The 10 Most Embarrassing F1 Media Stunts
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Whilst watching television the other day, I was painfully reminded why Formula 1 drivers really should just be on our screens doing their primary job of driving cars fast.
Seeing Jenson Button advertise Santander Bank, I got to thinking about other occasions when the media has not exactly portrayed the sport in the best light.
Here then are 10 of the most cringeworthy media stunts of recent times.
Notable omissions include when George Lucas went all out with Red Bull Racing in Monaco to promote Star Wars movie “Revenge of the Sith”—leading to the bizarre sight of Christian Horner and David Coulthard surrounded by Stormtroopers, Chewbacca and Darth Vader.
Jenson Button’s lovely hair also just misses the cut.
10. Button's Santander Student Account
The boy Button is straight in at number 10 with an advert packed full of advertising clichés, in a deliberate attempt to poke fun at French fragrance advertisements.
The advert sees Button pulling bizarre yoga-type poses in front of clouds and waterfalls whilst also narrating. “Power, poise, memories, freedom. The Santander Student account with free student rail card.”
It ends with Button in his best French, “Pour Homme, Pour Femme, Pour Student.” Poor Jenson!
9. Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Mika Hakkinen for Mercedes
Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg played out a series of advertisements for Mercedes to advertise their cars.
Some of them were actually quite good, such as the one when the pair came to the aid of a pregnant lady who couldn’t decide which one would get her to the hospital quickest.
Sadly, I also stumbled upon this horror called "compliments", which features the pair in a restaurant showering one another with love. Check out the cheeky wink just seven seconds in.
It ends with Mika Hakkinen promoting Red Bull. Bizarre!
8. James Hunt and David Bailey for Canon
A blast from the past features a driver many people are talking about again, with the release of Ron Howard’s RUSH just around the corner.
This advertisement doesn’t exactly show off Hunt in his most dashing, daring, playboy image as Monty Python star Eric Idle makes fun of his girly hair cut.
7. Nigel Mansell and Rover Metro
Idle returns with another hilarious take-off of a British F1 champion in this 1988 advert for Rover Metro.
Nigel Mansell had just finished runner-up in the F1 drivers’ title race once again to arch-rival Nelson Piquet and clearly thought it would be a good idea to pocket a few extra bucks with this cringeworthy effort.
Could you really see Mansell behind the wheel of this little runaround? Hats off for Mansell for backing British industry, though.
6. Hamilton vs. Alonso for Mercedes
“Anything you can do, I can do better," was the slogan for this Mercedes advertisement which featured new McLaren teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in a race to be first to get into their hotel room.
They then challenged one another in the gym before the end scene, which featured the pair in a sauna with Mika Hakkinen.
Little were Mercedes to know just how heated the competition between the warring teammates would actually get.
5. Fernando Alonso's FIAT 500
Alonso again makes an appearance with a recent advert which saw the Spaniard advertising the FIAT 500.
It probably wouldn’t have been that bad, but for the frankly awful dubbing that not only sounds nothing like Alonso, but is totally out of sync with his lip movement at the end.
Why he couldn’t have just spoken in English himself is beyond me.
4. Jaguar Racing and Steinmetz Diamonds
I was at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix when Jaguar Racing were joined by Hollywood stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon to promote their forthcoming movie, Oceans 12.
Jaguar also teamed up with Steinmetz Diamonds, planting a £140,000 gem into the nosecone of Austrian driver Christian Klien’s car. But when Klien lost control and hit the barriers early in the race, the diamond was also lost.
According to a team statement from PR boss Nav Sidhu on CNN, someone made away with a very valuable keepsake.
"We may not have got the best result on the track this weekend, but we have certainly left our mark in Monaco by adding to the glamour. Somebody here is going to walk away with more than just a normal motor racing keepsake. I don't expect we are going to get it back at all but we were prepared for this otherwise we would never have done it."
3. Antonio Pizzonia’s Jaguar Disaster
A year earlier, Jaguar Racing got a stunt spectacularly wrong.
They asked then driver Antonio Pizzonia to conduct a hot lap of the Circuit de Catalunya in one of their new S-Type cars to go in a supplement for AUTOCAR.
Accompanied by magazine journalist Steve Sutcliffe, Pizzonia amazingly used the braking point for his Jaguar F1 car into the first corner—and as you can see, got it spectacularly wrong!
He didn’t last too much longer behind the wheel of his F1 car.
2. Damon Hill and Pizza Hut
Back to television adverts now: Here’s Damon Hill with good friend Murray Walker in this classic for Pizza Hut.
The fast food chain made a habit of sending up sports stars on the back of failures in the 1990s, notably rugby star Tony Underwood plus footballers Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate for missing crucial penalties for England.
Hill had twice finished as runner-up to Michael Schumacher in the drivers’ championship, but I found this more embarrassing than funny.
But then I guess that’s Murray for you!
1. Mark Webber and Canberra Milk
There are many singing success stories to come out of Australia, such as Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence.
Mark Webber will not go down amongst them after this toe-curlingly embarrassing effort for Canberra Milk.
Formula One will miss you, Mark—but not for moments like this!