Formula 1’s new owners, Liberty Media, have unveiled a new official logo for the sport at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, won by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
The new logo was revealed to the public immediately after the Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit and displayed on the podium and trackside advertising.
The decision to revamp the sport’s look is part of Liberty’s ongoing strategy to broaden the sport’s audience appeal and accessibility. The previous logo, used for the past 23 years, was also once of the sport’s last connections to its former commercial rights owner Bernie Ecclestone – links which Liberty Media has been steadily looking to shed.
Overseeing the logo redesign was Ellie Norman, the sport’s first Director of Marketing.
“When we talked to fans about what made Formula 1 amazing, what we heard was people loved the real, exhilarating, unpredictable and incomprehensibly fast elements of the sport. It was about racing. But many felt those days were behind us and that the sport has become almost impenetrable for fans, particularly new ones,” she explained.
“It was clear we were going to need to address some fundamentals of our brand, if we were to realise our ambition to make Formula 1 a major entertainment player and claim our rights to be the global media brand we should be. What we say and do now is so important for our future, but it must always be driven by our fans. They come first.”
The final sentence of that statement is itself powerful and in essence underscores Liberty Media’s rejection of the Ecclestone-era approach where the perception of exclusivity and money was key. Ecclestone’s customers were not the public race-going fans or TV audiences, but rather the TV broadcasters, race promoters and sponsors who funded the entire show.
To its credit, Liberty Media has worked quickly to shed much of that image, with its initiatives focused on broadening the sport’s reach and fan engagement. New broadcast and digital deals were signed – a number of them being ‘free to air’ – while a number of initiatives were launched to make the sport more accessible to race-going fans. A complete reset of its approach to social media and the launch of dedicated FanZones at Grands Prix has dramatically increased race attendance and TV viewing figures as well.
The relaunch didn’t go without some glitches, however.
Following its unveiling on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix podium, it seems that the race’s top-three finishers failed to spot the opportunity to be ‘on message’. When asked in the FIA Press Conference about the new logo, all three agreed that they preferred the old logo and questioned the need for a change.
“The problem is logos… I think the one that we already had was an iconic logo,” Lewis Hamilton said. “Just imagine Ferrari changing their logo, or Mercedes changed their logo. I don’t think the new one is as iconic but maybe it will grow on us.”
At the time of publishing, now 10 hours after the end of the race, the old F1 logo is still present on the home page of the official Formula 1 website. Oops!