Liam Parker, a former adviser to Boris Johnson who now leads communications at F1, said the sport was intent on rectifying past mistakes. “We were too arrogant,” he said. “We couldn’t understand why the American fan base wasn’t falling in love with us.” But he also pushed back on the complaints that Liberty’s efforts to raise the entertainment factor had stripped F1 of something essential.
“This whole argument of ‘Americanization,’ it’s a very crude way to describe things,” he said. “We shouldn’t ignore things that can improve things for new and core fans. It’s about giving people more choices in the modern era. It’s modernization of access to everyone.”
Mr. Hamilton, arguably the biggest celebrity of the current F1 lineup, has offered his own endorsement of Liberty’s approach. “I mean jeez, I grew up listening to LL Cool J,” he told reporters in Miami. “I thought it was cool, wasn’t an issue to me.”
For all the debates over elitism, good taste and corporate rap collaborations, the core appeal of F1, when you get right down to it, may be something simpler — something Mr. Sargeant got at when asked in the interview if he had loved cars as a kid.
“I absolutely love driving, as you can imagine,” he said. “But to be honest, I’m not one of those people who studies cars and, you know, likes to know every detail of every single car. It doesn’t really interest me.”
“The part that interests me,” he concluded, “is driving them as fast as I can go.”
Eliza Shapiro contributed reporting from Miami. Kitty Bennett contributed research.