Renault call for Spec F1

A conundrum for teams and fans alike is to cut costs and make F1 cheaper for all. Cheaper cars, cheaper tickets, free to air TV…. and on and on. And for good reason too. With the increase of pay  TV showing F1 as the only method of which to watch the sport, F1 is in danger of becoming too exclusive for it’s own good.

During an interview between Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul and Auto Motor und Sport, Cyril was asked exactly how the sport should take measures to control costs.

“If we limit the cars, there would be more standard parts. Honestly, if all cars were black most of us would not know if before them stands a Red Bull or Manor. That would reduce the gap between the teams and improve the show element. A sport without duels is boring.”

Cyril laments the fall of FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) citing we need a return to that system to have a hope of implementing such limitations successfully.

“In my view, when we had FOTA we had in place restrictions that worked no mater what others say. There were little changes, such as the number of people who are involved; the test stands we work with; the size of the simulators. All that could be easily regulated. I’m not saying that we have to monitor everything. A perfect system does not exist. I mean, we need a model that is more sustainable than the current.”

Abiteboul see’s cost control as the biggest threat to successfully marketing F1, giving France as a prime example.

“Look to France. The change from TF1 to pay TV Canal Plus has killed the interest in F1. We are a French manufacturer and clearly we think primarily of French sponsors. But they tell us that Formula 1 no longer exists in France. It is now impossible to win a French company for F1 sponsorship. This is a vicious circle. To make it short: It is a must to reduce costs. Otherwise, the formula 1 will disappear. It is not about whether Renault can afford it. We will be able to beat the big ones, Renault can afford a Formula 1 with 200 or 300 million per year. But it is a value for money issue.”

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“We are investing in depth, and fewer and fewer people can see our sport which is ridiculous. We need to make formula 1 a popular sport again. Just as Le Mans. There, the tickets are cheap and the race will be shown on television. Clearly it’s only one race but if this model would be extended to the Formula 1, we’d have a great sport and most teams would be well funded. Sauber would continue and not be close to bankruptcy.”

10 responses to “Renault call for Spec F1

  1. Cyril’s making all the latest ‘common sense’ noises but none of that goes far enough, for mine.

    The more I think about it the more I think that “motorsport” needs fixing.

    I just don’t see that anything less than a complete overhaul of the FIA, its charter, its powers and its splatter of sanctioned events will make any sustainable difference to F1 or any other series.

    A new, properly designed and integrated business plan across all categories is what’s required. Motorsport needs a long-term plan more than it needs anything else.

    But while the Toad is around, i’m just feeling increasingly dizzy as I spiral toward that gurgling sound…

  2. hmm, woefully off the pace backmarker calls for standardisation of parts.
    hmm, can’t see that call being answered somehow, every piranha for themselves!!

    of more interest to leveling the playing field though should be Bernie’s claim that he’d like to see more equal distribution of the prize money. Really? He said that?

    Is this just a fudge to head off any potential EU ruling on the matter (although in true EU fashion that investigation seems to be going nowhere fast), or an attempt by Bernie to clip the power of say Ferrari and Mercedes?

    • Yes he has made some valid points but this sport is supposed to be the summit and a prototype series,what he is trying to propose is the A1 Gp mess…again. F1 is risking its very future by forgetting its roots and core fans. The very wealthy supporters of the sport will quickly forget their latest play thing and move on to something else,maybe offshore powerboat racing or maybe they will descend into Motogp and spoil another series which will leave F1 licking its wounds and asking ‘what happened?’ as a comparison,and really sorry for this but the model works…look at the EU. Here we have a great idea that is being ripped apart though lack of understanding and forgetting its core function,we have one party who feels marginalised and undervalued while the others burried their heads,another member facing financial ruin and a few more to follow and then a couple of top members saying all is well,..can you see the pattern? F1 needs a shake up and maybe it will take a main team to leave to really get the sport working again. Imagine a F1 series without a McLaren,Ferrari or Williams (not counting Renault or Merc..sorry) some will say this will never happen but believe me,if the money stops flowing or their exposure is fleeting they will be gone, the teams don’t need F1 but F1 needs the teams…and fans.

  3. we could call it Indy Lights. oh,wait, that is already trademarked.
    since F1 are incapable of racing on “Big Boy” ovals, maybe we could call the new order Mini Indy…

    so, this new order spec series is supposed to reduce ticket prices? not a direct comparison, but here we go…

    Watkins Glen. I cannot tell you how many times I was there from ’67 to late ’70’s to see F1, Can Am, Trans Am, Enduro, F5000, Indy cars. and 5 to 24 hour motorcycle enduros. even club raced a few times in my Titan Mk V in the ’80’s. toss in an almost equal exposure to Mosport, Mont Tremblant, Mid Ohio, Nelson Ledges, the yearly treck to Indy and local short tracks of Sharon, Barberton and Cloverleaf speedways. then there was the local TSD rally’s in between the big races..

    the point is, I made WAY less than $500 in ’67 as a college freshman and up to $18000 10 years later when I bought the Titan and obviously worked VERY little Spring thru Fall 🙂 it was not just me. I had DOZENS of sports car club friends who all did the same damned thing for years! it was not a hardship for any and ALL of us to head for the track Thur afternoon to either race, marshall, or watch and arrive home Mon afternoon.

    back to the Glen. very excited to see IndyCar going back there AND running the “boot”. I wondered how much a weekend there would cost. here it is:
    $90 for a 3 day GA pass to roam AND-OR sit in ANY grandstand seat not occupied (NONE R reserved)! woo hoo!!
    $50 a day to park the car. hmmm. note to self – stay clear of the infamous “Bog”…
    $600 to set up my 2 man tent near the pit lane for 3 nites w/o parking fee. any additional comment will get me arrested.
    $750 for the non-explicit “hospitality package” which includes some snacks and drinks. see above comment..

    add in a program and taxes and we are looking at over $1500 for 1 person in a tent pretty much in the middle of no where…

    please DO tell us Cyril Abiteboul just how TOTALLY out of touch and not fit for purpose YOU, Renault, F1, FOM, FIA, Bernie, CVC, sponsors, TV media, track owners, promoters, and dictator Governments REALLY are…

    • Titan, I am confused as to why you pay for the “Hospitality Package”, when it is 50% of the cost for the entire weekend. That seems like a 10%er item.

      • I would not pay for that especially when it is marketed so vaguely. BTW I am not going at all! based upon official US CPI inflation rates since 1967, the entire Thur thru Mon AM event is worth $37.50 USD! remember, that $5.00 I paid in 1967 for Thur – Mon included shaking hands with Jimmy, Graham, Jackie, BlackJack, Denny, Colin, Jocquin, etc. and touching the cars and kicking the tires. my points are that only fools would hand over good money to ANY of these freaks.

  4. is anyone here old enough to know much they paid for a grandstand ticket for a gp in 1988-89? curious to compare prices adjusted for inflation

    • found this little gem of a review for the 1989 Phoenix GP. Oh how things have never changed:

      There is a saying—or at least there ought to be—that the driving force behind any project that doesn’t appear to make sense is money. Take Sunday’s Iceberg U.S.A. Grand Prix-Phoenix. The obvious question was: Why on earth would anyone stage an exotic race for foreign cars through the baking streets of a city in the middle of the Arizona desert in order to promote an Italian line of clothing called Iceberg, which isn’t widely sold in the U.S.?

      The answer to the riddle is well known to a diminutive English businessman and multimillionaire named Bernie Ecclestone, 52. A brief summary of Ecclestone’s career goes like this: He started selling motorcycles and used cars in London, made enough money to get involved in Grand Prix racing in the ’60s. and did pretty well at it, buying his own team in 1971. He became president of the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA), an organization of the Grand Prix racing teams, and recently bought a mansion near London from arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, whose current address is a Swiss prison. Ecclestone’s work keeps him wheeling and dealing around the world.

      But back to the desert. The story of the Phoenix Grand Prix actually began in 1976 in Long Beach, Calif. Long Beach, which was fraying around the edges at the time, decided to hold a Formula One race through its streets to draw attention to the city, and in that respect, the event succeeded; downtown Long Beach has boomed, and some of the credit must be given to the Grand Prix. The F/1 machines have since touched down in Las Vegas, Dallas and, most recently, Detroit. But when Detroit’s deal with F/1 ended after last year’s Grand Prix, Phoenix, which had been pushing Ecclestone’s FOCA for a race for three years, landed the event. In January, the city council held a special meeting and voted 7-1 to go for it.

      The decision was not applauded by all, however, because the cost to local taxpayers will be about $8 million over the five years of the contract with FOCA. And a lot of local folks couldn’t even afford to attend Ecclestone’s extravaganza: Standing-room-only tickets were $35 for Sunday’s race, while a grandstand seat shaded from the 100� heat went for $200 for a three-day package. And the fact that Ecclestone was a promoter of the event as well as the head of the racers’ organization—not an uncommon arrangement—was hard for some to swallow.

      Defending the race was Duane Pell, chairman of the city council’s subcommittee on sports. A native of Phoenix who spent 22 years as a city fireman before running for office, Pell figured that a small invasion of funny-talking, effete-looking Europeans would be good for his pickup-truck-driving, cowboy-boot-wearing constituents—folks just like him, he says—under the trickle-down theory.

      “The city’s role is clearly defined.” he said last week. “We build and maintain the circuit, and that’s it. No city money goes to Ecclestone, and all the profits or losses are his. It’ll cost us $3 million this year and about $1.2 million per year after that. When you figure how much outside money will be brought into the economy, it’s the best pro sports deal on the table. I’m convinced that this is good for the city.”

      Phoenix wants to become a mecca of international commerce and tourism, and the main idea behind luring the race to the Arizona desert was to romance the multinational corporate executives that the event’s sponsors would bring to the event. Said Pell, “All you need is one or two of the decision-makers to like the area and decide to locate here.”

      Equally important to the city fathers—as well as to the major sponsor, Iceberg, a product name all but lost on American consumers—was the television exposure. ESPN’s satellite feed was beamed to some 80 countries and more than 200 million viewers.

      Phoenix did a remarkable job of putting the race together in a mere 4� months. All was in readiness by the time the “dog and pony show,” as Ecclestone called it, arrived in a caravan of semis that had traveled nonstop from Mexico City, the site of the previous Formula One race. The 2.36-mile, 14-turn circuit through downtown Phoenix was wide and relatively fast—a vast improvement over Detroit, the drivers agreed.

      The drivers, mostly little fellows with exotic names like Tarquini, Nannini and Gugelman, comported themselves much as they do on the more traditional stops on the tour. Formula One drivers are athletes whose intensity toward their sport and indifference to fans and the media are often seen as arrogance. Consider world champion Ayrton Senna of Brazil: With a retainer of more than $5 million per year from his Marlboro McLaren- Honda team, he doesn’t need to be popular. “They want to take their money, go to the bank, get in their jets and disappear,” said Ecclestone.
      As it happens, Phoenix snared the race at a time when Formula One competition is in serious decline. It has become a game of finance and technology, and the McLaren- Honda team has emerged as vastly superior by virtue of the tidal wave of yen supplied by Honda for engine development. McLaren- Honda includes an army of Japanese technicians and engineers, most of whom seldom emerge from the electronics trailers that, through sophisticated telemetry, monitor scores of engine functions every minute the McLarens are on the track.

      So it was hardly surprising that Senna took the pole position, the 34th pole in the 29-year-old driver’s career, breaking the late Jimmy Clark’s record of 33. Senna led through the first 33 laps of the 177-mile race, until his car faltered and eventually retired with ignition problems. That allowed his teammate, two-time world champion Alain Prost of France, to win by 39.696 seconds. It was Prost’s 36th Grand Prix win, nine more than recorded by Jackie Stewart, who is second on the alltime list.

      But a sentimental victory of sorts went to Eddie Cheever, the man who may turn out to be the savior of the Phoenix race. The only American among the world’s three dozen F/1 drivers, the tall, handsome and articulate 31-year-old lives with his wife, Rita, and new daughter in Rome and Monte Carlo. But he was born in Phoenix. It was Cheever’s 123rd Grand Prix in 11 trying years on the circuit, and his third-place finish in an Arrows-Ford on Sunday was only the second time he had finished that high since 1983.

      But was the event a success as far as Phoenix was concerned? Was it worth the millions in city funds to impress corporate big shots and TV-watchers in distant lands, even though only 31,000 fans, a lot fewer than expected, paid to watch? Well, maybe hometown boy Cheever had something to do with it, but the folks who did show up seemed to enjoy the day thoroughly. And, hey, Bernie Ecclestone, isn’t that what this sport is all about? Bernie?

    • Even though I’m old enough, I didn’t have a chance to go and see any F1 race live on track, until 2000. In 2000 I went to Indy, and as far as I remember ticket was 100-120$ for all 3 days. I think it was for some kind of stands on a racing day, while all of the other stands were accessible on Friday and Saturday.
      But this turned into a grand stand on a Paddock side of the track on Sunday, just by simply telling a guards bellow the stands that my ticket is with my friends up there (pointing with a finger towards the top of the stands).
      They let me in, then I told this to my friends, who were coming to the race, so they did the same, and we all ended up on a stand right next to a pit exit, with victory ceremony podium barely 10 meters from us. 🙂
      Also for the 2006 Monza race, 3 friends and I went to see the race only on Sunday, (I live in Croatia, so Monza is close enough to hop in a car and drive to Milan for fun).
      We got there around 1PM, bought general admission ticket for 55 EUR and went to find a spot to watch the race.
      While we were passing the fence on a pit side of the track, next to the first chicane we saw two guys guarding the fence at that spot. We offered them 10 EUR per person to let us jump the fence. They did let us, although I have to admit one of them was bit reluctant, so we jumped it and ended up watching the race right at the first chicane where all the action in Monza is anyway.
      It was great. 🙂

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