Miami GP: LL Cool J’s pre-race introduction reviewed by Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and other drivers

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Formula 1’s drivers were introduced to the grid at the Miami Grand Prix by musician LL Cool J in a ceremony that lasted more than seven minutes; Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and several others offered a range of opinions on the event

Last Updated: 08/05/23 7:01am

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Musician LL Cool J introduces the starting grid at the Miami Grand Prix

Musician LL Cool J introduces the starting grid at the Miami Grand Prix

Formula 1 drivers have offered a split verdict after the sport tried out a new look with musician LL Cool J introducing the drivers onto the grid ahead of Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix.

The 20 drivers were introduced one-by-one in a ceremony that lasted more than seven minutes, and required the usual pre-race schedule to be altered.

Formula 1’s rapid growth in recent years has motivated those running the sport to maintain an innovative approach, as they seek to continue to extend its reach.

Along with LL Cool J’s appearance, fellow musician Will.i.am released an F1 inspired single on Sunday to coincide with the race.

Highlights of the Miami Grand Prix at the fifth race of the season

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Highlights of the Miami Grand Prix at the fifth race of the season

Highlights of the Miami Grand Prix at the fifth race of the season

The proceedings appeared to have little negative impact on the drivers, with an extremely clean race playing out as Max Verstappen caught Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez to extend his world championship lead.

However, the consensus after the race appeared to be that drivers feel like too much is being asked of them as they prepare to deliver an elite performance.

Here’s what they had to say:

Max Verstappen, Red Bull:

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen reflects on victory at Miami after climbing up from P9 to P1

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen reflects on victory at Miami after climbing up from P9 to P1

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen reflects on victory at Miami after climbing up from P9 to P1

“Personally, I think it is just a personality thing. Some people like to be more in the spotlight, some other people don’t. I personally don’t, so for me I think that naturally what they did today is not necessary.

“I prefer to just talk to my engineers then put my helmet on and drive but of course I understand the entertainment value.

“I just hope we don’t have that every single time because it is a long season so we don’t need an entry like that every time but it also depends a bit on the crowd I think in terms of what you want.

“I think it is just a personal preference as well from the drivers.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull:

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez pays homage to teammate Max Verstappen for being the stronger driver and taking victory at the Miami Grand Prix

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Red Bull driver Sergio Perez pays homage to teammate Max Verstappen for being the stronger driver and taking victory at the Miami Grand Prix

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez pays homage to teammate Max Verstappen for being the stronger driver and taking victory at the Miami Grand Prix

“I think as long as we don’t do it on too many occasions.

“I think it is nice to do it once for the crowd but we also have to be very respectful of the drivers.

“We need our own time to get ready and it is just minutes before the race starts and I think as long as it doesn’t happen very often it is ok.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin:

Following his third-place finish at the Miami Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso says victory was 'a little bit too easy for Max Verstappen'

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Following his third-place finish at the Miami Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso says victory was ‘a little bit too easy for Max Verstappen’

Following his third-place finish at the Miami Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso says victory was ‘a little bit too easy for Max Verstappen’

“I understand the point of view of everybody but I am not a big fan of those things just before the race.

“If we have to do it, I think we need to remove some of the other stuff we are doing like the parade lap or something like that because it is really in the middle of the preparations and the strategy meeting.

“I disagree a little bit with if we do it we don’t have to do it everywhere because I don’t think the Miami fans are better than the Italian fans in Imola or in Spain or in Mexico or in Japan.

“I think we need to make everyone with the same rules and the same show before the race.”

George Russell, Mercedes:

“We spoke about it as drivers on Friday night. Everybody has got different personalities, I guess it is the American way of doing things and doing sport.

“Personally, it is probably not for me but that is just my personal opinion because I am here to race. I am not here for the show, I am here to drive and I am here to win, but I guess we have to roll with it.

Mercedes driver George Russell reflects on a successful Miami Grand Prix

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Mercedes driver George Russell reflects on a successful Miami Grand Prix

Mercedes driver George Russell reflects on a successful Miami Grand Prix

“It is distracting because we were on the grid for half an hour in our overalls in the sun and I don’t think there is any other sport in the world where 30 minutes before you go out to do your business that you are out there in the sun, all the cameras on you, making a bit of a show of it.

“I can appreciate that in the entertainment world but, as I said, we only want the best for the sport and we are open to changes but we wouldn’t want to see it every weekend.

“I don’t think it will be at every weekend, I think it will be at the big races.

“The thing I love every single race is the national anthem. That sort of pumps you up and is respectful to the country you are racing at but I have mixed feelings on the additional show.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes:

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he enjoyed racing at the Miami Grand Prix

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he enjoyed racing at the Miami Grand Prix

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he enjoyed racing at the Miami Grand Prix

“I think it is cool that the sport is continuously growing and evolving and they are not just doing the same things they have done in the past.

“They are trying new things, they are trying to improve the show and I am in full support of it.

“I grew up listening to LL Cool J and then he is there, that was cool.

“You have got Will.i.am, who is an incredible artist. You have got Serena and Venus (Williams) standing there. It was cool.”

What’s next?

There’s a brief pause for breath before Formula 1 returns to Europe for a triple-header of back-to-back races.

The first of those is the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola from May 19-21, with Mercedes and Ferrari expected to bring significant upgrades which they hope will move them closer to Red Bull.

All eyes will be on Ferrari at the first of their two home races this season, with the team’s inconsistent start to the campaign likely to come under major scrutiny in front of the tifosi.



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