- The Inside Line
Red Bull does it rightKate Walker January 31, 2015
- Red Bull
For those without the budget to fly to Mexico to check out some new livery on the 2014 Force India, the first real F1 event of the 2015 season took place in Milton Keynes on Tuesday, with Red Bull inviting the media to give their team a gentle grilling before the action kicks off in Jerez at the weekend.
Long praised for their imaginative approach to media and fan access, this year Red Bull have done away with the concept of a traditional car launch and instead invited the media to spend the day getting to know their drivers on the indoor ski slopes of Milton Keynes.
The days of massive car launches featuring international travel, global pop stars, and fancy dinners were over long before I made it into Formula One. Since 2010, with a couple of notable exceptions thanks to McLaren and Red Bull, most car launches have consisted of a pit lane roll-out in testing, and endless mobile phone pictures of half a car hiding in a sea of heads and shoulders.
But what purpose did the mega car launch ever really serve, publicity aside? The car on display was barely related to the car that would hit the track, no technical details were released that weren't found in the 'technical specifications' part of the team press release, and opportunities to get driver quotes were rare. Teams and sponsors would get a roster of glossy photos for their media portfolios, journalists would get another good story to tell in the pub, and that was that, often to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In contrast, Red Bull's 2015 approach got the team maximum coverage for minimum effort. The location couldn't be more convenient for the factory, and by organising an informal - and unusual - pre-season gathering, drivers and journos alike are in relaxed and happy moods. No one's seen the car yet, so there are no serious or difficult questions about it to be answered, and by being the first of the teams to give the media some scraps after a winter of quote famine, they were assured a swathe of column inches.
The day itself consisted of the opportunity to compete against David Coulthard, Daniel Ricciardo, and Daniil Kvyat on a mini downhill slalom. Surprising no-one, the Russian driver was rather more adept on the snow than his Australian colleague…
In the paddock, the bulk of media sessions are quite formal affairs. Ricciardo has long been known to be the exception to that rule, and last season could often be found making jokes and bursting into song while questioning was underway. But the informal atmosphere on offer at the SnoZone saw the entire team take a leaf out of their lead driver's book, joking and relaxing in a jovial environment that allowed Red Bull to talk up the season ahead without the pressure of competitive machinery lurking in the background.
Well played, Red Bull. Well played.