Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2016

Alonso against longer F1 calendar

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso is against the plan for a longer F1 calendar favoured by new owners Liberty Media.

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Some perspective on F1’s falling viewing figures in the UK:

For context, most football matches on Sky in the UK (a sport hugely carried by Sky TV money – which just keeps rising) barely draw in 1,000,000 viewers. Since the Champions League went from combined Sky/ITV to BT Sport the viewing figures are so bad even UEFA have admitted their concern. Not all of those games were on pay TV either, BT made some of them free-to-view and still no one watched.

Yes, the viewing numbers for F1 aren’t exactly astronomical, but they’re not all that far behind football, which in the UK is seen as every channels biggest sporting draw. Sky are happy to keep pumping more and more money into football so viewing figures don’t seem to be an issue for them.
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  • 26 comments on “Alonso against longer F1 calendar”

    1. Formula E is gaining momentum, and it’s great to see as it is a great series in my opinion. The racing has been mostly excellent, and the best thing is that THE CARS CAN ACTUALLY FOLLOW EACH OTHER CLOSELY. Take note, F1, and don’t do something stupid such as copy the ridiculous idea of Fanboost, which is the only thing wrong with Formula E. Ditch the stupid gargantuan bulldozer front wings!

      1. @ultimateuzair I assume that the reason why Formula E cars can follow each other more closely it’s because they race at considerably lower speeds than F1. So turbulent air isn’t such an issue. Also, they race in street tracks, with tight corners instead of flat out turns like those seen at Shangai, Sepang or Suzuka.

        Formula E is probably getting more momentum because of the importance of being seen as “green” and “innovative”, alongside the actual importance of doing something actually different to normal motorsport. And probably a lot more cheaper than Le Mans which also has that kind of technology innovation to a degree.

        1. @fer-no65, as you say, the cars are actually pretty limited in terms of outright performance and the circuit layouts they use tend to have quite low cornering speeds. Furthermore, although the regulations have been opened up to allow some differentiation in the powertrains, Formula E is effectively a standard specification series – a concept that most fans in F1 are critical of and do not want to see in the sport.

          I’d also agree that Formula E certainly taps into the desire of automotive manufacturers to portray themselves as “green” and “innovative” – particularly since, as you note, the price caps and standardisation of components means that it is pretty cheap to compete in that series. For example, the VW Group is rather hastily pivoting towards electric vehicles to try and rebuild their reputation after the diesel emissions fiasco – from their point of view, Formula E fits very nicely with the new image that they are trying to create.

        2. @fer-no65 In my case I am starting to follow it more closely not because it is green (just because it is an electric series does not mean it is green btw, it depends pretty much on how the cars are build and how the energy that charges them is created, but that is for another post), but because it is so easy to tune in into it. I mentioned these in some round-up a few days ago, you just need to follow their youtube channel, turn on the notifications and whenever a race is starting they will let you know that the youtube stream is up. In my wildest dreams I imagine F1 like this (note that I said dreams)

          Regarding your first sentence, you are right, add to that the fact that the cars don’t have a lot of downforce (they have two adjustable flaps in the front wing and that is pretty much it) and therefore they are less susceptible to turbulent air. They have to be as efficient as possible, so they cannot have too much drag, otherwise they would consume a lot of energy.

          However I do not think that F1 should take lessons from FE or the other way arround, like “anon” says, they are a standard specification formula, and formula 1 cannot follow that path, the only thing they have in common is that they are both single seater series, that is it. I just get to enjoy both in different ways and I hope it continues that way

      2. @ultimateuzair I like the front wings. They have a very distinctive, and more importantly, aggressive look, which F1 has been talking about trying to achieve for years.

      3. Will not watch FE until Fanboost is gone

      4. @ultimateuzair “Formula E is gaining momentum”

        In terms of adding manufacturer’s it is but in terms of fan popularity it’s actually been in a bit of a decline as there has been a significant drop off in viewership & many of the races ended up with tickets been given away for free to make crowds look bigger.

        Broadcasters have been disappointed with the viewing figures its been drawing (Hence why ITV ditched it having been a big supporter early on) & the streams on YouTube which you would think would get more people watching often don’t even get to 20,000 views with the 50 minute highlights struggling to get over a few thousand.

        Looking at ITV in the UK, Season 1 averaged 216,000 viewers while season 2 averaged 138,000 viewers.

    2. I’m not sure if Helmut Marko is trying to pump up the RBR guys by stating that they set out put pressure on Mercedes as a strategic decision prior to the race, or whether he’s just trying to play some mind games with Merc.

      But it is interesting to note that of the wins that RBR and Ferrari have had in the recent hybrid era, it has been at the expense of Mercedes’ reliability or messed up strategies or driver incidents, so perhaps the car’s achilles heel is its fragility and the trick is to try and get them to race at 100% pace for the entire race. How many times have we heard Mercedes telling their drivers to turn down their engines, or conserve brakes? Perhaps the car is pushing all the limits of longevity knowing that they can build up a gap large enough to demoralise the pack and then back off to conserve.

      1. That’s an interesting point and I believe there’s some truth to it!

      2. Good points but….

        Every race Red Bull is behind merc they will try to put pressure on Mercedes. so yes, that was their strategy after qualifying was over, obviously. Helmet does occasionally say true things, a clock is correct twice a day right?

        Any car that dominates will also be running at absolute limits across performance/reliability envelopes. This is almost a certain.

        The golden rule is to win with as little effort possible therefore conserving your on-the-limit components.

        It’s possible merc could finish 1-2mins ahead but they won’t for the reason stated above.

      3. All great points to promote staying with the current rules for car design, because surely next year RBR (and probably Ferrari and McLaren) would be closing in and being able to force Mercedes to push more, therefore they would have to go for less marginal brakes, which would slow them down in turn @dragoll.

      4. Some fair points. But as we don’t know yet what happened to Hamilton’s engine, it’s too early to draw conclusion on what happened.
        The root cause could be a faulty that eventually would have died irrespective to what Hamilton was doing.

        Then Helmut Marko is doing the show, entertaining the fans between two races. :)

        1. I mean, a faulty part.

          1. I don’t know. I think Marko is just trying to pump up the team, which is understandable while they’re on a positive.

            It’s a bit moot because the cars and tires are going to be different next year so there is a big unknown ahead, but for now on average RBR doesn’t get that many opportunities to pressure Mercedes, and the tires usually won’t allow it. And Mercedes has had too many successes to be banking on ‘fragility’ that is not always there. There’s also the possibility that Mercedes will learn from this and will be more reliable going forward.

            Also…every time someone brings up how F1 should be more of a sprint, quali lap after quali lap on Sunday, posters remind everyone there’s no such thing, conservation is always part of the game, etc etc. Suddenly RBR are going to keep Mercedes ‘permanently’ on throttle? Nah…easier said than done which is why I think Marko is just trying to ride a temporary wave of good fortune from a track that favoured them on a day LH’s engine blew and Nico got spun in T1.

            If anything it has been Mercedes ‘pressuring’ the rest of the cars to go ‘permanent’ throttle to try to keep up, while they control the pace up front and dial it up and down at will.

    3. I think the calendar could use a LOT of rethinking to make it work with far less strange back to backs (Montreal – Baku for example) and a more logical travel scheme. Bernie has been doing the planning like this on purpose to get teams to accept a complicated season, to coax them into agreeing on more races with a better scheduling.

    4. Solid read on how much Baku is a clear addition to the opressionist regimes paying for races to the calendar. There are too many of them, and it certainly doesn’t help F1 with credibility. Nor does the track inspire many people to watch it over Le Mans. By all means, call it what it is though, because European it is not.

    5. In WEC, you have to say the fans get great access. – Mark Webber

      The Mobil 1 article is a good read and very honest too. I have been to Spa for more GPs than I can count and it was only when I visited the WEC there in 2014 how locked up I realized the F1 is. I have visited many series in Spa and usually they allow access to most parts but I always assumed that was because they have to, otherwise there’d be no crowd at all. To put that in perspective I tried to get Webbers autograph on more than 6 GPs, it took me one WEC weekend to have all 9 (2015) LMP1 Porsche drivers their signature on one photo and I had a lovely chat with Lotterer about his Quattro. Met Mitch Evans, Jackie Ickx and almost met Dr Ulrich too.

      This year I was a little late on lining up for the autographs and I was like the second guy in line to go through the barriers for the autographs. However the line closed and autograph session ended. Some WEC steward saw my face and my hands held high with the book, he grabbed it off me, chased Webber and got it signed back to me.

      Whether you like F1, WEC or both there is no denying the WEC does the entire ‘love your fanbase’ a millions times better. Maybe that’s why F1 is dropping in popularity, because visiting a GP is not that different from watching it on TV whereas visiting a WEC event is a massive experience on itself.

    6. Sainz comments on VSC are just nonsense. He is claiming that the leaders gain an advantage because they get to keep the lead they have worked to build up under VSC and that it would be better for that to be wiped out by deploying a full SC. That’s not gaining an advantage, it’s just not getting the disadvantage which you used to have with SC periods. It’s another example of how drivers (and more often teams) opinion is often too focused on what suits them and not on whether something is actually the right thing to do. Suggesting the full SC is deployed solely to bunch up the field and not because it is required for safety is equivalent to suggesting weight penalties to level up the field – it might look better but it certainly isn’t a fair way to contest anything.

      1. @jerseyf1 he knows that if one of those VSC were a SC he would have finished in the points. I wouldn’t pay any attention to that article, it is pointless imo, he starts by saying that drivers can take advantage of it, and ends ups saying that VSCs are fairer than a standard SC, but it is not what F1 needs.

        it’s a moo point

      2. I think the advantage Sainz speaks of is mainly that they don’t lose out as badly as they would do with a regular SC @jerseyf1.

        But yeah, not a strong argument at all, unless one would be fine with the useage of the SC as a tool to create entertainment instead of being a safety measure to enable racing to take place.

      3. I don’t think the VSC is very effective at what it needs to do, that is slow down the cars in a specific area.

        Why not introduce slow zones instead?

    7. Good news for Formula E. Although, it does mean that Ferrari have leverage over the new owners of F1 as being the only engine supplier exclusive to F1. Expect special payments to continue.

    8. I agree with Alonso. 20 races is plenty enough. Even more races would also devaluate the term ‘Grand Prix’.
      Besides, I don’t veel like staying home for the tv every other sunday, lol!

        1. You know what they say about too much of a good thing

    9. Regarding the Comment of the Day, I know the TV situation with F1 in the UK is sometimes compared to Football but I don’t think it is that good a comparison.

      As I understand it the broadcast history of both sports has very been different in the UK. For football when Sky started showing regular Premier League matches live in the early 1990s it was something extra for fans as regular league matches were not broadcast at all before that.

      Whereas when F1 went to Sky it was replacing free to air coverage, which for many including myself was what we grew up on and what we were used to with F1, in football it would be the same as the FA Cup final or the World Cup going behind a paywall, events that have always been shown free to air.

      The nature of the two sports also makes it difficult to compare viewing figures for a race and a match.

      F1 is a sport that has about 20 races a year and every team and driver will normally take part in each race, if you are a fan of F1 you will watch all those races if you can.

      If we use the Premier League as an example for football, every weekend during the season there are 10 matches and each team plays 38 times a year, most matches are not broadcast live in the UK, to keep fans attending matches all over the country throughout all the football leagues the traditional Saturday 3pm kick offs are not allowed to be broadcast.

      If you were an avid football fan you may watch every single match you can but the more likely scenario is that fans watch matches involving the team they support and selected other big matches live and then will catch up with highlights for the league overall. But even if you just wanted to watch the team you support not all their matches are broadcast.

      Regarding the Champions League moving to BT Sport, it was predictable that viewing figures would drop for the free to air matches, firstly ITV is one of the main channels in the UK so unless it went to BBC One there would be a natural drop off no matter where coverage went as there has been with F1 since it went from the BBC to Channel 4.

      Secondly, BT may show some matches on Freeview, as they said they would to win the contract, but they have done the bare minimum required, probably to try and get more people to pay for a subscription.

      The free to air matches BT show have no promotion, on a channel hidden away on Freeview which as far as I can tell apart from the odd live match, shows rolling adverts for BT Sport 24/7 so no one has any reason to watch the channel unless they know that a match is going to be on and it is easy to miss any matches broadcast.

      ITV would always show a match featuring a team from England if possible, which would naturally get higher ratings in this country, whereas this does not seem to be BT’s policy, when I have remembered to check which match BT will show on Freeview when the Champions League is on it is sometimes not a match featuring a team from the Premier League.

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