Roger Penske criticizes F1 and its lack of ‘spectacle’

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U.S. motorsports legend Roger Penske has criticized Formula 1 and its lack of excitement, saying the average fan in the stand doesn’t care about technological developments such as the F-duct.

If you listened to this week’s podcast, you know we talked specifically about Penske being the one American who really could — and we said, should — make a go with an F1 team. Cross him off your list, I guess.

The comments come in the latest edition of the UK’s Motor Sport magazine. I’ve got one solid quote, via the BBC. It is plenty for us to base a discussion on:

“They need to do something about the spectacle. The race starts, it all happens in the first corner, and after that… The guys in the stands, the guys who’ve paid, most of them aren’t interested in the details of F-ducts or diffusers or carbon brakes. What they know is the red Ferrari, the blue Red Bull, the silver McLaren, the white Mercedes. And they know Fernando and Mark and Lewis and Michael. Build the drivers, make them the stars. That’s what people understand.”

On the podcast, Kohl smartly noted that Penske wouldn’t get involved with F1 unless he could make a profit, and that that probably meant we wouldn’t be seeing the U.S. racing icon anytime soon.

Well add a few more reasons to why Penske won’t be the American savior. (Do you think Landon Donovan could do it? Or will he be too busy running for president?)

There is certainly some merit to what Penske says, especially if he is talking about average American fans. As I read his statement, I realize that a big part of the USGP’s marketing likely will have to involve Ferrari. It’s the single brand that really resonates. (Oh, no! Bernie’s right!)

I’m less sure, in America anyway, whether fans know the drivers all that well. Of course, Penske says that F1 needs to build the drivers into stars. He’s right on there.

Is he right on with the rest of what he has to say?

I wish we had a fuller context to the comments, which come from a “Breakfast with…” feature in the magazine. Is there something to the reason he’s talking about F1 at all that might suggest he’s giving it some serious thought? Or did the reporter just rift on different forms of racing and get Penske’s reaction?

He’s still the best person I can think to lead a U.S. F1 team.


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