Only 1 week left for Brawn/Liberty to save F1

The acquisition of F1 by Liberty Media has provided renewed hope for fans far and wide that the sport can be drastically overhauled and improved. Yet many fans of other sports have also perceived a bright new dawn with new owners only to be disappointed when all their talk proves to be cheap.

Liberty media are currently in danger of talking up a storm of ideas for F1’s renewal but delivering little or nothing in the short, medium and possibly even the long term.

For the racing purists, Ross Brawn brings hope that DRS will be abandoned and bring an end to ‘fake overtaking’. In an interview with ESPN Brawn said that DRS “artificially solved a problem that we didn’t want to tackle head on.”

This is all well and good, but given many of the drivers said during Barcelona winter testing that this year’s cars now are harder to follow, a design solution needs to be agreed quickly because the technical regulations for 2018 will be cast in a matter of weeks.

A more typical polemic from Brawn and F1’s new CEO Chase Carey, is the suggestion the fixes for F1 will only be longer term. “I know from experience that F1 tends to be reactive,” Brawn told the BBC. “It has a problem, it reacts and tries to find a solution, but very rarely has the vision of looking forward three-to-five years and deciding where it wants to be”.

This is predominately the sentiment expressed over the topic of F1’s funding of the teams, given the contracts drawn up by Bernie only cease at the end of 2020. But is this drawn out timescale really a good enough aspiration form Liberty Media, particularly as the sport has recently been losing a team each year?

Brawn told La Gazetta during winter testing that he feared that “acting quickly could be counterproductive”.

In reality, were Liberty Media minded so, they could exert pressure on the bigger teams to relinquish their arrangements with the commercial rights holder early – using an old fashioned Bernie negotiating trick – by offering a new deal that will be better than the one they get if they wait.

The problem for modern Formula One is that the base cost of building a car, attending 21 races and being competitive has risen with a massive disproportion to the amount of money the teams can raise independently of their FOM prize money.

This is clearly why teams keep going bust.

Manor F1 were hardly extravagant and wasteful with their resources. The car would appear race weekend after race weekend with little or no noticeable modifications because the team couldn’t afford the cost of the raw material carbon fibre.

The entire monies CVC paid to the teams in 2016 was £965m according to Autosport. So were Liberty Media to suggest that the next commercial arrangement with the teams will grant all 10 an annual payment reflecting the ‘cost to compete’ – this will leave little or nothing for ‘historic team’ payments or performance prize money.

Now that may wake up the living dead – and force them to smell the roses.

In the meantime, the 2018 regulations are set to be agreed in the coming weeks. What is to stop Liberty Media and the FIA agreeing for example a front wing design restriction similar to the engine number rule? Each team can only use say 5 front wing designs for the entire 2018 season.

With majority voting applicable before the 30th April, the FIA and the commercial rights holder can start to curb the excess in F1 team spending – if of course they have the will power to do so.

8 responses to “Only 1 week left for Brawn/Liberty to save F1

  1. Just get online subscriptions to watch it first ala Moto GP. No point improving the show if the audience isn’t there to watch it. $600/year minimum in Australia for a Foxtel subscription. Which is your only option if you want to watch all the races Join the digital age F1, your pricing yourself to destruction ☹️.

  2. Brawn – “It has a problem, it reacts and tries to find a solution, but very rarely has the vision of looking forward three-to-five years and deciding where it wants to be”.

    That sounds suspiciously like someone who wants a spec series. It also sounds suspiciously like IndyCar, which isn’t surprising as two of the three stooges are American, which in its zeal to create “parity” and lower costs, sees almost all the drivers paying to get a seat, with half of them not competing in the entire series and with the exception of the Indy 500, driving largely in front of empty stands.

    Formula One’s biggest asset is its technical excellence with each team trying to outdo the others with innovation. Take that away and all you have left is IndyCar on a global scale. And I don’t see how that has any appeal to Ferrari, M-B, Renault.or even some of the mid-field teams. I sense Liberty Media are going to find out real quick how naive they actually are about F1.

    • To me it sounds like someone looking for proper solutions to problems, not ill thought out Band-Aid fixes.
      Everyone has been complaining about passing and proper racing for years, so they come out with DRS which just creates “fake” passing, doesn’t add any excitement for the fans.
      Then we have the whole cars not fast enough. So how do we fix it? Increase Aero. All that does is make passing harder

    • ‘Formula One’s biggest asset is its technical excellence’.

      I’m not sure I’d agree with that statement. I’d argue that F1’s biggest assets are the best drivers, the best cars, and close, exciting racing. If they get it right.

      More often than not, over the last 25 years, the technical advancements and one team domination have been to the detriment of the racing.

      I wouldn’t necessarily advocate a spec series, but something needs to be done to keep the field tight, promote racing and prevent domination.

      If that means curbing some of the technical innovation so be it, although the opposite might actually be the case (with cost control). Compare and contrast 1979 when (Ligier dominated early, Williams dominated late) with 2014 where Mercedes dominated early and it lasted for 3 years. If Jacques Laffite had dominated 79/80/81 even I would have gotten pissed off after a while.

  3. Well. Don’t lambast them as yet. They just days ago got rid of Bernard Charles Emeritus and already free-ed up teams media for a little bit. But all of this in F1 is not as easy. As we know that the strategy group are hardly agreeing to anything including who should provide the mineral water at their meetings.

  4. F1 is a viewers sport. Its value lies in the amount of viewers. It has become big enough to make some constructors throw 100’s of millions into it. The biggest budget stands the best chance of winning (please note “stands the best chance” does not equal a guarantee)
    Constructors should realize that domination is not interesting to watch. In an ideal world they should self-regulate and decide that after a 2 year streak that they should lower their budget, giving others a chance to take away the championship. What we see is that they are not self-regulating, so FIA/Liberty should do so artificially.
    To keep things technically interesting, FIA should keep throwing curve balls at the teams. An element of surprise makes F1 less “preparation, preparation, overthink everything multiple times” and more about creativity to solve issues on (and for!) a short term. I would rather read “Mercedes had problems with the new tires: Wolf comments about the issue” than “Ferrari won because their car suits this track best”
    DRS: I never had a problem with DRS. It adds an element that interests me during the race “will the pursuing driver make it to the DRS window”, “will the DRS window be enough to overtake”. The argument “but DRS is artifical” is IMHO the biggest BS. Everything about the tires is already artificial: FIA defines wear and tear. If you take a step back: the whole world of F1 is artificial: I haven’t seen anything resembling an F1 car on the road since.. ever. Artificial is not the point. The point is viewer acceptance, and I accepted it.

    • “What we see is that they are not self-regulating, so FIA/Liberty should do so artificially.”

      Would you suggest that if a football team wins two championships in a row they should trade away all their good players and give someone else a chance to win?

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