FIA President Jean Todt yesterday formally opened the fifth edition of FIA Sport Conference, saying the progress made in motor sport in recent years has provided a strong platform for future innovation, on track and on the road.
“We are working very closely together [with the new commercial rights holder in F1] in an open and friendly way, with clearly defined common goals to improve the quality and the attractiveness of the FIA Formula One World Championship, to carefully manage costs and development, and at the same time to secure innovation as a very important factor of distinction.”
One might argue the message from most teams is that innovation, annual regulation changes, hybrid systems are all hugely expensive and in themselves create barriers to entry for new teams. In order for a new team to enter the sport they need to create a team full of actual rocket scientists and boffins, who are VERY expensive compared to a man who is a bit grubby and addicted to the smell of Castrol R for breakfast. Question is does this all “improve the quality and attractiveness” or “enrich the growing fanbase”
Innovation is generally funded by large companies investing large sums of money. This means shareholders get a smaller christmas hamper. Companies then justify their strategy to shareholders by promising bigger returns for days to come. This also helps with share prices, ergo market share. The perfect way to fund this is that old corporate chestnut – hide the expense in a different budget, dress it up in a bit of glitz and glamour of Formula one. F1 is a fan funded sport, and I can’t help thinking that the fan on the gate is being used as a crowdfunder rather than receiving the entertainment they could be, despite what we are told later in the president’s speech.
“Sport is a catalyst for progress. The technical formulas we have defined and implemented in our world championships, such as Formula One or Endurance, are reaching maturity,” he said. “I am convinced that today’s progress in these disciplines will open the door to the innovations we will find in hybrid vehicles in the next few decades and Formula E is paving the way towards electric mobility in our cities and beyond.”
The sport might be driving “in car cleverness” and innovation forward, but by huge financial investments, the innovation itself is driven by the companies feeling that there is a market demand for new products. Questions are now starting to be asked about its actual value to the sport. Do we want anything “far beyond traditional racing” – Jean Todt seems to assume so.
“The direction of many sporting events is that they become entertainment events, with not only sport as a focus but also music, culture and new ways of sports presentation that enrich the fan experience and go far beyond traditional racing.”
I might just be getting old, but if F1 is to have a growing fan base MORE races is not the simple answer. Making mistakes and simply repeating them just adds to the number of mistakes that get made, and a higher concentration of errors
There has been talk about how the fans F1 experience should resemble Indy Car… I disagree.
How about, if you want to change culture, and make more of a spectacle, look to LeMans.
Obviously I have been to many F1 and LeMans races and they can’t be compared. My concern is that “more enriched” actually means “more locked down and penned in” having more possibilities to pick your pocket to fund innovations that nobody wants including the teams, and to pump cash into the Liberty coffers.
LeMans and WEC has a much faster growing fan base, tickets are cheaper, access on and around the track is better – inclusion all round is better. Off track Live in car feeds free streams are readily available even via twitter accounts.
I am trying not to sound like a luddite, but I would like to ask, you the TJ13 Jury: Is this vision by the FIA president a popular view? Are we moving further towards developmental space ship guinea pigs, paid for by the fans, and away from MOTORsport? His next comment worried me most..
“The world is changing with unprecedented speed. Motor sport is confronted with new sets of values and an increased desire for respect and preservation of the resources of our planet, new developments such as autonomous driving and a strong demand for e-mobility.”
I guess if I was to buy a company, look to make it sparkle and shine enough to sell it on in a few years time for a huge profit, I might be following this course of action too. But I fail to see how any of what has been said yet at the FIA Sport Conference looks good for motorsport or as a viewing spectacle, which really is the most important thing to consider when deciding on future.. what does it look, sound, smell, savour of… its what pays for the whole circus.