Yesterday was the first day of preseason testing for Formula One. In the morning, a few hours before the actual test got underway, several teams revealed their cars to the media who had travelled to Spain.
Some of the cars, such as the Mercedes, were initially released online. Other’s had revealed a livery but not the actual car itself (Renault and Red Bull), while other’s decided to launch their car during the morning, having not provided any pictures or held any sort of launch beforehand (Force India).
This season’s Formula One car launches have left some fans and media looking to the past when launches were lavish events and were spread over a wider period in January. Some team’s still do this, but not to the same extent and to only launch a new team or a new livery. This is something that Renault and Red Bull both did for this season.
Despite this, these events can at times cause confusion for some as it is not evidently clear that the car they are presenting is a show car (in the case of Renault) or the new livery on last season’s car (in the case of Red Bull). Yet, it still manages to generate interest and draws people’s attention solely to the team and the sport for at least one day, which is good for a team’s sponsors.
It is also a better approach when comparing to team’s who decide to launch their car on the day of the first test, which leaves sponsors with little airtime as the media will spend more time covering the actual test, rather than a team’s launch. There is also the added drawback of several team’s doing this, which means that they end up fighting each other for the little airtime that is available moments before the test begins.
Other teams have turned to launching their car online, either through video streaming or simply releasing studio pictures of their car on social media. This is still cheaper than holding a lavish event at a physical venue, but at the same time can generate attention solely on that team if they decide to do the online launch a few weeks prior to the test, which is what Ferrari did this year. It can also help reach more of the sport’s global fanbase who can view the launch in the comfort of their own home.
Launching online makes sense, and I feel is the way to go for most teams in the future who still want to launch their car in some style and be able to generate airtime for sponsors, the sport and the team in general. Yet, as many found out when attempting to view the Ferrari and Haas launches, there are still some issues with live streaming the event on the web. Mainly that the site crashes or the streaming isn’t fluid, making for an undesirable viewing experience.
Formula One has, whether intentionally or not, down played the importance and fun of a car launch over the years, finding cheaper and more convenient ways to launch their cars. It is a shame team’s don’t hold lavish events anymore, but it is also understandable that it’s cheaper to just launch the car the day before, or a few hours before the first preseason test, since it is also a location that the team’s are required to be at if they wish to learn about their new car. It is also understandable, for the same reason, why a team would opt to launch their car online. But clearly teams have left a lot to be desired out of the short, albeit, still important launch season.