Marchionne warns against 'sapping away the DNA' of F1

Sunday, 03 december 2017, 06:11 , by Matthew Scott

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has claimed that he appreciates Liberty Media's attempts to break into the American market and modernise Formula One, but has warned against 'sapping away the DNA' of the sport to appease the tastes of fans in the United States.

Liberty have controlled operations of F1 since January and one of their key plans for the future is to crack America and rival motorsports such as Nascar for popularity. Marchionne has confessed that he is fond of the United States, but F1 should not radically change its principles to meet the needs of one particular country.

"There is an opportunity here if we do the things right to make this a relevant sport in the US," Marchionne said at the launch of Alfa Romeo's Formula 1 comeback.

"If we do that it'll benefit the sport tremendously [but] I put a big proviso on this.

"As much as I love the country, and spend half my life there, the real issue for me is there's a tradition and a history of F1 that cannot be denied by this expansion.

"I think we need to be careful that this desire to make us attractive to the American public doesn't end up sapping away the DNA of a sport that…grew up as a something of a dignified gentlemen's sport.

"I don't think we should be doing anything to this that will take it away, we need to preserve it, we need to modernise it, in a way which Americans find relevant. That's the tricky part."

At the United States GP in Austin during the summer, legendary boxing announcer Michael Buffer was recruited to introduce the drivers to the fans, similar to a boxing fight. This decision was seen as a way to make American audiences more engaged, but Marchionne thinks it was a step too far.

"If we go too far to try and appease… I think for example, I'll be honest, the performance in Austin, the way we arranged the show was not what I think a Formula 1 event ought to be," he said.

"But I think it's part of a trial and error exercise, I don't think it worked incredibly well, I think a lot of the Europeans were somewhat taken aback by what happened."


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