F1 is looking much less appealing
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.