Opinion: racing is still an effective marketing tool

The MC20’s launch also represented a brand reset, using the supercar to link Maserati with a long and successful motorsport heritage. The firm was able to do that hugely effectively and in such a way that onlookers might not notice the gap of nearly four decades between its F1 and sports car efforts and that GT campaign.

For years, motorsport’s worth as a marketing tool was all tied to results: think of the tired cliché ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’. In truth, that has never really applied. Racing is only effective as a marketing tool if used in the right way. Maserati’s use of the MC12’s success is a great example.

How it works: onboard fire extinguishers

Fire used to be the racing driver’s greatest fear, in the days when it seemed that they were partaking in a sporting activity while strapped to a bomb. Modern fuel cells have largely diluted the risk, being extremely strong yet also flexible, but still a fire extinguisher has long been mandatory on any competition racing car.

In Formula 1, a range of extinguishants are allowed, but all systems must discharge 95% of their contents at a constant pressure in no less than 10 seconds and in no more than 30 seconds. Drivers must be able to trigger the extinguisher themselves from inside the cockpit, but the breaker switch – marked by a red E within a circle – must also be linked for external deployment; for example, by trackside marshals. It can still make all the difference in a life-or-death situation.

Motorsport greats: Pedro Rodriguez

Sergio Pérez is Mexico’s longest-serving grand prix driver, but there’s no doubt who is the country’s greatest. Pedro Rodríguez won two grands prix, in South Africa in 1967 for Cooper and in Belgium in 1970 for BRM, but he’s perhaps best remembered for his dashing exploits in Gulf Porsche 917s. His virtuoso drive in the sodden Brands Hatch BOAC 1000km in 1970, following an infamous black flag and pit-lane ticking-off by the clerk of the course, is racing folklore. Sadly, like his younger brother Ricardo, Pedro died in a racing car – a Ferrari 512M – at the Norisring in 1971. Charismatic and brave, he had so much more to give.


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