Ferrari to lose special rights

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 […]

via Ferrari to lose special rights — thejudge13

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Five venues eligible to hold additional F1 races in America

Bernie Ecclestone has again re-iterated his wishes of six Grands Prix to be held in America. Here are five venues capable of holding Grands Prix if modified to FIA standards:

Sebring International Raceway

Capacity: Open seating without capacity limitation

Track length: 3.74 miles (6.02km)

Best known as the venue of Sebring 12 Hours, its track surface contains a mixture of asphalt and concrete. It held the 1959 edition of US Grand Prix, but was shelved due to poor attendance and high costs. At least $500 million would be required to bring this venue up to FIA Grade 1 standards. Its location in Florida, however, would provide convenience for those fans unable to travel to more illustrious circuits based in North America.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Capacity: 235,000 (permanent)

Track length (F1): 2.605 miles (4.192 km)

The venue of US Grand Prix from 2000-2007, Indy has unfortunately encountered the dark political side of F1 more often than it should done. In its first Grand Prix held on its custom made road course, controversy arose in qualifying due to the position of pole and 2nd place being placed directly on the famous bricked line. Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher and McLaren’s Hakkinen deliberately set slower times to start on the second row, but the front row was dropped back on race day to avoid wheelspin issues for their respectative team-mates Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard. The 2004 race saw a worryingly slow response from the safety crew, who took two minutes to drag themselves to the aid of Ralf Schumacher. The German had crashed into the concrete wall on the banked oval and he would fly home with undiagnosed fractures of vertebrates in his back. He later threatened legal action against the Speedway officials for his inadequate medical treatment. The 2005 edition, however, would witness F1 politics at its ugliest, as Ralf’s practice accident near the same spot of his accident from the previous year’s Grand Prix due to a delaminated tyre sent Michelin into disarray. who later ordered their contracted teams to avoid doing more than ten laps on any set of their compounds. Race day would see a farcical pull out of the Michelin-shod teams, as a failure to agree a temporary chicane before the final banked oval turn would see just six cars start the race.

Road America

Capacity: Open seating without seating limitation

Track length: 4.048 miles (6.515km)

Seen as the best road course in North America, this venue located in Elkart Lake, Wisconsin would almost certainly gain popularity with international fans. It contains fourteen daunting turns, with frequent bumps and varying levels of residual grip. Road America has held many encapsulating Indycar races sanctioned by the now defunct CART organisation, including Al Unser Jr’s last lap engine failure in 1996 and Juan Pablo Montoya’s gearbox dying in the 1999 edition. If F1 was to hold a race here, its spectacle may sadly been hampered by fuel restrictions, which would demand the cars to lift off early at the end of straights. However, the close proximity of the walls and blindness of the kinks will demand the respect of the world’s best racing drivers. Like Sebring, work would be need to be done on laying asphalt run-offs, as well as proper permanent seating areas and a high tech pit area.

Sonoma Raceway

Capacity: 47,000

Track length: 2.22 miles (3.57km)

Based in California, Sonoma is often seen as poor cousin to the famous Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. This venue is a dusty, twisty circuit capable of testing the stamina of the best road racers, however some F1 fans may see his track mirroring features of the much-maligned Hungaroring. Its capacity would need to be doubled in order to hold a F1 event and its safety features would need to upgraded to FIA Grade 1 standards.

Watkins Glen International

Capacity: 38,900

Track length: 3.4 miles (5.43km)

Last, but not least, we have Watkins Glen based in the outskirts of Schuyler County, New York. This track was the venue of US Grand Prix from 1961-1980. The lower safety standards required by NASCAR, Indycar and sportscar racing has allowed this venue to remain with mediocre safety features. The picture above shows Tony Stewart testing a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 in a Mobil 1 promotional event.

The Furore over F1’s 2017 Regulations; Is Vettel’s relationship with Ferrari diminishing?

After the news of F1’s return to 2015 qualifying system, Sebastian Vettel spoke of his belief that F1 should return to naturally-aspirated engines.

“I personally think the current power unit regulations are too expensive and it would be beneficial for all the teams and the whole sport to go back to something normally aspirated,” Vettel said.

Vettel’s opinion is very much contrary to that of Ferrari, who last year vetoed a cost cap proposal for engines. It will appear strange to profess, but one could speculate that the sentiments of team personnel of how well Vettel gels with the infrastructure is merely little more than corporate jargon. Many have viewed Vettel’s establishment within the Ferrari team to be similiar to that of Michael Schumacher’s reign; however, the management structure could not be more different.

Mauricio Arrivabene’s official role is listed as “Team Principal”; a position where he manages the team in accordance to the orders of President Sergio Marchionne within the Scuderia hierarchy. This differs greatly to Jean Todt’s role during the Schumacher era, where he performed the role of General Manager, with greater freedoms granted by then-Chairman Luca di Montezemolo. It is important to realise that Arrivabene’s influence only stretches as far as race day operations of the engineers during race weekends, whilst Jean Todt had controls on the general direction of Scuderia Ferrari within Formula 1 in his reign.

The Michael Schumacher era was infamous for the German being able to command orders to the likes of Todt, Ross Brawn and team personnel to cater every one of his whims and desires. Schumacher was never seen or heard arguing with his team, due to their incredible close bond not seen before or since. When Schumacher left Ferrari in 2006, the golden formula was disbanded, lending far greater control to Luca di Montezemolo and placing Stefano Domencali as Team Principal. This management structure, along with their next prized superstar Fernando Alonso, have since been disposed, but a need to improve the Prancing Horse’s sporting brand has ended any hopes of “Driver Power” ever re-emerging. Controversy over team orders incidents- 2002 Austrian & 2010 German Grands Prix still evoke F1 fans with embitterment.

Sebastian Vettel therefore cannot command the same power as Schumacher could in his time as Ferrari lead driver. Vettel does not have a “Number 1” driver clause written into his contract, leaving the Prancing Horse to pair him with a young hotshot, with Max Verstappen speculated to be an option should he part ways with Red Bull. Vettel was notorious for his excellent politicking within the Red Bull hierarchy during his four WDC era, often finding ways to encourage Adrian Newey to design chassis tailored to needs.

At Ferrari, Vettel is paired with a close friend in Kimi Raikkonen. Many outsiders view this as a favourable situation for Ferrari, however, it may prove detrimental to Vettel, as his willingness to share data with Raikkonen is passed onto engineers, who may share this data in coming years with potential new team-mates of Vettel. When Raikkonen retires, Vettel will be pulled out of his comfort zone and he need to combat a team-mate who is likely not to care much for his contribution to Ferrari.

Vettel’s statement of which he believes costs should be cut, contrary to Ferrari’s desires to remain free to defeat the opposition through financial power, is one which may come back to haunt him if results begin to deteriorate.

F1’s Procrastination over 2017 Regulations

With just four months remaining before teams head to their 2017 chassis drawing boards this summer, F1 Strategy Group are nowhere near close to submitting their technical regulation proposals to F1 Commission.

The consensus amongst drivers is that adding more downforce is absurd and making cars wider (therefore heavier) is further pushing F1 away from its “halcyon” days of light 600KG cars fitted with loud V10 engines.

In my opinion, the most important technical change that needs to happen is the reduction of the front wing. It is a foremost priority for the sport to improve the cars’ ability to follow each other closely. Nothing puts fans off more than seeing cars who clearly at least a second quicker than the defending car in front, unable to find a way past due to the turbulence of the car in front causing their tyres to lose grip in braking zones.

It is absolutely pivotal for FIA to put their foot down and demand teams to agree to a reduction of front wing sizes in order to attempt to improve the quality of races for consumers immediately.

F1 decision making won’t improve for another 4 years | DN&C 06/04/16

thejudge13

F1 could be stuck in political quagmire until 2020

FIA president Jean Todt does not see Formula One’s governance changing before the current Concorde Agreement and commercial contracts with teams expire in 2020.s always the goal – but to be honest my attention was elsewhere at that point.

i

The FIA agreed to the existing system (see below for details) in 2013, and at the time heralded “a strong and stable sporting governance framework which includes the Formula One Group, the FIA and the participating teams”

F1’s rule-making process

Strategy Group

Rules are formulated in the F1 Strategy Group, which is made up of six of the 11 teams, the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder, which is represented by Bernie Ecclestone. Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull and Williams have permanent seats on the Strategy Group, while Force India is the sixth member this year because it was the best placed of…

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How F1 is failing to prioritise its agenda and is smearing the image of motorsport

The week following the opening Australian Grand Prix has been one of farce and disbelief amongst fans and journalists alike. The political state of Formula One has reached its nadir, but many within the organisational bodies of the sport remain as headstrong and firm in directing their affirmative against reviving the structure of the premier class of motorsport. The egregious and shambolic elimination qualifying format has formed a soap opera of its own and the announcement of Sky Sports’ deal to agree exclusive live race coverage of F1 from 2019-2024, ceasing free-to-air live coverage likewise, are just the tip of iceberg within a sport whose relationship with its fans has hit point zero. Fan satisfaction of the sport is at absolute all-time low, with many questioning why they even ever took an interest in F1 and taking flak from bemused outsiders for their continued interest.

Fans of rival motorsport series may scoff with incredulity when reading this, but Formula 1 is and has been the face of motorsport since 1950. It has been marketed as having the best drivers in the world competing in the fastest cars, with an image of glitz and glamour to accompany to gladiatorial demeanour of its competitors. The trouble is however, it has appeared to represent anything but this since the loud, screaming 3 litre V10 engines, which were pushing close to 1000 horsepower, were outlawed at the end of 2005. In the place came the puny 2.4 litre V8 engines, slurred with statements from hotheads such as Juan Pablo Montoya as a transition from “Formula 3000 to Formula 3”. Constant restrictions of chassis developments, cutting down on testing, replacing gravel pits with tarmac run-offs, inflating parameters on driver and team penalties & fines and frivolous campaigns such as the FIA Action for Road Safety, are just some of the dismaying evolutions of recent seasons. Lack of driver satisfaction has become an ever-loudening presence within media printing, culminating in the infamous GPDA statement printed last Wednesday, slamming unnamed senior figures within the F1 ranks for the whole of the world to see.

Over the years F1 has tried (and failed) to please its fans and participants in numerous variations of hackneyed solutions and false promises. These include:

  • Insisting to reduce costs (Proposing the £100 million budget cap in 2009 to attract Caterham, HRT & Manor, the former two liquidated with massive debts)
  • Closer racing between cars (The research of the defunct Overtaking Working Group being deviated to suit the teams’ insistence on a large front wing, therefore disregarding its conclusions)
  • Accessibility for fans (Increase in the exclusivity of paddock passes, restrictions on boundaries have reduced fan enjoyment and the increase of pay TV broadcast deals)
  • Showcasing the modern automotive technology (Many see the current hybrid power unit formula as outdated and only existing due to the car manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda & Renault) determined to re-establish themselves on top of the sport’s hierarchy)
  • Clarity of the progression of the sport from the FIA, F1 Strategy Group and Formula One Group (Very little evidence of this)
  • An increase of aero appendages in order to restore F1’s status as overwhelming faster than rival series by 2017 (Teams and the FIA are still in the midst of negotiating the new technical regulations, with no agreement appearing to emerge in the immediate future)
  • A better distribution of TV and commercial revenue by CVC group (Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes unfairly receive the bulk of the revenue due to recent championship success and historical existence)
  • Attracting new manufacturers to supply hybrid power units (Volkswagen continue to express disinterest in doing so, whilst former suppliers such as BMW, Toyota and Ford insist upon never returning to F1)
  • Improving the Pirelli tyres and the authenticity of racing (Drivers and teams still express misgivings over the functionalities of the Pirelli tyres and the DRS wing is ever-increasingly relied upon to help drivers overtake slower cars)
  • Increased involvement on social media (Formula 1 only started to become proactive on Twitter, Instagram & Youtube as of last year, whilst rival series such as MotoGP started much earlier and have even started using emoticons on Twitter consisting of their riders’ numbers!)

By creating so many incongruous promises, the senior figures are establishing unrealistic ideals that are impossible to achieve simultaneously. The interests of major car manufacturers are guaranteed to clash against of the well-being of F1 and by allowing them to create a F1 Strategy Group, where only the top 5 finishers of the previous season’s constructor championship are permitted to the majority of technical conferring with the FIA, is absurd and wholly undemocratic on its merits. By listing a lengthy and ambiguous agenda, F1 is attempting to deliver numerous promises without realising only a few of them can be delivered upon. It needs to realise what is paramount in terms of importance before it can create a coherent marketing strategy. Being able to provide the best technology, with increased aero performance AND close racing are incompatible in their functionality together and many need to avoid being swayed by alarmist opinion pieces by idle journalists.

What Formula One fails to realise that the fans of motorsport operate their allegiances in a markedly different way to rival sport fans. Fans of team sports such as football and rugby lean towards supporting a club and watching matches of rival teams to check upon progress of rival players, whilst motorsport fans appoint their attachment to an organisation of a championship series. Although Motorsport fans may claim allegiance to a team (e.g. Mercedes) or a driver (e.g. Hamilton) within a series (e.g.F1), they supporting the championship series primarily as a whole by watching and attending their races. Whilst team sports will hold multiple one-to-one matches between teams at various venues within a league simultaneously, motorsport series pitch their competitors against one other within the same venue. There is also widespread conflict of opinions over whether motorsport is a form of sport or entertainment. Motorsport struggles in its popularity due to the lack of tribal culture shared within team sports amongst its ranks, as fan participation within football and rugby invariably lends itself towards fierce dedication to a club within their leagues. Therefore an “I-must-watch-my-team-at-all-costs” loyalty is paramount to the mentality of consumers of team sports, whilst motorsport series are regularly judged upon their entertainment factor, something which is disregarded to be a primary necessity by watchers of team sports.

In my own point of view, my interest in F1 principally lies within the support of an individual driver: Kimi Raikkonen. Arguably the sport’s last true maverick and a throwback to the old days of motorsport, Raikkonen has unwittingly forged a large fan-base, due to carefree and monosyllabic approach to media duties and his personal and professional life. The Iceman refuses to arrogantly rave about his status as one of the sport’s five world champions, preferring to avoid the glare of cameras by donning a trademark combo of shades and a cap. Often regarded as rude and aloof, Raikkonen is (silently) questioning the misguided need for lengthy press conferences, which consist of journalists asking vague questions and the sport’s attempts to masquerade its political situation. It is likely Raikkonen’s participation will cease by the end of this season, due to rumours of Ferrari refusing to offer a contract renewal. Why did I choose to support this driver? He is a symbolic representation of the drivers’ and the fans’ rapidly growing disillusion with F1 as a whole and the stale corporate image which is hammering the sport with an unappetising aura to casual viewers.

There is now an increasing suspicion that recent episodes such as the confusing implementation of the new elimination qualifying is yet another irritating smokescreen to divert fans’ attention from the true issues engulfing F1. It appears the main tactic of FIA (and its impotent president Jean Todt), F1 Strategy Group, Bernie Ecclestone, CVC and the Formula One Group is to create ambiguous headlines to retain a stimulus of interest within the sport amongst fans. In doing so, it instills a belief in many fans that they could solve the sport’s problems if they were given an increased voice. However last year, the GPDA released a survey, which was answered by 200,000 fans, but ultimately these ignored by governing officials. There is intense hubris amongst the major figures within the sport that many will display unquestioned loyalty in lieu of such degrading news, but an exodus to MotoGP (which provides the overtaking extravaganza F1 can’t deliver) and WEC (which provides the technological extravaganza F1 can’t deliver) is now indelibly prominent.

In a sense, it could be regarded that the senior officials of F1 have generally lost interest in attracting the youth of today and prefer to direct its attention on retaining its older audience, whom they believe will spend their larger exposable income on their products. It is well known the youth and the poor cannot afford to buy products from Rolex and Chandon, so it was likely Ecclestone saw the exclusive Sky deal as an affirmation of filling the sport’s coffers and accepting defeat on its quest to attract the less wealthy. In my view, the working class origins of the sport’s five world champions is being despised and viewed with derision, as everyone is passively permitting a return to the days of motorsport being solely a activity of the extensively wealthy for eternity. This is disgraceful, but tragically the new reality of the top echelons of motorsport.

Is F1 a victim of success? It appears definitely so and a restructured organisation of Grand Prix racing as we know it needs to replace it as soon as possible. Such names such as “Premier Grand Prix” or “Grand Prix Elite” could be used for the new organisation, with a strong dictator with engineering knowledge such as Ross Brawn taking the helm to ensure the migrated participants co-operate and ensure the best possible success for the reformation. Ultimately, if F1 is allowed to continue to rein in its position as the premier class of motorsport, then the image and reputation of itself and rival series to the outside world will sustain irreversible damage.

2016 Australian Grand Prix Winners & Losers

GRAND PRIX RATING: 7/10

DRIVER/TEAM OF THE DAY

Romain Grosjean (Haas, P6)

What an astonishing drive. After a shoddy qualifying for the new boys, Haas took advantage of the red flag caused by their driver Esteban Gutierrez’s horrendous collision with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. Race strategist Ruth Buscombe pulled off a brilliant decision to place Grosjean on new medium tyres, vaulting their French superstar above those many who took on used mediums or later made a second pit stop to unsuccessfully take advantage of soft compounds in their second stints.

WINNERS

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes, P1)

Rosberg’s start was poor, but nowhere near as poor as Hamilton’s. His performance proved Mercedes’ great longevity on the medium compounds.

Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull, P4)

In spite of a grimly underpowered power unit, Ricciardo successfully pulled off a four tyre compound strategy (used super-softs, new super-softs, new softs & used super-softs). The Red Bull RB12 chassis appears to be the gentlest on its tyres in race-trim, allowing the local boy to set the race’s  fastest lap of 1:28.997.

Kevin Magnussen (Renault, P12)

The Dane drove a steady, determined race after his first lap incident which damaged his car significantly. To finish just two seconds behind Palmer, having driven more than half of the race on used mediums bodes well for K-Mag.

REJECTS OF THE DAY

FIA, F1 Strategy Group & Bernie Ecclestone

The most laughable qualifying session took place on Saturday and proved many within the FIA are not fit to govern the premier class of motorsport. The F1 Strategy Group itself should refund the fans who were subjected to such a pathetic farce. As for Bernie, he is finished.

LOSERS OF THE DAY

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes, P2)

Once again the Blessed One courted bad publicity during the mid-week, breaching the dress code of a Auckland casino and then taking a selfie on his motorcycle, thus attracting police attention. In the race itself, Hamilton dropped to P6 at the start and struggled to overtake the Toro Rossos in the following stints. In the end, it was damage limitation and the Briton was fortunate Sebastian Vettel took a trip to the grass in the closing laps whilst pursuing him.

Ferrari (Vettel, P3/Raikkonen, DNF)

The boys from Maranello threw away a very likely victory with a poor tyre strategy for Vettel. There seems to be a lack of confidence in the prowess of the SF16-H to run consistent laps on the medium compounds. A turbo failure and a “small” fire for Raikkonen and a slow 5.6 second pit stop for Vettel’s 2nd pit stop was inexcusable. Operational errors need to wiped out immediately.

Williams (Massa, P5/Bottas, P8)

An incredibly disappointing performance for the Banbury squad, who appear to be divesting funds to their 2017 car. For Massa to finish nearly a minute down on Rosberg, despite having used the optimal new medium compound at the restart, was more than underwhelming to say the least.

Toro Rosso (Sainz, P9/Verstappen, P10)

A questionable decision to not change tyre compounds during the red flag proved costly, as both Sainz and Verstappen fell out with their engineers on the radio.

Sergio Perez (Force India, P13)

Anonymous and comprehensively beaten by Hulkenberg.

McLaren-Honda (Button, P14 & Alonso, DNF and alive)

A slightly promising performance in qualifying turned horribly sour in the race itself. The MP4-31 does not look drivable on used compounds at all.

Pirelli

Please give the teams at least 18 sets of tyres for the weekend. 13 sets are far too insufficient.

Formula 1’s Three Biggest Enemies

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.