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Respecting the anthems

I expressed the opinion on The Flying Lap a few weeks ago that the F1 industry should show a lot more respect when the national anthems of races are played on the grid.  This happens at around 15 minutes prior to the race start and for the most part is completely ignored by the TV world feed and the F1 personnel milling around. Not only is this disrespectful (to countries that in many cases have decided to pay for an F1 race in order to embolden their place on the global platform) but also unprofessional:  you only have to watch the anthems at other major sporting events to know that these are prime areas for repetitive, emotional viewership.

The traditional argument is that the drivers and technicians are too busy at this stage to be called to attention.  I accept that – although I don’t really see the difference between standing under an umbrella on the grass verge of the grid and standing to attention while the country’s anthem is played.

The solution, I think, is for every team to designate a representative to stand in file at the front of the grid while the anthem is played.  It doesn’t matter who is nominated:  it could be a different team representative every race – just as teams often re-shuffle the representative who will stand on the podium.

The world feed cameras could then switch from team member to team member (with name graphics on the lower-thirds) and then to the local dignitaries.   The TV networks of the world should then be obliged to broadcast that brief ceremony as part of their rights contract.  No skipping to ads;  no reverting to more pre-race banter.  This is serious.  This is the national anthem of a Formula One,  FIA World Championship Grand Prix.  The moment should not be treated lightly.

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9 thoughts on “Respecting the anthems

  1. I agree with you in part Peter, but I think ALL team members should respect the athems. I know they are busy, but in other forms of motorsports, all team members still stand and respect the anthems. It takes 5 minutes tops for this. Not the big of a deal.

  2. I know the BBC cut to the world feed when the pre-race anthems were broadcast in 2010. Given that they didn’t do it in 2009 or for this year, it makes me think it was a requirement from FOM for the broadcasters to show it.

  3. I completely agree.

    I didn’t know there were anthems of the hosting country played before each race until I saw an extended broadcast of the Hungarian GP quite a few years back and it was just thrilling. At the same time my heart was broken as there is a close to zero chance anyone could hear the Hungarian anthem at the end of a race, at least it is played at some point of the event with no one seems to care.

    In this respect I do envy e.g. NASCAR events. I just can’t see why the national anthem of each country should be played while showing a bit more respect.

    I understand there’s a pressure on drivers, but have you ever seen e.g. a rock band going to a town and not addressing the people attending the event?

    Also, I fell a bit uncomfortable how anthem are shopped and cropped sometimes at the podium ceremony. Play it or don’t play it at all. Think about the fans at home. The anthem is practically for THEM.

  4. “I just can’t see why the national anthem of each country shouldN’T be played while showing a bit more respect.”

    I fixed it.

  5. Peter, you are absolutely right. I attend a lot of races in Japan and they use it very effectively. The anthem is played between the moment the grid is cleared of non-essential personel and the engine start. The drivers are in the cars, and a small group of about 5 people, mechanics and team manager, is lined up besides each of the cars, facing the grandstand. The anthem is played, or sung by the guest singer of the event if their is one. The silence following the end of the anthem is then broken by the designated dignitary calling for the Japanese equivalent of “Gentlemen Start your engines” and the explosion of the engines coming to life. That’s a fantastic setup for the start, as the anthem has come to represent a solemn transition between the casual feel of the grid walk and the serious business of racing. As you say, this is emotionally charged and tension gets palpable, and it contributes to the show greatly, as much are the anthems played during the podium ceremony. It is F1 loss not to recognize this.

  6. John sharpe on said:

    Bravo and well stated Peter! Of course we realize just how acute the horizon gets once 15 mins has been given but the lack of respect shown to the host county is dismissive as it is vulgar. Countries and promoters pay dearly to host a round of the WC and the moments that encapsulate a countries national anthem are fueled by pride and honor; something that definitely needs to be respected.
    I like the “team representative” idea as it fits smartly into the concise scheduling behind a GP while respect is paid by the teams . This is why you Peter happen to be so brilliant!

  7. An interesting subject. I remember a few years ago the Australian national anthem was sung by a boy band and it was shown entirely on RTL (my source of F1 TV footage since in Portugal it went straight to cable tv/pay per view, meaning everybody switched to satellite dishes and Astra’s free RTL broadcast), it was different. I think in Germany in 2003 or 2004 some opera singer performed a mighty rendition of “Vaterland” which would make Goethe proud.

    I suspect Bernie won’t allow more people on the grid for the sake of the national anthem (Radiohead?); it was not long ago that physios were banned from pre-race VIP-fest… I’d sure like to hear some anthems I never heard, a proposition worth putting forward to F1’s bigwigs.

  8. The anthem idea is a good one, though as an athlete (doing low- to medium-level swimming competitions) I would find it odd to be doing five “sessions” and then have the anthem just before the last of them. Anthems are something I am more accustomed to hearing at the start of the event, which would logically mean before FP1. That would mean nobody in the paddock would have the slightest excuse not to observe the anthem. People with garage passes could come out into the pit lane for the observance and (at most circuits) be seen by the people at the track as well as by viewers at home.

    Come to think of it, if the anthem was done then, the FIA could combine it with its ident video in some way, and make all the TV stations run it before each session subsequent to FP1.

    Having said all that, as a spectator of F1 races I very much like the idea shared by plribault and using the Japanese method of honouring the nation hosting the race.

  9. Definitely like that idea.

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