F1's marketing chief says the sport is considering reforming rather than axing its traditional 'grid girls'. Recently, F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn said the concept of grid girls was now outdated and under serious review.
His comments sparked controversy, but Murray Barnett, Liberty's sponsorship and marketing chief, said the actual idea is to simply reform grid girls. "We're 100 per cent committed to looking into grid girls and making them a more relevant part of the competition rather than just holding a board and standing next to a car," he told Marketing Week. "We haven't quite cracked what this will look like, but we've recognised we need to become more progressive there."
Barnett said F1 wants to become more "progressive" in other areas as well. "We're looking at things like carbon offsetting, but it's also one of the best kept secrets that F1 is actually an incredibly lean engine," he said.
"We have 50pc engine recovery, 1.6 litre hybrid engines, 1000 brake horsepower -- people tell me this is astonishing. I don't want to talk negatively about Formula E, but the power of their batteries has to come from somewhere. F1 as a sport can be sustainable and good for the environment so we need to tell that story more often," he added.
Curiously, Barnett's role in charge of marketing is a brand new one, with Bernie Ecclestone previously going it alone in many areas. Barnett said: "I don't want to talk too much about Ecclestone's time, but our view now is to try to approach sponsors with a 'yes, why not?' attitude as opposed to a 'no, I don't understand the question' kind of attitude."
"It is going to take a long time for brands to change their perception of what F1 is and actually give us consideration, I know that," he added. "But we need to have patience and recognise that if we keep offering compelling experiences for brands then others will start to take notice sooner rather than later." (GMM)