Media blamed for spreading ‘negativity’ about F1

2015 F1 season

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The role of the media’s coverage of Formula One became a point of debate in today’s press conference involving team representatives.

Asked whether Bernie Eccletone’s opinion of the current formula was fuelling popular criticism of F1, Lotus CEO Matthew Carter blamed the media for choosing to write negative stories.

“I think the negativity does come from the press, I honestly do,” said Carter. “I think he reacts to what is written in the press.”

“Bernie tries to encourage the sport, he tries to make the sport be more appealing to the fans, the fans read what you guys write. The fans listen to what Bernie says, I agree, but ultimately they will read your stories and if your stories are negative, they’ll read those and they won’t read the positive.”

“The negativity that we talk about is negativity in terms of what we achieve as a sport and what we are as a sport,” he continued. “And I think there is… that negativity tends to come from the press. I don’t think we do enough of bigging up what we do achieve.”

“I think it’s easier to looks at the negatives, it’s probably easier for you to write stories about the negatives as opposed to the positives.”

Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya pointed out it was possible for the media to interpret Mercedes’ current domination two different ways. “Either they can say the sport is very boring because the two Mercedes cars are quicker than everybody else by miles,” he said, “Or they can say ‘wow, Mercedes did a fantastic job’.”

“It is a question of the media’s option in how to present it.”

However Mallya believes the negative atmosphere around Formula One “will be removed” if the sport is “made sustainable for all participants”.

“I believe that all the positives of Formula One as a sport will be given more prominence if the fundamental issue which everybody is speculating about – I’m sure many of us get asked this all the time – about ‘are you going to be around next year?’ This is a burning issue which teams themselves discuss at every possible opportunity and every possible meeting, whether inside the Strategy Group or outside.”

“If the stability of all participants in Formula One is addressed as a matter of priority, we’ll have more exciting racing and we’ll get a lot more positive media.”

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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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45 comments on “Media blamed for spreading ‘negativity’ about F1”

  1. You can hardly blame the media. If the guy who runs the commercial side of the sport calls it “crap”, then that’s a huge story. There’s no way you can spin that positively.

    1. knoxploration
      3rd July 2015, 22:24

      Yes, it’s clearly the media’s fault. I mean, the fans could never possibly notice that the so-called “racing” was a totally predictable yawnfest by themselves. *rolls eyes*

      This is just more of what F1 is now best at: Self-interest. Lotus and Force India run Merc engines, so it’s in their short-term interest to see the status quo remain, even if it ruins the sport long-term.

      Were they not running Merc engines right now, Lotus and Force India would be running at the back end of the grid and struggling for a solitary point now and then, rather than 5th and 6th in the championship with an average of 3.75 points per race. And that’s all they care about, not the actual racing, the fans, the sport or anything else.

      It’s pathetic, really, and it’s the gradual ruination of F1 continuing. It’s high time that the teams were taken completely out of the equation when it comes to rules-making, because every single time they can be counted on to do what’s worst for the sport because it’s what they perceive as what’s best for their own teams in the short term.

      The problem is that the powers that be in F1 — Bernie and Jean — have not one lick of vision between them any more either. The two old farts running the show are so far out of touch with what F1 should be and what defines a true sport that they can only manage nonsensical band-aids and avoidance instead of real fixes.

      And that’s why I’ve only bothered to watch five or six races in the last two years, after spending a quarter-century watching every single race.

  2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    3rd July 2015, 18:34

    What a load of crap.

  3. Perhaps if there was less reason for the media to be so negative, then they won’t jump at the chance to be negative about it.

  4. People like to complain. About anything, all the time. The media (including social networks) thrives on that. That’s what we call a vicious cycle.

  5. I don’t agree with a single word of what Carter said.

    As if Ecclestone needs to open a newspaper to make his mind up about something. He began slating the current engines long before they were introduced, and once they were he didn’t feel the need to wait until he’d actually heard them in action before slating them for being too quiet (and revised his position when he did).

    And as far as the fans are concerned my view is as follows: in the age of social media the mainstream media’s opinion of things has probably never mattered less when it comes to influencing what people think.

    Some in F1 appear to be labouring under the misconception that the media’s job is to act as F1’s PR department.

    1. @KeithCollantine

      Some in F1 appear to be labouring under the misconception that the media’s job is to act as F1’s PR department.

      Agreed, it looks like they have never read anything about the role of media in a democratic society. That or the 2015 Putin Grand Prix had some damaging side effects.

    2. Carter’s statement makes me worry if similar odd thinking in other parts of the leadership partly explains why Lotus was before a judge earlier this week.

  6. I had not noticed that the media WAS being negative, to be honest. The media currently strikes me to be more interested in writing stories of the “Why are we being so negative?” sort than in actually being negative. If you want to see complaints about Mercedes historically unprecedented domination you have to read fan comments, because the people paid to cover F1 for a living seem doggedly pollyanish.

    Media coverage strikes me as much more positive and upbeat now than it was in the Red Bull/Vettel winning period, an era during which much of the F1 press seemed terminally angry, bitter, and depressed.

    1. That’s pretty much true. So I don’t really care about most of the press. Since they were hating on Vettel for winning possibly some of the greatest seasons of F1, it’s become ironic Hamilton has the most dominant car of all times compared to Vettel’s Red Bull which wouldn’t make it to the top 10 of that list.
      I also think they were bigging Rosberg up, who has had a pretty bad spell, just so it looks like Hamilton had some competition. Now though, things seem to be in Rosberg’s favor. Who knows if he can carry the momentum though.

  7. I think SKY was pretty negative in a wrong way. But fans were negative before the media in general.

  8. Such ignorance..

    F1 has itself to blame and not the media. Take the current power units as an example. Although they deliver great performance and efficiency, teams and manufacturers fail to inform the fans and actually show why the technology is so fantastic. All hardware is behind locked doors and kept secret. We have to rely on journalists taking sneaky pictures of the cars being assembled and post them in F1 forums which the majority of fans will never visit, otherwise we’d never see anything of the new technology. Then there is the sound: although not everyone cares, it isn’t as impressive as it has been. And then there are the negatives: Power unit costs being a huge burden on the less wealthy teams, so they fall being in development. Renault and Honda powered teams being uncompetitive pretty much by default, making races less exiting because performance gaps are too big for regular on-track fights to happen. Add to that unreliability, complex penalties and token systems and the confusion or should I say frustration is complete. F1 has some homework to do before blaming the media.

  9. HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHA!!! That is a good one… That’s like saying a Movie Critic is to be blamed for a bad movie… If only this were fiction- but when you sum up all the garbage spewed from Luca, Bernie, Fernley, Horner, Alonso and even ex drivers like Webber (who thinks the current formula is crap) you get a good picture. The current formula does not provide exciting racing. It does not provide close racing. It does not allow for attacking and it does not allow opportunity for slower teams to catch faster teams because everything is so restricted and everyone is basically forced to run the exact same strategy give or take a couple of laps between stops. Facts are facts. Marc has done a great job, and a dominant team is long part of F1’s nature. The domination of Merc is not the problem- it is the silliness that surrounds the rest of it. HOW THE HELL CAN YOU HAVE RULES THAT GIVE YOU A 25 PLACE GRID PENALTY WHEN THERE ARE ONLY 20 CARS!!!! The mind boggles- and somehow the powers that be seem surprised by all of this. I blame the crappy rules that make crappy racing as the root of the negativity.

    1. – I wonder if you can spin the penalties positively at all…

      “You can’t criticise the FIA for any slip-up in the wording of their documents – it didn’t affect the actual penalties – but it just goes to show how complex the current situation with penalties is.

      If F1 insiders struggle to comprehend the details, it’s perhaps not surprising that fans are not happy with multiple penalties…”

      1. It’s like saying the FIA is unfit for purpose. After all, the #1 purpose of a rulemaking organisation is to make rules…

  10. OK, I want to be a good boy and help the cause so I just changed my avatar. Can I go & watch Penguins of Madagascar now or should I immediately start praising the DRS?

    1. DRS is great, but if we really want to save F1 we need sprinklers on the track.

      1. Spencer Brandsen
        3rd July 2015, 22:08

        Why not? F1 is already called a ‘circus’.

  11. I’m glad that Dr Mallya gets it.

    1. Me too @willwood, tired of f1 people not taking responsibility for situation

    2. @willwood
      He’s just pushing his own agenda.

  12. Fans are quite capable of making up their own minds. And the majority have made up their minds that this decade’s offering is not as good as last decade’s, for a number of reasons. This is obvious when one notes that 1/3 of F1’s audience has left since 2008, and the GPDA survey shows an estimated 50% of the remainder (possibly the more engaged 50% since it takes a certain level of engagement to do a voluntary survey on a specific topic) have watched fewer or no live races since pay TV got involved (largely, but not entirely, at and around the turn of the decade). It would be more surprising if such an exodus was accompanied by positivity…

    Mainstream media has always produced to its audience. The broadcasters and newspapers noticed that they were losing audience dramatically. Some changed their style to be less hype-ridden about the sport (something that enjoyed a brief revival in Britain, at any rate, with the rise of Lewis Hamilton) and found it at least arrested the slide. Obviously journalists will continue to do what works for them and their employers – even if that is not something about which Mr Ecclestone and those who think like him can get enthused.

    Vijay is correct to say that increased sustainability will help. At times it feels like F1 as a whole doesn’t want to exist much longer, which makes it rather difficult to maintain engagement…

    1. Drop in viewership with 2009 was mostly due to pay tv. There were some big drops like that during Ferrari dominance too. It was in almost a constant decline for some time now. But considering those, it is amazing that the most recent stable figures for viewership was during Vettel’s dominance, despite the continuous transition to pay tv. It was fluctuating in small numbers even though it should have been dropping which makes you think that more people actually might have started to follow.

      1. F1 audiences have waxed and waned, but this is the only sustained fall on record. It’s certainly the only time F1 has lost 1/3 of its viewers compared to any previously-recorded point in its history. Certainly in the UK it dropped every year since 2008… …and with blips, the general trend this year points to decline also. In five of the first eight races, audiences continued to fall in the UK, despite it being in year 4 of a stable “hybrid” arrangement for TV. One of the other three was basically static, and the other two rose sufficiently for the overall to increase… …because Sky started dual-broadcasting the F1 on Sky Sports 1, which also caused artificial inflation of the statistic when it made the F1 channel free on the German Grand Prix weekend. The payment model upon which Sky bought the fees means it can only afford to do this for the occasional race unless it accepts that F1 is a loss-leader – not a status compatible with giving F1 its own channel, or even keeping the F1 contract in the long run.

        When F1 has to resort to claiming the UK’s half-term TV figures as some sort of TV victory, you know things are bad for F1.

  13. Matthew Carter is not correct about Ecclestone and his motivations, however, his general point is correct: F1 is taking severe (and I fear eventually lethal) damage as a consequence of negative reporting and participants within the sport making negative comments.

    Quite frankly, the FIA needs to introduce rules of conduct. No other sport lets you get away with talking so negatively about it whilst being a part of it and rightfully so: it is severly damaging for business. Race bans for bringing the sport into disrepute and revoked media access as a response to intentional negative statements about the state of F1 are no longer left-field options that could be considered in case of emergency, they have become an urgent necessity. Right now people covering it and participating in it unsuccessfully are doing a better job of killing F1 than anyone who’d actively work at destroying it and that is just beyond belief.

    Not only is the vocal criticism of the sport keeping new viewers (which are desperately needed) away from it just as much as the PPV wall is, it also has directly lead to all the asinine quickfixes that are thrown out there by the strategy group (which is also in dire need of dissolution, but that is a topic for another day), since they a desperation moves done to counter crises that wouldn’t even be such if not talked up. By thousands of voices adding white noise, people are losing direct sights of the issues that need to actually be fixed.

    And as far as the fans are concerned my view is as follows: in the age of social media the mainstream media’s opinion of things has probably never mattered less when it comes to influencing what people think.

    Nonsense. Social media (which has existed at most a decade plus change) has not changed the fundamental structure of human beings which, in groups, tend to follow vocal leaders. Such a statement is driven by either excessive (but admittedly impressive) idealism or a refusal to take into consideration that one’s actions may have negative consequences if one is in the position of the abovementioned vocal leader. I won’t assume which one applies to you, Keith.

    1. @klon You only have to spend five seconds on Twitter to realise it’s true. Remember the massive and instantaneous backlash against double points. There weren’t many people waiting to be told what to think of that.

    2. The tolerance/acceptance of negativity in F1 is a historical and cultural thing; motor racing used to get a lot of the… …blunter sort of wealthy personage involved in it, banning negativity then would have put the sport on the back burner before it got going, and by the time any entity was powerful enough to meaningfully put its foot down (in the late 1920s) the insistence on a peculiar form of free speech was too firmly established to shake. The FIA can hardly remove this when its leading lights have depended on the skills needed to foster in such an environment to get to the powerful positions they have. Those FIA members who are inclined to think that way (and there are, despite the foregoing, quite a few!) are limited in how much power they can get, and only generally get noticed if they end up in a governance position over a national series (yes, several of them have issued penalties under Article 151c of the International Sporting Code or national-level equivalents because participants were deemed overly harsh towards their series).

      That free-speech tolerance continues is also partly to do with Bernie Ecclestone and that tongue which cannot be tamed. It is hard to tell people they must treat F1 with kid gloves if its most prominent and powerful paddock inhabitant uses swear words against it!

      People are attracted to vocal leaders – but nowadays there are many ways to be heard that don’t require a mainstream media outlet, and people have many ways of deciding what is vocal… …and worthy of being vocal. There has always been an undercurrent of people prepared to conclude en masse that something is stupid through their own logic and based upon things previously said by people they trust, but rare is the age where this has been more obvious than the 2010s.

  14. Andy (@andybantam)
    3rd July 2015, 19:54

    How can the media be blamed for making F1 the way it is? It’s not the media’s fault, is it? Lazonby et al aside.

    We’ve got unfathomable engine penalties, a tyre manufacturer that’s forgotten what it’s remit is, silly overtaking aids, an engine package that was miscalculated but could have otherwise been something special. Too many small and unnecessary tweeks have been made to the regulations to try and fix overtaking. The result of which is sport which is slightly at odds with itself.

    Smaller, more efficient engines are supposed to save fuel, so why is there more lift and coast now? I realise that it’s always been part of the game, but seldom to this extent. Too much has been asked of these engines. Only with free development can you refine a new technology. Plus, this is F1! Fuel saving?!

  15. Surely F1 media are the tamest anywhere! Bernie’s made it so they depend on the circus as much as he does. Look how they sucked up that disgusting Bianchi crash whitewash, for just one example.

    1. I remember the Singapore 2008 “Nelsinho Defence” being “swallowed” too… …until Nelson broke his silence. Then the press couldn’t volte-face fast enough. If they were quiet on the surface after the Bianchi report, it’s probably because they sense there may be more to the tale than anyone has yet told, and prefer not to pre-judge what that will be or how they will react to it.

      A quiet media is not always a tame one.

  16. Media blamed for reporting Bernie spreading ‘negativity’ about F1


  17. What really bothers me is the ‘crisis of the week’ mentality in which every race sees a new issue arise that, apparently, threatens to destroy F1. The biggest laugh was the ‘Mercedes will crush everyone’ crisis we had at the start of the season, which vanished when Vettel won in Malaysia. ‘Look! Ferrari won a race! Everything’s alright after all!’ Er …

    We need to pick one crisis and stick to it. My choice would be CVC sucking billions of pounds out of the sport and barely reinvesting any of it. But oops, I guess that would hit a bit too close to home for some.

  18. What? Bernie changed his name to Media?

    1. He is the public face of F1’s official media arm, so maybe…

  19. I don’t need the media to tell me that F1 is really boring at the moment.

  20. F1 as it is today, is a commercial operation masquerading as a sport.
    It is not the responsibility of the media to promote it, but to report on it in any way they see fit.
    Imagine the whining if “the media” decided not to post any reports on F1 at all. We’re seeing far too much of this sort of thing of late; in F1, as well as NASCAR, and most recently Indycar. Where in driver’s contracts does it say that they forfeit the right to free speech?

  21. Somewhere last year there was a press conference (Hungary? Germany? can’t remember) in which Horner said something like “you media are only focusing on the negative points, you should be asking the teams questions about the sporting side of things, when you want to talk politics go talk to Todt or Ecclestone”. And now we have Carter saying the media are too negative when it comes to reporting Formula 1.

    In my opinion, both outcries are such a weak response to the problems Formula 1 is facing: declining spectator numbers and viewing figures. F1 is not in good shape, that is unquestionable. And unlike most sports, the participators (the teams) do have a say in which direction the sport should go. They are requested by the FIA and FOM to actively come up with ideas and strategies to get F1 back on the rails. Responding with “yes yes yes we’re working on it, stop saying why F1 is bad because we are figuring it out” is not OK.

    And for the record, the claim that the media being negative is hurting F1 is completely false. What I do think is that one of the reasons for all the negativity in general (within the teams, media, among fans..) is F1’s nature to keep reinventing itself, constantly change the rules a bit. It opens up a world of “Ah, but maybe this will make F1 better” and “You propose this, well let me tell you why that’s a terrible idea”. And the teams are all to happy in participating here. There are a lot of things to be discussed in Formula 1, and since F1 is made up of a lot of ‘concepts to make F1 better’ (like DRS, non-durable tyres, start on Q2 tyres etc) inevitably everyone will have a “F1 in itself is nice, but I don’t like [insert concept to make F1 better here].”

    But yeah, I don’t think the media is at fault here at all, just keep on doing what you’re doing right now in this article, which is reporting on F1 people complaining about something.

    1. Both Horner and Carter have basically admitted that F1 is vulnerable in certain things and getting defensive about it. That’s a pretty sure way of encouraging a feeding frenzy from the piranhas. I remember Flavio Briatore making similar comments in 2009, shortly before he lost his leadership role at Renault.

      If “we have total confidence in him” is the kiss of death for a football manager, “you’re focusing on the weak points” is the kiss of death for a F1 manager.

  22. What? F1 is really boring in comparison with other motorsport championships, like Formula E and Indycar. Also, smaller teams are struggling hard. We can see Lotus, Force India, Sauber and Manor leaving F1 soon.

  23. No. FIA should blame oneself.

  24. Don’t shoot the messenger. The more I read/follow the sport, the more I realise that F1 is a tyranny, i.e. run by a single individual. While the FIA seek to do their best, the whims of a single man create some of the great things that we see today, but also the greatest problems as well. How many times have we seen knee jerk reactions to a single race incident, or a perceived issue; e.g. banning of driver coaching… Meanwhile the role of the FIA is to put rules into place against these whims and clean up the mess left behind, as best they can. And if we are to believe this article, the problems are the fault of the media, who do not make the rules or make the decisions. I do not like the blame game, however, if fingers are to be pointed, then surely the finger should not be directed at the media.

  25. To be truthful the fans are to blame. They keep supporting F1 no matter how bad it gets. A massive dip in F1 profits would fix the sport over night. But no, keep on giving F1 money and Bernie and his chums at the trough will just continue. Bernie and the FIA are geniuses, they get to do whatever they like and the profits go up. Social media really does mean nothing so long as the money keeps coming in. Gerald Ratner must be asking himself how F1 exists when his shops vanished overnight when he rubbished his business. Must be a new (stupid) generation of people.

    1. F1 has lost nearly half of its profit and things haven’t improved. If it loses 40% of its current profit (or 20% of the profit it had when CVC initially took over), it has to pay golden parachutes out to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes (which will of course reduce profit further, besides losing 4 teams, including Toro Rosso, in one go). There isn’t a whole lot else the fans can do on the money side to make F1 get the hint without outright killing it.

  26. The comments made about the media are fairly accurate. When Red Bull was the dominate team the press were very positive towards them emphasising the engineering brilliance of Adrian Newey and race craft of Vettel, Although in the majority of races Vettel was only racing the clock as his car was a good two seconds faster then everybody else when “turned up”.. For some reason the press have for the most part been negative about the Mercedes dominance. They also, in my opinion, seem to have a very strong dislike for the current world champion. Far too much press reports spend time talking about what he wears, where he goes his love life, I could carry on.. The media definitely appear to want to spin a negative picture on F1 and the Mercedes team’s current achievements… the only time the F1 news is positive is when Rosberg wins a race..

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