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Marchionne: Austin pre-race ceremony undignified

NEWS STORY
04/12/2017

It was possibly the F1 equivalent of 'Dad dancing', the sight of boxing announcer Michael Buffer, his face tanned yet expressionless, in many ways resembling an ageing Max Headroom, making his way to the Austin grid with a young lady on each arm.

Before the veteran had even opened his mouth to begin announcing the drivers, the sight of the 73-year-old accompanied by two young women the Daily Mail would typically describe as "displaying their ample assets", made one feel slightly uncomfortable, especially as the Harvey Weinstein scandal had broken just days earlier.

While one applauds any attempt to improve the show, in the eyes of many this wasn't it, indeed Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says it was undignified.

"I think there is an opportunity here, if we do the things right, to make this a relevant sport in the U.S. environment," he told a press conference on Saturday as Sauber, now in partnership with Alfa Romeo, revealed its drivers and livery for next season.

"If we do that I think it will benefit the sport tremendously," he continued. "But I put a big proviso on this. 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 has some noble origins.

"I think we need to preserve it, we need to modernise it in a way which Americans find relevant," he said. "And that's the tricky part that I think Chase and I need to walk. We're walking a tightrope on this because if we go too far to try and appeal...

"The performance down in Austin and the way in which we arranged the show was not what I think a Formula One event ought to be," he admitted. "But it was 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. We need to find a halfway house that somehow appeases and actually enhances the interest of the public on both sides of the pond."

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/12/2017 18:45

"@uan
The fact that Cheerleaders are "part of American culture" doesn't make a couple of them accompanying that old bloke any less demeaning. Bevvies of nubile young women "flaunting their assets" is a tangible example of the USA's totally schizoid attitude towards female sexuality and that of young women in particular.

In Europe, we rarely see scantily-clad young women draped over cars at Motor Shows, because we finally figured-out how tasteless & disrespectful it is. By analogy I wasn't impressed by the Cheerleaders at this event."

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2. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 05/12/2017 18:36

"Just as well I was sat down reading this - I have to agree, for about the first time ever, with Marchionne.

It was an exercise in poor taste, totally lacking in any style."

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3. Posted by Cobra Racer, 05/12/2017 13:47

""Demeaning" is the word that I would use.
"

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4. Posted by The Canuck, 05/12/2017 13:15

"All this coming from a man who wore a sweater to a meeting at the White House with the President. He certainly understands undignified."

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5. Posted by gasconboy, 05/12/2017 8:54

"I too had to turn the sound off, very inappropriate, and at the same time the National Anthem is pretty grim as well in all countries. Do the families who go to see F1 really want this or maybe longer races and keeping on the right side of the white lines. How about some corners with "virtual' trees?? like the safety car and why can't we have overtaking like we saw in many "World Endurance"races and they have to pass slower cars as well."

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6. Posted by Paolo, 04/12/2017 17:18

"Formula One has always been Champagne and Caviar, Indy and NASCAR has always been beer and burgers. Never the twain shall meet.

Rednecks will never understand Formula One however hard you try to dumb it down"

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7. Posted by C5, 04/12/2017 16:38

""Bad dancing" is not a bad metaphor, and "undignified" is also a reasonable description.

Personally, I'd go with "a blatant display of catastrophically poor taste", or "exceedingly painful to watch"...
"

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8. Posted by uan, 04/12/2017 16:05

"omg. There was nothing salacious or Harvey Weinstein-esque with Bruce Buffer coming out "accompanied by two young women the Daily Mail would typically describe as "displaying their ample assets"

Those 2 women were members of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Cheerleaders in general are part of American culture (every High School and College has a squad, and every American football team, and basketball team has them). The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are absolutely an iconic part of America. Having a major sporting in Austin, near Dallas, without them present would be like Texas without BBQ, or America without Apple pie. For the Europeans - it'd be Ocktober Fest without the beer.

Nothing disgusting with having one icon (Bruce Buffer) being escorted by two other icons.

I get want Marchionne was saying, but the "I think a lot of the Europeans were somewhat taken aback by what happened" comment? Well - so what? F1 is an International sport. If your sensibilities can't handle some of the distinctiveness of what makes different cultures tick, stay in Europe. "

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