Formula 1, The Future?
Formula 1 : Strong opinions!
So what do F1 fans want after the dramatic sale of the commercial rights to the sport by Bernie Ecclestone to the new US corporate owners, Liberty Media ? Liberty have shrewdly appointed the great sage of F1, Ross Brawn, to run the sporting side of F1 [which should be the remit of governing body the FIA, but do the FIA even know which day of the week it is?]. I am forced to place great emphasis on what Ross Brawn might do, since no-one else in Liberty has much background in F1, and everyone has pinned their hopes on him.
Brawn is too good to be marketing ice creams for Americans… so let’s set him some motor racing targets. First task must be to stop the teams leaving the present show as soon as they could. If I was a team, I would. As a fan, I’d also be very happy with the teams walking away and setting up a rival F1 show - a smaller, more intense, more grassroots approach to the sport.
Why do we need an overpaid Commercial Rights Holder now that F1’s format is mature? The CRH has taken out billions for themselves over the years whilst teams go bust, tracks withdraw, tickets are too expensive, drivers are overpaid, TV audiences fall, attendance collapses, and big car makers dominate. So Liberty should be wary, because I think they bought F1 at the end of that product’s life-cycle.
Running F1 should no longer be a commercial enterprise – no other major sport needs this, they all have Governing Bodies with commercial arms which run major international events for 1% of the cost of F1. Yes, the FIA shamefully sold this right, but nothing is irreversible. Liberty - Brawn - better start asking themselves what they plan to put back into the sport – why didn’t they support the rescue of Manor, for starters? I don’t give Liberty much chance of making this a successful investment - but the good news is that Bernie is probably too old to hang around and buy it back!
Changing the relationship with the FIA will be crucial – if anyone can do it, Brawn could, but the result is almost bound to be economically in favour of the FIA, so why would he A few years back we had the FOTA concept – Formula One Teams Association. The idea was that the teams were bigger than the commercial rights holder, they could take their cars away and run a rival series. Bernie was too shrewd to allow this to happen, and he bribed Red Bull and Ferrari to the point where the concept folded. The current commercial agreements expire in 2020, so now is an ideal team for FOTA2 to emerge. If FOTA2 doesn’t happen, Brawn will be running a marketing organisation only, not setting technical rules, and he has a deskfull of problems. In the face of rapidly declining TV audiences he needs to make an immediate gesture to show fans that Liberty means business and has teeth. In Brawn’s recent book about F1 strategy he said that the FIA no longer has a role, that ‘the CRH [i.e. now Brawn] controls everything’………Prove it
He needs to get F1 back on an upward path, something that fans believe in.
F1 should be a development class. Maybe fix the rules for 3 years at a time but change them at short notice? Then allow in-season testing, so the grid is technically ‘disturbed’ for prolonged periods, and perhaps engineering talent could predominate over money, and hopefully a little old lady couldn’t win just because she was in a dominant car. There must be no F1 teams on the Tech Rules committee!
Testing ban must be removed, and learner drivers actively encouraged once or twice a year.
Find another ‘You must be joking!’ event like Monaco, something completely off the wall, non-Tilke. Iceland? Manhattan? Scottish Highlands? Sicily? Laguna Seca? A circuit with big vertical displacement?
Embrace free-to- air TV or else…
Concentrate on the circuits in the developed world, but extend the reach to Aus, NZ, SA, South America
Grids need to be over 20 cars. Make cash available for teams early [unlike Bernie did to Honda/Brawn] but make them compete for it e.g the manufacturers have to run GP2 teams, and they get some of the Concorde money by how well they do in GP2 [development…]
Fans want raw, almost dangerous, noisy excitement. We are completely bored with yoghurt-fuelled cars, corporate interviews, dozens of press releases every weekend, drivers on message, yawn yawn bland.
We do NOT want the standard American razamatazz of cheerleaders, bands, fireworks, crooners, or display jets; we want gutsy fast cars, hard racing, 25% retirement per race
The overall race weekend format [Practise/Quali/Race is fine, but could we have GP2 and/or Moto GP events at the same venue some weekends? F1 should be on a bit of a pedestal, but its not a god, it should muck in and share its pits.
Don’t compromise safety, but no driver protection halo as currently conceived, and reduce front wings dramatically to allow cars to race close behind each other and not be held up by disturbed air.
Probably need to look at cost limitation on aero, it’s a marginal return money hole
We want tyre competition, are happy to have refuelling back, and DRS should extinguish itself
More racing incidents, fewer stewards enquiries
Maybe allow one-car teams?
Tickets must be £50 for race day rather than 3 times that, and tracks should pay less to CRH, or even be paid to put races on. Even Liberty have admitted as much!
Teams must have a better than 8/11 chance of surviving [new teams 100% failure]. Brawn needs to put team leaders in a position where they can have longer term vision for the good of the sport