Formula One’s two dragons to be slain


In Formula One, It appears to be the season to ‘upset the apple cart’, ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and ‘drown the fish’.

There is a big pow pow wow in Biggin Hill tomorrow. Bernie has put the fear of God himself into all who are called to attend. “The end of the world is nigh”, Bernie will thunder as he pounds his fist into his pulpit atop of mound Biggin.

Though unlike the God of Abraham, Bernie is no longer omnipotent. He cannot command his servant to chisel his commands into tablets of stone. Ecclestone’s power base has become eroded over the past few years.

Interestingly, even Muslim’s, Christians and Jews can unite around sovereign nature of the focus of Abraham’s worship. So there’s yet hope for F1.

To mix metaphors, Emperor Ecclestone’s empire was once totalitarian and founded in fear. Now the fading leader is given the kid of deference society gives to its once great leaders as their faculties fade.

The strategy group meeting tomorrow is being billed as a seriously big deal; such that every F1 commentator and his dog – Fred – are pitching their ideas to the hustings.

Many of these erstwhile writers have at times been little more than the mouthpiece of Ecclestone, however one has put his head above the parapet – and speaks from the heart, and with a huge amount of common sense.

Will Buxton’s piece, “The right Formula”  is eloquently argued and offers pragmatic solutions to the various quagmires Formula One has fallen into.

And just as Star Wars IV – which confusingly for none Sci-fi fans is the first film made – required a prelude; here is TJ13’s contribution to Will’s compendium of practical solutions for F1 the dummies running the sport.

Before peace can reign universal in Formula One Land, two big decisions must be made.

Firstly, the F1 strategy group has to go.

Chickens ruling the rooster result in no eggs being laid when those tasked with this reproduction function have the ‘foul species’ equivalent to PMT.

When the lunatics run the asylum, never forget, someone must ensure the inmates take their daily psychotic regulatory medication – or the the self-elected council of inmates will forget who they are/were/or wish to be.

Even were the union of Turkey’s to successfully veto Christmas, their pea size brains would then probably forget to address the small matter of the 300 million plus North Americans – who will still be after their necks for Thanksgiving Day.

The teams and the engine manufacturers cannot be allowed to regulate the sport any longer.

The idea that Formula One’s current governance could change is a view surprisingly not shunned entirely by all the chickens, lunatics and turkeys. Claire Williams was asked whether it was logical that the competitors in the sport of F1 make the rules. She replied philosophically: “It is what it is.”, adding, “We don’t have an alternative and until we do, that’s the option available to us”.

Of course to reverse the decision made by the FIA to forgoe their birth right to unilaterally regulate F1, there must be a resolution to the small matter of the $40m donation made to the Place de Concorde’s benevolent fund that facilitated the inception of the F1 strategy group and the F1 Commission.

However, broadly speaking, were the FIA together with Bernie’s FOM to stand united on the matter of governance change, the teams would be marginalised and sooner or later be forced to accept what was on offer.

Ecclestone is highly frustrated with the F1 strategy group as a process for decision making. He comments, “The problem with us at the moment is we’re a democracy. It’s no good”. So Bernie would almost definitely support a return to the days when the FIA regulated F1, and his FOM brought their influence to bear on decisions affecting the commercial aspects of the sport.

However, Ecclestone too has a bitter pill to take so that big decision two can be made.

The current distribution proportions of the F1 income to the teams in Formula One, was created at a time when Bernie believed that by giving a little here and a little there to certain larger vested interests, would buy him support.

The F1 strategy group has proven Ecclestone impotent on almost all matters he has sought to bring his influence to bear upon over the past twelve months.

In exchange for the FIA’s support on a change of governance, Bernie must find a way to tear up the contracts the teams have with the Formula One Group which run until 2020. He must insist on minimum levels of income from the teams’ fund- which cover a maximum cost base – for the smaller teams so they can design, build and run a Formula One car for an entire season.

This income and cost base must mean that the smaller teams do not become behoven to the fickle attentions of billionaire playboy owners or even sponsors, who insist on the team fielding less than adequate drivers in return for 25% of their annual budget.

The drama expected from tomorrow’s meeting at F1’s equivalent of the United Nations Assembly will almost certainly result in no big changes for 2017.

Anyone who took a passing interest in the FIA press conference on Friday at the Spanish GP will understand the teams have already decided there will be no big changes. So, cosmetic massaging is the most likely outcome.

Fuel flow regulations may be tweaked for 2017.

More interesting is that the Pirelli proposed 18 inch wheels have received a boost today, as Michelin publicly backed the idea for an increase in the size of F1 wheels.

There are sound technical reasons for increasing wheel rim size in F1 from a tyre manufacturer’s perspective, though at present the F1 tech writers are propounding the view that this change would be for mere cosmetic and commercial reasons.

This ‘status quo’ argument is the brief which the Tech F1 writers have received from the teams. They understand that a change in wheel rim size fundamentally affects their current aero modelling and design. Also, bigger wheel rims mean the relationship between the current chassis’s would be fundamentally changed.

All the data the teams have collected over the years the sport has regulated for 13 inch wheels, becomes devalued if the rim sizes are enlarged.

So despite the technical improvements larger wheels bring to the manufacturers capabilities to produce appropriate tyres, once again – on this issue – we see the team’s self-interest ruling at present.

For anything of substance to change in Formula One. There are two dragons to be slain.

The teams have to lose or give up their nigh on absolute power over the sport’s regulations.

In return, these competitors must be offered sustainable levels of income to cover the ‘minimum’ annual cost base, that prevents them in future having to do deals with the devil – and selling their souls to merely survive.

10 responses to “Formula One’s two dragons to be slain

  1. I wonder what is the point of all this soul searching, when I read this on the BBC F1 site today –

    “… senior figures have told BBC Sport that Ecclestone is determined to stick with Pirelli because it pays so much money to buy trackside advertising. The figure is said to be $40m (£27m) a year…”

    Bottom line – Bernie’s greed has caused the problems, blaming anyone else is ridiculous, he needs to go and take CVC with him. That should allow those involved in the sport, the teams and circuits, to make enough money to keep F1 going.

    • The only way CVC is leaving is if they are bought out. They own F1 and cannot simply be voted off the island.
      Furthermore, there is no reason why Pirelli should not stay.

  2. The one aspect of the F1 payout that, to me, is even worse than the distribution is that the money is not payed out at the end of the season for a job well done. It gets spread out over the next season, so even if a team survives the season and finishes in the top ten, it may not see a bit of the purse. Had Marussia been paid in December, they might have been able to be at the testing, and surely would have arrived in Australia ready to run.
    This is the one item I cannot believe the teams don’t fight to change,

  3. CVC need to either go (i.e. sell) or change they way they administer the sport (i.e. promote it and pay teams a living wage).
    Pirelli is not the problem – they were told to produce tyres with a certain life to promote 2 or 3 stop races in order to encourage overtaking.

      • Nope nope nope nope……. CVC has twice refinanced the debt they used to purchase F1, somewhere between 3-4bn IIRC. A successful float would essentially remove that from their backs and allow them to profit a 3rd time whilst they gradually starve the sport into the ground.

  4. It seems its more to do with what’s happening to that money rather than how it’s being made. When the team finishing 4th gets twice as much as the team finishing 3rd then you know something is up.

  5. Why not make it simple?
    The winner of the constructor title gets a certain amount, the team that comes 2nd gets a slightly less amount, and the the team that comes 3rd gets a slightly less amount. After that all the rest get a slightly less, but equal, amount. That way the smaller teams have a chance to compete on a more even footing. The money should be paid to the teams at the end of the season each year so they have resources to develop their cars over the winter period. Any sponsorship money is an added bonus to be used throughout the year.

  6. Perhaps… the end _IS_ near.

    FOM’s various contracts weave a web of strong restrictions of the various parties so there is little room for creative maneuvering. As the end approaches, some of those contracts will be broken, which may enable more freedom for key players to maneuver.

    Jean Todt and the FIA are very quiet…

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