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NEWS STORY
04/02/2013

Right.

Loud pulsating music, check. Light show, check. Celebrity MC, check. Uncomfortable seating, check. Dodgy internet connection, check. Team Principal oozing confidence but fully aware this is going to be his last year here, unless... check. Technical Director, going through the motions, desperately awaiting a text message that says he's been headhunted, check. Salaried driver looking awkward outside his comfort zone, check. Pay driver aware that everyone here knows why he really got the drive, check. Goody bags, check. Taki Inoue on Twitter, check.

Of course, we blame Flavio Briatore. For ever since the flamboyant Italian was forced to leave the sport in the wake of the Crashgate scandal, Formula One car launches have never been the same.

It was under 'Loadsamoney' Flav that Benetton, in 1996, had Jean Alessi and Gerhard Berger driving their 1995 cars through the streets of the ancient Sicilian town of Taormina to the 2,000 year old Teatro Greco where the new B196 was unveiled. Then, as Renault boss, Flav unveiled the 2004 R24 at the prestigious opera house, Teatro Massimo, in Palermo, again in Sicily.

Then there was McLaren's do at the Alexander Palace in 1997, the MP4-12 unveiled at a bash that resembled the MTV Awards, hosted by Davina McCall - before she discovered her shouty voice - and featuring Jamiroquai and the Spice Girls.

Even Sauber got in on the act, the Swiss team unveiling the C23 at Red Bull's Hanger 7 with help from men dressed as springs - we kid you not - and even an appearance by The Sugababes (incarnation 278).

Now what do we get? If you're lucky, it's a twenty minute event at the factory, a glass or two of wine, some canapés, a goody bag and a media pack. If you're unlucky, it's ten minutes in the paddock with the rest of the F1 world looking on in barely disguised amusement.

Admit it, car launches are the one time a team gets to stand in the spotlight, the one time to say 'this is us, this is what we do, this is where we want to be'. However, launches are increasingly becoming non-events, with no sense of occasion.

For a sport, despite what they say, awash with money, this is the one opportunity to splash some cash, to enjoy some razzmatazz, to put on a show, but instead these are becoming non-events, participants merely going through the motions.

Thus far, the Lotus launch at Enstone wasn't too bad, though it pales into insignificance compared to the events overseen by Flavio. We saw the car, heard the spiel and went away wondering why they kept the stepped nose.

While the team gets top score in terms of the speed with which it supplied its media pack can we just ask that the whole 'I know what I'm doing' thing is dropped. When Kimi originally said it, it was spontaneous, fresh and original, totally Kimi, which was the whole point. To continue using it reminds us of Bart Simpson's moment of fame as the 'I didn't do it boy'.

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