F1 Launches

I've well and truly had enough of F1 launch season.
This time of year has traditionally been one of the most exciting times for F1 fans, followers and the media. New cars, new liveries and new driver combos, have in the past, been welcome events after a 'slow-news' winter. But for some reason launch season 2013 has been a complete online bore-fest.

I have been lucky enough in the past, as a member of the F1 media, to attend some fairly impressive launches over the years. We have been flown around the world to impressive venues and been treated to elaborate shows and spectacles. I have arrived into Venice by gondola with Falvio Briatore and Mark Webber, partied through the night with Bollywood actors on Vijay Mallya's super yacht, I've been skiing with Juan Pablo Montoya, been driven around various race tracks in exotic machinery, stayed in swish hotels and been furnished with free gifts. We even had a private gig from the Spice Girls. Well, it can't all be glamorous....

I know what you are going to say:
We are in a World recession.... teams don't have the cash to spend on lavish trips for the select few.
Bollocks! F1 teams are on average spending in excess of $100 million each year on their activities.
They exist purely to sell stuff.
To promote brands and to give a financial return to the companies who pay to put their names on the side of each car.
F1 is marketing. It is brand awareness.
And to generate publicity that works, you need more than a handycam and YouTube!

The general idea of online launches is a good one. There is no doubt it opens up what used to be a very closed world to the public. Exactly the people that are expected to buy the products that the teams are attempting to promote.
But, my word, does it come with some risks.

And this brings me to why I think online launches do their creators no favours. Just in the last week we have seen team websites that don't work, launches that start late, unknown presenters talking utter gibberish to fill time before the launch and if the video does finally work, then the content is about as entertaining as syphilis. Where is the theatre, drama and action?

The other thing I have an issue with, is that the very nature of a 'launch' is to launch something.
What we see now is the presentation of a bastardised F1 car, created purely to distract the media and rival teams away from the bits they don't want anyone to see. The cars that we have been presented this week bear absolutely no relation to the cars that will run at Jerez on Tuesday, so what is the point? The other element of a launch used to be surprise. What surprises have we had this week? Ohh the McLaren is still grey, yep, the Ferrari is still red and the Lotus still has 4 wheels.... revolutionary!!

Even driver announcements are no longer a surprise. I would love to see Fore India have a driver launch in a week or so, and present a driver to the world through a curtain shrouded in dry ice that is a proper, genuine surprise.....

Whilst social media and digital launches have opened the spectacle to the world they have at the same time taken the spectacle away completely.

Sahara Force India VJM-06 Launch 2013. Silverstone, UK. Copyright James Moy Photography www.jamesmoy.com