Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches says he takes it as a compliment to grand prix racing that fans have been so upset about the sport's new logo. Liberty Media revealed a bold new logo immediately after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after feeling that the old version that had been used for the last 23 years was no longer suitable for the digital age.
But the move has proved controversial, with fan opinion about the change divided and even world champion Lewis Hamilton saying he preferred the older one. Twice as many fans marked 'dislike' on the YouTube video revealing the logo than hit 'like'.
Bratches says F1’s owners were well aware that changing the sport’s logo was always going to stir emotions, but he says the fact that it has become such a big talking point is a positive in a way. 'These are difficult changes – as it is any time you change a corporate mark, and particularly one around a passion brand,' he said when asked by Motorsport.com for his response to the fan backlash.
'The incumbent mark has been around for decades and it served the sport well. But we have not gone into this light-heartedly, and we have given it a lot of thought. It seemed from my perspective and from the moment Chase [Carey] called me, it was one of the things I really wanted to look at. From my eye, it [the old logo] seemed to be dated, it seemed to not reflect where the sport could go.
'People have an opinion. And it is good people have an opinion because they care. And, as the caretakers of this sport and brand, we feel very strongly about it. And ultimately we will demonstrate to the marketplace that this brand will survive and thrive.'
He added: 'We understand in any logo change, whether it is a small modification or wholesale, people are going to have varied opinion. And that is good for the sport. Everybody has got an opinion in F1. I didn’t think we would sneak away unscathed on that one.'
F1’s logo reveal after Abu Dhabi comes ahead of a full relaunch of the sport next March, when Liberty will reveal new digital platforms, new television graphics and new live-streaming services for fans in different markets. And although the logo controversy has dominated matters this week, F1’s marketing director Ellie Norman thinks fans will come to better understand why the change was positive once it starts getting used more.
'The more and more we put this into applications, and we bring to life the identity that this new logo will have, I think that more over time the fans will see what we can give back to them through that,' she said.