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F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Verstappen calls for changes to media demand: "At the end of the day you say the same thing."

With F1 at an unprecedented level of popularity, drivers have called for changes to be made to the amount of media demands placed on them - with Max Verstappen leading the way. 

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F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Verstappen calls for changes to media demand: "At the end of the day you say the same thing."
Fuente imagen: f1.com

This weekend brings with it the first Formula One Sprint of the season. As such, the format (in theory) has become a more condensed one. Namely, Friday became media day - as opposed to the traditional Thursday. However, following comments from a variety of drivers during Friday’s F1 Press Conference, it is clear that they feel their days are considerably longer - which is not the best preparation for a race weekend.

Formula One is unquestionably at an unprecedented level of popularity and the knock-on effect of this is that media demand is heavier than ever. Unsurprisingly, Max Verstappen has called for F1 drivers’ media activities to be changed while Kevin Magnussen stated ‘it becomes a bit hard to be authentic when you’ve answered the same question 30 times’.

2022 regulations are proving to be a headache for teams and literally for the drivers experiencing severe porpoising. As such, track time is crucial to be able to unlock potential of packages. Therefore, it is unfortunate (at only the 4th Grand Prix of the season) that this weekend brings a trial of the new event format.

In Imola, teams are experiencing a three-day race weekend as opposed to the traditional four. This move to three days was done to allow drivers, mechanics and all team personnel time away from the circuit with an ever-increasing calendar and much less ‘downtime’ between races.

In practice though, with so many obligations to satisfy, drivers have been meeting with their teams on a Thursday and then arriving early at the track on Friday for media interviews. Not only this, but TV media and print media have also been getting access to drivers on a Thursday which makes a farce of the supposed three-day format.

Max Verstappen has never been one to keep his opinion close to his chest and in Friday’s press conference he spoke out about the demand on him and all F1 drivers.

“I think it’s more about how we are doing the press conferences and the media activities. I think it was better before,” said the current F1 Drivers’ World Champion. “Now our Thursday is very long, which officially is not really a day anymore. But actually for us it’s the same amount, or even more on a Thursday, and even more now on a Friday when you come in early. 

“Coming in early isn’t a problem, but your whole day is longer. So going to more races, you would like to have a shorter weekend. But actually now, with more races, we are also having longer weekends, so at least more days we are actually at the track and doing stuff. So that definitely needs to change.” Verstappen remarked before outlining the schedule he follows.

“We do this [FIA Press Conference], then we go outside and have to speak to all the individual [TV] media. But they all ask the same question. And you basically are repeating yourself six or seven times. You try to keep it interesting to try and word it in a different way but at the end of the day you say the same thing, right?

In the same Drivers’ group with Max Verstappen was GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers’ Association) director George Russell and he was asked about a supposed letter written to the FIA from the drivers. Russell would not reveal precise details of the content of the letter – and nor should he be expected to – but the mindset could certainly be gauged from his remarks.

“I’ve only been around for three years but between all of the drivers, we are incredibly united and we’ve got constant communication with F1 and the FIA to try to improve our sport in every single aspect,” said the British racer. “It’s forever changing but there isn’t more to elaborate at the moment. But I think it’s important that between drivers, F1 and the FIA we are all on the same page and all pushing in the same direction.”

The concern of such repetition and demand echoed in a later session by Kevin Magnussen as he said:

“Although it's about the subject that you're very excited about, that wears off, through Thursday and then into Friday, and you know, it becomes a bit hard to be authentic at the end, when you've answered the same question 30 times. But you know, it's not really up to me.”

This in turn was supported by former 4-time F1 Drivers’ World Champion Sebastian Vettel (not to mention George Russel’s fellow GPDA Director) stating:

“I think Kevin hit the nail on the head. So, the incentive was to make it shorter, it hasn't worked. So, I think we need to improve. We can improve. The main thing is you want us to be excited if you have the same questions for an hour, it's not going to be. I think we've been all been to the TV and basically our excitement is not at its peak. I don't know I think we need to find a better way.”

So, is there a solution to the new media age Formula One is living in? According to Max Verstappen, F1 would do well to take inspiration from other sports.

“What you see in other sports, when they have a press conference, there are a lot of mics just brought together. And actually, instead of giving the broadcasters just two questions each, they all have six, eight or 10 questions just in one go and they can all broadcast it. So I think that’s also way more efficient and nicer for everyone, and you get a lot more out of the drivers.” Verstappen stated.

There are certainly many options out there to satisfy media and fan demand but first and foremost this is about racing cars at high speed.

No one wants to see their favourite driver run off track due to little track time and certainly no one wants to see any driver come to harm as they endeavour to maximise track time inside a condensed schedule. Obviously, we will see this weekend how settled the drivers are with their respective packages, but something tells me that this debate has only just begun.


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