F1 already becoming more popular under Liberty – Brawn

2017 F1 season

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Formula One has already seen an upturn in popularity since Liberty Media took it over, according to its director of motorsport Ross Brawn.

Brawn said television viewing figures and ticket sales for grands prix had risen over the course of this year’s 20-round season.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pictures
“I think the sport’s turned a corner,” he told Channel 4 in Abu Dhabi. “Viewing figures are up, more fans are coming to races.”

Brawn conceded that the change is likely a result of the championship being more competitive this season than it has in recent years.

“Fortunately we’ve had some racing this year, which has been the big thing,” he said. “The racing is always core to what we do. But I’m happy with the year.”

However Brawn admitted the sport’s new owners are beginning to feel some push back in their attempts to overhaul Formula One. “I think it’s getting tough now because we’re starting to look at some fundamental changes,” he said.

In recent weeks the sport has revealed details of its plans to change the engine regulations in 2021 and reduce costs. However this has prompted complaints from some quarters and Ferrari has even threatened it could leave the sport.

Brawn, who guided Ferrari and Benetton to Formula One championship success, admitted he “misses the sharp edge of the racing” and “the adrenaline” in his current role.

“But I’m taking a lot of satisfaction from what I can see of the plans for the future,” he added.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised the new management for being open to different ideas.

“I think what’s been quite interesting and quite dynamic about that is that there has been a steep learning curve for the new guys involved,” he said. “But they have embraced ideas, concepts; they’ve come with a very fresh, unbiased approach.”

“While they have been going through a learning phase, a building phase over the last nine or ten months, a lot of things that may seem trivial have changed – just how we deal on a day-to-day basis.”

“I think what is going to be fascinating is to see the lessons that been made this year, the infrastructure that’s been put in place, the people that have recruited, how that’s going to affect future years, because it’s not going to be just next year, it’s going to be the next three to five years.”

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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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20 comments on “F1 already becoming more popular under Liberty – Brawn”

  1. You forget also that Brawn was a Formula 1 constructor champion winner in 2009 as well – perhaps a greater challenge than all the other manufacture titles.

  2. This interview with Ross Brawn didn’t impress me at all. He said a lot of things that were common sense (things we already know), which is great, but he wants to wait until 2021 to have all the problems sorted out.

    They knew from the beginning of this year that the cars are unable to follow each other, but they have failed to introduce a short-term solution such as getting rid of the tiny sensitive aero parts for next year. Ross Brawn said he wants to enforce track limits by having the tracks designed as such, again something we’ve all been saying, but in the meantime hasn’t tried to change the penalty for a driver gaining an advantage, so it’s still a problem. Despite the fight for the title, there was little on-track action this year between the front-runners. If one team has an much faster car for the next three years, I imagine fans will switch off again.

    1. a collection of “Short term solutions” are the reason we have the cars we have today. Let Ross and his team think it through and come up with a proper solution for 2021 and then we can judge properly.

    2. There are a lot of contracts in place until 2021, which is why the owners are limited in the changes they can make to the regulations at the moment. Also it’s the stewards who are responsible for enforcing track limit limits, not Ross Brawn or the owners of the sport.

    3. @strontium, you should know that Liberty/Brawn have no power to come up with short term solutions!
      Only the FIA can do that (or all teams/stakeholders unanimously).

    4. @strontium Sorry but I must chime in too with a bit of surprise at your impatience, no insult intended. Liberty/Brawn are not responsible for how the cars are today, They’ve now got one F1 season, but not even one year, in charge. There is nothing you have pointed out that they are not fully aware of, and they must tackle everything from all angles as to how changes will affect all teams.

      For example, sure he could rip the little aero bits out of the teams’ hands with one wave of the wand, but that will as usual mean the more resourced teams will adapt quicker and be able to claw back the lost downforce in other ways while the lesser teams will simply have less downforce, balance, stability what have you.

      I don’t believe at all that ‘he wants to wait until 2021 to have all the problems sorted out.’ Firstly I don’t think he fantasizes at all about it ever being perfect nor pleasing everyone ie. all the problems being solved. But sure, track limit issues, inconsistencies with enforcement of the regs etc etc …they’re well aware. The tires will likely be somewhat different next year and that alone might have a positive effect.

      BE had about 40 years to shape F1, and many say that was 10 years too many (the money grab CVC years). Why does Liberty only get one season and they’re already being ‘trashed’ when they didn’t even get a chance to affect how the cars are today. Their tenure has barely begun because they have inherited what they have and have correctly said right off the bat let’s get away from knee-jerk reactions.

      They’ve laid out what the engines will be, giving all the makers inside and outside F1 plenty of heads up. Not even sure if the proposals on engines are written in stone yet, but they should be soon. And if/when there’s agreement on that they can start to shape F1 now toward that goal. You make it sound like you think they’ll sit on their hands and do nothing for the next 3 or 4 seasons and I expect that couldn’t be further from the truth.

      For me it is near impossible to fathom them making it worse. And they’ve barely had a minute relative to the BE era to do anything with what they’ve bought.

      1. @robbie, wasn’t Ross Brawn part of the Technical Working Group that was involved in the early planning of the current regulation package? The rules might have evolved since those early discussions, but I would argue that he has had at least some input into the current regulations because of that role.

        Equally, whilst it is rather predictable that most figures here go on about “tiny little aero parts”, it ignores the fact that studies have shown that the biggest shifts in handling due to aero parts stalling is due to the front of the floor stalling. I know that people seem to focus on things that they can see, but all too often it feels like people are pointlessly focussing a lot of their ire in a rather ill informed way and often at the wrong thing altogether.

        1. @anon I’m not too familiar with all the iterations of the technical working groups throughout the years and whose been in them and what they managed to accomplish or not, but I do think Brawn being in it as a team representative is far different than him now working for Liberty and F1 overall with no allegiance to any one team. They obviously have yet to achieve the closer racing that they need to, and it sounds like they want to head that way in a more effective way than the technical groups have been able to under an atmosphere of the big teams having too much self-serving say.

  3. I’m finding it difficult to envision how the F1 audience can increase by any significant number when most coverage is now subscription based. How can a newbie access the sport and become acclimatised to liking the drivers/tracks/atmos when access is so difficult. Looking back on races from the 80’s & 90’s and the tracks were awash with sponsors. Now all you see is Rolex, DHL and Emirates. I can’t afford a Rolex, or fly Emirates, and rarely have anything couriered. Who are they advertising to? Certainly not me. Its obvious sponsors know their demographic or we’d be seeing more Samsung, McDonalds, Apple, Tesla etc….I mean how can a worldwide sport not attract McDonalds or Pepsi as sponsors? I won’t begin to complain with how I feel about “Think before you drive”…… Open up access to the sport again on free to air!

    1. The IPL had Pepsi as a sponsor. F1 needs to get a few more sponsors!

    2. Maybe the statistics Brawn looked at included bootleg viewing and what Liberty Media have placed on Youtube.
      I must admit that when you see something like 1 million views for a 6 minute highlights package on Youtube, you can’t but help be encouraged to think there is a lot of interest in F1.

  4. If its so popular and fan base growth is noticed then why the hell was the coverage for American Formula One suddenly cancelled?
    As l write seeing any Formula One in the USA isnt known to me. Now l wonder what we will do. Any knowledge from anybody of the coverage for 2018?
    The popularity of the sport in the US took a blow with knowledge that the MSNBC F1 TV hosts were suddenly gone. They made the sport more entertaining with the 2017 cars and their potential. F1 was better this year with cars that tested the limits of their drivers. Hope the new coverage is as good and maybe cheaper. Current cost via my cable system is over $2000 per year.
    I wonder what the whole story is??
    F1 fan since 1963 and have watched all but a dozen races since 1977. Long time dedicated fan.

    1. @TEDBELL Have been watching since 78 myself, when Gilles presence in F1 caused the CBC to start airing F1 races here in Canada.

      From googling for info it would seem that as long as you have ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC, you will be able to see all the races live. If you don’t have all three of these then you will not see some races at all, and/or some may just not be live.

      I think it is a safe assumption even though I’m in Canada that you get ABC on even the most basic cable/satellite package, for we get it here in Canada with the most entry level packages. Can’t speak for what you have to spend to get the two ESPN’s needed to see all the races live. We can’t get ESPN here. I feel lucky that so far our main sports channel TSN which is also available relatively inexpensively, has been providing us the full Sky coverage. That said there are 5 TSN channels and I think that the more basic packages only give the one main TSN, which might not show all the practice, pre and post quali and race stuff, but certainly you’d get the quali and the race at a minimum. So we do have to spend a bit more to get all the TSN’s that would include the one that gives everything Sky does.

      1. As a US viewer, my concern is not that I’ll be able to see the races, but what I’ll be able to see. With no US coverage, just sharing the British feed, I fear viewership will decline significantly.

      2. My satellite package in Canada for all the TSN coverage costs about $25/year over the “basic” — certainly not a killer — and on 10 June 2014 “Bell Media’s TSN … and the Formula One group announced today that they have reached a new multi-year partnership … to retain exclusive media rights to all Grand Prix races, across all platforms, through to 2019.” I don’t have alternatives, except pirate re-transmissions, easily found.

        This obviously excludes any access to ABC and ESPN, and it only has the Sky feed, with a grotesque amount of advertising timed by employees who don’t know how pit stops, yellow flags and safety cars affect races — and once their 3 minute “ad spots” (coffee, burgers and recently water-proof underwear) have started, they can’t stop them.

        During ads, they used to continue the “video” feed in a smaller window (at least we could guess what was happening), but they’ve now stopped that.

        Bottom line: even at my age I can still travel to a few tracks every year, but TV (if Liberty are honest) should be able to keep my interest in the meanwhile. From what I see, read and hear, F1 is money à la world wrestling, not motor sport.

  5. If you look closely at the people in F1 and what they’re saying, they are totally in love with themselves. Look deep enough and it’s all about them.
    If they cared more about the fans than their jobs and secretive industries they would have for one, downgraded aero years ago. They are all in fear of the slightest change that might have a hint of ‘spec series’ about it. There is a certain snobbiness over the culture of engineering dominance which is unique to F1 and going to be hard for the Americans to crack.
    Meanwhile F1 and road relevence looks less likely every month as China invests in yet another new Electric Vehicle factory. China was the big market that the F1 brand and big manufacturers with their sporty and luxury models all had their sights on before putting on their blinkers.
    Crack the snobbery and insert the American ‘can do’ attitude. Strip F1 bare and get the cars swapping places/running side-by side. But then what to do with the fans who’s egos are often as big as those involved with F1 and will cry “NASCAR” at anything designed to have their favourite drivers challenged regularly.

  6. Not sure there will be much left of formula one by 2021 if they don’t change the engine regs. Watch your favourite driver/teams engine blow up in one race and then start at the back in the next race.
    The most ridiculous thing this year, complained about by all and not only are they doing nothing about it, they are making it worse with a reduction to 3 engines. Mercedes and Ferrari should hang their heads in shame. Am I the only one secretly hoping the Renault and Honda engines are more reliable than the Merc/Ferrari engines!? And this is coming from a Lewis supporter ;-)

  7. Almost by accident our entire familly watched the race this Sunday. Something we have not done ever since MSC first comeback race.

    To bad the race was terrible, but hey I like what they did so far. More of this please.

  8. Dude, Halo.

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