It’s time to define and defend the DNA of Formula One


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A particular phrase has gained currency among Formula One’s power brokers in recent months – one which tells us something about the challenges the sport is facing.

Everyone knows Williams’ position on customer cars – we think it goes completely against the DNA of our sport.
Claire Williams, 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

Customer cars was brought in to the discussion. I personally don’t think it’s the right path to go, it’s against the DNA of F1 I think.
Eric Boullier, 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

The regulations and the agreements do provide that, if the grid is less than 20 cars, then participating teams will race a third car. That’s something everybody signed up to as well. I hope it never comes to that. As I said, I think the DNA of Formula One should be preserved.
Vijay Mallya, 2014 Singapore Grand Prix

Formula One has a DNA and a race like Monza, I guess they’re extremely important.
Marco Mattiacci, 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Noise of a Formula One car is part of the DNA of Formula One.
Christian Horner, 2013 Indian Grand Prix

Whether the question F1 faces is how to reverse its worrying decline in viewing figures, how to control costs to ensure a healthy grid of competitors, or any of the other challenges it faces, those in positions of power within the sport are rightly concerned about preserving the essential character of the sport.

But is it possible to define what is “the DNA of Formula One”? After all, some of these aspects which are being claimed as intrinsic to F1 have not always been so.

Three-car teams, for example, were last seen as recently as 1985, when Renault ran a trio of cars at the end of the season. Customer cars were legal in F1 for decades, and it is ironic that of all teams Williams should take such a strong line against bringing them back, as they first entered the sport using a customer Brabham chassis in 1969.

These are important matters and it should be possible to answer questions about them definitively. For example, the number of cars a team may enter inevitably has a profound effect on its chances of success compared to its rivals.

Whether that number should be kept at two or changed to three or more matters less than the fact that this should never be in doubt to begin with. How many cars a team has should be an indisputable part of F1’s DNA in exactly the same way we know the number of players on a football team.

Now more than ever, those running Formula One must decide once and for all what it is supposed to be.

The story of Formula One in the Bernie Ecclestone era has been about how every aspect of the sport has been moulded to create a spectacle for television. And changes like Safety Cars instead of red flags and late start times at eastern rounds to suit European TV schedules did not necessarily come at a great cost to the sport.

But in recent years the concessions to the television audience have grown increasingly unacceptable. This year’s double points season finale is the most blatant example of Ecclestone’s desperation to shore up viewing figures violating F1’s sporting integrity, and the impassioned backlash it provoked from fans should have come as no surprise to anyone.

What will be the next step in F1’s panic-stricken quest for ratings? Success ballast? Fanboost? A NASCAR-style Chase for the Cup?

This is why it is time for the FIA, in its role as F1’s regulator, to declare what it expects from its premier championship. Should F1 be a fusion of the sporting challenge of driving high-performance racing cars and the engineering challenge of designing them? Or a made-for-TV sport-themed entertainment product chiefly intended as a branding exercise for blue-chip companies?

The best way to decide that would be to ask current fans why they started watching F1 in the first place, instead of guessing what new fans might want from it.


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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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107 comments on “It’s time to define and defend the DNA of Formula One”

  1. “Should F1 be a fusion of the sporting challenge of driving high-performance racing cars and the engineering challenge of designing them? Or a made-for-TV sport-themed entertainment product chiefly intended as a branding exercise for blue-chip companies?”

    That’s not a leading question in any way ;)

    1. @jamesremuscat Perish the thought :-)

    2. All this talk about adding more entertainment for TV because of the declining TV audience is just plain wrong. Just put F1 back on the free channels and *tadaa*… more TV viewers are suddenly there. And – more important – new viewers who never watched before wil join.

      1. but the declining audience is because of f1 going away from its DNA… ie crap sound, ugly tracks with no trees, stopping development (f1 engine homologation)

        1. …although I am disappointed with the lack of sound in F1, are we any wose off than what the cars sounded like in the 80s? From the very poor tv recordings Ive seen, the V6 turbos of the era sounded quite similar to what they sound now, albeit a little rougher. Its nothing like the V12s and 10s that succeeded them.

          I think the current noise is something I can live with, because we have to be realistic, as much we like a high revving V8, its isnt practical anymore. But I agree with your other points…throw the double points in there as well!

          Out and out racing on track this year is as good as its ever been, but F1 keep trying to find ways to screw themselves over…its almost as if they’re doing it on purpose!! Its sad that there are plenty of proper racing fans who have been turned off by the off track issues…which goes to show how much of it actually influences fans.

      2. Bingo. At least in the US, there is a very large move to “unplug” from the cable/satellite companies that are overcharging, and forcing people into packages of 20 bad channels just to get the 1 they want. I kept my cable subscription for a few years, almost specifically to get my 19 races, until I stopped agreeing to shell out over 1000 a year. Now I watch my local HD stations, pay for my internet connection, 15 bucks a month for Hulu+ and Neflix streaming, and I download all the races that aren’t available over the air.

        1. Agreed with Casey as I did the same thing. Watching MotoGP as a reasonable comparison is vastly better streamed for literally 1/10th of the money.

          For me however, F1 has simply become not relevant after they replaced whooping V12’s and screaming V8’s with six bangers and electric motors. The “DNA of F1” was never about ecology or making better road cars. In its purest form, F1 DNA is about the fastest, most exotic racing cars on the planet. Enzo would scoff at today’s F1 show.

          1. a V8 fueled by hydrogen, automatic penalties (X driver will lose 100 hp for 10 second for causing a collision), lower prices on circuits, bring back Imola and Magny Cours, pre fabricated aero kits maded by the manufacturers and can also the racing teams can development… and 100 ideas can bring back f1 thrilled again… and still the managers they are shooting in their own foot

        2. Yes, CaseyGT and @internetguy – you’re spot on. I dumped my satellite TV provider last month & swapped to an ISP with no data cap.
          F1 is being used to market bad TV channels and dodgy banks… but the “F1 DNA” would probably favour Big Tobacco – I wouldn’t go back to the old days. No rose tinted spectacles here.
          In one word, F1 is about heroes. That’s it. I don’t care about the engine, it could be a MrFusion unit from Back to the Future.
          I like your description @internetguy – fast and exotic. Yes. But I think it still is exactly that.

      3. I used to watch every race when they were on BBC/ITV/BBC again. I then watched half the races when Sky and BBC first split them. Now I don’t watch any because I can’t be bothered with all the faff for something that quite frankly is no longer worth my time. If it all went back on the BBC for free, I wouldn’t start watching again.

        1. I’ll bet that when F1 returns to it’s roots with the real F1 DNA inside, people also won’t watch again, because they simply cannot: it’s tucked away behind an expensive pay-wall.

        2. @ajokay – You strike me as the strangest of paradox’s on this site, you take your time to comment on a site dedicated to F1 by declaring that you don’t watch the sport and that you won’t even if it was all free to air…. Go figure!

          1. Not really that strange. The same was done with cricket in the UK. You used to be able to watch test match cricket on free TV. Then SKY bought the rights and I for one stopped watching. I still follow the scores and tune in to the radio when a game is on and I’m free. However, even now I have SKY for this year, I have found other things to do during my space of not watching the test matches. So even with it available, I haven’t watched any test matches. Therefore if it went back to free TV I still would not watch it.

            It’s the same for F1. I’m struggling now, even with SKY to watch all the F1 races. As when I only had half the races I found my life balance start to change. You start to find other things to do with your life if you are not following F1 all season. With half the races you miss the flow of the season and can lose interest, so it was harder for me to readjust my family life back to a full F1 season. I still check in on this site most days and read the latest F1 news. For next year I’ll probably drop the sports off SKY. I only paid for one year as I got a really good discount for the first year. I can’t justify the cost even to watch the sport I love just to add half the races.

        3. And yet you’re on a site called F1 Fanatic and commenting on it? Methinks teh lady doth protest too much. :)

      4. @favomodo you’re right. In fact its like comparing apples to oranges.

      5. I agree with you, there is a massive rise in costs for fans of F1, both to attend in person, but also to watch at home. DRS, Turbo Engine, less durable tires etc don’t mean a thing if fans can’t afford to watch it.

        To paraphrase Jock Stein ‘Formula 1 without the fans is nothing’

  2. F1 is not “pinnacle of the sports” anymore with silly gimmicks

    1. Hubert Reinartz
      30th September 2014, 13:20

      Exactly. Give us back some good old racing and we will come.

    2. F1 is the pinnacle of advertising and its run by a Mad man.

  3. “What will be the next step in F1′s panic-stricken quest for ratings? Success ballast? Fanboost? A NASCAR-style Chase for the Cup?”

    NO! Please no!

  4. First we need to map F1 DNA sequences. Then develop some serum so we can altered it to create Super-F1. Modern defender of racing world. What if this meta-racing competition already live among us? Formula-E?

    1. Vroom-genics?

    2. That would be genetically modified F1! No GM! :D

      Seriously, why can’t people use the owrds that already exist for something instead of co-opting a scentific term? “Heritage” “Tradition” “Culture” all work just as well as DNA, and yet are not scientifically inaccurate. (I mean, what? Are we breeding cars now?)

  5. The main reason the viewing figures are declining is because FOM annexed a large proportion of viewers when they sold the TV rights to Sky. I can’t afford sky so I’m stuck with half the races live and the BBC highlights package for the rest. BBC do decent enough job on the highlights programmes but it’s not the same, I’ve usually found out the race result accidentally before I even get to watch the highlights. I also have two young children who just happen to eat dinner between 4pm and 6pm which tends to be when the highlights are shown. I know that isn’t the BBCs fault but it seems a strange time to show highlights when most people are preparing/eating dinner. The BBC also seem to be losing interest as they rarely advertise the highlights or the live broadcasts and to be honest I lose track of which races are on live and which are just highlights.

    I know this seems to have turned into a bit of a rant but I’ve just become disillusioned with the whole broadcasting setup of sport in general. I used to be able to watch at least some of my favourite sports but steadily they have all been gobbled up by Sky and there is barely any live sport left for me to watch.

    I’ve been a huge fan of F1 for over twenty years but FOM seems intent on alienating the core base of fans that helped make the sport as big as it is.

    This has been done to death anyway so, rant over, I’m going back to work!

  6. The declining viewing figures were guaranteed when FI stopped being shown on Free-to-Air (FTA) TV. If sponsors want more eyeballs viewing this logos, then they should insist that TV rights return to FTA channels. Yes, I know the Pay-per-View lot won’t like it, but in the word of Sebastian Vettel – “Tough”.
    As for customer cars; personally I am not against it, provided that that any points won go towards the driver ONLY (i.e. no Constructors points for Customer cars). I would rather that happen that there be 3 car teams.

    1. Or, at least, mandate that any country showing Pay TV coverage of F1 must also broadcast the race live. Pay TV coverage tends to be better (less ads, more extensive coverage etc.) so people who have it/can afford it may wish to still do so.

    2. 100%, I couldn’t agree more. When races are shown on sky, rather than the bbc the ratings must drop dramatically, I think most people like F1, but hate that a large chunk of races can’t be watched. You don’t see the Olympics or the World Cup on pay to view channels, why should F1 be?

    3. IJW said it all. Many people trying to give several reasons for F1 losing TV viewers and the reason is simply this one. Looking in Europe only, where F1 has its historical (and bigger I would say) fanbase, we see France is now on pay-tv, UK half of races in Pay-TV, Netherlands moved to Pay-TV, Portugal is on Pay-TV for several years now, Italy also is Pay-TV for several races at least (like in UK).
      And then, the prices for these paid channels are ridiculous. In some places they cost more than subscribing an entire cable-service, meaning having the F1 channel costs the same as having close to 100 other channels!
      There are lot of people who are fanatics but just think its too much and use other alternatives to follow the race.
      I also remember that the F1 race was seen by many people when on transmitted on free TV even by people that are not really addicted but enjoyed watching, like my dad. The move to paid TV sent away all those people that for sure is a respectable percentage.
      As an exercise, has anyone calculated if F1 ratings in Germany have declined (in Germany is still free on RTL)?

      Also on the tracks, I was on Belgium this year (my first live race) and ti was packed. I accept that before there was more people, but still a very good attendance there at Spa-Francorchamps. But with fewer races in the traditional markets, also means lets spectators, and the high price for tickets also makes people going less. I went to Spa and would go happily to 2 other races (British and German) but cannot afford all costs just for F1!
      I know that Bernie is not that interested in spectators at the race (that is a problem for the organizers) but Bernie and the powers to be use also those numbers to claim changes to the sport…

      A lot of people can cliam that technical rules and stuff moved away viewers, but I’m with IJW. The move to Pay-TV and thie ever increasing ticket prices is what really turned away the fans from watching the races live.

      1. @bakano The TV figures in Germany have plummeted (More so than any other region I believe) over the past 3 years & the TV model in Germany has not changed since the 90s.

        Every qualifying session & every race is shown Live on FreeTV via RTL.
        Alongside that is a PayTV option via what is now Sky Germany (Used to be D:SF+, Then Premiere World). They offer every session live, uninterrupted & interactive.

        I’ve said before that i’ve been told that internal polling/surveys by both RTL & Sky in Germany suggest that a big majority of there viewers dislike DRS & the High degredation tyres. And the steep decline in TV figures starting in 2011 in Germany seems to support that.

        1. @gt-racer, If I hadn’t been an F1 fan long enough to know that Bernie always reverses his opinion on what is “right” for F1, I too would probably have drifted away due to DRS (bad) and high-deg tyres (worse than bad), but even if we begin a new golden era of F1 I wont be subscribing to pay TV to watch it.

      2. @bakano actually F1 is in pay-tv in most countries of the world, in fact major sports is in pay-tv in most parts of the world. The pay tv thing is new to British audience but I think they will get used to it sooner than later. The biggest F1 market airing F1 free-to-air is probably Brazil, the rest of the world has to pay to watch F1. As far as I remember, I pay to watch F1 since 2000 or 2001.

    4. I hate Sky! Greedy bunch of people.

      1. @ultimateuzair You can’t really blame Sky (Or Bernie) for F1 moving over to Sky as they never actively went after the coverage back in 2011.

        The BBC went to them & offered them the current deal, By all accounts Bernie wasn’t aware of it until the 2 parties (Sky/BBC) had already done the agreement & went to him to have that deal OKd.
        With the BBC wanting out of there fulltime Live coverage of F1, With ITV having given it up post 2008 due to there own internal cuts & with no other real viable alternative on Free to air TV the current deal was probably the best we were going to get.

        And despite all the whining about it every F1 race is still on FreeTV be it Live or highlights.
        Its also interesting how nobody complained about some races only been available as highlights on the BBC With the only fully live alternative been Eurosport via subscription TV up until 1996. BBC only started showing every race live back then after ITV brought the rights from them in Mid-95. Heck they never even used to show every qualifying session until 1996 with again the only way to see qualifying live been eurosport.

        And besides the coverage Sky are providing is the best we have had since F1 Digital+ in 2002. Every session live, Every session featuring interactive coverage across a couple platforms, A dedicated F1 channel with lots of archive content & other programming.

        I love the Sky coverage & hope they retain in for many more years, Losing there coverage & going back to having no interactive extras for most of the sessions, Having no archive content, no additional programming & potentially commercials during qualifying/races would be a massive step backwards!

    5. I don’t have a problem with the Pay-TV thing generally. The Sky coverage is first class and the comments and analysis is mostly intelligent. But the one issue that really rankles is the bundling of F1 into a package of non-motorsports channels.

      Suppose you wanted to buy a ticket for Silverstone, only to be told that you can only get in to watch the race if you buy season tickets for five premiership football clubs, a grandstand seat for the Golf Open, and a centre court ticket for Wimbledon all together. You would rightly be flabbergasted. So why do they think it’s OK to pull the same stunt on your satellite viewing?

      F1 has it’s own channel, with it’s own fans. If you like other sports, you’d be free to choose extra channels, but let us choose to watch just F1, if that’s what we like.

      1. Sky Sports F1 is a Sports channel & as such Its part of there sports package & I’ve never really seen an issue with that.

        Yes its frustrating for those who don’t watch other sports but the same could be said for Football, Cricket, Wrestling or Tennis fans who have to have the sports package to watch just the 1 sport.

        Before Sky had F1 I was subscribing to the sports pack just for the Indycar & Wrestling, Didn’t care about anything else they showed on the sports channels yet I was happy to pay to get decent coverage of what I wanted even if there were other things bundled in which I didn’t wish to watch.

        I tend to agree with PeterG, F1 moving away from Sky & ending up with coverage below what Sky offer would be a big step backwards.
        F1 on Free tv is good for the masses but it was always annoying getting practice in SD on the red button (Or not getting it at all on itv), Not getting any of the additional video feeds for the practice sessions, Not getting them on tv most of the time & having them stuck as online only with a 20+ second delay to the tv feed, Not getting any extra programming & stuff.

        The additional content in particular is very important to me, I love all the onboard channels, i love the pit lane stuff with all the radio & I love having them on my TV with no buffering when switching feeds, No delay & stuff.
        I love loading the main onboard feed on my laptop & then leaving it alongside my tv coverage, But also been able to switch to other feeds via the red button service sky provide.
        Been forced to have extra as online only (like any of the free broadcasters would) would suck!

        1. “Yes its frustrating for those who don’t watch other sports but the same could be said for Football, Cricket, Wrestling or Tennis fans who have to have the sports package to watch just the 1 sport.”

          I’m more than happy for there to be a dedicated football bundle, a dedicated cricket bundle and so on: all I ask is that we get the choice to pick (and pay for) the sports we’re actually interested in, and can choose to reject those sports we don’t care about.

  7. Formula One should be the pinnacle of open-wheel motorsport, in terms of: speed, technology, drivers, teams and circuits. In my eyes that is the DNA of Formula One.

    Is Formula One the fastest? Sort of. IndyCar’s DW12 currently goes much faster in a straight line but is much slower on road and street courses. The introduction of aero kits for 2015 will only make the DW12 faster. There is no direct way to compare the two as neither has run on the same circuit. GP2 cars have qualified on a number of occasions quicker than the Caterham, which still easily qualifies for most events as it is within the 107% regulation. Carlos Sainz’ pole time at Monaco was three seconds slower than Jolyon Palmer’s pole time (which would have outqualified Marcus Ericsson) on the same weekend, so the Formula Renault 3.5 is clearly slower than a modern Formula One car. Formula One is arguably the fastest, but for how much longer? GP2 and IndyCar will only evolve too, perhaps at a more rapid rate.

    When it comes to technology, Formula One is beaten by the World Endurance Championship hands down. No other current open-wheel category uses hybrid power but we have this brand new series with very interesting technology: Formula E.

    Despite having various pay drivers, the quality of the Formula One grid still outweighs any other category without fail. No category can boast the likes of Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button. I cannot see that changing any time soon, despite a lot of young drivers looking to head to America.

    Likewise with the drivers, only the finest teams are in Formula One, despite losing plenty over the (recent) years. Despite playing a part in WEC and sportscars in general, Ferrari is still synonymous with Formula One, and that is a huge asset. Ferrari is part of the sport’s DNA, I’m sure few will argue. Provided that manufacturers like Ferrari, Mercedes (and now McLaren to a degree) are rubbing shoulders with the likes of Williams, Force India (who I now consider to be a true decent Formula One team) and Red Bull, F1 still has the best teams hands down.

    Now circuits is where I have an issue. Despite having Monaco and Monza, there is a serious lack of variety on the calendar. When it comes to variety on a calendar, IndyCar wins easily, as they run on road courses, street courses, short ovals, superspeedways and even the odd former Formula One circuit here and there, and there isn’t a single Tilkedrome in sight. The quality of the circuits is up for debate there, but even the likes of Monza look outdated now, and it isn’t as if the Sochi Autodrom looks like an amazing facility from the outset.

    Silly gimmicks are not so much in the DNA of Formula One, but they have been there right from the start (dropped scores, point for fastest lap, having the Indy 500 as part of the championship) and so on, and as much as the purist in me would love to have an open-wheel category with absolutely zero gimmicks at all, I can’t help but feel that the majority of the races would be incredibly dull. There has to be something to add a little bit of spice into a race, and although Formula One seems to be trying to revert things back to the so-called ‘Glorious 80s’ with trying to create sparks, introducing turbos and restricting team radio and so forth, I do believe that they are going about it the wrong way.

    Formula One is in a complete mess at the moment. Anything that the supposed ‘F1 Strategy Group’ proposes is getting a massive backlash from the majority of the die-hard fan at the moment. They need to stop with these knee-jerk reactions when anybody waves their arms around going ‘this isn’t very good’ because Formula One will not appeal to everybody. They need to seriously think things through, perhaps do the logical thing and get some people who actually know a thing or two about watching motorsport on board and get the viewing figures back to what they should be.

    Apologies for the really long comment.

    1. @craig-o Loved this post, some great points. I would say though, regarding the quality of the teams, that Audi and Toyota’s LMP1 teams would be perfectly capable of mixing it in F1 if they felt so inclined.

    2. Formula One is in a complete mess at the moment.

      I agreed with several things you said in your comment, but this one hits the nail on the head. The sport is trying so many knee-jerk reactions to try to “fix” the sport. DRS, double points, team radio bans, degrading tyres: None are necessary (at least in the way they have been implemented). And, for the most part, the sport already has all it needs to remain great.

      There are many things wrong with our sport, but there is also an incredible amount which is right about it. At it’s core, it is a bunch of people building fast cars and racing them. What is ruining it is the constant effort to turn it into a reality TV show.

      Please, keep our sport a sport.

    3. Very, very good post.

    4. @craig-o just to let you know I read your entire post. And I can’t say I disagree with anythign you said. It’s easy to criticise what’s being introduced and forget of the downsides of the past situations, but no racing series can stay still as it is. Every series evolves and it’s a matter of seeing where people are going and where Formula 1 is going, and try to make the two as close as possible but without knee-jerk reactions. If the current generation isn’t as interested in motorsports will we quit F1? F1 must remain F1, while adapting to the new viewers and fans; but some sugar on a sour medicine can’t be a long-term remedy.

      Who knows, perhaps all we need is to wait? A new Prost-Senna rivalry coudl be enough. As an Italian I think that Ferrari, or an Italian driver, winning again might be enough for a good part of the country to get interested again. Italians are much more keen to watch MotoGP: and while the racing there is great and the bikes still are risky to drive, the presence of a personality like Rossi is the reason why Italians watch: none of those I know support another rider (though I do). With the lack of Ferrari success recently more and more fans, especially newbies, now support Red Bull or Mercedes. But consider that the vast majority of Italian F1 fans grew with Ferrari and nothing else, and their absence now is offputting for most.
      Obviously this only works for Italy as the UK still have a driver leading the championship, Germany have gone from Schumacher to Vettel and France are soon going to be back. Spain should be similar to italy though they have some good talents coming up.
      Will Bernie put rules to force each driver to be from a different country? No, that would be wrong, and is an example of why F1 can’t pay too much attention to viewing figures alone.

    5. “When it comes to technology, Formula One is beaten by the World Endurance Championship hands down.”

      @craig-o, I’m not entirely sure that holds in its entirety. If you look at the hybrid systems that all three of the works teams in the LMP1 category run, only one of the three manufacturers – Porsche – currently runs a system that allows for energy recovery from the exhaust system. At the moment, Audi and Toyota currently rely purely on kinetic energy recovery systems, and both of those teams have confirmed that they are not introducing thermal energy recovery systems for 2015.

      In that sense, therefore, both Audi and Toyota are currently behind in terms of hybrid power developments compared to F1 – indeed, both of those teams are actually using systems that were originally developed for F1, with Audi using a flywheel system developed by Williams in 2008 and Toyota using a supercapacitor system that was originally supposed to be on the TF109.

    6. @craig-o, great post, I just think you should review your idea of a gimmick, dropped races were a way of addressing the unreliability of engines that were totally UNRESTRICTED in format, development and longevity, (anyone care to re-score this season so far with 2 (or 4) discards allowed) and the Indy 500 added that variety of tracks missing now, more than 1 team proved competitive in the Indy 500.

    7. +1 COTD…

      Well said — the only thing I would add (I’m always banging on about) is revenue sharing to keep a healthy grid top to bottom with more parity.

      How about this for a screwball idea — remove all restrictions on engine and introduce a uniform chassis? (Aero crackdown the likes of which we’ve never seen – remove DRS and reduce downforce at a stroke, it would also make the cars much harder to drive). Just a wild thought… :)

  8. i think is about time to change, and the idea of bringing 3 cars per team is perfect, that means the the teams that doesnt have so much money for the sport wont be on the way of anyone anymore. considering that, i also think is gonna be much more fighting in between the top teams.

    1. 100% agree. How can formula 1 be a good sport when the equipement athletes compete with have so big a diffrence that makes the result so unfair (backmarkers slower than GP2)? Smaller teams are basically are in a different league racing among themselves and why would I watch 6 car (caterham marussia sauber) race with mostly pay drivers while theres GP2. I rather have more competitors in the big league in the expense of small teams.

  9. Keith’s key question being why did current fans start watching to begin with is compelling, and I would add another question…what do key players deciding F1’s direction think are the reasons for declining viewership? Ie. what is it they are trying to correct to get the audience back, that has caused the decline to begin with?

    I’ve only got a few minutes right now so my short answer is….I started watching F1 because as far back as I can remember I simply gravitated toward loving cars, and race cars, and when Gilles got into F1, that brought television coverage of F1 to Canada for the first time, via the CBC (Canada’s BBC equivalent) and I’ve been hooked since. Prior to that my knowledge of F1 was through books at the library. So I guess F1 has been part of MY DNA since 78 and before, and to this day I can’t simply slough off a race if I’m not able to watch it live…I still have to record it and try not to hear who won before getting a chance to see it ‘live.’

    Must go for now, but this is a great topic.

    1. For me what drew me away from watching in the Schumi-Ferrari heyday was a combination of knowing up front who was going to win, and the FIA seeming to do everything to ensure that was the case forever.

      I came back regularly when Renault and Alonso started getting back in it and took over and have been watching almost all races since mid 2005 again. I admit Vettel nog knowing how to stop winning made it hard to feel excited for the second half/third of 2012 and 2013, but apart from that the biggest hurdle for me is how hard it it to watch.

      From next season on it won’t be on regular TV at all here, although I haven’t been watching czech TV coverage of the race for years anyhow, because these guys are just watching the same coverage from “home” as we get, or rather, we get better with streaming Sky (or BBC, when I can get it).

  10. 1 – the absolute best cars / teams possible for a given set of rules. No budget constraints. No development freezes. Constant development. (Dominated by the wealthy teams, just like all racing)
    2 – rules that dont alter mid season. They may alter year to year to intentially create diminishing returns for dominant teams. (Helps compitition and reduces dominance thru “non artificial means”
    3 – Racing that is “non artificial”. If the races are processional thats ok.. Rules could be added to make driver errors more frequent or to increase slipstreaming… DRS implementation has killed the value of overtaking, like getting rid of the scoccer goalie.
    4 – Human compitition between teammates, head to head is integral.

  11. F1 has a DNA, unfortunately over regulation has killed diversity and just like any gene pool lacking in diversity it’s becoming an idiot inbred mutant.

    Ask 100 people what they want from F1 and they’ll give you a hundred answers.

    Personally I want to see the best minds and the best drivers solve the problem of how you get round a defined circuit in the fastest possible time while behaving in a sporting fashion to one another.

    And what we have is kind of like that, except they all have to make cars that pretty much look the same, so the winner is the one that throws the most money at how best to position tiny bits of carbon fibre. The days of a genius like Gordon Murray showing inspirational outside of the box thinking are long gone and with it any hope of a team not backed by gigantic corporate marketing budgets standing a chance of breaking free from the back of the grid.

    Red Bull came along, threw money at the problem and were unbeatable by the teams who have ‘F1 in their DNA’ (Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Lotus (Enstone)). Now Mercedes has bought into it and is throwing even more money at the problem and are likely to be dominant until the next corporate backer wants it’s logo winning trophies (Honda?).

    1. @philipgb, your 1st. sentence alone is worthy of a COTD. Bravo.

  12. I don’t know what the arrangement is worldwide with regards to viewing rights, but in the UK Sky are the only company to get all the races and you have to buy an expensive sports package to watch it.
    If they gave all races back to the BBC, or if Sky offered a more reasonable, granular package to watch it (NowTV is far too expensive IMO) i suspect the UK viewing figures would go up astronomically.
    A more interactive viewing experience where you can choose the graphic overlays you see (Engine performance, lap times, sector times etc) would be a pretty cool gimmick for the iPad generation.

    I also think the restrictions on Aero and engine changes have gone too far, I get the idea of it being to reduce costs for the lower teams and force innovation, but it doesn’t really work and what we are left with is a car that is overall slower than the previous generation. I want to see lap time records getting smashed.
    Now they are putting more limits on the teams communication and trying to find ways to make the cars harder to drive… I don’t see how this is going to help. WE WANT TO SEE LESS RESTRICTIONS!

  13. Good idea to have a bit of a discussion about this Keith. Good idea to start from this

    ask current fans why they started watching F1 in the first place, instead of guessing what new fans might want from it

    So what brought me into F1 a decade ago? Well, I had been watching CART on Eurosport in ’92-’93 and saw Mansell get going and show the guys around. And the commentators talked about how he came from F1 as well as another of my favourites, Emmerson Fittipaldi (and off course Maria Andretti as well) were F1 world champions so I decided that if these guys were so good, it would be worth looking at F1 too.

    In CART at that time the cars were also quite different and the same was true for F1. And for me from the start it was very interesting to see differing approaches compete on track as well as big teams but also small plucky teams like Minardi and Simtek. Talk about different tyres, compounds, wet vs. dry setups and off course active ride on the top end, but also getting my head around a backmarker who did the same race without even power steering and ABS was a big draw.
    As were diverging strategies, sometimes seemingly crazy, that suddenly proved to be fastest. And stories of how drivers developed – seeing them get their first drive, change teams, have a first win, then challenge the big guys etc. Even if at the time we got maybe a tenth of coverage, it all added up.

    So what do I take from that as being the defining things for F1?

    First of all, I like it to be high tech (Indycar lost a lot of appeal for me with the single car) and have teams be able to try diverging solutions to the same problems. It should be high tech, not going the way of rose tinted glasses nostalgia for big inefficient engines, drivers hwo had bloody hands from a fallen off gear shift knob and not having power steering.
    Further, coverage of drivers and their stories, what they get to expierence during a weekend and over the year can be a great angle to view/experience the sport from.
    And it should be a team sport, where the engineers are visibly bringing something into the mix too. Its not for nothing that we see Newey and Brawn, and Head and Chapman and … as much as heroes of the sport as a Prost, Senna, Schumacher, Alonso, Fangio, Clark. They do an amazing job as well, and I like seeing as much of it as I can.

    As for amount of cars per team. I think that for the health of the sport its not good to have a team have more than 2 car (see how 2-3 big teams are overly dominant in Nascar and Indycars as well as to an extent in Endurance racing). On the other hand, I would be open to have a look at allowing single car teams, although I really am not sure that is viable (allow them to buy a large part of a the car for a year or 2 max?)

    That last point brings me to customer cars and variants of the idea, and I don’t like it, because it would only lead to the “haves” being able to invest even more insane money into developing aerodynamics. I do think it migh be worth looking at more parts like the side crash impact structure that is now standardized. Maybe other parts that are key to building a chassis could be given the same approach? Think about rear crash structure, or maybe even the safetycell – if there was a “standard” available and crashtested to go from, it might make entry of new teams easier, and if that happens, we can more easily afford to lose hopeless teams.
    But before anything like this is done, the FIA should take back a methodical approach. Study, compare solutions, do simulations with it etc (like they are doing with head protection) and NOT let a salesman and the big and rich teams decide their own rules.

  14. Anything artificial is against the DNA of F1. I don’t like the tyres being deliberately made to be less durable so to promote good racing and DRS shouldn’t be allowed. The freeze on power units isn’t F1 either though I do believe F1 is going the right way with recovery engines even if they don’t sound as good.

    F1 needs to be relevant but it doesn’t need gimmicks. It needs to be a sport again and not a vehicle for advertising. I don’t see this desperation to please sponsors by having drivers talk like robots etc. F1 should focus on the fans because if they’re happy and watching the product, the sponsors will hop on board anyway. F1 needs to be a sport again and the participants should be able to express themselves like in other sports. Why can’t a winning driver do donuts? Why can’t he celebrate with his mechanics instead of being dragged off to a boring predetermined podium procedure containing sponsor shaped trophies?

    So many iconic F1 moments are against the rules, Mansell giving Senna a lift back to the pits is a good example. In 2002 when the Ferrari drivers swapped positions in Austria, they were punished more for violating the podium procedure than for ruining the race.

    The discipline system has been a joke for all the time I’ve followed F1 and before. Although the changes made this year are a big positive.

    Success ballast is the end of F1. Punished for success is against the DNA of life.

  15. Okay i will start from how i started to watch F1
    In India i don’t know any thing apart from cricket in the 90’s such is the game supremacy over the sport but back in that days i saw a racing on a pretty good Sunday evening to see some person in a red car overtaking another car and suddenly some black car overtook both of them . That moment i saw a WOW is this racing , and then i started to watch F1 to see overtakes and mainly the music of the roaring engines
    Back to 2014 I got accustomed to the less noisy engines but my big draw back is the way of F1 is going that’s not due to the racing but the politics and Bernie and his friends trying to kill F1 with every single major aspect
    My first gripe is DRS and Pirelli tires, Yes i know flat out racing is hard to achieve in a condition where Engines , Gearboxes and other PU components are needed to be salvaged but the overtaking which is the core integral part of F1 DNA and Skill set of Driver is regulated with the touch of button , Pirelli tires along with DRS made racing even worse with so called High way passes.
    Had the Team mate battles of Merc and other spicy racing isn’t out there then 2014 will surely have much more criticism than any other season ever had
    So to Protect the DNA
    1. Take out DRS
    2. 2014 Tires are ok but they can be a bit like Bridgestones more
    3. Take out the Gimmicks like Standing Restarts , 2X points
    4. Bring the circuits where the Old classic races are happened unlike the Countries where Less People will spent time and money to watch with soul less tracks than Old tracks like Istanbul , France , Argentina etc
    5. Relax Regulations so that Drivers will still have hard time but Engineers will have creativity to develop both in Aero dynamic/Chassis and Engine
    6. Try to make competition as natural as possible than trying to find artificial ways to make racing exciting even if take a bit more longer

  16. I started watching because of head to head competition. Mansell vs Senna, Prost vs Senna, Schumacher vs Senna vs Hill. The two protagonists are requirement – i nearly stopped with Schumacher domination period.
    When there are many people winning races it is much harder to get drawn into the sport.
    Second was ease of access – races were shown live on free to air TV. I wouldn’t have started if i should have payed for it – as a kid i had no money too.
    Third was speed – cars were fast, looked fast and sounded fast. The sound of a car even on TV was monstrous.
    Fourth was glamor. Racers looked like heroes, surrounded by pretty girls, champagne and money.

    I didn’t really care about technology back then. There were always teams that were on the verge of falling out and those that demolished others.
    Whether the cars were customer bought or self designed made no difference.
    Rules, however important, were and should remain just a background for the racing.

    Looking at the four points i can say that i could have just as well started following MotoGP. But it was not broadcasted so that made the choice.

  17. Its simple.
    Just give us breathtaking 2004 speeds, Breathtaking 80’s – 90’s chassis (wider and shorter cars) *with better safety of course*, breathtaking Huge wheels, Breathtaking ENGINE power and sounding….
    Then you’ll not have to have alternative tires and DRS. Its cool to watch breathtaking cars racing on the limit! With refueling again… with Tire war… With 20 million cars racing hard, not +250 million cars forced to have close racing.
    Get BMW, Peugeot and Ford into the series with (lets say) Sauber, Force India and Williams.. (Toyota already said that is impossible to race WEC + F1)
    Its easy to get something really cool!
    Fans are missing the “Breathtaking” aspect! Its not about anything else… we need to have that “Oh my heart just skips a beat” when watching F1

  18. I started watching Formula 1 when Mark Webber was in his prime. I watched his win in Brazil 2009, and I’ve never missed a race since.
    What F1 needs is to exterminate some of the FIA’s harsh guidelines for a new circuit to the calendar. All this modern rubbish being thrown onto the calendar is taking away from what the DNA of Formula 1 really is.
    I think we can all agree we’d rather see F1 cars climbing Eau Rouge over a modern tarmac-abusing piece of junk where the facilities are more recognised than the track itself.

  19. For me, personally, the DNA of F1 as I know and love it, is long gone:

    Private teams (with the exception of Ferrari) with engines from a lot of different car manufacturers, unlimited testing, engines over their limit, no-gimmick overtaking, no forced pitstops, classic heritage tracks and a qualifying that delivers more than 2 minutes of actual action.

    Then again, as I won’t getting any of these things back, 3-car teams, standing restarts and maybe even double-points (if someday they decide to double the distance for these races) are things i actually welcome. If F1 doesn’t go back to what it was, they might as well try these.

  20. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
    30th September 2014, 14:31

    Rather than asking how to stem the reduction in audience figures, we need to ask why they are falling. I think this season might go down as one of the all-time classics (possibly marred by the travesty of a double-points upset at the end), so it’s not likely to be the racing which is the problem: find the root causes and address those, don’t just change stuff because of your gut feeling. The radio rule is a case in point: a badly thought out change, introduced without sufficient consultation, in response to no great clamour from the public.

    I guess the real reason that audiences are falling – at least in the UK – is, as @favomodo says, half the races are no longer free to air. It’s very hard to fully appreciate a race when there are big gaps in the reply, it doesn’t give you enough time to understand how the drivers are doing in terms of lap times, tyre wear, etc.

  21. pay TV is the main reason for the declining masses, if they cant see that then they are fools…
    the racing this year has been some of the best in years, so that is not the problem,
    beside all the moaning about DRS for me that has gotten rid of the boring races where so many cars are stuck behind one another, it still happens but not as bad as when we didn’t have DRS,
    but in the end the price of having to fork out money to watch F1 on SKY which is the only downfall…
    i live in NZ and you have to be keen to watch it here as most races start at 11-55pm Sunday night,
    the good thing here is we have full coverage of every event including 3 practices qualifying and the race without adds, otherwise i would spend the $60 a mth to watch either…

    1. I can’t agree more with the “pay TV” thing.
      It’s ridiculous! I Live in Greece and here we have 2 channels that coverage F1,a non-payware and a payware.I watch the non-payware and it has 17 out of 19 races Live due to time deference and small highlights from the qualyfing.The payware coverages all the races and all sesions of the weekend but I can’t afford to have it.And dating back to early,mid 00′ the “Free” channel had all the races Live and qualys too!If that’s going to change I thin F1 will get alot of fans back.

  22. here is something you missed on Keith which is likely to happen within the next couple of races,
    this will cause an uproar amongst the fans when their drive/team has to take a penalty,
    these penalties which are going to start appearing for replacement parts to motors or a completely new motor, will certainly stir up a hornets nest.
    Replacement of the complete power unit means the driver concerned must start the race from the pit lane.
    The first time a sixth example of any element is uses it incurs a 10-place grid penalty.

  23. I first started paying attention to F1 in the late 50’s. At that time coverage meant that you read the articles in Sports Car Graphic and Road & Track 3 months after the events. As a 9 or 10 year old child I was fascinated by the prospect of the best drivers in the world coming together to race a companies finest design within the current regulations. While the sport may still have the best drivers I feel that the situation will change as more and more money is required for the driver to bring to the team. We don’t need a race of the best advertising salesmen! We need for the sport to continue to draw the best drivers in the world without the need to bring millions of dollars to “buy” the seat. Does that mean that we need cost capping? No! We may want to look at some technology capping to keep the costs down though. Engineers on the pit wall, sure, one per driver. Telemetry, no maybe not. The driver has a radio he can tell the engineer when the tires are going off or the brakes have gotten hot. Wind tunnel, why? Drive the car on straight line tests. Do all of the testing that you want but you have to balance it with the 5 power unit rule. Traveling mechanics, 2 per car. That works out to 4 mechanics and 2 engineers that can work on either car. No the pastry chef can not help out. The 2 second tire change won’t be happening and the team will have to decide just how badly they really need tires with only 4 mechanics allowed in the pit lane per team.
    I could go on but we know that none of this is going to happen.

  24. The DNA of F1 is whatever you want it to be. It’s a wonderfully vague catch-all description of something that probably never was but covers everything that “most people” (meaning you) think is essential to F1. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that we all mean something slightly different by the term and our definitions are inevitable coloured by the period in which we became interested in the sport/business/show. Keith hits that nail on the head when he suddenly (and apparently irrelevantly) asks how we fell in love with F1. Which, no doubt, would explain why I think the golden age of F1 was in the 60s.

    There are aspects that could be agreed on by almost all fans, however. To go into all that would require a book but the essential thing that has to change if we want anything resembling F1 to survive is for us all to stop thinking of it as a business. It was conceived as a sport and was never intended to make money. It’s business that cares about viewing figures, it’s business that insists on rule changes that ruin the sport, it’s business that creates the politics.

    F1 is a sport intended to find the best driver and the best chassis/engine maker. If it has such a thing as DNA, that is it. The moment we begin to worry about whether it is watchable is the moment F1 starts to die. Let the racers race and let the TV and advertisers buy it or leave it.

    Simple, isn’t it? ;)

    1. COTD by a long shot, for me.

    2. Absolutely agree.

      Furthermore, the trend of concerning it a business goes as far as teams trying to be profitable. They never were, and never should be. An F1-team is a sports team, trying to change the sport in a way to make teams profitable businesses will not work. A team-owner shall pump his money into it for the passion, and not expecting anything back.
      Reverting that trend will of course lead to a huge crisis (as many teams are run as businesses right now, and are operating at a business-scale), but imho it´s inevitable it will happen, the sooner it starts, the faster it´s over.

      Also, I believe that a decline in TV-numbers was inevitable as well. Sure, the marketing strategy (going for Pay-TV, neglecting new media) is horribly wrong, but even if that was done right, the number of F1-fans would still be in decline for several reasons:
      – To get fascinated by F1, most kids need to be fascinated with cars first. Now cars aren´t a new thing at all anymore, owning a car is absolutely normal and an everyday thing for large parts of the society. Also by the rise of ecological topics beginning even before primary schools, the image of cars is not the same it has been. A car is no longer a symbol of freedom, especially not for younger generations. And it´s not the most fascinating, powerful technology anymore.
      – With all those media around, new and old, there is just so much more that is competing for peoples attention, so many other options, F1 (or motor-racing in general) just doesn´t stand out so much anymore. Even if someone is into speed and sport, he may as well go to air-racing, or mountainbike-downhill, or skeleton, or Nascar (which wasn´t available anywhere in europe till mid/late-90ies), motocross, whatever.

    3. I love the sentiment @clive-allen but I just don’t think it’s realistic. Nor do I think it’s impossible to have a Formula One with integrity which is also a commercial success.

      1. Fix one, @keithcollantine, and the other follows naturally. F1 was televised before Ecclestone and manufacturers were present from the start. My solution is only unrealistic because too many people in power believe it to be so. Change their minds and it becomes real.

  25. Very simple, distribute wealth equally, free up engine architecture, improve tires. Le Mans Prototypes seem way way more like a pinacle of motosport.

    If say RBR wants to bring on a 500kW electric motor to make up for lame petrol unit, let them, have ferrari stick up a bigger fuel flow if thy want, just keep a few limits…

    Minimum weight, max fuel capacity, safety. Thats it.

    When we see the likes of Adrian Newey getting bored of F1 design, Ross Brawn choosing fishing and Schumacher prefering retirement… we know we have an issue, Imagine Alonso joining Webber, and we have full circle.

    I am not sure Senna would enjoy racing with artificially wearing tires.

    Do you see other sports put on limiting gear on? How many people would come see Usain Bolt run in flip flops.

  26. Jack (@jackisthestig)
    30th September 2014, 15:54

    For me the most important thing is that the sight of an F1 car in action has to be wildly spectacular. The cars should be designed and built by their respective teams and be powertrain (rather than aero) dominated, driven by one of the twenty-odd best drivers in the world around a good balance of classic, historic circuits and challenging new venues. As important is that people should at least be able to easily watch highlights of qualifying and races on TV and online without paying for the privilege.

    I fell in love with the sport in 2002, arguably the most boring season ever, but the sheer speed of the cars hurtling around a thin strip of tarmac surrounded by treacherous grass and gravel traps was wonderfully spectacular. Since then I must have contributed at least a couple of thousand pounds to the F1 coffers through tickets, merchandise, video games, season review DVDs etc… I would never have happened across F1 had it just been hidden away on a pay-TV channel or a subscription only online video service. I’m sure the same can be said for many fans on this site.

  27. They need to switch again with v10 or v12 and ban drs, double points. And bridgestone slick tyres along with classic tracks like brands hatch, Imola, etc. And made the car look better, I love looking at 90′ cars design. I think there’s still a lot room to improve, well atleast the race is not boring.

  28. I actually disagree with most of the previous comments – but please hear me out.
    Not sure if the right question is ‘why we started watching’! There will probably be many different reasons, largely linked to when each of us started watching, and impacted by ‘rose coloured glasses’. But I am sure that many (including true fans) started watching because F1 was dangerous; people actually died! I hope that people agree that we do not want that back.

    For me the right question is simple, but the answer still complex.
    For me F1 is the ‘pinnacle of motorsports’. Thus the right question for every decision/measure is: Does it reenforce the sport as the pinnacle of motorsports.

    But the answer/test will be more difficult.
    Double points does nothing to make it more ‘pinnacle’. And not being allowed to test will probably make it less ‘pinnacle’.
    However, I am sure that introducing super potent hybrid engines will be seen by many as part of the modern pinnacle of motorsports, and other fans will see it as the start of the destruction of their F1.
    Thus even the pinnacle of motorsports question will be tough nut to crack, but it might help to narrow it down.

    1. @coldfly: “However, I am sure that introducing super potent hybrid engines will be seen by many as part of the modern pinnacle of motorsports, and other fans will see it as the start of the destruction of their F1.”

      Problem is, the actual hybrid-part, the potential super-modern-pinnacle-of-engineering thing, the ERS, is heavily restricted. Discarding both limits, the one regarding the hp-output and the other one regarding time of usage per lap, and instead further restrict the boring-oldtimer-PU, would be good to stress the pinnacle-of-engineering-image.

      1. @crammond, fully agree.
        FIA should be less restrictive; that is the only way to encourage innovation and remaining at the pinnacle.
        But they are too busy checking radio messages :-P

  29. I think the whole “ask the fans” thing is a bit of a waste of time, everyone has their own view of what F1 should be, for instance I don’t mind the new sound, but I hate DRS and night races in general, for any other fan it can be the opposite.

    And who is a “fan” anyway?
    People in the grandstands? some of them go because they’re dragged by their husband/dad/brother but know nothing about the sport.
    Us here in this forum? This are waaay too “hardcore” fans, if the FIA did what fans in the forums want F1 would never progress, we would still have V10 engines with 15 races per season… all in Europe.

    Listening to the fans is great on paper but the reality is that fan’s opinion should be used only as a guidance, the decisions and overall vision should be coming from one person, yes one person, not a comitee like the Strategy group because that’s the same problem. Currently Bernie seems to have a lot of that power, unfortunately he seems to have lost touch with reality, let’s hope his succesor really understands what F1 needs in the long term and not just worry about making a bigger profit year after year.

  30. Love for cars is the reason I started watching F1. Started following F1 in 2012. Vettel and Alonso were fighting for the championship to the final race of the season. The cars were fast, sounded mighty and the drivers received hero’s treatment. Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and now Honda, some of the best car manufacturers in the world, are in the sport. Slowly I got to know the technology behind the cars and it impressed me even more. 2014 is so far the best season I’ve watched, the racing is good. The only thing I don’t like is the engine sound (I could hear the safety car in Singapore). For me, the DNA of F1 should be fast cars, best drivers, best teams and best circuits…

  31. kowalskybolivia
    30th September 2014, 16:45

    Everybody knows what should be done. But the powers to be are unwilling or unable to do it. Or may be a little bit of both.

  32. The DNA of Formula 1 is ever evolving rather than existing in a fixed state of what once was. Moving ever forward with the best cars that technology will allow, the best designed tracks across the globe and the best drivers in the world for the best racing possible. That is the DNA of the formula in a perfect world, but we don’t exist in a perfect world and neither does the sport of Formula 1. This is what Formula 1 strives for, but cannot always achieve.

    The DNA of Formula 1 allows for the best to happen even though in practice the pinnacle is impossible to reach and sustain indefinitely. Mere humans create the rules for better or worse and to hopefully be improved upon over time. Technologies come and go, some produce better racing than others. It is a struggle to always choose the best way forward and not a perfect science. Especially when there are so many multiple technologies that go into the cars and the complete sport over all.

    Unexpected tragedies such as the deaths of the sport’s brightest stars and best talents like Clark and Senna, for example, leave a gaping whole which can never truly be replaced. Safety added after the fact is proper, but not a replacement of what was lost.

    Corruption of those who run the sport for their own self interests rather than the best interest of the sport itself does not promise for the best exhibition of racing. Formula 1 is and should be global. But taking it to far flung places only because the promoters are cash cows with more money than tradition of more deserving venues with a proven track record of good racing and support does not always serve the health of the sport.

    Customer cars, teams running three cars and many other practices that do not presently exist in F1 today certainly have been a part of F1 previously. I think the concept of the DNA of Formula 1 calls for what will lead to the best racing in the future while studying the past for what has worked well and what has not. The purity of the DNA of Formula 1 is conceptual rather completely historical or practical.

    Formula 1 needs a consensus of what will produce the best racing possible in the future while paying attention to what that means form the standpoint of existing and developing technologies, business model, venues, fans, broadcasting, teams, drivers, promoters, designers, regulations, advertising and many others factors. Best wishes for Formula 1!

  33. Simply said, F1 declining viewers factor is FTA channel cannot afford it anymore to air F1. Here in Indonesia we used to have qualifying and race coverage back in 2005 until 2008. No channel could afford the price of it, so we dont have it anymore here.

    I just curious about DRS, why dont they make it shorter if they say it’s too imbalance between the one who using it and not?

  34. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

    I think personally it is one of the best seasons in recent years, lots of on track action and overtaking, particularly in midfield, the alarm bells ringing and constant talking down of F1 does F1 no favours at all

    I went to Silverstone and it was absolutely heaving, complete sell out, so falling attendances at some circuits are either because the race is marketed badly or it is in a country with no F1 tradition.

    In terms of tv audience decline again going from FTA to cable is sorting out the wheat from the chaff so to speak, yes 4m might have tuned in when BBC had sole rights but how many were true fans? i would hazard a guess that a lot were kids tuning in to the start to see if there be a crash, or grannies turning the tv on waiting for Eastenders omnibus to start, even though 900k watch a typical race on Sky they are all hardcore fans as opposed to casual fans.

    F1 is absolutely fine, the more it is talked down and rubbished the more likelyhood there is of stupid gimmicks being bought in

  35. There is no DNA in F1. F1 is whatever Bernie says it is. So every month the rules change even if everyone on the planet hates it. Bernie couldn’t care less if nobody watched, so long as the few that do keep stumping up for increased costs every year. As the masses lose interest expect the die-hard ‘fans’ to keep paying and complaining. They wear it like a badge of honour, the more expensive it is the greater the fan. Bernie will laugh all the way to his grave and I don’t blame him.

  36. F1 is dying and MotoGP is growing. The reason is simple, in MotoGP you never know if/who might fall off at every corner of every lap for 45mins. With F1 you petty much know most cars will finish after the first lap. Like it or not, there is no danger in F1 any more and that is the main issue. Much like Football, players have become people to mock for their failures rather than celebrate for their skill, f1 drivers are going the same way. I’m more than confident if you had a poll 20 years ago asking who thought they could drive an f1 car you might have got 20% saying yes, now i think it would be more like 80%.

    1. “MotoGP is growing”

      TV figures & circuit attendance for MotoGP have been declining the past few years.

  37. Oddly enough, it was Lewis Hamilton’s first appearance on Top Gear that got me started on F1. Shortly after that episode I started watching the grands prix that I missed in 2008 and quickly caught up, and was hooked.

    I was thinking of what to say, but to keep it simple: 2008 was one of my favourite seasons and was missing DRS, KERS, fall-apart Pirellis, funny-looking cars and double points. It was a great season without any of this.

    Then I watched previous seasons, like 1997 (as a Canadian I wanted to see Villeneuve’s championship season), 2005 (although I haven’t finished, I wanted to see Alonso’s first championship) and 2007. I don’t know about you guys, but those seasons were also great to watch without any of the gimmicks.

  38. While the racing is imho great, and tbh i couldn’t care less how a car sounds, one thing FOM need to do is embrace digital media

    The best way to attract new fans is through the likes of You Tube but if anyone uploads a video of F1 racing Bernie’s lawyers have it taken down which is utterly barmy, old F1 races would go down a storm on you tube and attract new fans but the Berniesaurus is still living in the past

    1. As I’ve said before its not just a simple case of Bernie/FOM, Its also down to contracts.

      With regards to videos been taken off YouTube & other sites, Thats not all down to FOM as the individual broadcasters (Sky, BBC, NBC, RTL etc..) also regularly get F1 footage taken down as do other companies who will go through the internet looking for copyright infringement & requesting takedowns.

      Going back to the contracts, Many of the contracts broadcasters have with FOM give them exclusive F1 distribution rights for there region. In the UK for example the Sky/BBC deal give online distribution rights exclusively to those 2 broadcasters, Even if FOM were to launch an online streaming service due to those contracts that service would almost certainly be Geo-Blocked in the UK.

      If you look at other examples, The WRC recently launched an online platform (WRC+) which is blocked in the UK due to the contract with BT Sport, Its the same with the DTM & several other categories.

      Its frustrating for fans but when you have a broadcaster paying for these rights, Its obvious that they won’t want another distribution method cutting into there viewing figures.

  39. Nothing will change in F1 while the dead hand of
    CVC/BCE/FOM run the sport. They see F1 only as a cash cow. As a system to fill their already bursting coffers with yet more cash. Their absolute cynicism sees F1
    only in those terms. Sport doesn’t come into their
    reckoning. Fairness is of no interest either.

    I’m sorry to give this utterly bleak assessment, but the
    evil fact is, that until F1 is ripped from these malign
    unpleasant individuals grasp and runs F1 for itself and it’s huge fanbase, then the heartbreaking dive to destruction will continue to it’s inevitable demise.

    F1 was once chaotic but honest. Now it is a slick selling tool for people who do not give a damn about this magnificent sport.

    1. We owe Bernie a debt of gratitude, he has turned a group of gentlemen racing around airfields into the global phenomenon it is today, for that Bernie deserves respect, it is his vision and business skills that are the reason we got F1 on tv in the first place, but at the same time he is holding the sport back, he needs to go and to be replaced by a younger forward thinking person, someone like Zak Brown, as opposed to the bean counter that will inevitably replace him

  40. Interestingly Renault entering a 3rd car (With Francois Henault) for some of the final races of 1985 was done purely to test the new live On-car camera which was been developed by Thomson.

    Renault got involved because of the French connection with Thomson & they entered a 3rd car because of the size/weight of the early In-car camera systems. For the final 2 rounds they ran the camera on Patrick Tambays car & then for 1986/87 the cameras were run mostly on the 2nd Lotus due to them running Elf oils/fuel (Again because of the French connection).

    The Thomson camera used Pre-89 was for the most part a standard video camera adapted to be mounted onto a car’s roll-hoop & run through the transmission systems mounted elsewhere within the car.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how many things come to pass more or less out of coincidence or strange things adding up to get somewhere!

      Thanks for this bit of it @gt-racer!

  41. Felt sorry for the poor people trying to sell ear defenders at Monaco this year. Very unhappy with the sound track, the safety car sounds more exciting than the entire grid! Bah!

  42. In the end it’s all down to good racing. You can add gimmicks and the loudest of the engines, if competition is poor and there are not charismatic drivers in the pack the show will always be/look poor for TV and for F1 Fanatics.

    If you go to a fancy restaurant with state of the art architecture and all that but serving bad food, people will walk away because the essence of a restaurant still is good food. In case of F1, it’s essence is good racing so the question should be: “how could we fix racing?”

    If F1 is desperate to have more wheel-to-wheel combat it will be tempted to transform F1 onto a spec series but this would hit another nerve: the engineering competition and bright minds would walk away, so the balance is pretty challenging.

    If F1 wants to stick with it’s DNA it most reserve some room for innovation and get rid of gimmicks (extreme tyres(too fragile or too hard), double points, DRS). Respecting it’s history could help as well, I’m not saying heritage alone should guarantee a permanent slot in the calendar for some countries but a different treatment to historic circuits could be a good principle.

  43. Bernie was always adamant than F1 had to be free-to-air, and for excellent reasons.

  44. It all comes down to the fact that we are being deprived of the enjoyment of watching drivers push the cars to the brink of falling apart. The words “harder, faster and yes, yes, yes!” are all words associated with exertion and excitement and they are words that we all enjoy hearing. In other words, F1 is failing to provide us with the “O” factor… :)

  45. It’s very strange.

  46. F1 will die from lack of promoting it’s sport.Indy car and Nascar are far less interestesting but,know how to promote and make available their sport to fans who appreciate it.Bernie wants to make you pay whenever you see their sport.It is unbelievably stupid.It is time for F1 to take lessons from a redneck racing series…..really.Pinnacle of motorsports run by greed….what a shame….what a joke.Bernie has hijacked our passion for top shelf racing.

  47. I don’t believe it’s the cars or the racing. You only have to watch some of the old races to see everything is far better now – closer racing, better coverage, more insight into teams and drivers and what’s going on. Even the noise is better IMO now FOM have improved the audio.

    I think some of it is pay-tv, and some of it is that things don’t stand still – there are many different ways to amuse ourselves these days and F1 hasn’t kept up.

    Plus some brazen fakery like double points, and dodgy governance haven’t helped I daresay but those have always been there.

  48. Michael Brown (@)
    1st October 2014, 1:51

    We do need to define what Formula One should be, but what is the correct definition? The fans all give differing opinions. I’d like to share what I believe F1 is not.

    – A sport that pushes its fans away with high tv and ticket prices
    – A sport where homologation and mid season rule changes are the norm in order to keep competition close
    – A sport that doesn’t do anything to help ensure the survival of smaller teams
    – A sport that attempts to increase its show value by introducing gimmicks and pointless rules, rather than addressing the actual problems
    – When the drivers are forced to go slow to conserve tires, fuel, etc. Tire and fuel conservation have always been a part of the game, but they cannot become the game
    – CVC

  49. I wonder if the DNA discussion if a bit misguided. Everyone has a list of the essential elements—which are invariably aspects of the sport as they first met it. And that’s the thing. F1 is evolution. It’s organic. So it has a different essence depending on the era of your first passion. It’s not like, say, association football which, after, a period of development has been consistent in rules for generations. F1s rule is change.

    As Keith notes, f1 has had customer cars and three-car teams. it’s had turbos, non turbos, sometimes on the same grid. It’s had active everything and active nothing. Was it always the fastest? Nope. Sports cars and Indy cars have been faster at times. And was it at some point about the driver-not-the-car? Never. Has it always had plucky and competitive privateers? No. Drivers used to just go flat out with no regard to fuel or tires? That doesn’t even make sense. When people say, f1 used to be X and we have to get back to that, typically they are just wrong on the facts. And even if right, so what? F1. Has been a lot of things.

    So all these efforts to go back to the “roots” are doomed. They end up in contradictions, as sentimental ideas often do. Looking back gains little.

    So looking forward, and free of the vapors of nostalgia, what do we want to see? As a general principle it has to stand out for quality, it has to be elite. It has to be for the best drivers, designers, mechanics, coders. It has to be Modern. Elite technology and car firms must have no choice but to seek involvement, commercially speaking. Going back to some sepia toned era of guys in scarves and goggles tank-slapping around corners is dangerous. People have lots of choices for “real racing” from sprint cars to DTM. That’s not going to sell F1 to sponsors or fans at a high price. It will devalue it.

    I actually think f1 is finally again on that path, technically. It’s fast, modern, complex, it’s really hard to make a fast car and win. great drivers matter. The critical issues are business questions. I.e., can we support the small fry without angering the big fish? Should we race in Kazakhstan or Germany? How to sell it to TV? How to limit development costs but still encourage state of the art cars? But these are not DNA questions.

  50. Marc Saunderts
    1st October 2014, 13:47

    DNA is preserved as long as regulations are maintained. It is well known that living organisms evolve when their living conditions are changed. The regulations changes that aimed to bring more competitiveness have reached the opposite and as a side effect have denaturalized the F1. This race category has in his DNA the constant technical evolution, but regulations are throwing overboard every year hundreds of millions by changing the rules and forbidding useful devices. No F1 fan wish to come back to Fangio´s cars, which by the way had a huge amount of technical effort in it. We need stable and simple regulations and the opportunity to participate with low cost teams who could for instance buy and use the previous year car of top teams.

  51. A great year of racing should be drawing more fans but it’s declining. A major discouragement from expensive pay tv and high ticket prices are driving fans away. Other factors will be the sound, DRS, fuel saving and other technical issues which some may not like. Well, they’ve been seeking fans opinion which is good though and a major shake up is needed. By now, they should know what fans want.

  52. Too many negative events have occured in Formula 1 in the past years. The audience is constantly being fed with negativity for years.

    There is the (relatively) small group of fanatics who find the current F1 amazing, because they see it is a major achievement to have these cars spinning around the track fast as they do, despite all the regulations which normally makes that very difficult.

    But then there’s the general public who just want to see F1 as a circus of the fastest, most brutal open wheel competition in the world surrounded by a magical atmosphere. And it’s the general public who is the most important for the existence of F1. But also, they are the most catchy for bad news. And as a result, the bad news goes viral. And it gets worse and worse.

    With bad news I mean
    – cars getting heavier
    – cars getting slower
    – cars make less noise
    – cars getting very ugly (compare a 2007 Ferrari F1 with a 2014 one, come on)
    – tyres getting smaller
    – tyres having no grip

    But in 2014 it got even worse, because people within the F1 circus are being negative and really bad decisions have been made in the eyes of the general public
    – saving fuel
    – double points
    – destroying a legendary corner at Monza, the one corner people wanted to see the drivers handle their 2014 torque.
    – old F1 drivers saying F1 isn’t F1 anymore
    – current F1 drivers saying F1 isn’t F1 anymore
    – everybody saying F1 cars are not so hard to handle
    – a 17 year old joining the circus (I’m Dutch, I can’t wait :-)
    – F1 employees saying that “by the end of the season, cars will have the same laptimes as 2013” – which they absolutely don’t.
    – GP2 just as fast as the back of the field
    – and so on.

    This bad news is what the general public talks about on birthday parties nowadays. F1 has lost her allure. It is not a good thing. And I have to admit, seeing a 2001 Minardi with Alonso qualifying is so much more impressive than seeing the current cars driving.

    Now then, the good news is that it actually IS a good season. But it is time for F1 to get their Marketing straight and make it a bit faster again. For example
    – bring back wider tyres with more grip. Cars get quicker, cars get more beautiful
    – Focus on how amazingly fast these 2014 cars are on the straights, for example compare speeds on straights in a Youtube vid. That is what the general public wants to see so they can show it to each other on their birthday parties.
    – Stop implementing rules the general public does not understand
    – Do not hide F1 behind the decoder everywhere
    – Give engineers the space they need to really make these cars faster.

    And then most importantly, spread the news. F1 needs the general public more than ever.

  53. The last Formula was not so good, more talk of tyres than drivers, DRS, etc. Viewers delined. The current Formula is much worse in my opinion with the new engines, racing hybrids really?, reduced rev limits, extreme restrictions on aero, viewership still declining. To me it has been an exercise of decline. Most track records were all set in the past, how is that exciting? Formula 1 should be off the charts fast, drivers wearing G suits fast. As I have said before F1 has, in my opinion, always been a mix of sport and show. The more recent Formulas are overly show oriented and the sport has suffered. Perhaps viewers care more about the sport than the organizers realize?

  54. Where to start:
    3 car teams: Maybe teams could opt for this. But only allow 2 of them two add points for the constructors championship, with the 3rd car being driven by a young driver, as a way to add aditional seat and promote young talent. You could run the 3rd car with a different color livery, to make it noticeable. This also allows team’s to justify there high fees as there would be an additional livery to place logos on. Something even McLaren is finding hard to do now a days.

    Circuits: A lot of people have voiced their opinion on this. And in my opinion some should have never happened (Korea, India, etc). This clearly just shows that Bernie is only after money, not the interest of the sport. Now I wouldn’t necesarily give old circuits a new shot. Some where taken of the Calendar because of declining figures. So I’d also offer new circuits to places were you do have a large fan base. Argentina, maybe a 2nd US Track (just by sheer size of market and importance to car makers).

    Points system: All races are worth the same points. Simple as that.

    Engine Regulations: I’m in with the Turbo way and the kinetic recovery gizmos. It’s the way the industry is going and unfortunately one of the few ways to keep manufacturers interested. Maybe they should have added the systems to an iteration of the past V-8, which where very much on the same page for all manufacturers. I’d love it if they opted for V-12 o V-10 but given the downsizing trend it is unlikely. For most manufacturers their biggest performance engine is the V-8 so it is still some what road relevant.

    Aero/Tire Regulations: DRS should be eliminated, ERS is the only passing gimmick that should be allowed because the driver applies it where he see’s fit, not in a specific passing zone. With that being said, Tires compounds should be switched. The degradable tires are now working against their intended purpose. I was never a fan of them. I want to see drivers push each other lap after lap. Not only 2 laps per pit stop because they destroy their tires. Put them back on the limit and you’ll produce better racing.

    TV/Digital media: You should have to Pay for F1. The only exception is to pay if you want digital access to it. Make it like MotoGP where you can watch it on a computer, access a video data base, relieve historic races, view documentaries, etc. More over some video content should be kept free for the casual and hardcore fans like the technical changes between season, maybe add some race history videos, to also sell add space to local business (hotels, restaurants, etc). Here is a proposal I wrote back in 2010, and in 4 years the sport has done close to nothing when it already has the tech in place to do so

  55. agree 100%. F1 is losing its core audience and not gaining new ones. People (i.e. fans you want to gain) are interested in visceral and crazy things, both of which F1 is moving away from. The machines are outwardly bland “computer geek” things, the drivers are no longer heroes or personalities, and the tracks are increasingly vanilla.

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