Discussions from Motor Sport Professionals

It's difficult to write a brief statement about a sport I literally grew up with, and have dearly loved for decades, and then watched deteriorate into the mess we have today. Not so long ago, Formula One was about incredibly gifted, mature and courageous men and women with strong public personalities, designing, building and driving insanely dangerous, powerful and gawdawfully loud cars, all unique in one way or another, on tracks rich in history, filled with knowledgeable fans who followed and understood every detail of the sport. Now, as they say, ... not so much. To over-simplify a complex issue; the Formula One we have today is dull when compared to Formula One just a few years ago. And it's getting duller by the minute. I'm positive that any details of F1's self-inflicted suicide that I include will be quickly and intelligently shot-down, one by one, so I'll just say this; I sincerely hope that Liberty truly understands and loves what they have purchased, and that they will try to reverse the general direction F1 has been going for the past few years. This includes everything from design, presentation, tracks and it especially includes access. And I mean ACCESS! ... in every way possible, making it dead-simple and dirt-cheap - if not totally free of charge - for anyone and everyone, most especially young boys and girls, to once again see F1 from top to bottom, front to back. That is the only way Liberty and whoever else is involved can restore and rebuild the fan-base that made Formula One the great sporting event, and great human event, that it once was. And, yes, dear critic, now shaking your head with a slight, knowing grin, it can be done. And it must be done, unless you want to see F1 go the same route the America's Cup, Indy 500 and even NASCAR are going, all of them drained of almost all real drama, replaced by make-believe drama, as a result of trying to squeeze every last dime out of a shrinking fan-base in order to meet an ever-expanding payroll. (Since I'm a total stranger to almost everyone reading this, this might help explain where I'm coming from, opinion-wise: I think, and know, that Steve McQueen's "Le Mans" was the best movie ever made about racing, and that the film "Grand Prix" was essentially a comedy.)
Started by Thomas Lane.
Bernard, you make some interesting points, but I have a question for you. How easy would it be to construct a car that is more spectacular, faster and more entertaining than an F1 car? If 3 liters was good would 4 or 5 be better? Would V10s and V12s sound better? Would those engines married to a Red Bull X1 be more exciting? Oh, by the way we wouldn't limit what the teams could say to the driver over the radio either. I bet it could be cheaper too. Then you might focus it in the world's largest advertising market. Do you know where that is?
Started by Thomas Lane.
I actually think Bernie has done a great job bringing F1 to a high level. It's a sport with great big egos, from the factories to the TV partners to the FIA and holding it together is a massive challenge, which Bernie has accepted and, on balance, met. The complaints leveled at Bernie should frequently be directed at the FIA instead. The current cars sound awful, look awful and don't provide the spectacle that was Formula 1 because of the dumb rules put in place by the FIA. The same is true of the costs. Bernie has argued for years that teams should be allowed to have three cars, but the FIA rebuffed him on every occasion. Ditto in season testing. The bribery settlement was great for the sport, although I certainly can't endorse the behavior that lead to the settlement. Whoever replaces Bernie, eventually will have very big shoes to fill.
Started by Tariq Saleh.
i think its great that a US team are having a go at F1, i have to say though that i don't think it will increase the popularity of the series over there, i think that F1 needs some major changes for that to ever happen. Bear in mind that F1 is already pretty popular in the USA with a good core following, but there will always be a "not invented here" blockage to any mass acceptance. i sincerely hope they can do well and not just trail around at the back, question is do they know and can they learn what it takes to win in F1 compared to other series. as for the sponsorship side i can't see many US global brands backing it, because again i don't think they understand what F1 is all about and how to really benefit from the exposure and costs involved. F1 needs the USA but the USA doesn't need F1. if anyone fancies putting together a British indycar team for next year gimme a shout, we could get some serious publicity with that one. Geoff.
Started by Steve Moorhouse.
Anything that helps NASCAR seem fresh can only help. They peaked in 2006. Actually I think this would be fabulous for hockey and lacrosse too.
Started by Steve Moorhouse.
Basically, I have to agree with Tom, Stanford and Geoff! The utter nonsensical approach to giving double points in the last race of the year, especially at a track that does little of nothing to promote actual racing and overtaking makes a mockery of the earlier part of the season. If there was ever a reason for drivers to approach races like Prost and Senna did during the 80's and early 90's (remember Suzuka, twice), then this is just the formula for it. Imagine if someone is at least a "normal" race win ahead in the championship come Abu Dhabi. Usually he would arrive at the race as World Champion elect. Now he has to ensure he finishes the race with enough points to ensure that a win for his rival doesn't take him past his supposedly unassailable position and on top of that, he has to watch out from being "accidently" taken out by his rival's team mate or another allied car. Nowadays it takes a very small touch to puncture a back tyre and you are suddenly running at the back of the field, that's if you are lucky enough to have got the car back to the pits without any substantial aero damage! No FIA, tinker around with something else, give a point or two for a pole position but please don't try and "manufacture" races, especially on a track that just doesn't "do" racing or even for that matter, overtaking!
Started by Steve Moorhouse.
There is no doubt that if Silverstone is to compete with the best circuits in the world then major investment is required - from major landscaping enhancements all the way through to a new main stand and hotel complex. It is a much loved circuit but I do not feel a full vision for the place has been established. Perhaps a design and vision competition could be set up to look for ideas.
Started by Steve Moorhouse.
As a big fan of Indycar and Nascar, having spent a lot of time in the USA motorsport scene when I was with Lola, I see exactly where you're coming from. I wish more people would make the effort to go and watch oval track racing.
Started by Brian Sims.
Interesting development in this one - Vettel said today he would probably disobey team orders again and that his move was "indirectly" based on Webber's past lack of support. This doesn't sound like something Horner and the team would want Vettel to be going public with, admitting there is a rift between the two drivers and that one thinks he is above the other and the team in many ways. Questions of how Horner can gain control of the team are heightened further with this development
Started by Brian Sims.
Surely it's a case of supply and demand? The British GP doesn't seem to be struggling to attract a strong crowd each year. Seems to me that the races are all fairly sensibly priced to maximise revenues from their local market. I hardly think the Monaco GP comparison is a realistic one: the level of access and viewing Silverstone provides by the nature of a permanent circuit vs a street circuit is entirely different and much superior at this price point. I'd be interested to see a comparison of the cost of a pint and some chips at these races!
Started by Steve Moorhouse.
In my view the entire eco-system is out of wack, by design. Gone are the days of dreamers and garagistas, which is good and bad.
Started by Steve Moorhouse.
When one considers the logistics involved with taking the races across continents, it seems that 20 would be the maximum that is feasible. Ideally, between 15 and 20 quality venues seems appropriate. And I believe it is imperative to keep the blue riband venues aka Monaco, Spa, Monza, and Silverstone on the schedule.
Started by Douglas Elder.
Too many vested interests for this to happen, in my opinion. I watched Rugby Union try to enforce a cap, which was so open to abuse. Great idea, but flawed!
Started by Edward Rangsi.
At TTXGP we have taken electric racing to Daytona, Assen, Le Mans, and many more, we are aiming for some form of presence in Asia in 2014. Electric bikes can now do 20-30 miles at speeds topping 170mph, with lap times that would mean an electric bike would qualify about 9th on a MotoGP grid. Asia is a big market for technology & renewable energy, and many Asians ride bikes, less can afford cars. So I think the draw for the electric motorsport is sponsorship based, and the attraction of high net worth individuals who may invest in teams.
Started by Edward Rangsi.
Consider that Lewis' career was "born" at McLaren and that he's been groomed in their system; consider also that Sergio Perez came from a Ferrari-based culture and now needs to meld into McLaren's way of doing things. It's my personal belief that Hamilton felt the culture at McLaren had become stale for him and he needed a change - considering how well he knows the Mercedes-Benz engine, how well respected Ross Brawn is as a driver mentor (see Schumacher, Michael - early days - for such a scenario) this could be a good move for Lewis. But then again, I guess we'll all have to wait and see. I do thing Norberg Haug felt the need to secure a true No. 1 driver and the best one out there for Mercedes was Lewis Hamilton.
Started by Douglas Elder.
Unfortunately what we are witnessing with Lewis Hamilton is the classic early-phase career conundrum that many before have endured. Witness Jenson Button's torrid time in the early 2000's after the initial euphoria created by his entrance to F1. Early adulation and huge earnings have a habit of limiting clarity of thought, and the only difference for Hamilton over Button is that he has had the benefit of driving a winning car and tucking up a championship title early on. Whatever advice Hamilton is getting, whether from Simon Fuller's XIX Management or contracted manager Didier Coton, a move away from McLaren makes no sense if racing-to-win and simultaneously earning substantial rewards are your dual focus. This is a team which has won 25% of all the races it has competed in since 1966 and has a portfolio of commercial partners to die for. The lure of even more money, flexibility of the number of personal appearances he has to make or opportunity to take on significant personal endorsements can be very attractive. Especially to a management team. For such a competitive man, however, I cannot believe these baubles can lure him away from the chance to be the best in the world every other Sunday.
Started by Douglas Elder.
What the Ferrari President is showing is the realisation that Formula One, and car racing in general, is failing to attract the young audience it once did. As companies like Honda are finding in previously key-automotive markets like Japan, young men aspire to own the latest in gadgets, entertainment and computer equipment rather than cars. In addition, we can see that what young audience there is for F1 is choosing to follow Formula One in quite a different way thanks to the ability to download races, or highlights, and use media players to focus only on the key points - the start, the accidents, the pit stops and the overtaking. It is possible to self-edit a 2-hour Formula One race into no more than 10-12 of the key moments. Montezemolo's thoughts about shortening the races probably highlight the concern that the younger audiences won't sit through hours of racing. An interesting point when one considers the blanket coverage offered by channels such as Sky Sports F1 with pre-race build up starting 1.5 hours before the race and last for a long time afterwards. Does anyone sit through 4.5 hours of F1? I don't and I work in the industry! From my perspective the bigger opportunity lies in the technology available in F1, and already used to some extent. Witness the Sky Sports F1 multi-channel offering whereby you can watch the entire race from one cockpit or swapping camera views from pit lane to cockpit to live-feed. This should be taken further and packaged with an interactive element; there is no reason why the individual car's telemetry cannot be streamed - confidentiality issues aside - and potentially for gamers to race 'live' on-line during the actual race on the same track. The continued success of the F1 game on Playstation evidences the fact that young audiences enjoy participation. Interaction using the amazing technology within the sport would be a better solution than the blunt instrument of limiting the event with the reduced benefit that brings for fans, media and sponsors. Formula One is helping to develop the connected-car which will ultimately benefit us all; perhaps time to create a fully connected fan.
Started by Douglas Elder.
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