Bob McMurray: F1 flash and dash shows are history
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It seems just a short time ago that the final Formula 1 race of the 2018 season took place in Abu Dhabi in November.
But those teams are now making the final arrangements for the launch of their new cars for 2019.
Toro Rosso will be the first team out of the gate on February 11 followed by Renault, Racing Point (nee Force India), McLaren, Ferrari, and then Sauber on February 18.
Haas, Williams, Mercedes and Red Bull will follow.
Launches are no longer the great extravaganzas they once were, with stages set, cars appearing from underground, on wires from above, out of clouds of dry ice or even, in the case of the West McLaren team in 1997, with the Spice Girls and Jamiroquai sharing the stage with the F1 car, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard in a “made for MTV” launch special.
A colleague, Peter Burns led the McLaren marketing and promotions group that was given the task of bringing the whole production together in London’s Alexandra Palace.
Apart from the issues of dealing with some of the world’s most famous entertainers, the people at MTV realised that the live audience, a celebrity-laden corporate style crowd, was not the targeted brand engagement set typical of the MTV image.
And so, they decided to some “young people” to be front and centre in the pit of the stage — to be wildly enthusiastic as the MTV cameras scanned them while the invited audience politely clapped.
Busloads of the MTV-ers duly arrived, minutes before the start of the TV recording and were led into the auditorium through the huge reception area.
That area had been laid out with a large, expensive buffet to welcome the hundreds of “important” guests but after the kids had walked through, there was barely a sausage roll, a persimmon bruschetta or any other delicate canape left.
No, you don’t see F1 launches like that any more.
F1 car launches this early in the season reveal comparatively little in the way of innovation.
We have to wait for the first pre-season testing later in February and then the first grand prix in Melbourne in March to see the “real” cars.
There is added interest in this season of launches, however, in seeing how the various design departments, Computational Fluid Design (CFD) nerds and aerodynamicists have integrated the new-for-2019 regulations.
There will be new front wings, rear wings, DRS opening, smaller barge boards (the bits on the side of the car used to manage the flow of air around the car) and brake ducts but the stand-outs are likely to be with the graphics designs and the paint jobs.
After all, that is one of the few points of difference in recognising the individual cars on track.