The sports imminent new owners Liberty Media, have suggested that future prize money allocation rules could change – and that Ferrari could also lose their financial privileges from the dividing of the F1 pie. The takeover from Liberty is expected to be completed this month, with the future direction of the sport now being thrust […]
Intrigue over Formula 1 suspension systems pioneered by Mercedes is nothing new, but the latest row over what is allowed can be traced back to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
According to sources, a radio conversation between Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull pitwall about car set-up and the impact of the suspension on aerodynamic performance left some teams suspicious that there was more to these devices than originally thought.
In particular the idea of the suspension being used primarily to help aerodynamics prompted Ferrari to write to the FIA to clarify exactly is allowed.
Such a request for clarification to F1 race director Charlie Whiting is common – as it offers teams an opportunity to discern the legality of designs they intend to pursue, the chance to better understand the ones used by their rivals, or highlight to the FIA where others might be operating in grey areas.
Ferrari has queried the use of more complex systems than the one that Mercedes has legally put to good use – primarily one that stores energy that can be then be released to improve the car’s aerodynamic platform over the rest of the lap when it is better needed.
But have teams like Mercedes and Red Bull been doing it already, were they planning on doing it for 2017 – or is Ferrari’s bid simply to cut off an avenue of expensive development before it pushed on with its own concept?
The crux of Ferrari’s request for clarification centres around the recovery and storage of energy to be used at a later time to extend a spring seat or other parts of the suspension assembly.
This infers the use of hydraulic accumulators that are designed to store and dispense energy under certain conditions, creating a sort of high-pressure hydraulic computer.
This fluid logic system would react to inputs, as the car undergoes various conditions around a lap.
Think then of the heave element and ancillary remote accumulators as a three-dimensional map, rather than just the cylindrical elements they outwardly appear to be – with small and large chambers interspersed to accommodate the various inputs, loads and conditions.
As an F1 car brakes for a corner, the weight of the car should shift forward and the aerodynamic loads are altered.
If a team fully understood the inertia from a mathematical perspective you could model a reactionary response from the front and rear suspension that would keep the platform of the car within an acceptable tolerance, improving both mechanical and aerodynamic performance.
The knock-on effect is that the driver can carry more apex speed and will accelerate out of the corner earlier than is ordinarily the case.
REPLICATING THE FRIC EFFECT
The intrigue surrounding the pre-Christmas technical directive from Whiting suggesting trick suspension systems that stored energy would be illegal comes in the wake of what teams did with FRIC (Front-to-Rear-InterConnected) systems up until their effective ban ahead of the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix.
The potential aero benefits of a clever suspension system can even be traced back to Renault’s famed mass damper during Fernando Alonso’s title years – and in recent seasons it was Mercedes that was at the forefront of the FRIC technology.
With FRIC gone, resources were shifted to replicate the peripheral advantages it gave -teams set about creating a similar effect, albeit without the hydraulic connection front-to-rear.
Much of the work done by FRIC revolved around heave – the vertical displacement of the car.
Being able to connect the front and rear also helped to stabilise the car’s roll through corners, improving aerodynamic stability as a consequence.
It is natural that the teams would have the FIA believe that the reason for these systems was to improve tyre performance and life, enhancing mechanical grip with an emphasis on increasing the contact patch.
However, while this is true, a chief motivation is always going to revolve around improving aero, with a more stable platform able to provide the team with the ability to hone in on aggressive solutions.
The heave element provides stiffness at speed to improve how the car reacts to aerodynamic load.
At lower speeds, the heave damper is decoupled, giving the driver the type of compliance he needs. But it is during transient conditions that the designers have had to find more and more performance.
In an interview with Giorgio Piola, Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe was open about the aerodynamic benefits of the suspension system Mercedes ran at times in 2016.
“A spring classically was linear, [but now] we are playing with far greater and more complex ranges of non-linear compliance,” said Lowe.
“That’s allowing us to play games with getting the aero platform exactly where we want.
“It’s more difficult to do than it was with FRIC, but it’s the same thing really.”
WHAT HAS RED BULL BEEN DOING?
There were rumours last year that Red Bull had also made gains in this area – with it able to have a car with a high rake for aerodynamic benefit in the corners but then sank down at the rear on the straights to minimise drag.
The effectiveness of rake is dependent on a car’s overall concept, because adding a Red Bull- or McLaren-level of rake to the Mercedes is no guarantee of more performance if all of the other aero surfaces are not in tune with it.
The use of a well-tuned HPC (Hydraulic Pitch Control) suspension system, as some of the teams have called it, is something that has been part of Red Bull’s success throughout 2016 as it overtook Ferrari.
For a team that usually had an abundance of aerodynamic updates at each race, Red Bull was surprisingly quiet on that front last season.
Instead at each GP it honed its set-up, perhaps trialling a different front or rear wing on occasions, in order to maximise the car’s operating window.
While it’s understood that it sacrificed some of its resource early on to focus on the 2017 car, it’s perhaps its mooted acquisition of a full chassis dynamometer that has allowed it to make further strides.
The VTT (Virtual Test Track) as it is known replicates its car in every aspect and allows it to run the car in the simulator loop, including the power unit.
Suspension actuation is also conducted and helps the team to make some decisions about the set-up, both aerodynamically and mechanically, before getting to the track.
This has led to what has been interpreted as a hunching over of the car on the straights, causing a drop in downforce and drag and boosting straightline speed, helping the team to overcome some of the deficit of its the Renault engine.
Red Bull’s use of HPC is different in its approach to Mercedes, but both systems are aimed at improving the relationship between all aspects of the chassis to improve overall lap time.
So when Ricciardo was overheard on the radio in Abu Dhabi, talking in detail about the impact of suspension settings, did that trigger a new thought process in Ferrari’s head?
WHAT IS LEGAL?
Ferrari’s move has obviously led to the pointing of fingers about what Mercedes and Red Bull are up to – but only those two teams know exactly what they have been doing.
The debate about what is allowed is still ongoing with the FIA – but from Mercedes’ perspective at least, it remains convinced that the system it ran when needed in 2016 does not fall foul of the FIA’s interpretation of a moveable aerodynamic device so there is no impact from the latest ruling.
The feeling is that Ferrari’s clarification could have more of an impact on what Red Bull may have been planning for 2017 as it bids to push its suspension system on even further.
That the matter is not closed yet shows that some teams are on the limit of what is allowed – and that leaves Ferrari in a bit of a dilemma.
Does it now push on with its own trick system, does it accept Whiting’s interpretation, or does it keep fighting and open up the prospect of a protest at the Australian Grand Prix?
Cast minds back to 2009 when the double diffuser row kicked off and Ferrari’s belief that a protest to the stewards in Melbourne about the designs would be enough to get rid of them.
Ferrari may feel like it has dealt a blow to the opposition in Whiting’s ruling, but nothing is ever that simple in F1.
Ahead of the all-new cars coming for 2017, the suspension issue is likely to be the first of many skirmishes between teams.
REJECT TEAM OF THE YEAR
11. Ferrari (3rd, 398 points (Sebastian Vettel: 4th, 212 pts/ Kimi Raikkonen: 6th, 186 pts)) 3.5
Absolutely awful… where do I begin?!
- Mercedes (1st, 765 points- Nico Rosberg (1st, 385pts)/Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 380pts)) 10.0
A third consecutive season of processional dominance for the boys from Brackley. Out of 59 Grands Prix since the start of 2014, they have won 51 races, 56 poles and 34 fastest laps. Out of an accumulated total of 3,551 laps, they have led 2,969 of them- a whopping 83.6%. They have consistently maintained a qualifying lap average of 0.7 seconds over their rivals, so there have a few conspiracy theorists, who have suggested that the Mercedes hierarchy secretly harboured to see a Nico Rosberg WDC victory to prove their accomplishments stemmed from the engineering solely. No team has sustained such dominance within such a time frame- not even Ferrari succeeded in doing this between 1999-01 and 2002-04, when they won an unprecedented six consecutive constructors’ world championships.
From 1999-2001, Ferrari won 25 races, 24 poles & 14 fastest laps out of 50 Grands Prix. Out of 3,139 laps, the Scuderia led 1,531 of them (48.8%). From 2002-2004, Ferrari won 38 races, 30 poles & 34 fastest laps (66.6%) (this is the only statistic higher than Mercedes’) out of 51 Grands Prix. Out of 3,230 laps, the Maranello boys led 2,033 of them (62.9%). During these years, F2002 & F2004 were their two most prominent cars, which were praised for their excellent mechanical grip, neutral handling and near bullet-proof reliability- F2002 recording just one mechanical failure, whilst F2004 clocked up none.
Red Bull, from 2011-13, won 32 races, 37 poles & 29 fastest laps out of 58 Grands Prix. Out of 3,456 laps, they led 1,985 of those laps (57.4%). During these years, RB11 & RB13 were their two most prominent cars, which were estimated by aerodynamicists as producing the most amount of downforce seen in any F1 cars before or since.
Williams, from 1992-1994, won 27 races, 36 poles & 29 fastest laps out of 48 Grands Prix. Out of 3,127 laps, they led 1,829 of them (58.5%). During these cars, FW14B & FW15C were their two most prominent cars, acknowledged by experts to be the most technologically complex machinery- active suspension, ABS brakes, traction control plus numerous other gizmos, leading Alain Prost to describe FW15c as a “mini Airbus”.
McLaren, from 1988-1990, won 31 races, 42 poles & 23 fastest laps out of 48 Grands Prix. Out of 3,122 laps, they led 2,376 of them (76.1%). In qualifying, their two prominent cars MP4-4 & MP4-5 blew their rivals away, capable of defeating the fastest non-McLaren car by up to three seconds in the hands of one-lap master Ayrton Senna. If the relationship between Prost and Senna hadn’t been so acrimonious and reliability wasn’t such a prevalent issue, it is possible the statistics in this period would match or even beat what Mercedes have achieved.
In terms of what Mercedes have achieved compared to rival teams in the modern era, it is similar to the astounding dominance achieved by individual drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. It is unlikely we’ll ever see such supremacy from a team on such a totalitarian scale, so that should be a welcome sigh of relief for fans.
Of course, the 10.0 mark was not only awarded for their car’s third consecutive year of crushing superiority, but also the team’s management. Despite controversy in Spain, Canada & Austria, relations remained stable between their star drivers, allowing them to seal the WCC at Suzuka with four races to spare.
2. Red Bull-TAG Heuer (2nd, 468 points- Daniel Ricciardo (3rd, 256 pts)/Max Verstappen (5th, 204 pts)/Daniil Kvyat (14th, 25 pts)) 9.0
After last year’s debacle, which led to Red Bull badging their Renault engines after their new sponsor, 2016 showed a huge leap forward. 2017 should present a permissible opportunity to return to the front, with Ricciardo and Verstappen hogging the headlines. It is expected star designer Adrian Newey will pen a chassis to exploit the aggressively increased downforce and tyres regulations to the absolute maximum, whilst Renault provide a power unit with ample grunt.
3. Force India-Mercedes (4th, 173 points- Sergio Perez (7th, 101 points)/Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 72 points)) 8.5
The Silverstone-based team’s gradual ascent through F1’s hierarchy was richly rewarded with their best-ever WCC finish of 4th. It is unlikely such a result will be achieved in 2017, but credit where credit is due. The designers exploited the current regulations’ need for drag reduction and straight-line speed, which permitted the chassis to lap quickly thanks to the invaluablely-endowed Mercedes power unit. It is debatable that in the hands of the best drivers (i.e. Alonso, Hamilton & Verstappen), the VJM09 could have pushed Ferrari for 3rd in the WCC. Loyal stalwart Hulkenberg will leave for Renault, so for 2017, promising talent Esteban Ocon takes his place.
4. Toro Rosso-Ferrari (7th, 63 points- Carlos Sainz (12th, 46 pts)/Daniil Kvyat (14th, 25 pts)/Max Verstappen (5th, 204 pts)) 8.0
A second consecutive season of progress for Faenza boys was rewarded with another 7th in the WCC. If Verstappen had remained at the team for the entirety of the season, they might have caught McLaren for 6th, but their 2015-spec Ferrari power unit proved their Achilles’ Heel. It is expected for Toro Rosso to move up in 2017, with the excellent Carlos Sainz spearheading their challenge.
5. McLaren-Honda (6th, 76 points- Fernando Alonso (10th, 54 pts)/Jenson Button (15th, 21 pts)/Stoffel Vandoorne (20th, 1 pt)) 7.5
A steady, if unspectacular, second season of the reunited fabled McLaren-Honda partnership. The car still suffered from a fair degree of understeer and the Honda power unit underwhelming in its overall output, but reliability was a welcome boost. Alonso did his usual miracle job, whilst Button floundered, scoring just five more points than last year. In his place for 2017 will be Vandoorne, who lit the paddock with illuminating reviews with his dazzling performance at his sole outing at Bahrain, whilst deputising for Alonso. The Spaniard will be not be feeling too comfortable, though, as memories of a particular rookie tearing his reputation to shreds will see its tenth anniversary.
6. Haas-Ferrari (8th, 29 points- Romain Grosjean (13th, 29 pts)/Esteban Gutierrez (21st, o pts)) 7.0
In their first two races, America’s newest team became the first team since Toyota in their debut consecutive Grands Prix to score points. What’s more, Grosjean finished P6 in Melbourne, then P5 in Bahrain thanks to excellent pit calls. As the season progressed, though, Haas ran through the typical stumbling blocks every new team encounters in their early hurdles of the unforgiving environment of F1. Lack of experience of set-ups and the narrow operating windows of the Pirellis, as well as dubious feedback from their drivers exacerbated their acute struggles at certain races, with Mexico being their nadir with P19 & P20. Gutierrez finished P11 five times and did well to beat his French team-mate during mid-season, but he never appeared to have the spark to produce a vital points finish. In his place for 2017 will be Kevin Magnussen, who will be hoping to improve upon his lacklustre 2016.
7. Williams-Mercedes (5th, 138 points- Valtteri Bottas (8th, 85 pts)/Felipe Massa (11th, 53 pts)) 6.5
After two years of enjoying the fruits of a remarkable revival with two consecutive 3rds in the WCC, my prediction of a third consecutive P3 was pathetically wrong. Strategic errors remained prevalent, which were exacerbated further by lack of development and critics slamming their low-drag, low-downforce design philosophy as one-dimensional. Lance Stroll will be a welcome addition with exorbitant funding by his billionaire tycoon father, but with Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement, the second seat is a major conundrum. Will Bottas go to Mercedes? And if he does, will Felipe Massa postpone his retirement for one more season?
8. Renault (9th, 8 points- Kevin Magnussen (16th, 7 pts)/Jolyon Palmer (18th, 1 pt)) 5.5
Were they racing in 2016? It was a poor return to F1 for the double WCC-winning French marque, who insisted upon using a revised 2015 Lotus chassis as their challenger this season. It is understandable that due to cash flow issues Lotus suffered, as well as time constraints linked with their late buyout, that the car was hurried, but development did not produce desired improvements. Cyril Abitedoul stated an intent to sign a “charismatic” lead driver, so it remains to be seen if Nico Hulkenberg can live up to such a lofty position.
9. Manor-Mercedes (11th, 1 point (Pascal Wehrlein (19th, 1 pt)/Esteban Ocon (23rd, 0 pts)/Rio Haryanto (24th, 0 pts) 5.0
A decent season for the Banbury-based squad. In spite of a car that lacked downforce, it topped top speed sheets regularly thanks to drawing inspiration from technical partners Williams, who sourced out their suspension and transmission. Wehrlein impressed in parts, whilst Pertamina-backed Haryanto lost his drive when the dollars dried up, as his race performances were inadequately under par. Ocon took his place, producing a great drive in Brazil before he spun. The point he lost for P10 proved academic as Sauber’s Felipe Nasr scored two vital points in P9, thrusting the Hinwil squad into 10th in the WCC. So that left Manor languishing in 11th for a second consecutive year. As ever with the backmarkers, their driver line-up will announced at the last minute before next year’s much anticipated tests.
10. Sauber-Ferrari (10th, 2 points- Felipe Nasr (17th, 2 pts)/Marcus Ericsson (22nd, o pts)) 4.0
In a season of mounting financial pressures, further burdened by two mediocre pay drivers and a bland corporate image, it was a miracle Sauber escaped the wooden spoon in the WCC and on this list. To be frankly honest, Monisha Kaltenborn clearly has a lucky charm somewhere. The car was rehash of last year’s decent contender, so it was inevitably predictable how poor this season was going to be. All year, the Hinwil team appeared destined to see a 11th finish to darken their worries over the long-term existence of Sauber, but the heavens opened in Interlagos and the rest is history. Marcus Ericsson is confirmed in one of their seats for 2017, but it remains to seen whether Nasr has the funding to continue.
The next article will focus on this year’s Reject Team of the Year. Don’t miss it!
Australia (Albert Park, Melbourne)
China (Jiading, Shanghai)
Spain (Montmeló, Barcelona)
Monaco (Monte Carlo, Monaco)
Canada (Montreal, Quebec)
Austria (Red Bull Ring, Spielberg)
Britain (Silverstone, Northampton)
Hungary (Hungaroring, Budapest)
Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot)
Italy (Monza, Lombardy)
Japan (Suzuka, Mie)
United States (Austin, Texas)
Mexico (Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City)
Brazil (Interlagos, São Paulo)
South Africa (Kyalami, Midrand)
France (Paul Ricard, Le Castellet)
Germany (Hockenheimring, Hockenheim)
Portugal (Portimão, Algarve)
Europe (Baku, Azerbaijan)
Malaysia (Sepang, Kuala Lumpur)
Singapore (Marina Bay)
Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
What I was thinking about the Halo
Formula 1 bigwigs are currently mooting the introduction of a halo cockpit for 2017, ostensibly to improve driver safety. The “urgent” need seemed to have gained ground in large part as a result of the tragic events of Suzuka 2014, under the mantra of needing to do more to protect the drivers’ head. However a halo cockpit is unlikely to have prevented the injuries suffered by Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who died last July, nine months after his Marussia collided with a recovery vehicle during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. If anything, could a halo cockpit actually increase the risk to the driver’s life in ferocious, Bianchi-style impacts?
The whitewash, two-page summary report investigating the circumstances of Bianchi’s accident had precious little to say about the presence of a recovery vehicle not designed for impact with F1 machinery on an active track. In fact, none of the published Bianchi…
View original post 492 more words
Wednesday 24th February may appear as just another day in the world for an average person, but for a Formula 1 fan it goes down as yet another footnote of F1’s numerous PR woes. For a sport that is clearly searching for direction and vision, the powers that be decided to shake up qualifying. Just as the majority of its fanbase was flabbergasted when the FIA announced the mandate of a single helmet paint scheme before the eve of last season, social media was filled with more proverbial long faces over another unnecessary rule change.
It stems from three issues that engulf Formula 1 worse than ever: bureaucracy, ennui and nostalgia. It appears the FIA have suffered a diminishing control over its premier sport since Max Mosley left, who although many saw him to be a figure of ridicule and detachment from salient issues, he knew how to avoid the inmates running the asylum throughout the majority of his tenure. Whilst many cringed at Bernie Ecclestone’s recent quips about his hatred of democracy, in the context of F1 it is a political system which fails to work well at all. The infamous FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) was proof of F1’s constructors’ inability to work and harmonise as a working group. Formed at a meeting in Maranello on 29 July 2008, the organisation became notorious for partaking within the FIA-FOTA dispute of 2009. Mosley stanchly proposed a £40 million budget cap for 2010 in an attempt to attract new independent constructors, but FOTA rejected this, as well as many of the FIA’s additional proposals. FOTA announced they wanted a unanimous agreement upon technical and sporting regulations between themselves and the FIA before renewing the Concorde Agreement, which was due for review. There were attempts between both parties to smear each other with claims that both were jeopardising the existence of F1, which led to six of the FOTA teams announcing a withdrawal from submitting entries for the 2010 season. Eventually, it dawned upon FOTA the regulations had already been set in Paris at the FIA’s headquarters. The reputation of Mosley had already fallen on a slippery slope from his Nazi sex orgy allegations from the previous year, which meant FOTA were able to demand his removal. Whilst FOTA eventually withdrew their threat of creating a breakaway series, the teams eventually became disinterested with running FOTA and it was discontinued by early 2014.
Ennui is a feeling that not only affects the actions of the political figures within the sport, regardless of the organisation they work for, but particularly that of the fans and drivers. Whilst it is a great thing that Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula 1 website has taken social media far more seriously over the past year, it has profited upon a whim which leaves fans yearning for a worrying and unhealthy nostalgia. Watching videos of Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest average lap speed record at Monza during 2004 is something that provides a weapon for fans to lampoon modern Formula 1 as a depilated, inferior sporting product. The visceral sensation of the noise emitted by an old fashioned V10 engine leaves viewers harking back to an era when Michael Schumacher and Ferrari drove the masses to tedium and boredom. Back in 2004, many retired superstars such as Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell bemoaned the lack of overtaking and competition, as well as a perception that the electronically-aided cars were less challenging to drive (sound familiar?). However, Prost also spoke of the task he faced in his era of fuel saving and tyre management during the 1980’s, driving heavy turbocharged monsters that broke down with alarming regularity. Prost and Mansell were many who berated the V10 chassis regulations of the time, which allowed refuelling and tyre changes. Michael Schumacher’s ingenious victory at that year’s French Grand Prix illustrated what many saw as farcical, where he won having seized advantage of Magny Cours’ short pitlane to pit four times to achieve the optimum strategy to beat Fernando Alonso’s pole-sitting Renault by 8.329 seconds.
Conincidentally, it set the FIA’s Overtaking Working Group into intense study and action. The regulations derived from its studies led to the narrowing of wings, removal of aero appendages and slick tyres by the advent of 2009. Thanks to the FIA-FOTA dispute, it was an organisation that became discredited and the current Strategy Group now influences a lot of regulations within the sport. It has been subjected to many complaints, particularly from Force India and Sauber who filed reports of its legality to the EU commission, vilifying its lack of concern for fiscal controls for constructors and its manipulation of power between group members. The Strategy Group permits the top five constructors from the previous season’s constructor standings to dictate the organisation’s decisions. In deference to a refusal to learn from the past, it is calling for a return to bigger aero appendages and a return of refuelling despite many statistics proving the introduction of the refuel ban, the much-maligned DRS and heat sensitive Pirelli almost trebling overtaking in the past five years in comparison to the seasons between 2005-09. This was an era where cars struggled to overtake due to pit strategies which attempted to seize of refuelling to move cars up the order through tactical ingenuity rather than wheel-to-wheel action.
Having been a fan of Formula 1 since 2002, Martin Brundle produced a tweet during Tuesday which aptly summed Formula 1’s problems. The number of rule changes causes endless confusion for not just fans, but its participants who are persistently dissatisfied by the sport’s politicking. Tinkering and manipulating rules to fit whims with artificial solutions is clearly not the way to go and it leaves fans nostalgic. Many egregious regulations since 2003 include:
- One lap qualifying (manipulated into an aggregate system for the early races of 2005)
- Parc Ferme rules (no tinkering with car’s setup post-qualifying, with aberrations later permitted for reliability and safety)
- The fuel burn credit system implement for the newly introduced three tier qualifying of 2006. This was abolished when refuelling was banned for 2010.
- The maximum time for cars returning to the pits during safety car periods, leaving myself and others confused when Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella were disqualified during 2007 Canadian Grand Prix
- Banning teams from doing a pit-stop “dummy”- where pit crews pretend their car would enter the pits by rushing into pit box positions to fool rival teams
- The engine freeze on V8s post-2006, which left a lot of its technology obsolete to car manufacturers and eventually led to the much-maligned V6 turbo hybrids
- The KERS system (which none of the teams had called for), causing the weight limits of cars to be increased and penalise heavier drivers such as Mark Webber plus many more
As a fan of this sport I am at my wits’ end, particularly with older fans that yearn for the 1980’s. Ironically, this was the era infamous for the FISA-FOCA war (a forbearer of the FIA-FOTA dispute), where issues such as prize money, political power, superlicences and various issues set the tone of a poisonous atmosphere of strenuous political turmoil for decades to come within F1. From reading historical websites dedicated to motorsports, the arrivals of car manufacturers during this era such as BMW, Renault, Honda & Alfa Romeo sparked astronomical budget increases, with lower teams such as Tyrrell & Ligier, who were once competitive, to become also-rans who would get lapped five or six times come the end of this decade. In my time as F1 fan, many teams have closed down or sold due to financial issues. Prost, Arrows, HRT & Caterham were liquated due to huge debts, whilst BAR, Jordan and Virgin were sold and re-sold to their current guises of Mercedes, Force India & Manor. In addition, Minardi became Toro Rosso (thanks to Red Bull’s buyout), Jaguar sold what it saw as a sinking ship to Red Bull, Sauber became BMW Sauber, but reverted back to its original guise when the Bavarian giant grew tired of funding its grand project, whilst Toyota admitted defeat after spending billions through a stubborn committee-led management system. It is clear the vested interests of manufacturers cannot commit to unanimity and the FIA needs to set a blueprint upon this criterion:
- Financial viability through budget constraints
- Value for money and entertainment for fans
- Limits upon the political powers of manufacturers and corporations
- A safety back-up plan when major teams and sponsors flee the sport
- An agreement to find corporations to commit to investing within independent outfits such as Williams, Haas, Sauber & Manor without jeopardising their futures or threatening to overhaul their management in favour of their brands’ identities
- A fairer share of TV money between the CVC and constructors (as well as reviewing historical payments to successful teams such as Ferrari)
- Removal of lengthy, tedious press conferences which pander too heavily towards sponsors
- A stable, coherent set of regulations easy to understand by all and requiring little tinkering.
I love Formula 1 to pieces, but it is not immune to criticism. My view of its relationship with social media is that whilst has improved, its Twitter and Instagram have become complacent. It needs to explore why fans love their drivers and their teams, where maybe perhaps a “fan-board” on the Formula 1 website with pictures and messages supporting whoever will appear. This would lessen the need to show old videos of races gone past and a cessation of glorifying the sport’s murky and questionable past.