Piranhas and the fishes

At some points in life one can only laugh, or else you will cry.

In the wake of two Formula One teams entering administration and only one coming out the other side, albeit under a new guise, the need for action would surely be apparent to all within the sport.  Pressed once more on the issue, Christian Horner was predictably coy as he avoided any definitive statements when speaking to BBCF1, though did give his opinion. The searing honesty that escaped the lips of the newly wed Spice principal was in one respect refreshing though, as it addressed the issue with no bias.

Others were not so embracing of the truth OR were blissfully ignorant to the dangers of the current model.  Toto Wolff was in staunch denial of any problem or necessity for change in terms of prize money distribution, comparing the model of the Premier League in England to Formula One.  Of course, the two are complete paradigms in their structure and, consequently, in their sustainability.   Wolff spoke about the difference in prize money between the league finishing positions of the top and the lower teams in the league, but the sports are fundamentally different.

This is forgetting that the statements are simply not true.

There is no 107% qualifying rule in football, there is a predetermined prize money for finishing in a certain position – once more unlike F1, every team is guaranteed a pay-out and there is clearly defined market for sponsors.

While Formula One drifts into uncertainty over its identity and groups within the sport bicker over what direction the cars should be taking (be it outright speed or green credentials), investing large sums of money in a backmarker team would be ridiculous.  Only privateer projects like the  American Haas F1 team present new opportunities for entries, which at best are going to be run at a break-even level.  These kind of ventures mask the underlying issues with the sport allowing for buoyancy of the larger teams as the smaller teams (Sauber, Lotus and Force India) struggle to avoid drowning.

As Toto Wolff clings on to the dream that Formula One doesn’t need any change, even though for all intents and purposes it is an incomparable sport, all facets within maintain the same party line.  The Austrian said back in September 2014, “’If we could do anything more to stop the DNFs then we would do it. I would break my arm again!”  Yet it is the DNSs of others that should be more worrying to the Mercedes man if, and when, more teams drop off the grid.

As more teams migrate in and out of the sport they continue to the support the front running teams, but what will happen when this flow stops?

Unfortunately, this author does not see a future of that having seen the sport survive the turmoil and fallout of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the tone has been set.

The Piranha Club will continue to eat alive all of the smaller fish in the sea until the ecosystem can take no more.

Messages like that from Wolff are even more worrying than the direct parlance of Christian Horner.  Once again, the lack of Mercedes honesty is frustrating as it clouds the understanding of a complex situation.  F1, it would seem, is never going to change – but that’s why we love it.

9 responses to “Piranhas and the fishes

  1. Would Toto Wolff be as blase about the situation had he remained a major shareholder in Williams? I don’t know what his investment was in Williams, but he’d be looking at it going down the pan if customer cars were allowed.
    As for football, the teams get to keep their gate money and all the income from adverts around the ground. They don’t have to reserve the best seats for the likes of Bernie to sell off. The list of greed is endless and the demise is in sight. Roll on the EU investigation.

  2. Wolff’ steadfast refusal to see what is directly in his face continues to astound. However, isn’t this a rather sudden shift by Horner, who, in prior years seemed all for maintaining the big-team dominant status quo.

    That said, I wonder if his statement isn’t a passive-aggressive cry for PU changes before the 2017 due date. If he can rally teams around him on the issues he addressed he can once again push to change the PU restrictions he so helped put in place.

  3. But wolf is a mercedes. Everything, well almost everything, is good there. So he doesn’t care about the rest. Why would he. He is not a neutral fan..

  4. ^
    You complain of “statements (that) are simply not true”…

    The Piranha is a freshwater river fish; they cannot “eat alive all of the smaller fish in the sea (sic)”, let alone “continue to” do so.

    But they could certainly eat a human as large as you, in the Amazon.

  5. I’m sorry , but why is Mercedes the one who’s always tacking flack when it comes to the disparity in finances between the top and bottom teams?

    Despite not winning either championships since 07 (drivers) and 08 (constructors), Ferrari gets paid a premium of $97m and Redbull $74m compared to the $34m Mercedes and McLaren gets. Why is Ferrari not being put to task? Why is Ferrari not being asked these same questions? I understand their heritage within the sport, but even if they finish dead last, they’ll still earn more than half the other teams on the grid. Should they not be subjected to the same scrutiny as everyone else?

    The only people we seem to hear from are the smaller teams Redbull and Mercedes, whilst Ferrari the biggest piranha in the water, remains unchallenged.

  6. The distribution of TV revenue is far more equitable in the Premiership. And there are even parachute payments for relegated teams.
    Despite my complete indifference towards football as a sport, I have to acknowledge the UK Premiership has done a pretty decent job in moving towards financial sustainability, billionaire owners notwithstanding.

    Here’s a very interesting analysis of F1 spending over the years:
    https://f1metrics.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/how-money-predicts-success-in-formula-1/

  7. As long as F1 remains attractive to sponsors, it will be sustainable.
    However, IMHO, F1 rules have been being failing in making F1 more attractive.
    In Football, there is not any blue flag preventing small teams from competing hard against big teams.
    Forwarders do not have any DRS to surpass defenders.
    So, sustainability depends on how attractive the sport is and filling F1 with artificialityes does not help.

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