivers were soundtracked by a Will.i.am-conducted orchestra who were playing a rendition of a track curated by Will.i.am and Lil Wayne ahead of the Miami GP.
Most drivers walked out, waved to the crowd and gathered in their usual formation ahead of the national anthem, with just three drivers briefly stopping to speak to LL Cool J.
This new procedure was heavily criticised by most drivers, who called the timing of the introductions “distracting” and “unnecessary”.
They complained that “no other sport” would ask this of its drivers right before the start of the event, though Lewis Hamilton was among the smaller group defending the introductions.
The disgruntled drivers are going to have to get used to it with the pre-race introduction ceremony set to take place at six-seven grands prix this season.
F1 included the driver introductions so that fans at the track and those watching at home could have a better idea of who was about to race.
It’s part of F1’s planned evolution of the pre-race procedures that have remained fairly static over the last couple of decades barring one-off exceptions like the driver introductions at the 2017 United States Grand Prix.
Most drivers appreciated the entertainment value it can bring – despite personally not being a fan of the procedure – but called for it to appear only at a limited number of races.
“I think as long as we don’t do it in too many locations it’s nice to do it once for the crowd but we also have to be very respectful of the drivers,” Red Bull’s Sergio Perez said.
“We need our own time to get ready. It’s just minutes before the race start and I think as long as this doesn’t happen very often, it’s OK.”
F1 and the FIA will work with drivers to mould and change the special pre-race procedure when it is used at future grands prix – including assessing whether the time can be tweaked.
Fernando Alonso called for uniformity of the pre-race procedure, believing it should be standardised for every race.
“If we have to do it, I think we need to remove some of the other stuff we are doing like the parade lap or something, because it’s really in the middle of the preparation with engineers and the strategy meeting,” Alonso said.
“And I disagree a little bit… if we do it, we have to do it everywhere because I don’t think that the Miami fans are better than the Italian fans in Imola or in Spain or in Mexico or in Japan.
“I think we need to make every [race has] the same rules, the same show before the race.”