For the first time in the modern era, Formula One Management have released footage from the FIA driver briefing to fans worldwide.
The commercial rights holder uploaded a three-minute video from the Monaco Grand Prix briefing to social media during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend. The footage shows Romain Grosjean asking the FIA’s Charlie Whiting about Lewis Hamilton’s attempted overtake on Sebastian Vettel during the Spanish Grand Prix; whilst Max Verstappen commented on the height of the kerb following the swimming pool complex.
The move has been on the cards since last October when it was first reported that the footage would be released publicly in some format, so arguably this was a decision made before Liberty came on board. You can make your own interpretation as to whether this is the first time that the driver briefing has included anything of any interest.
Having now seen the footage, the question is whether this is something we want to regularly see after each race weekend, and the pros or cons involved. One of the areas Liberty Media is trying to push is a focus on the driver personalities. The driver briefings are one place which highlights the individual characters that might not otherwise be on show elsewhere during the weekend. Showing snippets from the briefing helps fans gather an insight into the decision-making process.
On the other hand, there may be a concern that drivers will stop being themselves in the briefings if FOM choose to release footage on a regular basis. The briefings are a private forum for drivers to talk to race officials. Broadcasting the footage via any medium may result in drivers registering their grievances elsewhere, when the cameras are off.
Also, after seeing the footage a few times from different events, it will inevitably lose its raw touch. In my view, we should see the footage either on an ad-hoc basis, or potentially at the end of the season as a standalone video. The Monaco video that FOM released was an excellent behind the scenes look at the briefing, but not something I would watch every weekend.
The raft race is back!
The Canadian Grand Prix weekend also saw the return of the raft race. The raft race, organised by FOM and Red Bull, which used to be a staple of the Montreal weekend during the 1980s and 1990s, made a return on Saturday evening and was streamed live on Formula 1’s social media channels. This is not only about giving something back to the fans, but is also about making F1 fun again.
It does feel like the offering from Liberty Media this weekend has increased further with several features uploaded to social media, such as Lewis Hamilton matching Ayrton Senna’s 65 pole positions. The video presenting Hamilton with a replica of Senna’s helmet immediately following qualifying has reached 3.3 million people on Facebook and countless more across Twitter and YouTube.
For fans attending the race, Liberty are experimenting with free Wi-Fi for fans in the grandstand, allowing them it looks like to live stream the on-track action.