As many of you already know, we’ve been asked by Formula One Management to find another home. As I have stated before, in 2014 we relinquished our claim on the www.formula1blog.com domain due to trademark issues which we certainly understood at the time.
Part of that deal was that we could use the domain going forward and all content belonged to us. The intent here was that we were promoting the sport for free and I think at the time, Mr. Eccelstone felt that was a good thing.
Last week, we were asked by the new owners, Liberty Media, to cease using the domain altogether. The initial legal email was then followed up by another email from their communications director asking for a phone call to discuss the situation. Many of you have asked about that phone call and what the resolution was.
First off, the communications director was a very nice man named Norman and he did a nice job of explaining their overall situation as the domain owner and the multiple implications of their ownership with regards to our content. The be perfectly fair, I understand their point quite well and I understand their reasoning for wanting to change our relationship. Sure, in a perfect world, I’d rather not but this isn’t just about me, it also has to make sense for Formula 1 and in their new model, it doesn’t.
Now, before you scratch your head and ask how free promotion doesn’t fit anyone’s model, let me explain a bit more. When you own a brand, you want complete control of that brand, how its promoted and how it is seen. Heck, our current struggles alone show you what happens when you don’t own your complete brand, right?
Imagine if I went crazy, which isn’t a big stretch by the way, and I started posting all kinds of vile stuff on the site. Any sponsor who would do a domain search would discover that it belongs to Formula 1 and that could cause issues for them. They are only protecting what they own and want to limit risk and liability. I understand that, I really do. Now, I will always be independent but I would never post vile stuff about F1 and you know that but they don’t, they don’t know me at all and have no reason to trust I wouldn’t.
I think Mr. E was willing to do the deal because he had a different model and approach to digital media and you could argue that perhaps it may not have been as robust or completely vetted as Liberty Media would do.
Onward, Upward and Inward
I have no interest at all in being at odds with Formula 1, I love the sport and I think that should be very obvious. In fact, I would like to work closer with them and bring you more inside content and a better line of sight to their inner workings and initiatives. Norman said they would be happy to discuss that as well.
I found nothing untoward from Norman or his reasoning and I agree that the current situation isn’t the best fit for their current model as explained to me in a very collegial manner. I was going to use the Sean Bratches gambit and explain to Norman that we are “underserved” but on second thought, I didn’t. I reckoned Norman has heard that enough already.
This means that we move on, change our name, brand, features, site and all the details that go with it. As we mentioned, we’re going to focus more inward toward our community than outward toward potential partners. We are going to change but the last thing we want to change is what made us appealing to begin with.
With all that said, expect big changes in the coming weeks and months. I would also be remiss in not thanking the massive support we’ve received online and personally. You are truly amazing people and we couldn’t be more honored to call all of your our friends and the reason we do what we do.