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Little sparkle in launch season

NEWS STORY
05/02/2013

Mat Coch writes:

With the exception of Williams, the 2013 launch season has come and gone. It's a period of high excitement, and almost equalled disappointment.

For many the first glimpse of the new Formula One car provides something tangible they can nail their colours to; a new livery, a new sponsor, a new look and perhaps a new hero.

But more often than not it's a procession of dull, orchestrated launches in which teams exude as much personality as a wet blanket. They lack style, and while some make valiant attempts at glamour, for years they have fallen short.

It's also a misleading time of year. What we are shown at team's presentations is not what will race. Formula One teams are paranoid, leaving their cars a wolf in sheep's clothing. With corporate espionage between Formula One outfits rife none will reveal the brightest of their developments until the eleventh hour.

Of course, there are the trademark quotes put out by all the teams. It's so mindless the press release writes itself: it's invariably been a long, difficult winter during which they've all been working hard at refining and developing. They have bright prospects for the year ahead, and are encouraged by changes made within the team to iron out perceived weaknesses, but it would naturally be unwise to set expectations until the first race.

And that is the problem. Formula One pre-season, at least the part of it played out to the public, is all self-serving smoke and mirrors. It means nothing and gives us only a view of what colour the cars will be painted this year.

Perhaps therefore it makes sense that these hum-drum events are relatively low key. Why draw attention to the corporate sleight of hand teams are pulling on the watching world. It all seems manufactured, fake, and bereft of passion. The Red Bull with which we were confronted over the weekend was little more than a show car painted in a lovely new hue of magenta.

Corporate sensibilities and public relations conservatism has robbed us all of the glorious unveiling these modern chariots deserve. These sporting behemoths almost pride themselves on their mythical nature; Gods among mere mortals.

They offer cold Tuna Mornay to the dedicated and expectant fans, a far cry from the five course banquet we hope for. Only McLaren reached out at our primordial senses and tried to tug at our emotions, but even then the production left it a launch filled with good intentions and product placement.

Far from leaving us hungry it leaves us confused, dazed, bewildered, and perhaps a little bit angry. The sport which prides itself on glitz, glamour and gold dust gives us crumbs and expects us to be happy. There is no showmanship, just a car on a stand with a host of awkward personalities following a carefully controlled script.

Where is the joy in that?

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