While it’s clear that the rest of the world believes Formula One is the highest class of automobile racing, they have some serious public relations problems in America in regards to their class, and/or lack there of.
After the initial novelty wore off from the inaugural United States Grand Prix on the storied grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, attendance has declined as well as the hype with the American media. Their visit this season was an unforgettable one and it had nothing to do with racing at all.
F-1 President Bernie Ecclestone made sexist comments Friday that kicked off the weekend of festivities at Indy in regards to IRL rookie phenom Danica Patrick.
"She did a good job, didn’t she? Super. Didn’t think she’d be able to make it like that," Ecclestone smugly and sarcastically answered to a gathering of reporters.
As if that wasn’t enough (the tone suggesting what he meant without saying it) he figured he’d follow it up by actually saying what he meant.
"You know, I’ve got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances," he said.
What? Come again? I’d like to think and hope that it was part of their marketing strategy to get the USGP in the American news for their fledging event, but I don’t think so. Patrick has had a hard enough time enduring all the whispers from detractors on her way up the ranks to where she’s at now. This is the first time anyone has been that blatantly stupid in front of cameras.
As for the actual race, with the world’s best drivers, it turned out that only six started the race. F-1 officials waited until a half hour before the start of Sunday’s race to pull out 14 drivers from seven teams because of unsafe Michelin tires. They had concerns Friday after Ralf Schumacher wrecked hard as a result of the faulty tire, but thought it would be best to make the announcement just prior to the scheduled start time.
Naturally, the fans didn’t think that was the best time to announce it and hurled just about anything they could find onto the track. Had it been only Americans in attendance, the crowd would have been minimal, but the track was filled with many having traveled across or up the Atlantic Ocean for their American vacation to the premier league of motor sports.
They did get to see Michael Schumacher get his first win of the year, but that win is likely to be taken away. This will be considered a non-points exhibition.
Between orchestrating wins with Ferrari a few years ago, sexist comments and a total disrespect of their fans, it’s not likely F-1 will ever be missed if they don’t come back to America.
At least, not by this racing fan.