One of the necessities of modern motorsport is the need to push those that pay the bills.
Sponsors are putting in big numbers and want bang for their “buck” (as it were) and it is something that has resulted in many NASCAR and IndyCar drivers repeatedly making fools of themselves in front of camera.
Every time when adverts starring Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick and Martin Truex Jr. (with Michael Waltrip), I feel pangs of embarrassment.
Of course foolish behaviour for the camera is not the sole property of NASCAR. Formula 1 drivers have also, on occasion, had to apply silly faces, tell poor jokes, perform to badly scripted scenes and storylines for the sake of a sponsor or two and today Fernando Alonso had his turn.
At least once a year, McLaren roll out the diamonds on a helmet in a ridiculous attempt to make the audience go “ooooohh”.
Arriving at the press conference for the European Grand Prix at Valencia earlier today, the double-World Champion donned a cute “little” hat for his sponsor Santander.
It is more than possible that Alonso is in on the joke at this stage, but part of me can also reasonably see the Spanish bank pushing for this – realistically, the out-sized hat nothing more than a simple little reminder that they are the folks that are paying his wages.
There are similarities to Kimi Raikkonen’s gigantic hat wearing frolics from his time at the team (pre-Santander), where his cap seemingly got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger with every race.
This is the also the second race of the Formula 1 season to run in Spain and while Santander are the title sponsor for the Grand Prix in Barcelona, the Valencia race – currently without a title sponsor – could potentially find themselves without a race in the next few years, despite having a contract until 2015.
Aside from the lack of cash, organisers must also be worrying about Grand Prix dilution.
With the Spanish economy in total meltdown, it is hard to imagine that this race will be favourable for too much longer, especially when one considers the cost to the tax payer on a yearly basis.
(Thanks to @EliG for fuelling my rant.)
Christ, I’m tired and I need some sleep. A lot of sleep.