Gerhard Berger warns F1 culture must not be ‘bent’ by ‘American show’
While 10-time F1 race winner Gerhard Berger is “happy” to see that Formula 1 has now cracked America, he is keen that this does not meddle with the “European culture” of the series.
The F1 2023 calendar sees an increase to three rounds based in the United States.
Joining the Miami Grand Prix which debuted in 2022, and the longer established United States GP at the Circuit of The Americas, is the Las Vegas Grand Prix which will debut in November as the penultimate round of the 2023 season.
The 2023 Miami GP kicked off F1’s action in the nation for the year, with another bumper crowd serving as further proof of F1’s glowing popularity there, a spike of interest started by the success of Netflix’s Formula 1 docuseries Drive to Survive.
And in Miami, where celebrities piled onto the grid pre-race, the drivers got their own very special treatment in the form of individual introductions, including rapper LL Cool J on the mic, with an orchestra and pyro adding to the experience.
It was not one though which Berger really enjoyed, the former Ferrari and McLaren driver stressing that F1’s “European culture” must be kept in mind when it comes to such “American” shows.
“Now with Liberty Media at the helm, we have finally managed to get America behind Formula 1,” said Berger on ServusTV. “I’m happy for Formula 1.
“I say that Formula 1 basically has a European culture. You must not bend this culture. This pronounced show component of the Americans, which sometimes dilutes the whole thing a bit, I personally don’t like it that much – including the Netflix documentary.”
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Driver support for their introductions was rather slim, only Lewis Hamilton coming forward in clear support of this different way of doing things pre-race.
But regardless of who liked them and who did not, what is clear is just how key of a market America has become for F1, as Berger would go into the numbers on US attendance figures now compared to when he was visiting the nation in the 1980s.
“We have raced in America, but we had hardly been able to spark any enthusiasm there,” he said. “There was a hard core of fans, there were 30,000 spectators at such a race.
“But today there are 300,000 in Miami and even 400,000 in Austin.”
The Red Bull team maintained their dominance with a one-two finish at the 2023 Miami GP, Max Verstappen taking the win ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez to extend his Championship lead to 14 points over his team-mate.
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