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F1 drivers hit out at “distracting” pre-race ceremony in Miami



On the main straight, where American rapper LL Cool J introduced each driver to fans before the American national anthem, a makeshift gantry was erected with its back to the grid.

Meanwhile, led the orchestra in a performance of his and Lil Wayne’s new F1 song “The Formula”, which was released on Saturday’s Miami Grand Prix weekend.

Due to the revised format, riders were called 23 minutes before the scheduled start of the race, compared to 16 minutes before the more traditional anthem ceremony used in Baku.

But the changes were met with a lukewarm reception by drivers, who expressed reservations at a Friday night briefing because they felt the process was too long and they did not want to see it repeated.

Russell calls out distracting ‘performance’

Mercedes driver George Russell called it a “distraction”, saying: “I guess it’s the American way of doing things in sport. Personally, it might not suit me.

“I’m here to race. I’m not here to put on a show. I’m here to drive and I’m here to win.

“It was very distracting because we were out in the sun for half an hour in all our work clothes.

“I don’t think there’s any other sport in the world where 30 minutes before you go out to do business, in the sun, with all the cameras on you, and do some show.

“In the entertainment industry, I can relate to that. But like I said, we just want to do our best for the sport. We’re open to change. But I guess we don’t want to see it every weekend.

“What I love about every game is the national anthem, it lifts you up and it’s a tribute to the country we’re playing in. It’s mixed feelings about the extras.”

F1 intends to use occasional ceremonial introductions, with the championship experimenting with a similar spectacle for the US Grand Prix at the 2017 Tour of the Americas, when famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer welcomed the drivers.

Norris: Drivers have exposed enough

McLaren’s Lando Norris believes the entire circuit is against the idea, adding that there needs to be a limit on the time drivers spend on TV shows and audience participation.

He said: “No driver likes it, but at the end of the day it’s not for us.

“We do a lot of things. It’s probably the only sport where we get so close to the fans.

“We do a lot of publicity for our fans. As drivers, we all just want to sit back and focus on what we need to focus on instead of watching so much TV or whatever.

“But at the end of the day, it’s a business, so it’s something we have to do. But there’s more and more stuff like this, and no driver likes it.

“We said, ‘You can’t just keep throwing stuff in and make us do more and more’.

“We do a lot. There’s a limit to what we should be doing. We’re here to stay focused on the work we’re doing and not be in front of the camera all day.”

Meanwhile, criticism on social media cited footage of three-time F1 champion Jackie Stewart appearing to be prevented from entering the grid by safety.

Alonso: Miami fans don’t deserve special treatment

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc was less critical but called for an adjustment to the timing, while Fernando Alonso believed F1 needed to be unified so the American race could not be treated differently.

Quoting fans in other countries who were equally enthusiastic, he said: “I understand everyone’s point of view, but I’m not a big fan of that kind of thing before a race.

“If we have to do that, I think we need to cancel some of the other things that we’re doing, like parade circles or something like that, because it’s really in the run-up to the engineers and the strategy meeting.

“If we do it, we have to do it everywhere because I don’t think the fans in Miami are any better than the Italian fans in Imola, Spain, Mexico or Japan.

“We need to have everyone have the same rules and the same program before the game.”

Miami Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen says he wants to stay out of the spotlight.

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Hamilton backs experiment organizers

However, seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton expressed his support for the show as he embraced the work of F1 owner Liberty Media in experimenting with the format.

He said: “I think it’s great. I love Sun!

“I think it’s cool that the sport is growing and evolving and not just doing what they’ve done in the past.

“They’re trying new things; they’re trying to improve the show, and I’m all for it.

“I grew up listening to LL Cool J, he was there. That was cool.

“And then you look over there and you have Who is an amazing artist. You have Serena and Venus (Williams, the tennis champion) standing there.

“I think it’s cool, I’m fine with that.”

Asked if the ceremony posed any risk of distracting him, Hamilton replied: “I’ve been focused and in shape since last Sunday.”


De Vries looks ahead to GP Spain: 'Long race with a lot of relegation'




Nyck de Vries has performed much better in Monaco than at previous Grands Prix this season. The Dutch seem to have brought this form to the Spanish country. Around Barcelona, ​​the AlphaTauri drivers had a great time. He started the race in 14th place. In a press conference with GPblog and others, De Vries looked to the future.

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Ferrari F1 upgrades have not shown their best in Spain, says Sainz




The Spaniard managed to make the most of improvements to the SF-23 in Barcelona as he became Max Verstappen’s closest challenger to pole.

But while performances at such a circuit where the air is so crucial bodes well for the progress Ferrari has made, Sainz believes the nature of the Barcelona circuit is not actually performing to its best potential.

He believes the high-speed nature of the venue is not particularly suitable for Ferrari, so future venues will have clearer evidence of progress.

“The new kit is mainly about improving low-to-mid speed, and in that area we really feel like a step in the right direction,” he said.

“As I said before the weekend, it’s a step in a different direction. It’s not so much a big upgrade or a big change in our performance as it opens up a different operating range window for the car.

“That’s the main goal of this upgrade, not suddenly half a second faster. I think it’s doing the job, and it’s working well.

“We also want to make the car more predictable, easier to drive, and easier to do laps. Hopefully it will go in that direction, but unfortunately we’ve gone down a route that doesn’t work for us.

“We’ve been really bad at high speed since the start of the season. Since Australia we’ve been struggling with balance and bounce and a lot of things that happen to us at high speed.

“So, we’re just going to focus on that now and see if we can improve it because, as you can see, the low speeds aren’t actually bad at all for us.”

Top three in qualifying Lando Norris, McLaren, pole position Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

Top three in qualifying Lando Norris, McLaren, pole position Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

Sainz believes the fact that he put Ferrari on the front row, while team-mate Charles Leclerc ended up being eliminated in Q1, is further indication of one of his team’s biggest weaknesses – its very narrow operating window, which is It’s all too easy to suddenly lose competitiveness.

“I don’t know exactly what happened to Charles, but it’s been the same story all year,” he said.

“It felt like it was a very narrow window for us; a very narrow car window; and a very tricky car.

“Once the situation gets tricky, it goes in one direction or the other and you’re fighting with a very different balance. It was a good line for me today.

“It turned out not bad, but it was tough because now it looks like the midfield is really starting to get close to us. You have guys like Alpine and even Haas, Lando (Norris) and McLaren showing up. Yes, they join us in the race for second or third place.

“Obviously Red Bull are in a league of their own, but everyone else, it looks really, really nervous.”

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Russell “lost and confused” as Mercedes hampered by F1 bouncing




Russell also had bounce problems in the high-speed corners of Barcelona, ​​which made it harder to drive his Mercedes W14 to the limit, with the Briton reporting he believed he had problems with his tires early in the first quarter.

“The car didn’t feel good every lap of the race,” Russell said when asked by Autosport about the car’s behavior.

“We made some small changes from FP3 to quali, and the car bounced a lot in high-speed corners.

“In the corners that were easy to get flat in practice, I couldn’t get it flat. I couldn’t get the tires to work, everything went wrong. From the first lap in Q1, I knew we weren’t going to have a good day. It was weird .

“We should take advantage of conditions like that, which we usually do. As a team we usually do well when it’s challenging, but today, especially with me, it was different.”

Russell was knocked out in the second period after contact with team-mate Lewis Hamilton and was six-tenths off Max Verstappen’s benchmark time for the stage.

Russell mentioned that Q1 leader Nico Hulkenberg was 1.5 seconds behind to underscore his struggles, adding: “I’ve tried all kinds of outer circles, all kinds of pressure. Probably just getting ourselves a little bit lost and confused.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG

Photograph: Sam Bloxham / motorsport pictures

“For those cold, wet, oily conditions, the set-up changes we made in qualifying were definitely going in the wrong direction, which is a shame, especially because I think we have a very fast car. I think in FP2 In , we probably have the second fastest car after the Max, ahead of the Ferraris.

“So not all is lost. Tomorrow we just have to be patient and try to bounce back.”

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff backed Russell’s downbeat assessment of his weekend, admitting the team had gone the wrong way with his car.

“It was clear from the start that the set direction we were going with George made the car worse,” he said. “I think from the very beginning he was complaining that he didn’t have any grip, he had bounce and the car was understeering before it was oversteering.

“That’s something we need to unwind now to see exactly what we could have done differently.”

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