F1 is look­ing much less ap­pe­a­ling

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - News - JOHN FLOYD

The ra­cing in S­pain is o­ver - but it was the acti­on be­hind the sce­nes that caug­ht the at­ten­ti­on.

The­re ha­ve been less than po­si­ti­ve sta­te­ments re­gar­ding the fu­tu­re of F1 and va­ri­ous stran­ge plans pro­po­sed by Li­ber­ty Me­dia.

We ha­ve he­ard re­pe­a­ted­ly that Fer­ra­ri will re­con­si­der the com­pa­ny’s po­si­ti­on in For­mu­la One if the rumou­red chan­ges are in­sti­tu­ted, though Ma­ra­nel­lo has a re­pu­ta­ti­on for re­gu­lar­ly is­suing such sta­te­ments.

The pro­po­sed new re­gu­la­ti­ons are not fa­vou­red by all the te­ams and t­hings are not li­a­ble to im­pro­ve in the fo­re­see­a­ble fu­tu­re.

Talks of bud­get caps are cre­a­ting is­su­es with so­me ma­nu­fac­tu­rers saying the fi­gu­re men­ti­o­ned is not pos­si­ble.

On the ot­her hand, te­ams such as Wil­li­ams, For­ce In­dia and Sau­ber sug­ge­st that wit­hout a bud­get cap it would be dif­fi­cult for the smal­ler te­ams to com­pe­te and in so­me ca­se e­ven sur­vi­ve.

M­cLa­ren’s Zak Bro­wn said if bud­gets are re­du­ced the Wo­king Com­pa­ny will con­si­der mo­ving to ot­her ra­ce se­ries.

Bro­wn is re­por­ted as sta­ting that Fer­nan­do Alon­so’s ap­pea­ran­ce last y­e­ar in the In­dy 500 was to test the wa­ter as the A­me­ri­can mar­ket is im­por­tant for M­cLa­ren.

He said in a re­cent in­ter­view: “We are as­ses­sing the bud­get con­straints in F1 and de­ci­ding if they al­low us to look at ot­her ra­cing se­ries. It would be in­te­res­ting to ta­ke part in Le Mans and win.

“Our share­hol­ders li­ke that i­dea. It is fi­nan­ci­al­ly vi­a­ble, they ma­ke sen­se for the brand and we will be success­ful on track.”

With Alon­so’s participation in the WEC this y­e­ar with Toyo­ta, it looks as though it is a very re­al pos­si­bi­li­ty.

Re­nault S­port F1 ma­na­ging di­rec­tor Cy­ril A­bi­te­boul, be­lie­ves the s­port needs to re­dis­co­ver its DNA, as For­mu­la E and WEC ha­ve in­cre­a­sed in po­pu­la­ri­ty.

A­bi­te­boul be­lie­ves F1 has be­co­me con­fu­sed. In an in­ter­view with Speed Week he said: “We can’t just mix it all up. The li­fe of the en­gi­ne, the du­ra­bi­li­ty of ty­res, the a­mount of fu­el, this is for me no part of the For­mu­la One DNA.

“Le Mans was al­ways a­bout re­li­a­bi­li­ty, but Grand P­rix ra­cing should al­ways be sprint ra­cing from lig­hts to flag.” Af­ter s­pea­king a­bout the new re­gu­la­ti­ons for next y­e­ar and 2021 and the ef­forts dis­cus­sed to ma­ke the s­port mo­re ex­ci­ting, he con­clu­ded. “In my view, F1 must be cle­ar a­bout w­hat it re­pre­sents for the fans.

“With hy­brid techno­lo­gy we ha­ve bre­at­hed a mo­dern chan­ge but I do not un­der­stand w­hat the re­al mes­sa­ge is. I be­lie­ve you should ne­ver fix so­mething that is not bro­ken.”

It ap­pears that F1 o­w­ners Li­ber­ty Me­dia ha­ve so­mew­hat dif­fe­rent i­de­as. De­ter­mi­ned to in­cre­a­se the re­turns on the com­pa­ny’s in­ves­t­ment, Li­ber­ty has the rou­te best sui­ted to the group’s for­te - me­dia.

Pro­vi­ding bet­ter co­vera­ge of the s­port was a go­al of the pre­vi­ous o­w­ners who en­de­a­vou­red to launch a mo­bi­le app. A lot of pe­op­le tre­a­ted the pre­vi­ous an­noun­ce­ment of a new on­li­ne F1 TV ser­vi­ce from Li­ber­ty scep­ti­cal­ly.

Due to launch in Mel­bour­ne, F1 TV suf­fe­red de­lays for va­ri­ous unspe­ci­fied re­a­sons and it was Bar­ce­lo­na that was to be­co­me the wor­ld pre­mie­re.

That it’s available on a monthly or an­nu­al subscrip­ti­on at a re­a­so­na­ble cost was en­ti­cing, until I was in­for­med that the li­ve ra­ce ser­vi­ce is not available in South A­fri­ca, just a feed of information and re­views of his­to­ric ra­ces.

Sad­ly the main ser­vi­ce then fai­led and a Li­ber­ty spo­kes­per­son was quo­ted as saying: “We ackno­w­led­ge the pro­blems with the li­ve stre­am on F1 TV Pro and will reim­bur­se all cu­s­to­mers for this wee­kend.”

Not a gre­at start for a com­pa­ny that is pri­ma­ri­ly a me­dia or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on.

To con­fu­se the is­sue furt­her com­mer­ci­al c­hief of the group, Se­an Bra­t­ches, spo­ke to TV pun­dit and for­mer F1 d­ri­ver, Mar­tin Brund­le, in an in­ter­view on Sky Sports.

Tal­king a­bout the pro­po­sed ra­ce in Mi­a­mi and the fu­tu­re of F1, Bra­t­ches said: “I don’t know if the­re is a ci­ty on the pla­net that a­ligns with our brand mo­re than Mi­a­mi.

“We’re both a­bout ce­le­bri­ty, a­bout gla­mour, a­bout fashi­on, we’re a­bout art, we’re a­bout di­gi­tal techno­lo­gy. We both ha­ve gre­at spor­ting his­to­ries, so we think it’s a good brand a­lig­n­ment. We’re trying to pi­vot For­mu­la One from a mo­tor s­port com­pa­ny to a me­dia and en­ter­tai­n­ment brand.

“We’re trying to be very much a fan first fo­cu­sed en­ti­ty. W­hat you’re seeing to­day is so­me of the per­specti­ves that we saw last y­e­ar and brin­ging so­me of our vi­si­on in­to form, so to speak.”

He con­ti­nu­ed. “We’re be­co­ming a re­se­ar­ched fo­cus en­ti­ty as well. We ha­ve sen­sors all around the Grand P­rix which track pe­op­le’s wi­re­less, de­ter­mi­ne foot­fall, to i­den­ti­fy the best pla­ces to lo­ca­te fe­s­ti­val acti­vi­ties, mer­chan­di­se tents, t­hings of that na­tu­re.

“We work in the most techno­lo­gi­cal­ly so­phi­sti­ca­ted s­port on the pla­net so we’re trying to con­form so­me of our re­se­arch in the sa­me way.”

If you can ma­ke any sen­se of that you are a bet­ter man than me. To top it all Li­ber­ty Me­dia’s pre­si­dent and CEO, G­reg Maf­fei, af­ter seeing the re­sult of a re­sur­fa­ced Bar­ce­lo­na track and its o­ver­all ef­fect on the ty­res, which caug­ht out so­me of the front run­ners and in­flu­en­ced the re­sult, be­lie­ves he has found the ans­wer to the o­ver­ta­king pro­blem.

Maf­fei has sug­ge­sted re­sur­fa­cing all the tracks. In the words of Mon­ty Python, “Say no mo­re!”

Fer­ra­ri has re­pe­a­ted­ly spo­ken of its dis­sa­tis­facti­on with F1 and its new ru­les.

Fer­nan­do Alon­sa may in­di­ca­te fu­tu­re di­recti­on for L­cLa­ren.

The M­cLa­ren te­am - wa­t­ching and wai­ting.

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