The Balance Between Sport and Entertainment - Brian Sims

Wednesday, 01 May 2013

Brian Sims Expert ColumnOne of the penalties of having spent so many years in the motorsport industry is that people seem to think I’m a technical expert on anything automotive. Go to a social event and there’ll always be someone who corners me and then proceeds to give me chapter and verse on every car that they’ve ever owned. As if that’s not bad enough, many will then go into raptures over the fact that their 1974 Cortina had an ex-works modified exhaust manifold system, or perhaps a triple Weber carburettor, imported specially from Ford Cologne.  However hard I might try to explain that I worked on the commercial side of motorsport, it makes no difference. They carry on regardless.

Then there are those who want to talk Formula 1. Now that I can manage, mainly because I started  following Grand Prix racing from way back before my first F1 job, as manager of the Kyalami Circuit in South Africa. I’m not too good with statistics, but I can remember so many of the characters involved and the fascinating tales of daring, skill and glamour.

Of late, however, the question that’s put to me so often by business people, friends, family and social acquaintances is this: “What’s going on with Formula 1, this tyre business for a start?” Another popular question relates to what Pirelli can possibly get out of producing tyres that last five or six in a race before they become virtually un-driveable. Business friends in particular openly ask me how that can be good exposure for a company that’s reliant on selling road tyres.

The feeling amongst many people who like watching F1 on the TV, but who aren’t directly involved in the sport, is that F1 seems to have switched from being all about the best technology driven by the world’s top race drivers on the most challenging race tracks, to artificially stimulated events that rely on tyre degradation, harvested energy, Red Baron style adjustable-wings and sponsorship-bringing also-rans to put on a show.

Mark Webber, he of the Seb Vettel admiration society, was recently moved enough on the subject to comment that the sport was getting closer to World Wrestling Federation strategy by the day.

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