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Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, FIA president Jean Todt has reacted to criticism over Formula 1’s current state but does suggest that a summit to consider options might be a good idea.

“I’ll call around a table sponsors, journalists, new media, organizers, current and past racing drivers, and the constructors,” said Todt. “I will welcome the most interesting proposals.

“I’m saying this as president of the FIA, without having to respond to Montezemolo, exactly because I have great respect for all the players in motor racing and in particular for what Ferrari has done, does, and will do.”

F1 is facing a serious barrage of criticism in 2014 but Todt feels that electric motors, V6 turbos and other additions to the sporting and technical regulations such as DRS, and 2015’s recently announced change to standing restarts are good for the sport. AUTOSPORT has the translation here:

“Hybrid is the right way, but we haven’t been able to communicate it well,” he said. “But the future of motoring goes in this direction.

“Boredom? I don’t see it, and most of all I don’t see anyone lifting the throttle in the races in order to save fuel.

“In racing there has always been the search for maximum efficiency: the least fuel you put in the tank, the lighter is the car and the quicker you can go. Ten kilos of fuel are about four tenths per lap. Winners are always the strongest, those who can get closer to the limit.

“In my opinion motor racing is in good health: just think what Dietrich Mateschitz has done in Austria by rebuilding enthusiasm in people. And do we want to talk about the 24 Hours of Le Mans that attracted 263,000 spectators? A great race with Audi, Toyota, and Porsche.”

Todt may be on target with his Le Mans assessment but that isn’t helping F1 at the moment, in fact it may be taking something away from F1—namely viewers.

The current state of F1 has prompted venerable and well-respected publication, Motorsport Magazine, to start a petition and offer it’s own manifesto on how to fix F1 right here.

Regardless of Todt’s feelings, he alone cannot do make all the changes needed as it requires the FIA, teams and the commercial rights holder to influence the future direction of F1.

Do you agree with Todt? If so, you may be in a minority preferring to see the glass half full but regardless, F1 is in a time of major upheaval from all fronts. How it survives and what it looks like in the future may be the difference between billions of dollars if they get it wrong.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Ground Effect

    Weight savings?… 2014 cars are heaving than 2013… I suspect the ES weighs more than the fuel it saves and that weight is in the car from first lap to last lap.

  • I agree, F1 is in a tumultuous state, which is a potentially good thing. The free-spending tobacco days are gone; Sport and teams must find new monetization avenues in a more-competitive market . Audience-consumption options have expanded. F1 organizational hierarchy is a tangled mess which is neither autocratic nor democratic; nothing gets done.

    The sport is, IMO, at the precipice of either evolving to the current world, or fading into irrelevance. Along the way, some subjectively painful bumps are expected, whether it’s “Hybrid” as your article infers, road-relevance mantra, standing restarts, DRS, F1 App changes and crashes, and so on. What’s important in the long term isn’t the individual ideas (technical or sporting wackiness changes yearly); it’s the unified plan FIA and funders have. Sadly, I see little coherency adapting or retaining a key F1 identity, but hope it’s because the plan is in formative stages rather than F1/FIA being head-in-sand about its issues.

    Motorsport Mag’s petition, in my view, attempts addressing this; its 11 points speak to a series that encourages public-relevant issues (alternative energy, whether liked or not), focuses on sport/encourages competition (no pit-radio comm, open power train technical regs), and tips revenue earning to towards the revenue-generators.

    To me, the petition is well-intentioned, but somewhat naive. How do the teams convince commercial rights holders to magically give up revenue? The teams have no bargaining power, and due to FIA selling influence for resource, no support from the governing body exists. What if also fails addressing is content delivery. Pay model TV has evolved, as any broadcast/cable network’s expanded show bio’s and interactive content strategies illustrate; how F1 promotes and delivers itself must change.

    Nevertheless, the *idea* of change is there, which is what F1 should take from the petition. It was why I brought up fan-proactiveness recently; can/does the fan base want to induce change? Granted, Motorsport mag carries chutzpah fans don’t, but with a cohesive, region-specific yet unified approach…

    • On the commercial rights issue, Jeff, I read the original article in Motorsport by Mark Hughes and in that article, he admits that it’s a long shot and most likely the major issue (I’m paraphrasing here) so I think you’re right in that this single element could be a stone wall toward some of their recommendations but it does play a key role in so much of the future of F1 obviously.

      • Todd,

        Sigh… whether realistic or a pipe dream, at least those with a voice are thinking about the sport holistically. Do you think F1 is doing the same? I hope so, am thinking optimistically, but deep down fear not.

        • My hunch is that F1 is certainly going to do what they can to insure the series maintains is position at the very least. I consider investors who are looking to a valuation they bought in to and they’ll be keen to see growth so losing viewers, sponsors, teams or manufacturers is not in anyone’s best interest. For me, the bigger philosophical question could be, is F1’s commercial rights owners, the FIA and teams very clear on what the best direction truly is? It’s a bifurcated issue at best. I know you are excited about the technology and direction that F1 is heading and Todt says it is the way of the future. It may be for road cars but is it the right time or the right format for F1? I think they’ve convinced themselves, at some level, that they just haven’t been good at telling their message and while that’s a noble thought, I’m not sure that’s the simple answer.

          You had Renault threatening to leave if F1 didn’t go to hybrid and V6 or 4-cylinder. Then they change and Renault has their backside handed to them with more commentary from them cautioning folks that 2015 could be more of the same as performance advantages are already baked in to the Merc. I don’t pretend to have a clear understanding of all the issues by any stretch of the imagination but from a fans perspective, I think F1 needs to do more soul-searching. I agree with some who explained (in AUTOSPORT I believe) that the technical advances have brought the series to a point where less rules are simply impossible. I can clearly see that to be honest but this is when leaders need to step up and create, what you’ve so accurately hoped, the future F1. I know I sound like a curmudgeon at times romanticizing the halcyon days but I’m ok with an all-new F1 as long as it is pure racing and not constructs. So far, they’ve tried many constructs and that’s not pleasing many fans, sponsors, drivers, teams or owners. Just my two cents. :)

          • Ours is a philosophical difference regarding the sport’s health. I view the reg changes *somewhat* irrelevant for long term growth, feel it’s CVC/FIA short-sightedness causing most issues (example being CVC just pulled another $360 million US from F1 via Re-Fi, with no sport reinvestment in sight.). To me, back and forth sport v. show reg changes stem from organizers milking short term gain with minimal investment/effort, to long-term detriment. In contrast, it seems you feel F1’s lost its purpose, perhaps sacrificing its sense of pure sport or competition for financial stability via outside influence, better-gained with status-quo ante of a competition ideal.

            I’d like to think F1’s addressing your opinion rather than mine, as yours shows “noble” intent from the organizers, and also seems an easier fix. If a faction’s lost its way with certain sporting/technical avenues, it’s feasible FIA revert or adopt new rulesets. If it’s truer to some objective or absolute F1 ideal, fans will return/tune in, with sponsors following for those eyeballs’ dollars.

            However, IMO F1’s fundamental problems are more heavily-rooted than sporting debate. CVC’s ownership always seemed a short/mid-length tenure rather than a long-term stewardship; immediate asset-liquidity took precedence over a needed philosophy change regarding future income generation. Power-decentralization for influence-retention was more important than a checks-balances system between factions for sport health. CVC has basically assaulted F1, FIA has neutered itself by being CVC’s prostitute, and the big teams have sabotaged themselves looking for single-season advantage rather than sustainability.

            Don’t get me wrong, some fans indeed will favor some ruleset over the other. Your site points to the most vocal (such as you and me) saying this or that rules/sucks. And, it’s arguable certain decisions “a step to far” from sporting legitimacy and a potential audience shrinker, such as sprinklers or already-ratified rules being changed mid-season for competition.

            However, if one of us turns the TV off, another will replace us, *provided* F1 remains visible to the majority. Unfortunately, developing-market audiences lack sport exposure. Established-market audiences suffer transition to pay-model w/o compensatory added content. Both markets lack delivery modes with which they regularly consume other sport and media.

            The reorganization I feel F1 needs encompasses it’s ratification processes down to its exposure strategy, and requires patience and investment, neither of which CVC has insofar shown. It’s why I hope John Malone purchases F1 majority; his restructuring strategies are interesting and sensical, from this layman’s view.

          • I tend to think that the very nature of CVC as a venture capital and investment group positions it for year on year gains and perhaps more short term than long? I don’t know CVC’s long term plan but then again they aren’t sharing those with folks who ask. It was better for long term when Mr. E owned it all because deep down he’s a racer at heart and was always thinking about the long game. Not so sure about now. :)

  • Is it me or are the comments getting longer then the pieces?

    • Well, I have an excuse. You all know I’m verbose as hell :)

      • Rapierman

        As opposed to my 4400-word piece in the other F1B forums? ;-)

    • I like seeing myself type.

      On the bright side, it’s great topic points trigger discussion, no? Particularly crux issues such as this. Personally, I enjoy seeing passionate debate from fans, no matter the perspective. It beats the throwaway “this sucks/you’re dumb” detritus rampant on the interwebs.

      My personal comments do need ramble-editing; no assistant for that… :(