PR Laps To Hoodwink Sponsors


The second pre-season test is underway in Barcelona. In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and I predict the outcome of the test even before it concludes. No, we’re not Nostradamus! If you’re a Formula 1 fan and followed the first test, chances are they you would be able to make a good guess too. Like Mithila said, ‘If a car looks too fast to be true, it probably is!’

There’s good chance that Mercedes vs. Red Bull Racing = Engine vs. Aero! Mercedes should easily perform a few more race simulations with both their drivers, while Mclaren-Honda should struggle, albeit a little less. While most teams are using the pre-season tests to fine-tune their cars, Mclaren are spending much time learning how to swap Honda engines! There’s good chance that this skill might come handy on many racing weekends. (Mclaren Go From Being The Joke To Cracking Jokes)

While form factor might be predictable, we’re wondering which team will be the first to put in a ‘sponsor’ or ‘PR’ lap towards the final days of testing?

The Joke’s On Mclaren

If Mclaren-Honda do struggle further, there’s good chance that the talks of a possible divorce will do further rounds. It is strange and funny at the same time. A story last week indicated that Mclaren would go back to Mercedes BEFORE the start of the 2017 Formula 1 Season. Seasoned fans and pundits would’ve called their bluff on that story within seconds of consuming it. Formula 1 cars aren’t plug and play. The Mclaren chassis is designed for the Honda power unit and fitting a Mercedes power unit, if a few spares ones were available with Mercedes that is, would mean much redesign of the rear of the MCL32.

The only upside of this story would’ve been Fernando Alonso driving a Mercedes powered car, if not the actual Mercedes and this would make Formula 1’s Game of Thrones much fun.

We’ve been cracking up way too much on Mclaren and they’ve been good fodder for our podcast. Richard Mille has sponsored Haas along with Mclaren this season. Is this because the watch manufacturer doesn’t trust Mclaren to deliver on its Formula 1 objectives? Not sure if Ron Dennis would’ve ever agreed to a non-exclusive sponsorship.


The Lewis Hamilton Factor

Lewis Hamilton’s dip in fortunes was stated as one of the reasons for the viewership decline in the UK in 2016. That’s strange! Hamilton won more races than the eventual World Champion (Nico Rosberg) and the title battle concluded at the last Grand Prix of the season. Maybe the researchers need to reason better. (How Did Lewis Hamilton Get On The Cover Of TIME?)

Hamilton’s also claimed that his relationship with Valtteri Bottas is already his best-ever with a team-mate. Funny if you think the amount of time they’ve spent together. A few hours to a full day probably? Too early to call this, I say.

Monster Energy has launched a new drink and can livery to Hamilton’s taste. Here’s to one more first for a Formula 1 driver.

Williams Going All Out In Case Lance Stroll Turns Out To Be Pastor Maldonado

Williams F1 Team have chosen Stroll’s cash and crashes for this season and they’re already seeing effects of both. After Stroll’s multiple crashes in the first test, the team made a wise decision to run Massa for the first two days of the second test.

After announcing a partnership with JCB last week (which we joked could help retrieve Stroll’s crashed cars faster!), Williams announced a partnership with Bombardier this week. It seems that Williams are preparing for a crash fest this season with Stroll at the wheel. An air plane partner will help deliver spares across the world at cheaper rates if Stroll’s frequency of crashes doesn’t reduce. (Williams Unexpected Reveal Shocks Sauber)

As for Bombardier, wouldn’t it make more sense to sign up Lewis Hamilton instead? After all, the former World Champion’s Bombardier jet has been featured as often as his cars (if not more) on his social media feeds.

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Formula 1’s Declining Viewership

I remember those days when Formula 1’s viewership crossed a little over half a billion people. In 2016, it barely managed to cross 300 million though. A move to pay-tv from free-to-air and single dominance have been blamed. But Formula 1’s loss has been the Inside Line F1 Podcast’s gain. We’ve recorded massive growth in our per episode and per week listenership and should hopefully cross 200,000 listens in 2017. Maybe the bored Formula 1 fans do appreciate our humourous content! (A Boring Formula 1 Might Be Good For Heineken’s Business)

And by the way, the report says that viewership in the UK dropped by 50%, but we’re keen to know the percentage increase in the Netherlands, obviously.

The Pink Force India

Force India’s ditching of the Indian tri-colour hasn’t gone down too well with the Indian fans. In fact, their adopting Mclaren’s dropped silver colour isn’t too appealing either. But there were rumours that the Force India might turn pink if a certain sponsor joined the team. There were morphed images that did rounds too.

Vijay Mallya owned the Pinky Vodka brand (via United Spirits) and his girlfriend’s name is Pinky too. Even if the fans wouldn’t appreciate the pink, there would be at least two people who would – Vijay and Pinky!

Protests In Melbourne

The different creative interpretations of the new regulations could see protests being lodged in Melbourne. If Mercedes end up being too quick yet again, fans should lodge a protest against them for ruining yet another season. We’ve sacrified 2014, 2015 and 2016 already! (Racing First, Engineering Later)

Tune in!

Season 2017, Episode 09

Co-hosted by Mithila Mehta and Kunal Shah, the Inside Line F1 Podcast is a weekly show on Formula 1 that attempts to simplify the sport and business of Formula 1. This show also aims to add some much needed humour to the otherwise serious sport of Formula 1. In 2016, the show has crossed 150,000 listens and is top-rated on iTunes and Audio Boom. The show is available on Kunal’s F1 Blog and partner websites such as Motorsport, Firstpost, NDTVAuto, Sport360, Sportskeeda, Scroll, Talking About F1, Motor Octane and others.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

2 comments On PR Laps To Hoodwink Sponsors

  • You guys need to put out podcasts everyday. Especially with all the talking points McLaren is giving you. I need more analysis Kunal.( as in volume. You are doing a good job already)

    • Thanks, Gaurav. Frankly, we’d love to do one every day, but the time commitment needed would mean that we do nothing else but record. Hopefully someday in life 😉
      As for analysis, do tune in to this week’s episode.

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