Today, in football, Manchester City won the English Premier League title after beating West Ham 2-0. Afterwards, the team were presented with the Premier League trophy in front of 45,000 people at the Etihad Stadium. It is tradition in many different sports for the winners to be presented with their trophy straight after the final event. The purpose of this, of course, is so that the fans in attendance can witness the moment taking place, but also for the viewing audience watching at home: for them to be part of it. You may wonder what relevance at all this has to Formula 1.
Let’s take 2012 as a good example. The championship battle went down to the final race at the Brazilian Grand Prix with Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso fighting for the title. In the end, Vettel won the title after battling through the field following a spin on the first lap. Whilst Vettel did have a visit to the podium following the end of normal proceedings, he was presented the official Formula One World Drivers’ Championship trophy at the FIA Gala a few weeks later, out of the public spotlight in front of only those directly involved with the sport. The same applies to the Constructors’ Championship trophy. The reason for this is because there is the possibility that cars could be found illegal, thus potentially changing the championship order, this very nearly happened in 2007. To date, the championship winner has never been excluded from the standings following the conclusion of the final race.
The issue I have with the trophies being presented long after the final is that it feels too old-fashioned, and too bureaucratic. I understand that post-race checks need to be done after the race in order to make sure that every participant is running with a legal car, and also that the teams need to pack up and head home. But, I also feel that more could be done in order to bring the atmosphere of the final race ‘home’ to the viewer. It is bizarre that we see the teams celebrating after each race weekend with the individual race winning trophies, yet when it comes to the championship winning trophies, this is not the case. If you asked anyone what the Formula One championship trophies looked like, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you, because neither trophy is showcased anywhere near as enough as they should be. Why not have the trophy on the grid next to the safety car before every race, or a select few races? Both trophies should be made to ‘feel’ important.
If it was me running the sport for the final race, after the podium procedure, I would like to see a separate presentation done on the start-finish straight. Have the winning driver presented with the World Drivers’ Championship trophy and the winning team presented with the World Constructors’ Championship trophy. It would bring a bit more ‘aura’ to the final race weekend, in the same way that the final day of the Premier League season does. In Brazil, this would be great to see, and even in Abu Dhabi this year, irrespective of how much I loathe double points, it would be a spectacle to see something of that nature to happen. Those watching at home would keep watching as the would want to watch the presentations. It could well be a ‘replica’ trophy (today there would have been two Premier League trophies at Liverpool and Man City, so it would make no difference to the viewing public), with the driver and team getting the real version of it at the FIA Gala. Only a select few know about the FIA Gala, whereas many millions around the globe watch the final race each year, it is the latter who should be catered to in this case and not the former.
In my view, it is one of them obvious and simple things that should be considered and discussed, and would make the fans feel closer to the sport. Which probably means that it has never been considered as a realistic option by those that matter.