Steiner says 'classic' GPs can catch up on entertainment

Circuit atmosphere - fans. 31.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images
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Haas F1 team boss Guenther Steiner says there is no reason why standard classic Grand Prix weekends can't catch up with the entertainment offerings provided by newcomers such as Singapore, Miami and Vegas.

In the past, Grand Prix weekends have been all about the on-track action, culminating in the race itself on Sunday afternoon.

While that might be enough for the hardcore motorsports fans, it's not helping to grow the appeal of the sport to a wider demographic of sports fans who expect there to be more on offer, from fairground rides to concerts.

The sport's expansion into the US market in Miami and Vegas has underlined the need the need for bigger, better and brasher entertainment options around the track sessions to add showbiz razzamatazz around the events.

Fans at the podium. 30.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

While races in the Middle East and Asia are already providing this, some of the older circuits in Europe have been slow on the update. But Steiner feels there is still time for them to get on board with the new way of doing things.

"I think entertainment here got a lot better from the old days," Steiner told Autosport magazine. "In the old days, we went racing, cookie-cutter racing. "We do one race, we do the next one, we do nothing around it. We went racing for the motorsport fan.

"The sport - before Liberty Media came in - was not successful in the US," he pointed out. "I came to the US and I understood the US more when I moved here, because I didn't understand it before.

"You need to live here to understand. People want constant entertainment, not just sitting out there waiting three hours until the next time the cars go out. They want something to do, something to consume.

"The other stuff which is going on, you've got concerts, entertainment areas. If you've got kids with you, you want to entertain them - not just sitting on a grandstand or on a hill.

"Try telling a 12-year-old that now we have to wait two hours until the cars come along again, that's pretty difficult!" he argued. "We have moved into 2023 now, and people want more entertainment. They want more.

"They don't want just to see a car race, and I think F1 has done a very good job over the last five years to bring this to the consumer - that they enjoy coming here, because there is more than an F1 race."

Circuit atmosphere - fans. 21.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Price / XPB Images

Steiner said he supported recent initiatives to add to the overall Grand Prix weekend package - as long as the central focus was still on the race itself. "I think F1 is doing a very good job in that.

"They've started to put more entertainment beside it. They do for Singapore, a lot of these races," he said. "The sport is still the centre point of everything. It's the F1 race, and you've got two high-end concerts on Friday night and Saturday night.

"It not like there is the concert, and - by the way - on Sunday the race. It's the opposite. And I think they do it very well.

"Always keep that in mind - because that is the value of this event, the F1 race - it's not the concert or the DJ. I mean, they are adding, and they are very important, but they are not the focal point."

"We have moved into 2023 now [but] I think there's a good chance for what we call the classic race - where we go racing and nothing else - to catch up with this."

F1 used to be known for how it kept fans and celebrities away form the track and paddock and from getting too close to the drivers compared with US NASCAR and IndyCar events. Now if anything it's the other way around.

"I think what F1 learned from NASCAR is to give more access to the people," Steiner acknowledged. "It was much more difficult before.

"In the paddock we have got a lot more people than in the old days," he said. "It's a lot more people in here, with the possibility of coming here for partners, sponsors and things like this.

"NASCAR does that as well, with the hot pass and all that stuff, so I think that is what they've seen being done better."

And now it's F1 that is taking the lead in terms of overall entertainment, at least for the US events where such showbiz touches are expected.

"NASCAR didn't put as much entertainment around us we do in the moment, they are a little bit behind from that one," offered Steiner.

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