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F1 TIMEWASTING pre-season must change - here’s how

F1 TIMEWASTING pre-season must change - here’s how

F1 TIMEWASTING pre-season must change - here’s how

F1 TIMEWASTING pre-season must change - here’s how

With a certain seven-time world champion's team-swapping announcement, a TV star getting axed from their Netflix show, and energy drink investigations, 2024 has had the most entertaining pre-season in recent memory.

The regularity of breaking and unexpected news over January and February has energised me for the new season far more than usual.

I'm not sure about you, but the influx of jaw-dropping Formula 1 news has me far more eager to see how testing shakes out than in other years without a regulation change.

Yet it's made me question how previous pre-season periods have made this time of year become the destined months of dullness when I was once desperate for any winter F1 content.

Somehow, even with the increased possibility for fan engagement and instant content delivery, car launches have become sterile, anonymous events rather than save-the-date, worthwhile unveilings.

READ MORE: F1 announce major statement on Horner and Red Bull investigation

Stake F1 divided the Formula 1 fanbase with their green and black reveal

Laughable liveries

The recent phenomenon of showing livery renders, as realistic as they may be, and 'car launches' that appear more like networking events with a reskinned frankencar as the centrepiece are all too commonplace.

It's particularly spirit-dampening when so many liveries are indistinguishable from years before (I'm looking at you, Milton Keynes) or are more carbon fibre than identifiable branding.

Despite Stake F1's green machine being so marmite in fan response, I'm at least glad they tried something noticeably different from what else is on the grid this year, and I applaud them for it.

Even with my technical appreciation for what the sport's engineers conjure up growing every year, I must admit that the child-like fan inside still wants cool-coloured cars with all-new looks.

Black carbon fibre and play-it-safe branding exercises can't hit the same spot as when McLaren switched to papaya and blue, Mercedes dropped silver for black, or the AT01 showed that Toro Rosso blue and red had waved goodbye.

McLaren (pictured team principal Andrea Stella) were more open over their car launch

Smoke and (wing?)Mirrors

While hiding development details is inherent in the F1 development race, it creates disillusionment when a 'launch' date is nothing more than a computer-generated JPEG or a decoy car for marketing purposes.

McLaren's openness in declaring their Silverstone filming day shakedown as being unrepresentative of the final car felt partly refreshing and partly like they were mocking us for hoping anything different would happen.

Obviously, it's a sport of fine margins, and copying — or taking inspiration from, as I believe the engineers would say — other teams' designs is part of the game.

Sharing your secrets with the enemy isn't how to win a championship in any sport, so playing your cards close to your chest isn't just sensible but expected.

Teams know it. Journalists know it. Fans know it. Yet, everyone goes through the motions each year for... traditions, maybe?

Pre-season testing is where we see the actual contenders for what the final cars will look like, and that's why this week is the actual start of 2024 for the teams, not the fluff preceding it.

Yes, FP1, or even Q1, at Bahrain is when we'll see the decided-on 20 challengers from the teams, but at least testing gives a far greater indicator than the launch events thus far.

Lewis Hamilton's stunning move to Ferrari won't be able to save every pre-season

Shake up the Shakedowns

Perhaps I'm too impatient to see the cars or have got too grumpy from too many pre-seasons, but I'd love to see something change in this Liberty Media-steered era of the sport.

Eight televised hours of daily pre-season testing is now something I take for granted, rather than the FIA-published end-of-session times of yesteryear.

It makes me wonder why a collective pre-season shakedown isn't part of the show, too, to start the season with a 10-team bang rather than one-by-one drips.

Let the teams launch their liveries however they already do, with a CGI render or a demo car event, but mandate a representative car for the opening rounds to appear on the same day for all the teams and drivers.

Standardising the car reveals at a coordinated shakedown for filming ahead of testing means a level playing field for all and would hype the season up even more than the Drive to Survive drop one week before the curtain-raising event.

F1's post-Liberty reinvention shows they know how to put on a show; as much as the street circuit surge frustrates me, there's no disputing the calendar events Vegas and Miami have become.

Put that energy into an F1-wide season launch, and we won't need to rely on the once-in-a-decade driver transfer to drum up off-season interest; the sport would do it itself.

READ MORE: Red Bull reveal STUNNING RB20 as Horner promises 'new chapter'

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