Modern F1 car launches are rubbish: They should be ditched!

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F1 fans are a passionate lot. No sooner has the chequered flag dropped on the final race of the season in Brazil do the F1 fans start their countdown until they can get their next fix of F1 fever, and as we move through the dark winter months all eyes become transfixed on the F1 teams’ car launches for 2013.

Many see this as a chance to see how hard the teams have worked over the winter, to see the new driver line ups, to evaluate how the new car looks and to identify where a team has developed a competitive advantage or more importantly take it as a chance to predict just how the teams 2013 fortunes are going to pan out based on the new derivative car that they present to the public.

But these new car launches are a waste of time. Utterly pointless! So I ask the question; should F1 even bother with them.

Why?

Because these launches do not serve the F1 community with anything meaningful other than to see how the marketing and graphic design departments have conjured up the teams latest branding and colour schemes that emblazon the car and drivers overalls, and that is all. In a pioneering technical, mechanical and aerodynamic sport, these critical elements that determine a cars performance are all hidden away with deliberate act of smoke and mirrors.

Red Bull epitomised this perfectly this year. Their launch was in a room that resembled a sleazy night club, the invited press were forbidden to take any photos and no sooner were the covers off the 2013 challenger where they whipped back on again. To add insult to injury for all the disappointed fans that tried to streamed the event live over the internet, as a parting gift Red Bull presented the worlds audience with a hand drawn rendition of the 2013 car! I mean come on!

But let’s put ourselves in the position of Red Bull or any of the leading F1 teams, why on earth would you use your launch event to reveal all or any of your hard work and secrets to the public and other F1 teams in one fell swoop?
That’s right, that genius diffuser configuration your team had painstakingly drawn up, modelled, built, tested, revised, tested and then fitted to the new car in time for launch day which included many man hours and late nights has just been sold down the river in go or broadcast live on SkySports News! Bosch, there goes your 0.5 seconds a lap advantage as all the other teams find it, copy it and have it on their car in time for the first race of the season.

It is this hyper competitive environment that means F1 team will never openly display what their real 2013 challenger looks like and why we should not even bother to look at the car on display at a F1 launch. Yet, they continue to persist with the format of inviting the world’s media to travel to each team headquarters to enjoy lunch while F1 fans get to watch the event over a crappy buffering web streams.

In my view we should just ditch this futile exercise all together and just skip to the track and testing. F1 should hold a standard launch day on the afternoon/evening prior to the official first day of testing. Each team is given a slot whereby they roll up their car, pull off the cloth their latest model, say the nice things to camera, let the photographers take the pictures, then just get on with testing, where we really start to learn something.
The concept of a united F1 launch event for the team was banded around a few years when cost saving was being driven through by Max Mosley in his fight with the FOCA, but that seems to have died a death as the strength of FOCA has slowly dwindled.

Currently the F1 cars are testing in earnest in Jerez and slowly we will begin to see a picture of how the season is going to pan out. Testing reveals how the cars will look, how the concepts from the drawing board will play out, how contenders are shaping up. Modern F1 launches are pointless because the need for secrecy is paramount. They should be ditched but instead the teams should spend more time in coming up with better ways they can engage in a meaningful manner with their fans for the year ahead.

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