Ecclestone expects Liberty will make F1 less elitist

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone expects Liberty Media will relax restrictions on letting fans into the paddock.

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Comment of the day

Although there were many fine entries for this weekend’s Caption Competition, this mischievous effort from Philip stood out as the best:

Bottas: “How’s life after F1?”
Rosberg: “It’s just constant crying and toys being thrown out of the pram!”
Bottas: “So no different then?”

Philip (@Philipgb)

Thanks as always to everyone who joined in and special mentions to JackySteeg, Ramzi, Hzh, JamieFranklinF1, Todfod and Strontium for their excellent suggestions.

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Happy birthday!

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On this day in F1

Reigning world champion James Hunt won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch onthis day 40 years ago.

Also a happy birthday to Pedro Lamy who is 45 today.

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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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60 comments on “Ecclestone expects Liberty will make F1 less elitist”

  1. Oh… is Horner preparing a political battle on the grounds of being slow? Testing was a bit inconclusive, as any gap smaller than 1.5-2 seconds isn’t really to be trusted with the limited data us fans get, but that interview there really does sound like he is not expecting to be in the front battle.

    1. If you combine that with Max’s statements it seems that Red Bull are a little underwhelmed about where they stand in the pecking order. Even if they start in P3 though, they should be able to make great progress as the season goes on. No one is better at in season development than Red Bull and Renault should be making large strides as well.

      Horner seems to be getting back in to whine mode… and while I agree that Formula 1 needs close competition, it’s a little hypocritical that Horner was never bothered about the state of Formula 1 at all when Red Bull was dominating.

      1. Horner’s point is valid regardless of RB, or their (poor) behaviour during their championship reign.

        Any team except Mercedes could make it and you could decry it as “whinging”.

        And we would still be wishing for some valid competition in F1.

    2. Some things never change. I’m pretty sure this has been going on ever since there was a governing body aware of the effects of dominance on audience (though, obviously, not all of these involved Christian Horner as either complainant or dominator…)

      The trouble is, dominance is not something that one can “allow” or “not allow”. It happens quite naturally whenever there is sufficent difference between one competitor than others – and the moment the latter understands what is generating the difference, the critical factor tends to change because of innovative ways of closing the gap, artificial interference or no.

      So no, Christian, don’t expect Liberty to be able to prevent anyone from doing three-year dominance streaks. On the bright side, maybe the next one might be you…

  2. “Everyone wants to go to a restaurant where you can’t get a seat.”

    Sometimes Bernie, some people just won’t bother and will give up on the restaurant.

    In categories doing well at the moment, you notice their fan outreach is stronger and more robust and ticketing prices are not exorbitant. Hopefully Liberty will notice this and make changes accordingly for Formula One.

    Liberty need a consistent presence on Free TV in all key markets. Pay TV has a place for F1, but it’s dominance in the media market is a worry in terms of overall reach.

    Something else I’ve noticed, is they don’t take advantage of the wide pubic recognition of the likes of Lewis Hamilton. People know who Lewis Hamilton is, but ask them what he does, they don’t have a clue. They should attempt to build a persona around Max Verstappen too.

    1. I was going to say something about that quote, too. I think most people want to go to a place where the wait is short, the service is good, they get what they want and it’s delicious, and they can have a good time with the people they’re with, and not break the bank doing it.

      1. Well then, hamburgers and racing! Sounds better than a snobby restaurant with undersized, overpriced portions.

    2. It’s also those restaurants that end up just being a fad and shutting down within a couple of years. If Bernie is actually comparing an entertainment/sport’s mass adoption to a exclusive or niche restaurant, then he really needs to reevaluate his thought process.

    3. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      20th March 2017, 9:16

      “Liberty need a consistent presence on Free TV in all key markets. Pay TV has a place for F1, but it’s dominance in the media market is a worry in terms of overall reach.”

      You would think FOM of all people would understand the benefit of splitting strategy.

      I think a good route to take would be for FOM to centrally produce a TV show in-house, and provide an hour-long, advert heavy highlights show, free to anyone on terrestrial/youtube /catchup; and alternatively, a worldwide ad-free subscription streaming service for live races and bonus content.

      It seems archaic that viewership of this continent-hopping sport should be dictated by a web of TV contracts and asterisks, when better, more linear revenue streams are available.

      1. @fullcoursecaution I doubt FOM would ever do a full in-house TV show. It would require immense resources as it would have to be translated in many languages or even re-impersonated with local presenters for each country. An English-only TV show will have limited audience and not everyone is willing to follow a broadcast in another language than their native one. It could work if broadcasters can freely broadcast it with translations.

        1. Bernie was scared off of doing anything like this after F1 Digital failed. Better to sell the product and let others do the leg work.

        2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          20th March 2017, 12:34

          Perhaps so @spoutnik , though if you look at F1s official YouTube content, this often seems to simply be Will Buxton’s MSNBC content re-packaged. From this it seems there is at least some scope for licensing existing broadcaster content, and presenting it as being in-house, if not going the whole shebang and doing it outright.

      2. Agree for youtube delay heavy commercial sponsor highlighted .. sometimes I missed live race during work or teavelled ..

    4. The Blade Runner (@)
      20th March 2017, 9:22

      I think you’re right.

      I’m a big MotoGP fan and normally go to at least one race a year as well as a couple of F1 races. If you take the Circuit de Catalunya as an example, for the MotoGP a 3 day ticket for a decent stand on the main straight is £67. For the F1 it is £306!

      There is a huge difference in the make-up of the crowd between the two. The irony is though that the atmosphere at the MotoGP is generally better!

      I do agree that F1 should be seen as the pinnacle of motor sport. That does not mean it being priced at the current level however. The sport needs new fans and those fans need the live event to be accessible and affordable. There can still be areas at the circuit that are the preserve of the super-rich. Charge them more and reduce the pricing for everyone else!

    5. Indeed. Seemingly He thinks Heston Blumenthals Restaurants make more money than MacDonalds…

    6. Funnily enough, I avoid restaurants that are more than two-thirds full – they tend to be noisy and have slow service, meaning I am unlikely to be able to tolerate them long enough to eat a full meal. Full ones tend to be too noisy and crowded for me to attempt to order the food in the first place. I know some people, less spontaneous than me, like to decide where they will eat long in advance (at which point, there is a tendency to gravitate to the same places for as long as they can uphold the service and price standards they were setting in the first place – that’s probably what Bernie was trying to get at). However, even then, not everyone necessarily wants the same thing, and some are put off if their first/second date/time proposal is rejected due to lack of availability.

      Bernie is making a very generalised assumption here. Though I will grant that he’s thinking more in terms of “Blumenthal’s restaurants probably make more money than a posh restaurant that can’t even manage to get a waiting list for bookings” because he doesn’t see the likes of McDonald’s as being in the same sector (for the same reason that he never had a problem with local motorsport, provided it doesn’t directly interfere with his series).

    7. I only have three letters for Liberty, regarding TV rights and fan engagement and revenue… NFL.

    8. The problem with the expensive restaurant policy is that it is also a policy of old. It worked for F1 in the 90’s but not in our times because there are tone of good restaurants around and the one that tried twice to get a sit and couldn’t has too many choices to bother too much to get in.
      Basically the entrainment business right now(which lets be honest is what F1 main business is), is full of great choices fighting for our free time and attention.
      You can afford playing the highly exclusive in this day and age when choices and competition is everywhere. Keep some standards but don’t be snoppish. Snoppish ways aren’t cutting it anymore.

  3. Bernie’s restaurant analogy is an expected spin on the situation, with the obvious benefit to his legacy. It can be a dangerous sentiment to get behind, though. I caution my fellow race fans to resist the elitism of F1. Sure, its a nice feeling to be a part of it as fans, but its inherent insularity is simply not sustainable. Since we’re not driving or building the cars, I feel as fans we should strive to share and perpetuate the joys of our passions. I’m pretty sure everyone here relishes every chance we get to gush about our favorite sport. This is hampered when we inevitably concede to a potentially new race fan that no, we can’t just go to the park and race like we can play basketball, football, or soccer. Its hamepered when they realize going to race might not ever be in their budget. Its hampered when you can’t even watch for free to try out the experience!

    Depending on your view of whether the sport should be fan-first or athlete-first, I feel like it should be up to the organization to be in control of their longevity, and not take the attitude that fans should sinply gain more capital and social connections just so they can enjoy their leisure time.

  4. The glory days of F1 being a classy top-tier sport are gone now. It’s going to be just another large American conglomerate that will cheapen the product to the point of being pedestrian. Bernie’s dead right in that.

    1. @sjzelli I’m curious, what is your definition of pedestrian in this context?

    2. I think the fact that the elitism could go is a good thing. It doesn’t necessarily mean Formula 1 is going to all of sudden attract yobos, bogans, rednecks, cavs, or whatever un-cultured un-educated people who are excited by the lowest common denominator are called wherever you live.

      Formula 1 is still going to be a sport driven by a constant pursuit of technological advancement, and it will still attract an audience that will be generally well educated, and will continue understand the nuisances of the sport, whether the technology, the human factors, or the politics.

      If anything moving away from elitism might drive away the celebrity hanger-ons and the socialites, allowing everyone to actually focus on the sport rather than the tactic glitz and glam show that Bernie Ecclestone tried to create.

      1. You keep believing that. It’s going from a high society prestigious event to a Nascar-clone hot dog and French fries sell-out (and I’m not talking about attendance).

        1. @sjzelli I highly doubt that.

        2. @sjzelli To be fair I think F1 was a rival of CART (except it was way ahead of CART not the other way around) – I don’t think CART was a very prestigious, glamourous event.

        3. Wait a minute – it’s a high society prestigious event now? It hasn’t felt that way for about seven years. Maybe if the series had done a better job of portraying itself as one, it could have remained one.

          I don’t think it will become the equivalent of McDonald’s, simply because the operating expenses wouldn’t sustain that, but don’t be surprised if it becomes one of those mid-market restaurants that you can book for easily but probably can’t expect to walk in and find a seat unless you are lucky and someone cancelled at short notice.

          1. Point taken and I agree

      2. @formulales But it’s already happening. Drivers get booed on the podium and all over the Internet. Motorsport is generally right down there on par with football and the age where F1 was a gentleman’s sport in high society is already long gone – it’s now taken over by the hooligan masses. And that’s despite Ecclestone’s efforts to glam and glitz up the sport, though it must be said he did nothing to clamp down on driver feuding that typically attracts this type of people.

        To top it off, even clever people like Brawn, Horner and others are constantly going on about how ‘complex’ F1 is, and how it should be made simpler to understand, implying that the F1 fans are simpletons and not into the sport because of the advanced technology or can grasp a rule set that goes outside the “let’em race” one.

        1. @balue I take any criticism of the complexity of the sports rules by team bosses (even ex-bosses like Brawn) with a pinch of salt. It’s always targeted by opponents when they’re seeking to gain an advantage or stamp their authority (which Brawn will try to do, genial as he is on the surface).

          Red Bull have (IMO) lost any credibility when it comes to criticising the rule-book, given how they’ve played the game across the last 7 years.

    3. @sjzelli I disagree. For the last three years we have had really only one team contesting the titles, and that was due to the Token system hindering competing engine manufacturers from producing better engines during the course of a season. This was when Mr Ecclestone was responsible for running things. I can’t ever recall him complaining about it, whereas the loudness was a one of his favourite hobby horses, but loudness has almost no bearing on how competitive the cars are, so presumably he was happy with the lack of a competitive racing.
      Again, this year we had Manor Racing close its doors for good, and again he didn’t seem to have any qualms about its demise, nor about the extra paltry $10M season payout given to it compared to the $42.7 given to all the other teams, nor did the pathetic TV coverage given to Manor Racing, Sauber, and the many of the other teams. Only a few teams got really good coverage, and again he didn’t seem to object. Some suspect he was the main instigator of that. A few years back we also had Caterham F1 team fold, and again they were given pathetic TV coverage. How are teams supposed to attract corporate sponsorship if F1 won’t give them decent coverage during a race.
      Where I live hardly anyone follows F1 and that is because the races have been stuck behind the Pay Wall for so long no one even remembers what F1 is about, which Mr Ecclestone as the media rights holder is the one I held responsible for. Corporations, which pay for the advertising on F1 cars, will have noticed the many countries with F1 races behind the paywall and demanded lower prices, which ultimately meant the teams had less money to use to compete with. It meant only the manufacturer supported teams are the ones which really have a chance at being competitive.
      A better analogy would be if Mr Ecclestone had said “Who wants to go to a restaurant that opens once every two weeks, there is really only one dish worth eating, you can only park nearby if you own a super car, and the prices are too high?”

      1. Bernie wanted the entire engine system scrapped; complaining about the tokens is redundant when you think you have enough power to scrap the engines on the basis of sound and slowness.

    4. I am not sure what ‘Glory Days’ you are referring too as this Elitist strategy is a relatively new one. In the real glory days tickets were not nearly as expensive. Bernie has just been successfully running a pyramid scheme the last two decades where he walks away with all the money and all those beneath him go bust. The only reason the ticket prices are so high is because Bernie demanded extortionate costs for the privilege of hosting an F1 race. This has lead to most traditional circuits going bust and instead being replaced by circuits owned by dubious characters and regimes that are willing to pay the high costs despite no-one wanting to attend the races. Silverstone has the biggest attendance of any F1 race yet loses money every year! That is not sustainable, but Bernie didn’t care as long as he was made even more wealthy each year.

      1. COMMENT OF THE YEAR right here!!

      2. I’ll remind you of that in 5 years when the plebeian-fest called F1 has digital billboards on the side of the cars advertising your favourite hamburger joint.

        1. @sjzelli Lol, nah those would be much too distracting for anorexic F1 drivers to see.

    5. @sjzelli the overwhelming majority doesn’t care about so-called “elitism”. You think you’re part of it and Bernie laughs. Bernie says ‘bring millions and we’ll see if you’re part of the elite’. People care about ticket price. High ticket prices doesn’t mean people will spend more it does just mean people will go to a Grand Prix less often.

  5. The Sergey Sirotkin article is a good read, very nice observation. Making it harder not to be more optimistic about Ferrari’s chances.

    1. Exactly Sirotkin really did sound candid, but I wonder how true. I’m sure he had the chance and even the information to know something that we do not, anyhow I think he’s wrong about a couple things.

      1. Yes yes. From your “in car” vantage point that everyone else saw too? I guess that’s why opinions are like…

        1. @sjzelli

          Of course your vantage point is much better. Up on that high horse of yours.

  6. Reading the Motorsport article, I feel Ferrari and Merc may lap the field if Renault powered cars continue to run in low power mode.

    This also speaks to the users on how the F1 drivers themselves view the cars on track. Easy to collaborate with the journalists who have given their opinion as well. Feel sorry for Sauber. They went with old engines to spend money on Aero but that seems to have gotten them nowhere.

    Sergey’s reputation at stake as well on how well he can read cars :)

  7. Am I the only one that doesn’t really care for 2 second pitstops? They just don’t impress me at all – there’s 16 people involved in that pitstop, almost a full football team plus substitutes. It just seems a bit ridiculous, particularly as it seems likely many races will be one stoppers this year.

    1. They’re not supposed to be “impressive” to us, they’re just meant to be as fast as possible in order to get a jump on the opposition, if possible, or at least gain parity on them.

      There’s no use getting cute and using only 8 people doing it, if it costs you 5 seconds.

    2. I think being impressive is just a bi-product.

      But you’re right to a certain degree – the less time taken for a pitstop (which on average now is around 2-3 seconds), the less variation (generally speaking) in time differences per stop.

      I think the only plus could be that the ‘penalty’ for taking a pit stop is much less than it used to be say, 15 years ago, so if you did fancy a more aggressive strategy, it’s slightly more appealing. But saying that, it doesn’t sound like these tyres will need changing much at all.

  8. The COTD is a dig on Hamilton or is there something else to it ?

    1. @subhashs It’s a bit of well judged fun.

      Drivers will get upset in some way or another if things aren’t going their way. If they can’t laugh about it later then there may be a problem…

    2. Yes. It’s a dig on Hamilton. And a good one as well. Because it’s accurate.

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        20th March 2017, 8:13

        The clever part of the Caption is that it can be read either way.

      2. @Baron agreed. It’s funny coz it’s true.

  9. It’s that time of the year again

    The final countdown

  10. ExcitedAbout17
    20th March 2017, 8:10

    Everyone wants to go to a restaurant where you can’t get a seat.

    That’s old school thinking; for nouveau riche/show offs (certainly nothing to do with classy).

    I (and many others) want to go to a restaurant where we CAN get a seat. I mostly decide on the evening where we go for dinner. I want the food, and the atmosphere, to be good and fit the occasion (sometimes preferring tapa type food over sit down meals). I want the price to be fair, and (different restaurants) giving me various options.

  11. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    20th March 2017, 8:18

    Brilliant Caption winner. Actually made me laugh out loud.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      20th March 2017, 8:21

      In contrast, Bernie’s comments nearly made me swear out loud. Thank goodness that pompous, elitist, dinosaur is out of our sport.

  12. Yea Bernie. Who makes more money? McDonalds where it is some times risky to sit down (just kidding) or the fancy pants place where you have to know someone to get in? This elitist rubbish makes me so angry.

  13. Andre Furtado
    20th March 2017, 11:02

    I am glad to see there is so many wealthy people here who thinks they can’t mingle with poor people. I have never been so disgusted on a chain of comments in a sports forum. To generalize any class of people as inferior or superior based on their income is absolutely ridiculous, most wealthy people are worth absolutely nothing in my book: their needless and endless pursuit of richness regardless of the cost on the remaining population is nothing but a constant reminder of the reason why the world is like it is today.

    1. So just to be clear then, it is disgusting to generalize people as inferior or superior based on their income…fair point…unless they are YOU, who are allowed to generalize that most wealthy people are worthless and are only motivated by the pursuit of riches.

      I’ve never seen a more blatant example of pot calling kettle black.

  14. I was actually genuinely surprised that Bernie hadn’t managed to get Christian Sylt to write that Daily Mail article.

    That said, a scan across Holt’s previous works shows he’s not much better. Good to see the DM being consistent.

  15. I think still the best way to create F1 more fans based are to copy english premier league price money distribution with more middle and bottom team get more equal money to develop their team. And if all team already get more equal commercial money, they must spend minimum of budget to delevop car. Not just put it in the bank and sell the team

    Secondly, F1 should make each team have home race.. example when italian GP all banner big flag red color or torrorosso color and big big flags on every aspect of circuit .. its should be about Ferrari and Torro rosso .. or when German GP .. all sourounding atmosfer should be mercedes banner .. India and Swiis should have GP race, and also Austria must all about red bull atmosfer.. england must be mclaren home race .. US Austin should be all about Haas color banner and highlighted .. despite many team factory lay on England .. with home race highlighted there will be pressure and more cheers for the fans.. and another country should more highlighted for their driver .. when mexican GP it’s should be about Perez .. in Melbourne Ricciardo smiling face and big flag should be in all every corner .. if F1 only think only big bugs sponsor can put their circuit layout then you cannoy feels home race GP. INMHO

  16. B-B-But, Bernie….it’s you who can’t get a seat in the restaurant now. Enjoy your bitter clickbait leftovers.

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