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Formula 1

What makes a good F1 car launch? Our verdict

by Josh Suttill
9 min read

Haas will today kick off Formula 1’s 2023 launch season – a three-week period in which all 10 teams will hold a launch event of some form ahead of pre-season testing on February 23-25 in Bahrain.

But what makes a good car launch? Is there a place for the glitz and glamour or should it all be about the new car? Is it time for something new or is there nothing wrong with the usual launches?

Our writers give their verdict:

Don’t be misleading 

Gary Anderson

Red Bull Racing Rb18 Launch

The important thing the teams need to remember is that they need us as much as we need them. And I say that as someone who has been on both sides of the fence, as a technical director and also writing about F1.

Teams exist because of sponsorship and sponsors are there because they want the TV time and the column inches that we produce, so please don’t take us for fools by not being honest with us and trying to pull the wool over our eyes with some cobbled-up show car.

If you are not ready in time and need to use a show car, that’s fine, but be upfront about it. We understand these things can happen, but honesty is the best virtue.

We want to write positive things about your new car for the season ahead, but we can only do that from what we are shown and can only judge from what you show us. If you don’t show us or communicate with us about what is on show, then you are the ones that will lose out.

And even more importantly, the fans who you claim to value will also suffer. They will also understand if you’ve got a show car on display, or if you use last year’s car to show off your new paint job and issue only images of the new car. But don’t deliberately confuse them by not being honest.


Edd Straw

Mercedes Amg F1 W12 E Performance Launch

Formula 1 always talks up the technology involved and knows that a significant part of the fanbase has an interest in it, yet teams are patchy when it comes to telling technical stories.

When new cars are launched, obviously teams aren’t expected to reveal all of their secrets. But a little effort on the technical side goes a long way and it’s not difficult to talk about the challenges, solutions and ideas in terms broad enough for engaged fans to understand while not giving away anything rivals don’t already know.

Some teams already do this, others don’t. But putting up technical personnel for interview, or even producing your own in-depth content as a minority of teams already do, should be a part of everyone’s launch output.

It’s certainly better than the alternative favoured by many, which is make no effort to explain and then complain that the watching world doesn’t understand the astonishing expertise, innovation and ideas that go into these cars.


Scott Mitchell-Malm


A good launch, from the perspective of a working journalist AND someone who genuinely finds launches quite fun, is well considered and maximises its value.

That just means the launch is handled in a clever way. There are multiple ways to do this and they can all be really effective.

One team usually does a morning launch (packed with insight from senior team personnel) alongside a shakedown, then peppers social media (and mailing lists, unlike some teams that only feed their own channels) with assets through the day from the shakedown itself, and there are usually chances to speak to the drivers.

Another tends to hold a private launch event for staff, then another one for journalists (with all content under embargo), then a digital launch to the public.

And there’s a time and a place for good quality in-person events too. As long as it’s worthwhile making people travel to your event (i.e. more than just the covers coming off nothing more than a showcar…).

These are all different strategies that target/prioritise different audiences. I know that my preference isn’t the same as a partner that needs to be made to feel special at a glitzy event or party.

But the above examples offer something to everybody – fans, partners, journalists. Therefore the value of the launch is maximised because it ticks a lot of different boxes.

The antithesis of this is when teams pretend something’s a launch when it clearly isn’t. If it’s not actually your new car, just state that clearly. A ‘livery launch’ is absolutely fine if that’s what you badge it as. Launches that claim to feature a ‘real car’ when it clearly isn’t are just misleading and insult everyone’s intelligence.


Valentin Khorounzhiy

K0h2f2 A3y 1217 1920x0 Q0z1pr

In its current guise, the team launch should be quarantined away from the normal world.

We are all so busy in the current age, and when we’re not, we have so many various entertainment options vying for our attention. All of those entertainment options beat your default F1 team launch; a 30-minute self-aggrandisement exercise filled with brands, brand synergy and synergetic brands, subsequently concluding with a glimpse of a colour scheme – the same colour scheme as the year before if you’re particularly lucky! – drawn over a car that will not really have the same parts when it actually hits the track.

There are only so many times you need to hear about how a corporate partner drives a team towards success while generating engagement and creating activations and whatnot, and, let’s be honest, ‘so many times’ in this case is ‘zero times’.

It’s tempting to say your typical F1 team launch is an ad, but even that doesn’t feel true sometimes – the fans feel totally incidental to the experience, which so often just feels like a corporate exercise advertising to prospective partners amid an opportunity to wine-and-dine current partners.

There are still some memorable launches, often if they’re particularly weird. Yamaha had this insane, video game-styled season presentation in MotoGP a couple of years ago, and it honestly grows more and more endearing upon reflection as boring overlong season launches come and go one after another.

So, my ideal course of action doesn’t lie with the teams but with the fans. Obviously, watch whatever you want – watch it on The Race, we tend to host those events on our pages! – but if you find yourself bored, find something else to do, and then check your phone in 10-15 minutes’ time to see the new livery without having had to sit through a corporate lecture. Make F1 teams work for your attention and interest.


Matt Beer

Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen C41 Launch 50

It would be very easy as a journalist to rage at teams prioritising showbiz and spectacle at launches. Bin the contemporary dancers, give me more front wing close-ups and tech personnel interviews. That kind of thing.

Actually, I want both please. Yes, please, please do allow key personnel – drivers, bosses, management, design team – to have some proper time (not just on-stage interviews) with the specialist media so the most dedicated fans get the level of insight they deserve from outlets such as The Race.

But to become a dedicated F1 fan, first you need F1 to grab your attention. And more than ever in this age of diverse social media options, and of the nature of F1’s fanbase growing and evolving, ‘did you see that‘ moments that get people normally unaware of the championship talking have a huge value.

So F1 teams, go as outlandish as you want this launch season. Make it a show. Wow us.

And before or after the dragons, doughnuts and DJs, let our journalists have a decent chat with your most talkative names too.

And, obviously, if it’s not really the 2023 car, don’t pretend it is. That shouldn’t need saying.

It’s time for something different

Josh Suttill

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix Preparation Day Silverstone, England

The world has (mostly) moved on from unnecessary drawn-out PR exercises and F1’s car launch season should follow suit.

Let the cold, corporate launches die and let’s stop the pining for the return of showbiz (think the iconic 1997 Spice Girls-McLaren crossover) launches.

Let’s have something new. Neither is necessary or fit for 2013, let alone 2023.

Speaking purely as a fan, let’s scrap the individual team launches that plonk the 10 seconds everybody is waiting for after an hour of uninterested talking heads and surface-level montages of the previous season that, as fans, we’ve followed deeply.

Instead, F1 should make a proper ‘launch’ event of it, which could kick off pre-season testing. You hold it in a major city centre one week before or to cut costs and air miles, you could hold it the day before pre-season testing kicks off wherever that’s taking place.

Each team gets their 10 minutes of fame, they show their new car, still have some time for sponsor exposure and you’re allowing fans to get close to the action – either at the event or on free-to-air TV to entice new fans in.

It would be a jam-packed two or three hours that would be hotly anticipated each year and prove to be far more engaging than the current launch season. You could even throw in a look at the Formula 2/support categories too and heck they could even book (insert name of a popular band here) for some extra entertainment as well.

If individual teams still wanted their own events, they could hold livery reveals on social media (to skip straight to the good bit) but they’d have to bring the car they wanted to start pre-season testing with to this launch event which would provide the first look at all of the new cars.

Don’t forget to give your juniors a mention!

Jack Benyon

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Alpine F1 Team A522 Launch

Launch season – whatever your opinion of it – is a big deal for fan engagement, and fans getting excited ahead of the new season.

The drivers and some sort of Q&A have become a regular part of this. With this being the case, give your junior drivers a mention/some if you have them!

These juniors are paying million(s) in most cases to race in F2 and not much less to contest F3, plus many of the academy hopefuls have probably had to pay for the privilege of being linked to these F1 teams and getting a bit of time in the sim, attaching its name to their portfolio and so on.

It’d be nice to see the juniors – who work hard on their own careers but also in the background for their F1 teams as well in many cases – to get a little shoutout for their troubles on a stage where people will be watching.

It’d be nice to see them in a more off-the-track state to learn a bit more about their personalities. There’s some lovely, exciting, interesting and polarising drivers in the junior formulas that don’t often get such a chance for promotion.

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