Grand Prix Legends hit out at state of F1

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Grand Prix Legends' editorial hit out at the poor marketing of Formula 1

Anyone who’s shopped for F1 clothing, a model Formula 1 car or some other kind of memorabilia will likely have heard of Grand Prix Legends. Their adverts have been running on this site for some time.

Their new catalogue dropped through my letter box today and I was surprised to see they’d given over five pages to an editorial attacking the state of Formula 1.

You can read the full article below.

Grand Prix Legends had the following to say about the state of F1:

There’s little overtaking, little real racing and very few of the drivers ahve any personality to talk of.

The new breed of young photogenic drivers may think they have a ‘cool image’ but often they come across as little more than shop-window mannequins and, as such, fail to engage with the fans.

One day, F1 may regret ignoring its grass roots support.

I haven’t seen any mention of it on their site or the blog run by one of their team.

You can read the full article here (click to enlarge):

Grand Prix Legends editorial - page 1
Grand Prix Legends editorial - page 1
Grand Prix Legends editorial - page 3

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Grand Prix Legends hit out at state of F1”

  1. diseased rat
    22nd July 2008, 15:25

    I think trying to use the sales of die cast Formula 1 cars as an idicator of the overall health of the sport is a rather strange concept.

    Now if a decent F1 computer game is released and fails to do well, that would be cause for concern. But die cast scale models? No.

  2. The die cast models are often overpriced, too. I used to get them when I was a kid at Christmas and birthdays, but eventually it just became too expensive.
    In many ways they’re right about F1, though. F1 fails to market itself in an appealing way, that’s why the US GP failed to maintain its position on the calendar (as well as money concerns, of course).
    I agree totally with their view that F1 may regret neglecting its core support. F1 is in danger of being surpassed by more exciting series, with MotoGP being a prime example.

  3. If people don’t think that F1 has problems, they can only watch this site on a race day. Always comments like “will it rain?”, “hope there is some rain”, “som rain would make it exciting”, and so on. If we need rain to make a F1 race interesting to watch, then there is something wrong with the whole concept.

    And something I commented on right after the German GP. Five German drivers, two German manucaturers involved in top teams, nice weather for watching a race – and still about 20% of the stands empty of spectators.

  4. GPL have a point, but its not just F1 diecasts which are expensive; production car diecasts, touring cars, Le Mans cars etc are often even more than F1 cars. Example:

    Minichamps Mclaren MP4/22 1/18: £49.99
    Minichamps Mclaren SLR Roadster 1/18: £54.99
    Autoart BMW 320si WTCC 1/18: £59.99
    Spark Audi R10 Le Mans 2007 1/18: £59.99

    Both Minichamps, Spark and Autoart have similar levels of quality.

    Diecasts are pricey in general.

  5. Chris Johnson
    22nd July 2008, 17:06

    In America, nearly any department store that sells toys offers NASCAR diecasts in at least 3 scales. They often carry multiple liveries of the most popular drivers, and they seem to sell. NASCAR appears to “get it”, while Formula One merchandise appears to be just a big money grab. Not just diecast cars, but do people really buy the £50 team tshirts and things like that?

  6. If F1 has a “lack of personalities” it’s far from being the only sport to have such a problem.

  7. I think that the GPL editorial is a fair comment on F1.

    Germany was the best dry F1 races in aeons and even then it was only because of an ill timed safety car and botched pit stop strategy.

    The marketing/media side of F1 is absolutely rubbish:
    Online Video – None, not even pay per view
    DVD – End of year season review – when was the last time you watched one more than once?
    Books – Not under FOM licence control so some good ones out there
    Team Clothing/Souvenirs – Bloody expensive
    Die-Casts – Have a big following and are much liked
    Toys – When was the last time you could buy a current F1 matchbox/corgi toy car?
    Games – No new F1 games for quite some time now, Codemasters is the next one and that creeps out next year

    F1 memorabilia is often overpriced and frequently misses the point, with innovative products suffocated by licensing agreements

  8. Well Said Ben!

  9. William Wilgus
    22nd July 2008, 18:06

    I’ve yet to read the article, but . . .

    Should prospective F-1 drivers go through a personality screening first, then if they pass that they can get a driver’s test? I hardly think so.

    But F-1 today isn’t `real racing’, it’s a parade with the wealthy teams at the front. The first thing that should happen is that all of a team’s operating budget come from F-1 itself, and every team get the same amount. The it would be up to the ingenuity and skills of the teams.

  10. Waaah, waaah, no-one’s buying our diecasts! Boo-hoo! Fact is that even cash-hungry Bernie’s merchandise site is often cheaper than GPL. Given that they are the self-proclaimed “world’s leading Formula 1 and Motorsport merchandise and diecast replica mail-order company”, perhaps GPL should look at themselves when trying to explain the state of the diecast market.

  11. I don’t think it’s about personalities or marketing. I firmly feel that good sport sells itself and if people are switching off or less inclined to start watching, it indicates a lack of excitement in the sport in question. I think that, to the layman, F1 has been struggling to shake off the “Schumacer’s Ferrari scampers off into the distance, cars go round track” image which almost turned me off five years ago.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think these past two seasons have been great to watch, but even so, only half the races have been exciting enough to talk about the next day.

    That said, F1 merchandise is ludicrously expensive and considering the current financial climate, I’m not surprised people are buying less.

  12. “Waaah, waaah, no-one’s buying our diecasts! Boo-hoo! Fact is that even cash-hungry Bernie’s merchandise site is often cheaper than GPL.”

    100% agreement there dr. vee.

    also look at the animated advert at the top of this page. it looks like something from the web circa 1999. remember when then internet only handled 256 colours? grandprixlegends certainly does :)

    “we’re overpriced and badly marketed, but don’t worry we’ll blame bernie”

  13. i haven’t got the shelf space for die casts but i do love my t shirts and the biggest gripe i have about the merchandise is that it’s just plain boring and outright ugly. take a look at some of the great looking valentino rossi stuff out there and then try finding an alonso t shirt that doesn’t turn you into a walking sponsor advert.

    prized possession: prost gp bike shirt.

  14. I think the only thing that’s killing this sport impact with fans is the “exclusive” concept.

    Mattel doing ****** Ferrari (and Mclaren too) diecasts preventing Minichamps (and others) from doing a better job.

    Sony exclusive contract for a game that left all PC fans with nothing for years.

    and, least but (sadly) not last, FOA removing EVERY F1 video from YouTube. Videos that couldn’t harm FOA income in anyway, but they could only provide a great pleasure for F1 fans whose only desire is to revive great moments of this great sport.

    That’s KILLING F1.

    Don’t blame anybody but money-starving Ecclestone for that.

  15. anyone seen the Shoemaker special edition?, how hideous is it?.

  16. I don’t agree. To me, it appears that GP Legends is seeing a decrease in their sales and is trying to correlate it to the state of F1. I think the truth is that people are just not inclined as much now to buy F1 replicas when gas is up over $4/gallon in the US and similarly high in the EU, and when commodity prices are sky-rocketing.

  17. A few years a go the 1:43 scale model price was £19.99 now this year they are £27.99 (The Mclarens are £29.99 because of there silver reflective paint!!) the fact that Minichamps have put the prices up wont help.

    I have also been told this by the model shop where I get my models from.

  18. lol keith, no not that one*, one with Shoemaker next to his Ferrari (not sure which model, i’m guessing F2004)… on a plinth.

    they also make a Button BAR04 model with the same hideous plinth and man model next to it.

    *but yeah, even more hideous.

  19. Robert McKay
    22nd July 2008, 22:02

    They’ve made some good points, but for the wrong reasons.

    I think F1 definitely could do with improving in a few key areas. I don’t think you can do much about driver personalities though – pretty much every major sport with a lot of money involved sees the same bland banal competitors. There’s too much sponsorship money and PR to be a controversial figure. The real shame is that there’s not quite enough scope for the drivers to show their personality on the track. Forgetting the actual racing, with its very restrictive regulations, how about the frowns you get from the FIA for doing donuts after a victory! (It’s like banning a player for taking his shirt off in celebration after scoring a goal…oh wait, they already do that!) We’ve been over it a few times, but it’s always worth repeating: engagement with the fans, creating drama and excitement, putting on a show and selling bucketloads of merchandise is NASCAR’s forte….

    The flipside is is that this is clearly a company throwing its toys out of the pram because business is tricky. I guess credit crunches etc. are to blame to an extent, but maybe the problem lies with what they are trying to sell and their target demographic? I’ve no doubt diecasts are pretty cool, but it does seem to me a bit more of a hobby/collection item for the slightly older, pretty hardcore F1 fan. That’s not to denigrate or insult those that do collect them – I just imagine that, for a sport thats meant to be glamorous, fast, and extremely technological, an exacting replica of the aero package of Buttons third place finishing Honda (for example) is always going to be less than mainstream. It just seems a little bit F1 1970’s style to me, a bit anoraky, like collecting train numbers, a bit exclusive as well.

    Like I say – this isn’t an insult. I can’t talk, because I have some, and I like being anoraky about my sport. But I recognise that its gotten quite a niche market now. The official attempts to bring the merchanidising into this century haven’t worked – the videogames have been on hiatus, the clothes ridiculously overpriced. And who wants to pay 50 quid for a carbon fibre mouse mat? If you try to play on the “exclusive” aspect of F1 you’ll not sell things in large quantities, even if it is a defining part of your brand. Having said that, I walked into Tesco the other day, and there was a bunch of cheap and cheerful T-shirts with the official logo blazened across them, right at the front door, so maybe the message is getting across that F1 needs to get a bit more mainstream with its merchandise.

  20. I wonder who’s in charge of the pricing on diecast models, is his name ecclestone by anychance. Well they are right watch the fia reviews that willantello sent on youtube they speak their mind and the quality of racing is topnotch and the f1 tracks are fast and the cost of f1 back then was low. The competition between drivers was intense. You had four drivers piquet/senna/mansell/prost and the rest who were No 2 drivers eg patrese and berger. Good rules for example no refuelling, no SC and not getting penalized for trying to overtake someone. Also no Hermann Tilke.

    F1 is more like a business now. Ecclestone doesn’t care about what track is built but the money that will go into his pocket. Another factor is the person who governs it does not have the dignity to step down after digusting aspects of his public life goes into public domain.

  21. Try to find a F1 die cast model here in the States…damn near impossible.Can anyone suggest the best place to order them?

  22. michael counsell
    23rd July 2008, 0:08

    If I went to an F1 race I’d probably wear the orange London Champ Car Trophy T shirt I got when it was on sale at the British Superbike qualifying my Dad managed to get a free hospitality box for. I’m not sure when else I’d need any Formula 1 merchandise unless it was some obscure thing that Grand Prix Legends don’t (or don’t want to) sell anymore.

    Whatever anyone else says F1 is the most popular form of motorsport. The cars are fast, complex and interesting (NASCAR and Indycar no longer are). The races are complex and unpredictable (i.e. not always wheel to wheel action but often they unwind in an unpredictable way (MotoGP races have no real strategy and are pure, but formulaic)

    Lets go back to the good old days where less than half the field finsished, 4 cars finished on the lead lap, the races weren’t televised and drivers actually died. Those youtube vidoes are highlights, just like you get from current races… From where I’m sitting I kind of like the way F1 is now.

  23. Here in Brazil someone nicknamed Felipe Massa as “Zacharias”, a late TV comedian like mexican Chavez.

    Kubitza have Nosferatu vampire look.

    And Lego had problems to survive against computers too.

    “you too could look like an advert!”

    robert Mackay, that mouse mat you speak of, i thought it was 250 pounds, not 50.
    and optical mice don’t work on it, too slick.

  25. I have found that as long as you don’t go for the blindingly obvious Minichamps Schuey collection, Senna collection or the newer issues in the McLaren collection, and don’t only go for Minichamps in particular, or the equally expensive Autoart and Spark, then you can find some decent models at a decent price – I saw the Kimi full Pit Stop set for £20.00 recently.
    I don’t just collect F1, but also Rally cars and GT cars, and have discovered that there are some models out there at Minichamps detail but half the price (and usually the cars and colours Minichamps never do).
    Yes, GPL is probably feeling the pinch of everybody spending less these days, but I would never buy a team shirt from the team or GPL anyway.

  26. Personally, I think this season has been awesome so far. Sure, we all know the state of the sport is far from perfect but I’m certainly happy.

    As for GPL’s moan, (politely) who cares about die-cast models? As we approach the second decade of the 21st century I suspect they’re suffering from the fact that kids these days have moved on – they play their PlayStations rather than with toy cars.

    Adults are likely too busy trying to pay their mortgage or petrol / food bills. Mattel et al appear to be responding to market demand – who is gonna buy a die-cast Force India car?? Maybe some of the die-hard collectors who have commented so far but without demand from the wider market, I can hardly blame the manufacturers for not bothering.

    Just my 2p

  27. Minichamps used to sponsor Benneton back in the 90’s. I was surprised to see it when I watched one of the video reviews of the German GP. So back then, they must have made quite a bit out of the die-cast models.

    Now technology has moved on and F1 merchandise should do too. I’m going to keep an eye on Codemasters F1 game, but I’m just not convinced that it’ll make the grade considering the quality of “simulation” in their last driving games.

  28. Michael Counsell, you prefer Formula One as it is now, do you? Do you work in Logistics, by any chance? Because if you do, sitting down in front of the TV working out pit stop strategies and fuel loads must be heaven for you!

    I, on the other hand, want to watch fast cars going around tracks that do not resemble your local supermarket car park in layout. When one car gets near to another car, I want to see them overtake each other and fight for position. I don’t want to see them follow around in procession, waiting to gain an advantage during the pit stops. Currently it appears that the boys on the pit wall do all the drivers thinking for them! They even tell them how to handle the start by telling them where to place their car! It simply isn’t motor racing.

    It really annoys me when someone pipes up with the old chestnut of ‘everybody used to die, it was so unsafe’. We know this. However, I would argue that refuelling is ridiculously dangerous, just as much as many of the tracks that have been consigned to history.

    Times have moved on and we should be able to have fast, challenging tracks but with minimising the old dangers. Remember, drivers used to die because of hitting trees and walls on the side of the track, because of inadequate marshalling (Zandvoort ’73 springs to mind)or because the cars were not built with safety in mind.

    I also think the ‘good old days’ you are referring to is the 1986 season where fuel consumption was everything and lots of cars ran out of juice. We don’t have to go back to that either.

    If you want to watch very dull, very clever men working out their strategy, take up chess.

  29. michael counsell
    23rd July 2008, 11:21

    If you don’t like F1 the way it is watch something else, there are literally hundreds of different racing series each with strong and weak points.

  30. That is true and I’m an avid follower of several of them (MotoGP, TT races, DTM, etc), however F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of single-seater racing and therefore should be required viewing. But how can it be a pinnacle of racing when it falls very short on providing it?

  31. I haven’t read the article but would have thought there’s a very obvious reason for a decline in die-cast models………Most of the cars look bloody ugly!!!!!! Seriously – who’s going to be a model of this years Renault with it’s anvil wing and puke paint scheme.

  32. michael counsell
    23rd July 2008, 16:04

    The most boring thing about F1 these days is the 20 to 25 minutes of advertising breaks per race.

    The pinancle of single seater racing means the are faster in every respect they accelerate, brake and corner faster leaving less oppurtunity to overtake. The drivers are generally the winners of lower categories who make very few mistakes again leaving very few opportunities for mistakes.

    I don’t think F1 has ever tried to market itself as having the most overtaking manouveres per minute. However it can say that it has the fastest and most advanced cars, best drivers, season long battles with occasional defining moments in a season.

    They are changing the regulations to reduce the aerodynamic effect and make the cars harder to drive but F1 still has to be significantly faster than GP2 or Indycars on a road course, to satisfy the drivers.

    Racing isn’t just about wheel to wheel racing its being first to the finish, the same as athletics, cycling etc. At the end of the day its all about winning and not so much about putting on a show. Changing things too much to appeal to fans is almost patronising.

    Even in a standard race with no rain or safety cars there is usually at least one fast driver out of position after the start trying to make up positions and maybe other drivers on similar pace to each other racing closely. Admittedly it may take a mistake for one to pass each other but no one has a divine right to pass another unless the other is at fault.

    The middle of the race is generally complex as strategies unfold and faster drivers get caught behind slower drivers. If you don’t appreciate what this does for a race I really can’t understand you.

    The end is perhaps a bit less interesting but sometimes there are battles still to be resolved.

    Take away pitstops or change the cars completely and over 300 Kilometres I don’t think you would improve racing over the distance. I’m fairly sure races would be resolved far earlier than they currently are, ultimately leading to a boring overall race.

    And another thing F1 drivers don’t lack personalities the media creates them with every headline, description and feature (Sutil playing piano, Trulli at his vineyard, Webber on a bike) and I really couldn’t care less.

  33. Oddly enough, I’m kinda with Michael Counsell on this. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to see MORE wheel to wheel racing than we currently have. But I do believe the FIA etc are working towards this with the aerodynamics/racing slicks changes and so on. But I LOVE the strategy that surrounds the racing. I love the refuelling and I love the pitstops. I watch F1 for both the drivers and their driving AND the teams and their technological advancements/strategies. I would also hate it if all of the cars were of equal capabilities. I love the hierarchy involved with the Ferrari/McLarens at the top through to the Williams/Toro Rossos to the Force Indias. Please don’t misunderstand me though: I would like to see the gap between the teams tighten so there could more than two championship winning teams. But I do enjoy seeing drivers working their way up to the top-dogs. It’s much like the rest of life in a funny way, well professional life anyway. You start at the bottom (well most do ;-) and you work your way up. Pay your dues and ye shall be rewarded. Sorry that was a bit deep and hippy-like ;-)

    But that’s just me and I wouldn’t expect everyone or anyone to agree, this is just my preference. I love racing but I also love everything else that is F1: The thrills and spills, the technology and strategy and the glamour. All of it!

  34. The most upsetting and often disturbing thing about this debate is when you watch an old grands prix, say for example, one from the late 1990’s, and the pundits are saying the same thing then as they are now.
    No overtaking, the race being won in the pits, and so on. Sometimes it is easy to look at life through rose tinted glasses and say that F1 was better then than it is now, it is a different sport, it has evolved, for better or worse.
    Yes it has its weak points, mostly based on its politics, which have always been a problem, but I do believe that F1 is getting stronger and better.
    On average, the races are more entertaining than they were, say five or six years ago, with more drivers capable of winning.
    Should the drivers be more fan friendly? Ofcourse they should, but then so should their bosses and the FIA.
    Lead by example.

  35. In my view, the most disappointing aspect of F1 these days is not the drivers (lets face it, James Hunt (for example) was a boorish git when he was racing – his overall life was interesting and that unfolded over time, many F1 20 somethings are frankly uninteresting beyond their driving abilities in this or any era although the current ones seem to have no life outside F1), not the racing (there is some close racing, there is overtaking, there is unpredictability – this varies in past years as well eg only 3 teams won a race in 1973, Jimmy Clark won with monotonous regularity in ’63 and ’65 etc) or the spread across the teams (in the midfield its super competitive) or the elitism (its F1 after all) or the ludicrous motorhomes – for me its the boring sameness and ugliness of the cars themselves. I am sure they are fascinating if you are an aerodynamicist but strip the paint off and all but the most hardened followers couldnt tell them apart. And even the paint schemes seem complex and a total mish-mash (except maybe Ferrari) although this may be a function of the bitsy surfaces to work on. I know this is a function of the supercomputer generation but it doesnt make for an eclectic spectacle in F1 or most motor-racing any more.

  36. GP Legends does something like this every year (or nearly every year – I haven’t seen the 2007 version yet). It’s their way of telling everyone the state of the modern GP memorabilla market. Usually they are broader than this, though, and talk about what each team is doing right and (usually) wrong. Maybe they’ve decided that they won’t listen and are therefore a lost cause?

    Mind you, in my experience die cast is alive and reasonably well – people (at least in my area) simply prefer to go and buy it in shops instead of online. This is due to a combination of delays in merchandise arriving (admittedly mostly the teams’ distribution chain’s fault) causing people to prefer getting items when they know they’re in stock and the regular discounting that occurs (I picked up a 1:43 2007 Fisichella Renault for less than £10 in a model shop recently, which is less than half of the price generally charged by the likes of Grand Prix Legends). The 1:18 models aren’t getting discounted yet, but that appears to be because they’re selling well enough at the original price set by the shop (which is about £35 – hardly a discount on the £28-£30 quoted by Ratboy for normal 1:18 F1 models!).

    Those who can’t go to a shop to pick up models (for instance, because they live in America) look for heavily discounted models online. They do exist, but are more difficult to find. But when found, sometimes the discount is even bigger than it is in the model shops.

    What this suggests is that the RRP (Recommended Retail Price) of die-cast models is much higher than the market will bear. This is unsurprising, since they are luxuries in a time when many have to watch every penny. Since Grand Prix Legends generally sell at RRP price, they would have been hit really hard by the lack of interest in such high prices. They’ve been expensive for ages, which is one reason why I have never used them (the fact that it was easier to hide the extent of my F1 obsession by bringing my merchandise home myself rather than via a postal service was an important consideration too).

    Until Grand Prix Legends finds a way of discounting its die-cast models without making a loss, as the bricks-and-mortar shops and the discount web sites have, it will never make die-cast models work. And until die-cast model producers orientate their distribution and pricing structures towards the model shops and discount web sites of this world, they will never make the die-cast market work either. (and to The_Pope: I’d certainly buy a 1:43 Force India car, and only wouldn’t buy a 1:18 because nearly every horizontal surface is covered in books and magazines, many relating to F1).

    So I suppose the short version is that it is the model producers’ and teams’ fault for producing this situation. The market is still there, it just looks in different places and at different prices to what has been marketed at in the past.

    Incidentally, I notice on page 2 that they say that TV broadcasters love F1. ITV doesn’t, otherwise why would it let go of the rights mid-contract?

  37. I found these year cars more atractive then they were in the last past years.

    There are some nice photos from Jerez. Mclaren Cars looking like some kind of animal and Ferrari too. BMW was very diferent this year, and that is nice.

    But the 2009 cars have a boring look (Like the Jerez BMW-Sauber look). Bloody rules. Breathtaking Design, downn by law.

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