Drivers say cutting costs will improve racing

2014 Austrian Grand Prix

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F1 drivers say bringing costs down will help achieve the wider aim of making Formula One more attractive to viewers by improving the racing.

The FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and team bosses have been discussing how to steam the rapid decline in viewing figures F1 has experienced recently.

Sergio Perez, who moved from McLaren to Force India this year, said that reducing costs would make it easier for smaller teams to compete with the front runners and create more variety among race winners.

“There is a big room for improvement, to improve the show,” he said. “There is one team dominating, normally every year I’ve been in Formula One there’s always one team winning pretty much every race, so that’s a bit boring for the fans and also for the drivers, if you’re not in that car.”

“And I think there’s not much we can do. I think reduce the costs to give an opportunity to the smaller teams to try and be competitive. I come from a big team to a smaller team and I see the reduced amount of budget and with this limited budget is very difficult to compete against the big teams so I think that would help to reduce the costs to be able to have more equal chance of fighting big teams.”

Esteban Gutierrez added that some of the changes in recent years intended to make the races more exciting may have made them harder to follow.

“I think everything is more related to the cost cutting which is probably the most important topic at the moment in terms of the show,” said the Sauber driver.

“It has been very mixed in the last years with more degradation of tyres, more pit stops, everything has been probably more interesting but at the same time in some way a little bit more confusing. And I think the more information is given to the fans about what’s really happening in the race can improve the understanding and it can directly improve the entertainment.”

The point about costs was also made by Max Chilton, who said the situation could be improved if teams were rewarded more fairly.

“I think cost cutting has a huge part to do with it. I think it has to be more efficient, the winnings have to be spread more fairly so that the smaller teams have more to play with so then the cars are closer in comparison so then the racing will increase.

“I think that’s one which will definitely help the spectators, instead of having two seconds between some cars, if there’s only half a second it’s going to make the racing better to watch.”

However Fernando Alonso pointed out that introducing more changes to improve the racing could compromise efforts to bring costs down:

“Probably as we all said the costs are the biggest thing here. All the ideas you have are closely related to the cost as well so that’s not an easy thing.

“Probably in my opinion the KERS should come back to our cars. We have now the electric helping us on the straight but we cannot decide, we don’t have the extra boost that we had last year. It helped overtaking because you can use in different places compared to other cars. Now we all use the same more or less energy in the same places so it’s impossible to overtake.

“And then the tyres are a big thing so maybe getting a tyre competition or whatever will mix things. We could help the small teams that they do in Moto GP, giving them a different spec of tyres or different fuel quantity or whatever to use in the race. There are some ideas that we could take from other sports.

“But as I said it all needs take care of the cost as well that’s the main priority.”

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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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25 comments on “Drivers say cutting costs will improve racing”

  1. Cost cutting again hey!!??

    We have one guy on 26mill and another drives for free! Great comp!!!!
    Does cost cutting mean Alonso, Seb, Jenson, Lewis and Nico give back 5mill each to help run the team??
    Or does Berine give up 1.5 billion!!??

    1. Interestingly Chilton has put forward the correct solution, even if it would make it harder for him to get a seat.

    2. In a perfect world they would just reduce the cost of developing/making the cars and leave everything else open, so you can have a huge motorhome and expensive drivers if you want but they don’t get an advantage in the race. Making this happen in reality seems to be the problem.

  2. The best way to get better racing and increase viewing figures would be for teams to run 3 or more cars. When we get a dominant team like this year, at least there will be 3 drivers in the mix. A bigger grid means more countries can be represented, attracting more viewers.

    The cost of each team building an extra car, having already invested hundreds of millions in the design would be insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

    1. I would agree, but I think it can be hard to follow when there is too many cars, what is going on from say 12th onwards. In GP3 there is 3 cars per team for instance.

      1. So, adding a few cars now with new teams will make 26, and with a few retirements you are looking at healthy competition for points still, rather than there only being 10-12 competitive cars.

        I think if it was started again that there would probably be a GP3 line up, and one driver can always be the upcoming team driver, so there wouldn’t have to be ‘B’ teams as much, although RB could then run 6 cars with 3 youngsters! Vettel-Ricciardo-Vergne, Kvyat-Sainz Jr-Lynn/Gasly!

    2. pastaman (@)
      19th June 2014, 18:24

      The problem is, only the teams with the most money could afford more than 2 cars, which would make them even MORE dominant (constructor-wise)

    3. There are a number of flaws with that proposal, not least because it relies on the assumption that all three drivers within the team could actually compete with each other on a consistent basis.

      It is relatively rare for a team to allow completely open competition between their drivers – Lotus and Ferrari are two teams who normally would nominate one lead driver and one second driver. If you expanded the roster to three drivers, those teams would probably still maintain the same structure – you’d simply see two supporting drivers rather than just one.

      At other teams, it is possible that one driver might simply be too weak to realistically compete with his team mate or lack the influence within a team to make himself known, making him effectively a No. 2 driver.

      Look at Sauber in 2013 – Gutierrez officially had the same standing within the team as Hulkenberg, but there was little doubt which one of those two drivers was leading the team. Ferrari, meanwhile, has kind of fallen into the same situation as well – whilst Kimi and Alonso are nominally equal within the team, Kimi’s persistent set up and mechanical issues means that he is in no position to lead the team, effectively leaving Alonso on his own right now.

  3. Sigh… you know, all these recent news reports about teams and drivers making suggestions and requests to the FIA seems like desperation to me.

    I get the feeling the FIA and all of those at the top making the decisions don’t have a clue what they are doing, and the teams, drivers and fans are desperately trying to get the FIA and Bernie to listen to them.

    Double points, DRS…. Lack of social media and online services such as with MotoGP and IndyCar… Stupid stewarding and pay drivers… Artificial tyre wear which stops the drivers from pushing and going at 100% most if not all the race. A good half would single out the engi-sorry, power unit noise while all would complain at the cars with phallic objects at the front of them thanks to the FIA intervening in that to try and improve safety, yet create another safety issue with ‘submerining’… Cars which are at points on certain tracks up to 7-8 seconds slower in qualifying than cars 10 years ago. I’m all for relevancy, but some of things conflict and contradict with that, while some make the sport less worth watching. Prove is in the detail with the lower viewing figures.

    Of course, some teams aren’t helping budget restriction wise, which would probably lead to closer racing and regular 2012 like seasons… but even that can be argued against: “You always have big teams and small teams.”

    In the end, it just alienates the fanbase and divides it, yet the FIA want to bring in younger viewers… psshh, should probably focus on the fans they have now instead before they lose them completely.

    1. The FIA seems to be letting F1 mostly take care of itself right now, while it concentrates on shoring up it’s other top series and feeder series.

  4. for me the culprit is the teams unwillingness and Bernie who plays each team against each other to cut a better deal. If they sat together and hashed out a compromise then there could be a solution in no time. It’s just that some might give up a little bit and in their minds that’s a no go.

    1. \might have to give up a litte bit …

  5. A few things off the top of my head:

    1. Dramatically reduce the amount of aero allowed. Turbine and CFD time is expensive as is the arms race every season trying to find the odd tenth. Limit the scope of the possible and the continuous car development will be reduced during the season. I’m not talking spec parts but a reduction in the maximum allowed development of downforce related appendages! Not only will this make it harder to drive, but it will be fun to watch and reduce cost.

    2. Allow 3 car teams. This will increase the amount of data being generated on the cars and will in time lower the cost of development. Also three car teams will keep the racing much more exciting, imagine how awesome it would be to see someone like Nico H in a Merc right now.

    3. Something a little more radical, and taken from WEC, include a second spec into the mix. A field made up of F1 and GP2 would be good fun and it would keep the excitement going up and down the grid. Can a GP2 car get into the F1 mix, there would be a race and GP2 winner. Maybe this is too much but I LOVED LeMans and wherever you looked there was good news.

    4. Garage 56, again from WEC but it could work. Invite the winning team to design and enter a garage 56 car every year. There would have to be some tight rules and I’m not proposing how it would work (we can all think of the reasons why this would be tricky) but imagine seeing the X2010 Newey designed on the grid ( for at least a race or two. F1 is supposed to sell posters for 8 year olds bedroom walls, fans would go crazy for it.

    5. Improved coverage and creativity. The FOM coverage is utterly sterile, the production is normally very good but its so locked down it seems archaic in age of social media and commentary. Free the teams up to run their own channels on YouTube, their website or in apps. Encourage fans to take the race content, play with it and promote it on behalf of F1 rather than slapping take downs on anyone that dare upload something unapproved.

    Thats it for now, I can think of a few other ideas but others have really covered a lot of them better than me.

    1. Ooh, I like the idea of a ‘garage 56’ team!
      They would have to be ‘non-scoring’ in terms of points but it could be fun and superb publicity opportunities for their sponsors.

      1. Thats what I was thinking. The idea would be for promotion, engineering and next years rule book. Or why not go a little further and allow the top three teams to run concept cars and have a shoot out over a race weekend?

    2. Regarding point 1. Totally agree. There seem to be aero updates every race and it must cost a fortune. It must be very off putting to manufacturers deciding whether or not to enter the sport or not, that there is so much emphasis on aerodynamics yet they cannot develop the engine/power unit throughout the season.
      Regarding point 3. This has actually occurred to me too. I don’t think it would work because of safety issues but it would sure add to ‘the show’. Apart from the added interest up and down the grid you mention, the opportunities to overtake when a fellow driver gets stuck behind slower ‘traffic’ sound like just the sort of thing Bernie and his crew want.

      1. The problem of course is Bernie and crew don’t control the rights to GP2.

  6. While its a good point Alonso makes about the ERS being optimized to be used automatically at the places where its most advantageous for a good lap time, its not quite true, or maybe its just not quite true for everyone. I say that because I am pretty sure that at least some of the cars DO have a button to give you that power “now” with a separate setting ore even a boost button too.

    1. @bascb
      Yes Cars should have the Button to use ERS like past , This takes away the skill of drivers and making Drivers as Spec drivers more

  7. Y’know, I’m coming towards the idea that f1 should be a ‘spec’ series.
    It seems to work for Indy and it would certainly obviate the need for the squillion dollar budgets that the foremost F1 teams seem to have. It would be interesting to run a spec series together with a Garage 56 entry that could showcase and test possible alternatives to the spec cars ready for the following season.
    Much of the alterations to the regulations each year seem to be about closing off the loopholes that designers have found in the regulations, so might it be better to start with a spec car first and limit the alterations that teams could do on it?

    1. @timothykatz, you’re right, GP2 20 laps, F1 same cars 60 laps, huge cost savings, more teams for fans to be totally devoted to, it’s got everything, except me watching it.

  8. Who can compete with manufactures? Bullies on the playground is the result. Allowing manufactures automatically produces a 2 tiered system. Either ban em, or let them be F1 since they can produce the goods. I say let them be F1 since it has gotten to this point. But they have no backbone and are sooo scared to lose any money, so ban em. My head hurts.

  9. The commercial rights of F1 need to be taken off Bernie and given back to the FIA. That way we won’t have this ridiculous left hand versus right hand, quality of racing versus money in Bernie’s pockets situation that leads to stupid **** like Abu Double, or the exhaust note testing.

  10. Maybe I missed the email. Why do people in F1 always think they know what the viewers want when it doesn’t appear that anyone is actually asking the viewer.

    1. @velocityboy Because if they say “We’re doing what the viewer wants”, then they can convince themselves they’re doing good, when in actuality they’re not convincing anyone.

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