Have you ever noticed that Formula 1 never does much in the way of promotion?
Bernie Ecclestone gets in the papers saying outrageous things – my favourite was when he overstepped the mark spectacularly by telling the US media that Nascar racer Danica Patrick was “a domestic appliance”. That certainly got F1 on to the front pages, but as Bernie has been finding out of late, there is such a thing as bad publicity.
It is bizarre that everyone involved in F1 seems to think that promoting the races is someone else’s job. I doubt Bernie cares. He gets his money from the race promoters and it is their problem if they don’t get it back from the public.
They cannot afford extravagant schemes because they use all their money paying him. The now-defunct Formula One Team Association (FOTA) tried to engage a little with the fans, but that was a pretty token effort, while the FIA seems to think that it is rather more than just a club of car clubs and likes the president to be seen walking around on red carpets as much as possible. It does some promotion for its road safety campaign in F1, but that’s about it.
In Melbourne at the weekend, Formula 1 will make its first public appearance since the biggest change in its rules in at least 30 years, some say that it is the biggest shake-up ever.
I find it astonishing that while everyone is whingeing about the cost and difficulty of the new engines, no-one seems to be telling the world the important message: Formula 1 has gone hybrid. That, surely, is the biggest news story of all. Yet the F1 media is so wrapped up in MGU-Hs and MGU-Ks and more KERS that no-one is actually delivering the message in a form that normal folk care to understand.
These mean-looking racing cars are not burning up the world’s carbon supplies as much as they once did: they are now lean and green.
If the sport was run by an old-fashioned American-style huckster, F1 would be making a lot of noise about this exciting new – and relevant - era.
The grid girls would be dressed in green (Hey, it’s St Patrick's Day on the Monday after the race!) or the FIA might arrange for Jean Todt to stand on a red carpet at the end of the pit lane and wave a green flag at the start of the first practice session.