#F1 Features: The F1 school of bloody stupid ideas

Brought to you by John Myburgh

In the short time between FP3 and Qualifying, Team Principals are usually engaged in frenetic activity which includes final preparations for their cars and drivers, along with pressing the flesh of important sponsors. So when Bernie calls an emergency meeting for the top brass in F1, something big is afoot.

The most likely rumour fitting this extra-ordinary event was that Ecclestone had reconsidered his position on racing in Russia. This was not to be the case.

In fact, the topic of the meeting was no surprise to anyone in the end in that it was Bernie banging the drum and rousing the troops for more spicing up of what he now calls, “the show”.

What was a big deal, was that Ecclestone was insisting the teams accept his decision to recall disgraced former team boss who was found guilty of race rigging – Flavio Briatore.


The F1 supremo has become obsessed with this issue because as the year unfolds, the fall in the global TV audience continues and the recent collapse in attendance numbers at the German GP have highlighted the fact that people are turning off to F1 and the sport is failing to attract a new audience.

It appears that Briatore will be joined by Christian Horner, Marco Mattiacci and Toto Wolff and form an F1 ‘popularity working group’. Wolff explains, “A couple of guys will sit together [to work out what to do], because it’s difficult to do when you invite everybody and come up with priorities and solutions.

Speaking to a smattering of F1 writers, Wolff added “We’ll probably get you guys involved to avoid the situation last time when you found our ideas really s***! So that’s the procedure”.

Following Christian Horner’s little outburst when he lectured F1 reporters about being negative, this is clearly the buzz word of the moment. Wolff insists, “It wasn’t a negative meeting, we have seen some great racing and some packed race tracks, at Austria, Montreal and Silverstone.

But then we have seen smaller audiences here and at Hockenheim – why is that? So we’re going to come together and come up with ideas.”

Flavio has been chunnering away in the background for some time about ways to improve the current F1 show, and one of his ideas includes a ballast handicap system, whereby the faster/winning cars will receive a weight penalty to the playing field.

One individual who was at the meeting, revealed off the record, the ballast idea had found a surprising level of approval from those present.

Meanwhile, the BBC recently reported that in Asia, technology has been developed which will deliver virtual fans to venues lacking in attendees and atmosphere.

untitled Hanwha Eagles fan-bots in the pipeline

Fan Robots are in the pipeline for a Korean baseball team who can cheer, chant and even perform a Mexican wave. The robots can be operated by real fans over the internet, and even the face of the bot can reflect the face of the fan operating the machine.

There is an opportunity to monetarise the army of robot fans, as real fans can pay to operate a bot for a sections of the sporting event, then handing over to others ready to pay based upon simple supply and demand.

Of course, no one is certain how misbehaving robots, getting abusive, drunk and throwing food will be handled yet. The spectre of the robot hooligan does indeed loom large on the horizon.

Then again, if fanbots are recruited for Formula 1, we may see what would have been an empty grandstand filled with an army of mechanised fans holding up different messages from Ecclestone. “Bernie says…”

There was a recent move in Japan to develop technology which could re-create live matches using holographic technology in other locations. It would mean, in theory, that several stadiums full of fans could be watching the same match at once.

The development of the technology was halted when the brown envelopes under the cushions of the FIFA delegates seats, meant that Qatar beat Japan in their bid to host the 2012 Football World Cup.

This persistent debate over the F1 “show” and fans race attendance is absurd, particularly when hundreds of man hours and millions of wasteful words merely result in ideas such as double points, trumpet exhausts and now a weighting handicap system.

F1 is being run by fools because the answers to the problems of falling fan numbers are simple.

Two years ago, fans could attend a race weekend and hire FanVision. This gave the viewer a mobile hand held device which delivered commentary and pictures for all of the on track action.

Ecclestone refused to extend the FanVision contract, believing FOM would be delivering a solution which would create a direct and more profitable revenue stream.

However, Tata communications have not yet delivered the blanket WIFI transmission technology at F1 circuits yet, so the planned mobile device application to replace FanVision has been neutered.


Personlaised Fanbot

Within a short time, every premier league club will be offering this technology to football fans according to BBC Sports business correspondent Matt Cutler.

Hardcore fans will attend F1 racing with or without FanVision or whatever one day will be its replacement. However, FanVision had become very popular with a significant section of race going fans and anecdotal evidence this writer has seen, suggests most of these folk are staying away from F1.

Further, a TJ13 representative speaking to a senior individual from Santander at the British GP was told they had struggled to fill their huge corporate ticket allocation and the biggest complaint from guests the previous year was the loss of FanVision.

Of course the escalating cost of attending an F1 race hits everyone, and this too is preventing F1 fans from enjoying their sport in person.

Yet the single biggest reason F1 is losing ground in TV land, has been the move from free to air TV to subscription based channels.

BSkyB’s recent acquisition of Rupert Murdoch’s pay-TV assets in Italy and Germany, Sky Italia and 57.4% of Sky Deutschland,  created a European powerhouse with c20 million subscribers.

One London City analyst commented that this would mean BSkyB would be well placed to buy broadcasting rights on a pan-European basis if that ever replaces the current country-by-country basis.

This could clearly affect Formula 1 TV audiences if the UK fall in viewing numbers is replicated since SKY UK obtained the rights to broadcast all races exclusively.

The return of Briatore to F1 will have a ‘marmite’ effect on F1 fans. Some will appreciate the return of Flavio’s flamboyant character, whilst others will question the wisdom of giving responsibility to a man who was found guilty of corrupting the field of competition.

F1 is facing dangerous time as the commercial rights holder’s CVC realise they have extracted the maximum value from their investment and want out. The perception that F1 revenues have reached a high water mark under Ecclestone’s current business plan is widespread. However, this has led to the senior figures of the sport acting like headless chickens as they lurch from one “sh^t idea” – Toto’s words – to another.


There is an obvious and simple 5 plan solution to an F1 future of unfettered joy and harmony, which is blindingly obvious.

Until then, our heroes will ‘think tank’ themselves silly and bring on the trumpeting exhausts, exploding sparks, probably quadruple points, Azerbaijan, the handicap ballast and maybe next the Hanwha Eagles Fanbots…… the list, whilst not quite endless, appears to grow by the week.

40 responses to “#F1 Features: The F1 school of bloody stupid ideas

  1. Someone should apply a mercy killing to the toad from suffolk. After all, a horse is also shut when it has outlived its usefulness. That guy’s completely past his sell-by date

    • I’d like to pull the trigger myself on that horrible vile creature.

      But I wouldn’t make it a headshot – oh no.

      I’d put a single frangible round into his gut in the hopes of condemning him to a slow, gruesome death while remaining fully conscious of the impending doom – just like he’s done to us fans who are forced to watch F1 die before our very eyes (btw: Briatore? Bria-fckin’-tore?!?!? GAH!!!)…

      • Wow. Nice and descriptive.

        Fat Hippo was metaphorically funny… you sort of took it to ISIS levels.

        • What can I say? I’m passionate about F1. And you can’t make an omelette w/o breaking a few eggs!

  2. I don’t think the ballast idea is that mad however I think the regulations need loosened a bit. Too restrictive. Let the wizz kids loose and lets see what they come up with 🙂

    With the regulations – just limit the fuel, limit the aero load that can be created and stop messing about with regulations in the middle of seasons.

  3. “Until then, our heroes will ‘think tank’ themselves silly and bring on the trumpet exhausts, quadruple points, Azerbaijan, handicap ballast, maybe next the Hanwha Eagles Fanbots……”

    Oh, you forgot the most obvious:
    Assign Flavio the Permanent Race Fixer position, and let him in conjunction with Safety Expert Charlie Brown assign select F1 drivers that should provoke Safety Car-inducing accidents at predefined laps during the Sunday race. This should be complemented with several teams, selected randomly of course in the interests of equity, being informed of the upcoming Safety Car and allowing them to adapt their race-day strategies accordingly.

    That should be fun to watch! Although in all truthfulness, then we should also assign a Permanent Clown position (not you, Luca! and hopefully Bernie will be cuffed by then), and provide some seals during the race weekend, so as to try to make up for the low engine noise..

  4. Bernie already set up his scorched earth strategy. Getting rid of him doesn’t fix a thing. Getting rid of the FOM lease for 100 years might do the trick – but Jean ‘can you print my emails’ Todt ain’t gonna do that.
    Formula E will hopefully survive and evolve into iFormula – high tech companies using everything except aero to go fastest round a track.

    • You’re right V.

      F1s biggest problem is that its not bringing in enough kids to the sport. Its just not properly revelvant to them.

      I read some interesting stats on the official F1 game. The average age of purchasers continues to increase. Because the same age profile continue to buy it, and younger gamers aren’t arsed.

      Bernie genuinely doesn’t give a feck, even though he pretends he does. CVC do, purely for math reasons. But nobody, and I mean nobody, gives a stuff about the long term future if the sport apart from teams, teams employees and suppliers. The manufacturers don’t care either (with the exception of the reds). As long as the business case stacks up then fine, when it doesn’t they’ll be out the gap without a moments thought.

      Till Bernie leaves the sport is going to continue to go downhill.

      The brains trust at the top are good at making money. But they are clueless when it comes to the customer.

      Where do the idiots think the money trail leads to?

  5. Until these people experience a race in the way that the fans do, with poor transportation, uncomfortable seating, long queues for dodgy toilets, poor live commentary, lack of race data and expensive food/drink/accommodation, they’ll continue to not have a clue about why we’re not prepared to pay current prices. Perhaps they should also experience watching a race at home, on a budget, paying for live feeds that lag real time so you can’t synchronise with race data and social media. If they’re aware of these issues perhaps they don’t feel they matter, but I suspect they’re blissfully unaware because their race experience differs so much from ours. They can turn it into as big a circus as they want, but if the viewing experience is poor we’ll find better things to do.

    • Damn well said, its a great thing to do, but the money and the shit you go through means you need 5-6 years between events to forget what a faff and expense it was.

    • one quibble – according to Ted’s Hungary Notebook, many of the concession prices were seemingly quite reasonable – like 2 quid for a beer and only 1 for pizza??

        • Thank you for providing this additional insight. I was not aware of Hungary’s status as a “value” GP. It’s sad how much the F1 calendar has been corrupted over the past two decades so that now spectator-loved Hungarian GP is a rare bird.

          (Azerbaijan? Fcking Azerbaijan??? )

    • sorry, second quibble…

      ” paying for live feeds that lag real time so you can’t synchronise with race data and social media”

      who pays for a feed? just go to http://www.vipboxam.co/sports/formula-1.html (no connection – it’s just the site I use for very good quality free access to skysportsF1 … and I’m such a jerk I even use ABP to block all their ads! lol

  6. Loved the wet –> drying track in Q3.
    Would like to see this every quali to spice things up. The water truck idea is a good one! Could drive around spraying water on the braking zones on random corners.

  7. Allowing Briatore back into F1 as part of a committee to spice up the show is just as harming to F1 than success ballast would be. The man is a convicted cheat. And all success ballast is going to do is make the teams conceal their actual speeds the cars are capable of. Basically trying the chocolate tyres again.

    What they desperately need to do is nothing: don’t change anything for a few years which will allow the mid-pack teams a chance to develop and catch up to Mercedes pace. A new rabbits foot for Lewis might be a good idea too.

  8. I’m still not convinced this isn’t some big in-joke via some ‘real’ journalists that the venerable JS has planted, to teach us all a lesson for taking the piss out of his Starbucks adventures.

    It can’t be. It just can’t be true.

    This sort of stubborn-fisted overt criminality has me growing genuinely close to giving up on a passion that has given me so much over so many years.

    If it gets to the point where Rosberg runs away with it by so much, that I can’t even wheeze with delight at the thought of Lewis crashing out and ruining his title chances while lapping Maldonado in Brazil, I quit.

    “Bernie says: f*** you”

    • JS is quiet this week-end. Probably busy working on his inside account on why Fernandes failed so badly (and before Mallya whose exit JS has been predicting for some years now…)

  9. I think most people (in and out if F1) are focused on improving the racing via technical changes. Be it adding grooves, or engine cap reduction, or removing grooves and adding slicks, or reducing aero, or adding DRS, or adding KERS, or removing KERS, or adding Hybrid, or removing T Car etc etc etc…

    I think, broadly speaking, the Tech Regs are less important than the sporting regs and the rules under which the competition engages. People accept tech regs pretty quick, and frankly few tech regs ever make the racing and different to the years vas decades before.

    So that being said my suggestion to the Sporting Regs would be;

    1: Further tweak to the points system. I’d immediately remove the double points idea, but return F1 to a position where winning was really, really proportionately valuable. It doesn’t need to be a 10-6-4-3-2-1 system. But the proportional gap between 2nd and 1st should be bigger. I suggest 25-15-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. There would still be pts for the top 10, but 1st, and to a lesser extent 2nd, is really valuable. Then you can recover DNF’s with a run of wins. Alternatively a run of wins is rewarded appropriately. This worked for decades in F1. It all changed when Schumacher raped his opposition. But that’s part of F1, we get seasons like that, there is no need to change the fundamentals. We should trust in the fact nothing stats the same in F1 and a new challenger always emerges and usually emerges pretty quickly. The culture of racing would revert to 80’s, 90’s intensity.

    2: Change the whole, a driver who has misfortune in Q1, or Q2, can still get back and jump into a T-Car and finish qualifying. There shouldn’t anything that causes a relative DNQ in quali. T-Car should be allowed to be set up and ready. They all have it anyway each race, fully wired up. It’s stupid and didn’t save costs. The only tech misfortune that should be suffered is in a race. To have a drivers weekend wreck before it starts is bad for fans.

    3: FOM publish the telemetry of the pole winners lap and the team mates best lap from quali, in a user friendly, easy to read overlay. Hire an Anderson or Windsor to provide analysis.

    4: Enforce 3-4 upgrade races for a year. For example all cars specs are static from launch to a future race, say Spain. Then static from Spain to Britain. Then from Britain to Singapore. The details are not that relevant, but the strategy would be to ensure teams are working on racing, and not chucking money down the drain race in race out with bits and bobs that may or may not work anyway. Engines should be opened up to this rate of development too. We’d all then be able to compartmentalise different aspects of the season and it would bring an extra focus on the upgrade races. Just an idea. Save a bob or two as well. Makes for smart engineering, not money engineering and also let’s engines equalise slowly as opposed to not at all.

    I’ll leave it at that.

    • actually, I like the idea of reverting to the 1990/2002 points system

      also, regarding the spare car, they could use an allowance, for example, 5 for each driver during a season, instead of punishing the guy who crashed, or burned, like it happened with Lewis yesterday

      they could lift the restrictions regarding the engine parts, allowing mid season design refreshments or equalisation to avoid this sweeping we’re watching, but, they’re idiots, just remember that sack of c___ they did with the rules from 2003 to 2005 when the “icing on the cake” was applied in the form if the tyre change ban

    • actually, I like the idea of reverting to the 1990/2002 points system

      also, regarding the spare car, they could use an allowance, for example, 5 for each driver during a season, instead of punishing the guy who crashed, or burned, like it happened with Lewis yesterday

      they could lift the restrictions regarding the engine parts, allowing mid season design refreshments or equalisation to avoid this sweeping we’re watching, but, they’re idiots, just remember that sack of c___ they did with the rules from 2003 to 2005 when the “icing on the cake” was applied when they banned the tyre changes

    • I wholeheartedly agree with all you say. The teams would then have to nominate a #1 and #2 driver so that in the case of both cars suffering some malfunction it would be clear who had first call on the spare car.
      I think it is madness, for example, for a team to bring new nose-cones to each race, with minor changes, at the cost of £150,000 per car.
      But I suppose it all depends on how we think the sport should progress. Do we want a sport with limitless funds spent, and get the best cars with the best technology and the fastest racing? Or do we limit and regulate all the innovation out of it and get left behind by other racing sports?
      Bernie and his cronies don’t mind extracting as much money as possible for themselves, no budget cut there, but dont return the money to the teams in a fair manner and yet still expect the sport to be innovative and exciting. I think maybe, with all the restrictions imposed now on the teams, that that might be the reason people are turning away and tuning out, because they don’t see Formula1 as the pinnacle of motorsport any more. 🙂

      • Mike, that’s twice in a week!

        But on a serious note, I agree the sport does need that “greatest Motorsport, pinnicle of racing, bleeding prototype edge” perception. But I think with my development suggestion above, that perception would still be maintained and even highlighted as the 4-5 upgrade races would be unique events and discussed and analysed grid wide each time.

  10. I’m about to stop watching F1 for the following reasons:

    1. The shit ’14 car noise – spend 10 minutes on YouTube and weep with me
    2. The shit looking ’14 front noses
    3. The shit boring races, driving to saving tires and fuel
    4. Five straight years of predictability – first Vettel, now Merc
    5. The lack of overall inventive creativity allowed to the teams

    F1 is turning into a snoozefest. Every week this year, I get closer to “I just don’t care anymore” and once I reach that point, it will be very hard to get me back. The show matters. Watching golf has to be more exciting than this, and I hate golf.

    • Not sure what racing you’re watching but F1 racing is great. Yes Merc is up ahead winning but why don’t you tell Ferrari and Renault to up their game?

      Re the sound, have you heard the cars in person?

      • I’m loving the racing this year, too!

        I’ve even started cheering – somewhat genuinely – for Red Bull and both Ricciardo AND Seb when they have days like today (DR’s triumph + SV’s miraculous save – whew!).

  11. It has to be:

    1) A big Joke.
    2) Some PR thing, so people talk about F1 in the summer break.
    3) A desperate move by…….
    4) A last desperate move to cling on to power by …..
    5) Proof that lemmings really do ……
    6) The WEC is the future.

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