The news today that Lewis Hamilton will join Mercedes next season is not a particularly surprising story, given that Eddie Jordan revealed it a few weeks ago. Perez moving to McLaren though is the surprising half of the story, and one that was unexpected a few weeks ago. Firstly, a well done to BBC and Eddie Jordan for being first to the punch by reporting it, and pursuing the story further. It seems they were right by saying Hamilton would go to Mercedes, unlike Sky who in the days after appeared insistent that Hamilton would remain at McLaren.
From a 2013 broadcasting perspective though, it will make one particular person very happy. That person being Bernie Ecclestone. Formula 1 thrives on changing driver line-ups, and the media do love it. Changing driver line-ups means more stories, it means more rivalries, it means the potential to develop fan bases and therefore drives up TV coverage and hopefully television ratings at the end of it. The move for Sergio Perez to McLaren, one would expect, will therefore boost Formula 1 popularity in Mexico substantially, especially if he wins a Grand Prix, the first Mexican to do so since Pedro Rodríguez in 1970.
The reason that the driver changes are good for Formula 1 though is because, had the driver line-ups stayed the same, the product put out to fans could, potentially become stale. Yes, the racing may be at its best in a long, long time, but if there are no emerging talent coming through, then the worldwide television audience may decrease. Hence, why Perez moving to McLaren is a good move for all concerned. Had Hamilton stayed at McLaren, we could have been left with an unusual situation where Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes have the same line-up for the fourth consecutive year. You can see why Ecclestone would consider that line-up stale for the product put out to fans. The staleness then resounds to the stories that are told during a particular season, it would be a case of “same old, same old, we’ve been here before”. New talent brings with it new stories, new backgrounds and a new audience to bring to Formula 1.
This afternoon, the FIA World Council is expected to confirm what I spoke about on the blog last week, that being the 2013 Formula One calendar. Wouldn’t it be a coincidence if New Jersey was dropped with the Mexico Grand Prix? Now that would be fantastic.