With the NASCAR season over, this past weekend, I ventured into new territory and watched my first Formula One race.
My cousin is a diehard fan of Carlos Sainz, and my aunt is a fan of Charles Leclerc. Naturally, because those who are the ones who have enticed me to get into Formula One that is who I pulled for. I also pulled for the Haas team because they are the only Formula One team headquartered in the United States, and they just so happen to be headquartered about 20 minutes away from my hometown of Harrisburg, North Carolina.
With the Las Vegas race, there was so much media surrounding the event that even though the race started at 1 o’clock my time, I was going to watch the race, which leads me to my first point. I understand Formula One is a global brand, and they have a massive fan base around the world, but why would you start the race at 11 local time? This was an excellent opportunity to expose the brand to the American market they did not take advantage of.
The series prides itself on being the premier racing series in the world, so why not showcase that to a market that is already so invested in NASCAR and IndyCar? For you to prove that you are the premier racing series in the world, you have to allow fans to see what makes your series so prestigious.
That leads me to my second point. Based on what I have seen through social media, the event proved to the American public that the series is not for the commoner. Ticket prices for the event were absurd, and nobody in their right mind would spend thousands of dollars on tickets just for a mediocre at best seat. I saw a few videos where people who paid thousands of dollars for seats only saw the cars for half a second as they sped by. From some of the angles I saw, you could not even tell who was driving by.
There’s also the issue of the series blocking off the road for people walking around not to be able to view the track and the hundreds of videos of security guards pushing and screaming at people to keep moving as they try to get a glimpse of the event. I absolutely agree that a spectator should pay for their ticket, but let people get a glimpse of the event that is going on, especially being that the race was raced on a public road.
There were a few other tidbits that I saw through social media that just put a bad taste in my mouth for the series. The merchandise was so freaking expensive. The broadcast before and after the race was terrible. At one point, they were following this guy around who was trying to interview celebrities who would just ignore him. After the race, none of the drivers knew what they were supposed to be doing, and everything just felt so forced and staged. The whole idea of driving to the Bellagio for an interview with the podium finishers and then driving back to the start/finish line for the award ceremony was just insane to me.
Despite the actual events surrounding the race, I did find the race to be very entertaining, and I now have a better understanding of why it is that this series has to have the best drivers on planet Earth. Of course, I fully expected Max Verstappen to win the race, but it was entertaining to see Leclerc finish the race the way he did. I can also appreciate the dominance of Max Verstappen.
My one complaint about the race, as I am sure every NASCAR fan will have about Formula One, is that there is such a skill gap between the guy that finishes in first and bottom five drivers. I am so used to, on any given Sunday, somebody random in the NASCAR Cup series winning a race because there are rules set in place to minimize that skill gap. What I guess makes Formula One so different is that the series really does give these teams the ability to showcase their ability to build a racing machine, which is going to take some getting used to for me, but I can appreciate it.
Finally, I did really enjoy following the race on the Formula One app. I liked being able to see each driver’s perspective, and I really liked being able to look at where everyone was on the track. I think what Formula One has done as far as utilizing an app for fame engagement was done perfectly.
Overall, I think Formula One is something that I can get into. I will make an effort to wake up at eight in the morning on Sunday to watch the race, and in this off-season, I will do more research on the series so that when the 2024 season starts up, I am well-informed!