Imola bringing legal challenge against Monza F1 deal

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Monza’s deal to continue holding the Italian Grand Prix is coming under a legal threat from the Imola circuit.

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A lot of people are hoping today will be the day F1 changes for the better.

I see a lot of people getting their hopes up about how a media company will want to increase audience numbers and may be prepared to cut profits from vast to merely big in order to do so, I hope they are right.

At least without Bernie Ecclestone we should expect them to reverse any detrimental gimmicks as soon as they are seen to be negatively affecting the racing/show because managerial teams value their jobs over their ego, unlike dictators.

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On this day in F1

Nelson Piquet won the Italian Grand Prix 30 years ago today. However his team mate Nigel Mansell, who finished second, increased his championship lead to five points over Alain Prost, whose engine failed.

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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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53 comments on “Imola bringing legal challenge against Monza F1 deal”

  1. I hope F1 doesn’t die.

    1. Unlikely, given the investment, but should that happen it could be reborn, bigger, better, stronger.

      1. LovelyLovelyLuffield
        7th September 2016, 5:26

        Faster, more exciting, with less Tilkedromes (I’ll let COTA, Marina Bay, and Istanbul Park in, but for US GP, alternate with Watkins Glen) and less dictatordromes, the return of the French GP, and the song of its people–19000 rpm engines.

        Keep KERS (for low-rpm torque), make DRS part of an active aero package (with air braking), lower-drag packages with blown double diffusers, among select innovations that are banned before but are now mandatory and spec.

        1. Watkins Glen has several fundamental issues which are nearly impossible to amend which precludes it from hosting an F1 caliber race, and COTA can’t survive on an on/off schedule.

          1. @Slowhand “Watkins Glen has several fundamental issues which are nearly impossible to amend”

            That’s not at all what Charlie Whiting said while inspecting Watkins for FIA G2 status in March/April. You can find the on-site interview with Whiting on YouTube.

            Watkins is essential to improving F1 for American (and maybe global) audiences. No more Tilkedromes, and no more street circuits please!

            Aside from the technical shortcomings (which again, Whiting said could be easily remediated), the location of the Glen might be seen as a problem. But I suspect that Americans would be delighted and curious to see F1 there again, and that it would be sellout attendance despite the inconveniences.

        2. Keep KERS (for low-rpm torque)

          Nope, KERS doesn’t deliver that. You’re thinking of the Turbos.

        3. Faster cars means more Tilkedromes because you need more run-off.

      2. @hohum, knowing you, what you mean is you want it to be reborn to pander to people of your generation.

        1. Surely pandering to the people of a generation is exactly what any sport has to do to survive, otherwise you’re going to find it very difficult to generate new fans. In fact, some would say that the fact the sport hasn’t been pandering to the people of this generation in terms of embracing the Internet as another content outlet, and therefore a revenue inlet, is one of the main failings. If the sport isn’t appealing to young people it cannot survive for long. I believe what young people want from the sport is very similar to what the veteran followers want anyway; consistently close, hard racing with cars that challenge the driver.
          I also want to see the sport continue to push on with ‘green technology’. We all know we are running out of fossil fuels so the public calling for f1 to return to gas gazzling v8’s is totally nuts in my opinion, especially if it’s primarily for the noise. I believe the sport has no choice than to continue to move towards a totally electric formula, although how it will differ from formula-e when it reaches that point is unclear. I don’t believe we will reach that point within the next 40 years, but a key aspect of formula 1 has been for some time now that it is a testing ground for technology that will eventually end up in road cars. Formula 1 has to stay ‘road relevant’ to continue to appeal to major manufacturers, hence the move to the current power units was a good one.
          It could be argued that gimmicks like DRS were initially introduced to pander to this generation, however I think that is simply a symptom of the FIA being totally out of touch with what this generation wants to see from formula 1. They probably saw exceptionally high TV ratings for races like Canada 2010 and thought, hey that race had loads of overtakes, that’s what the public wants to see. The FIA needs to looks at fan surveys rather than constantly making these knee-jerk decisions.
          What I, as a young person, want to see is for the sport to evolve in a way that is healthy to competition (through the fair distribution of prize money) as well as the environment, with overtakes that have to be earned and aren’t simply gifted with DRS. F1 also needs to make sure it still has races in the countries with the largest fan bases. Ultimately if the sport can get those core details right I don’t think that they can go too far wrong with appealing to the vast majority of the sports fans.

          1. @breesegp “We all know we are running out of fossil fuels so the public calling for f1 to return to gas gazzling v8’s is totally nuts…. move towards a totally electric formula…. [F1] is a testing ground for technology that will eventually end up in road cars. Formula 1 has to stay ‘road relevant’ ”

            It’s almost embarrassing to read your outpouring of propaganda and popular opinion groupthink. And on your last point, “road relevance” is a ludicrous ruse that’s been foisted on F1 by manufacturers. Even Max Mosley regrets that he didn’t see the implications of accepting that idea. The only thing “road relevant” about any racecar in any racing series including F1, is four tires and a driver.

            If your misinformed opinion is indeed the direction of F1, then say goodbye to it, because it won’t last even another decade.

          2. @breesegp, well, the response by geeyore is exactly the sort of predictable backlash that I was expecting and critical of – when I referred to pandering to a generation, it wasn’t about catering for the next generation of fans, it was about those existing fans who want to try and force the sport to cater to an idealised fantasy of the past that they have created, and will inevitably always complain because the sport will never be able to live up to that perfect vision that they have created for themselves.

            Whilst I do not want to be harsh, at times I get rather annoyed that people seem to want to increasingly yoke the sport to the past and seem more interested in turning it into a retro-festival. That is not to denigrate the achievements of the drivers of the past, but it is to bear in mind that the world has changed radically since then and to accept that you cannot simply erase the past 50 years.

            You don’t hear people in the WEC saying that they should bring back H pattern manual gearboxes for LMP1 cars to make it more difficult for the drivers, but there are those in the F1 fan base that will cry for that retrograde step. Motorsport Magazine even seem to think that the pit boards – a piece of technology that was introduced in 1926 – is apparently too modern a form of communication…

          3. @anon, ANON, Yes I am old enough to have watched, Clark, Courage, Rindt, Brabham,Hill, Hill, Stewart, et al. race and yet I am in complete agreement with @breesegp . It’s easy to deflect any observations based on experience as those of an old fogey wearing rose-tinted glasses, in the case of my response to @ultimateuzair I was merely pointing out that every cloud can have a silver lining by partially quoting the byline from a popular (but ridiculous) bygoneTV show, leaving ” we have the technology” off the end, maybe if I had not left that out you would have been happier.

            PS. Please register as @anon, (call yourself John Smith) so that I and others will at least know you are made aware of responses to your posts, as it is responding may be a total waste of time.

    2. For me (and a lot of people) F1 might as well be dead in a few years since it is highly unlikely I will be watching it with Sky Sports having exclusive TV rights in the UK from 2019 taking all live coverage behind a paywall. I cannot imagine keeping up with just highlights.

      1. @rob91 Sky won’t even be offering regular highlights anywhere. The announcement was that only the British GP would appear on Mix.

        F1 in the UK, killed in one fell swoop – it’s the biggest racing series in the world but can’t hope to attract custom at £600+ a year.

        1. “£600+ a year”

          Huh? how’d you calculate that? I pay around £300. Still a massive amount but nowhere near £600 :/

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            7th September 2016, 10:14

            I watch the Sky races on NOWTV at £7 a pop.

            21 x £7 = £147 for the season

      2. As Liberty Global own Virgin, it’s likely there could be some interesting get-out clauses being put into action I suspect.

  2. There’s a lot of very interesting things in the round-up today, it’s rare that I read most of them but today I did. I think the thing that caught my eye was brundle talking about the sale of F1. There seems to be a lot of different perspectives on what’s happening and I rather get the impression that nobody actually has a clue – or anybody who does, isn’t telling us much. I think, from my observations now and over the past few years, is that Bernie Ecclestone will still be in charge for a while. He’s the man behind all the deals, contracts, and the running of the sport. I can’t see him being ditched overnight without the new company having had time to fully review what he has been doing.

    1. @strontium, I think they have been reviewing what Bernie has been doing for several years now, this deal has been on and off for some time and due diligence would have been done before it was 1st picked up by the press.

  3. COTD ! thanks Keith.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      7th September 2016, 6:15

      Congrats @hohum,
      Though I have to say this:

      a media company will want to increase audience numbers and may be prepared to cut profits

      Why would any (smart) media company want to cut profits when increasing audience numbers. It’s quite the opposite in media, income increases with every viewer/customer (viewer numbers, clicks, etc) and the costs will largely stay the same. Hence, profits up!

      But we should not expect to get full race coverage back on FTA (even lose it in more countries); just not a sustainable business model for major Sports series (outside of the USA).

      1. @hohum @coldfly

        I see this as cutting profits for the physical events, and maybe on a per user basis, to increase the amount of subscribers thus making the maximum earning more.
        I.e if 1000 people pay 100 a month that is 100k total
        If 1300 pay 80 a month then it is 104k
        With the added benefit of upswell in products and services and advertising reach.

        Also don’t forget, most media companies make their money from advertising.

        Expect to see many new sponsors and associations with F1, and likely a resurgence in F1 style advertising / marketing, as if there are more viewers then they can charge higher advertising / sponsor rates

      2. Profits aren’t the only thing to account for when looking at providing shareholder value. To finance the sale (and it will be on finance) Liberty or whoever gets it in the end (I’m still not sure whether Liberty’s being used as bait) has had to persuade their shareholders and financiers that they can create value for their money in purchasing a stake in F1.

        Typically if it were an American takeover I’d expect to see growth in the number of revenue streams above all else. F1’s current business model is a relic but if you look at American sports you’ll see lots of ways that particularly the NFL have been able keep opening up new revenue streams, even just within TV rights. Central to that, and what might require a good deal of investment, would be a plan to increase the number of people engaged by the sport. There’s no way Liberty or anyone else would take on F1 after CVC’s period of underinvestment without a plan to invest to grow the business though, profits will come later behind growth. Case in point Liberty Global (international telecoms arm of Liberty Media) bought Virgin Media for £15Bn then invested a further £3Bn in expanding their cable network.

      3. @coldfly, the profit reduction I was referring to was purely that made by CVC/FOM, I would hope a media company would look long term and re-invest in the brand to increase profits overall in the long term.

        1. @coldfly, but you already knew that I see having read further down the page, you made the argument perfectly.

  4. Sounds to me like Bernie is gone and he knows it, hence the public display of bravado. How many people publicly announce that they wont obey their bosses directives before they know they are going ? Answer ; zero intelligent people, and Bernie, for all his faults and ego is no dummy.

    1. Maybe they are now negotiating ovr the shares he controls. In Monza he mentioned not having them for sale. Now this. I guess he is pushing them to make him an offer for these @hohum

      1. @bascb, but Bernie has no control over the shares in trust, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

    2. My guess is Bernie has some clause in his contract that ensures he is well paid if he stays, and more well paid if he leaves.

  5. The “we should be grateful to Bernie” stuff that Martin was spouting make me wonder how many people under him subscribe to that line (whether out of fear or whether it’s genuine). While he has done a lot to grow the profitability and profile of the sport, I feel like that attitude is part of what’s causing so many to let Bernie (and the CVC) suck the well dry. There’s that hope of riding the money train and that they can get a piece of the pie if they just buy the party line and say “yes sir, of course, sir.”

    At what point should people begin to speak out against the hand that feeds them in order to look out for the greater good of the sport?

    1. @joey-poey He’s shown himself to be obsessively petty in the past and made several plays for control over press vetting, making sure F1 journalists don’t go prying into his business etc. Brundle values his job with Sky and it would only have taken a small wobble from up-top for him to be put out to pasture.

      Heck, Sky have already been shown to be incredibly nervous with regards to the handling of F1 politics – Just look how quickly the script changes whenever Joe Saward throws hand grenades about F1 governance into live interviews.

  6. reading the comments made by Verstappen lately, I think he needs to be a bit careful in pushing the blame to everyone else.

    Sometimes, you need to accept responsibility and move on. Granted he’s only young – but by continuing that method of blaming everyone else means there is more at stake

  7. We know f1 isn’t perfected, we’ve established most of the problem is the gymnicks and over regulations, in short artificial racing. Honestly I can’t see how can anyone do a better job than Bernie. I hope that in case f1 ends losing itself, the ones that didn’t appreciate Bernie take a little moment to try to understand why f1 collapsed.

    1. +1 @peartree, I think it is possible to be better than Bernie, but there’s a very real risk that his replacement won’t be better.

      You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

  8. No max, never your fault…

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      7th September 2016, 6:20

      He also said “You win and you lose together”.
      Seems mature enough, and it probably happened the way he said it.

      1. Sounds like a line straight out of the RBR publicity book.

        I wonder how genuine he is.

    2. I don’t know if you read the full article, but from my observations it seems that the quote picked for the round-up isn’t entirely representative of what was said. Firstly, he was talking to Dutch TV, presumably (but not definitely) in Dutch, so I imagine some of it will have sounded differently in the interview than on a translated transcript. Secondly, I feel that, as @coldfly said, it wasn’t simply as blunt as that. I don’t see any reason to doubt what he is saying to be honest, or at least any evidence to doubt him.

    3. And here we go

    4. MAXDONADO attitud

  9. I must admit to being a bit nervous about a media company taking over.

    Companies like that only care about 1 thing.. The bottom line and are driven by accountants and media analysts.

    Remember media companies are responsible for all the garbage we are subjected to on a daily basis. I can imagine it now, a “reality” show to find our next F1 driver etc etc.

    They’ll make changes, not changes required by the sport, changes required by the bean counters to drive up the sponsorship $ with no r Gard at all for the value or purity of the sport.

    As someone said (I think it might have been Brundle).. Be careful what you wish for.

    1. @dbradock I had a feeling Brundle may be older than he looks, but not that old!

      “Be careful what you wish for…” is not ascribed to any particular person. People trying to trace its origins have found its use in some works of literature from mid to late 19th century (1850’s – 1870’s).

      1. Lol – I’ll pay that.
        I was referring to that comment being made specifically about the sale of F1 by CVC and had a feeling it was Brundle that said it during last weekends broadcast.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      7th September 2016, 8:42

      I don’t disagree with you however – what have you said there that doesn’t 100% apply to Bernie and CVC?

      Do they care about the sport or money? Do they make changes not required by the sport that earn them more money (double points, removing classic tracks, racing in war zones)?

      Whilst I agree a reality show is a crazy idea, we currently have teams unable to afford to pay for drivers so drivers pay them for a seat!

    3. @dbradock I’d rather a media company invested in the product be in charge rather than a bunch of asset strippers only interested in the money coming out of it.

    4. ColdFly F1 (@)
      7th September 2016, 9:01

      @dbradock, this is why a (media) company would be better than a Private Equity fund:
      1) Profit rather than Cash – Profit might sound dirty to some, but it’s way better than sucking out the cash.
      2) Long Term view – a company can make strategic investments; a PE fund has to be liquidated (contractually) after a certain amount of time (10+3 years for the specific CVC fund).
      3) link it in with other business ventures – a media company could take a loss on F1 if it helps the rest of their business (I believe in NL F1 is ‘free’ for all people who have internet via Ziggo).

    5. @petebaldwin, “what have you said there that doesn’t 100% apply to Bernie and CVC?” …. my point exactly except they could be even more ruthless (if that’s possible).
      @coldly, Profit I don’t have a problem with but profit goes to the shareholders just like the cash does.
      Long Term views in business these days are getting way shorter than they used to be, probably way shorter than CVC’s ownership has lasted.
      As far as strategic investment – definitely agree with you but I have concerns about what that “strategy” may end up being. I’ve seen plenty of strategic investments go badly wrong in major corporations here in Aus.
      Your final point is a good one – and that might be the one thing that keeps things sane.

      We can only hope for the best :)

  10. Guybrush Threepwood
    7th September 2016, 11:09

    Has Max Verstappen ever taken any responsibility for his mistakes? Even when he ran into the back of Grosjean in Monaco last year he was trying to blame Grosjean.

    1. Even after the stewards proved that Grosjean actually braked a few meters later he was still blaming Romain.
      Well , he’s young, he has time to change and accept blame.

  11. Bernie will be kept on for 3 years after the takeover so he isn’t going anywhere.

  12. Imola challenging the Monza deal? Called it! As a whole, I think we all need to take a deep breath and relax about this pending sale to Liberty Media. We don’t know all the details and it’s not yet finalized. Even if/when it does go through, don’t expect a sudden rush of Americanization(I just made the word up) to come to F1.

  13. But why do we really want the Italian GP in Monza? I can’t recall a single exiting GP at Monza, that was spectacular due to the tracks layout. The ones I remember are the 1999 GP, very eventful, the 2000 GP (which was spectacular due to the crash on the first lap) and 2008, which was not really that spectacular, but the winner was. The biggest problem with the track is that it’s 90% car, 10% driver.

    Now, I’m not a fan of Imola after they destroyed it in the mid 90’s, but the love for Monza is over exaggerated. Yes, it is part of F1’s heritage, but in it’s current state, there are much better tracks available around the world. Monza needs a revamp, else it’s just another boring GP on the calendar like it is now. The suggested revamp is not exactly what the track needs, as it destroys it’s most awesome corner. I rather see them go to the right after the pits, go paralel on the straight towards ascari, and make a U-turn halfway that straight towards the first chicane. Something like this:

    This way Monza keeps it’s fast autograph, but the track gets a bit more challenging adding 2 more corners and getting rid of the chicane.

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