Sean Bratches, 2017

‘If F1 isn’t competitive, fans will leave’ – Bratches

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In the round-up: Formula One’s commercial head Sean Bratches warns Formula One’s future rests on its ability to make the contest more competitive.

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What’s a realistic goal for McLaren in 2018?

I think they should be satisfied if they finish the year in fourth place and bag a few podiums along the way. It’s their first year with Renault, so I can’t expect them to beat Red bull straight away.

In 2019 though, once Red Bull switches to Honda power, I’d expect McLaren to finish in third if not higher.

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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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90 comments on “‘If F1 isn’t competitive, fans will leave’ – Bratches”

  1. I still think Red Bull is going to make some magic with Honda. And yes, I still look for gold at the end of every rainbow.

    1. I might start chasing those rainbows as well.

    2. I agree, Red Bull wouldn’t be looking down this path unless they expected it to be more profitable than sticking with Renault.

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        24th February 2018, 10:53

        Sticking with Renault wasn’t an option. Renault swiftly ended the partnership after agreeing to supply McLaren.

        1. That’s only a story. No real source for this news.

          1. No, it’s not “only a story”. Renault is fed up with Red Bull pure and simple.
            Red Bull better hope Honda gets it right or Max and Dan will be getting a dose of what Alonso got.


    3. If Honda thought McLaren were critical, wait until they get a dose of Marko and Horner.
      To have an engine supplier halfway around the world is senseless as McLaren found out and Red Bull is about to.
      Good luck with the “magic”.

      1. No, it’s not “only a story”. Renault is fed up with Red Bull pure and simple.
        Red Bull better hope Honda gets it right or Max and Dan will be getting a dose of what Alonso got.

        1. You already posted this above, why double post?

          Recently Abiteoul commented that they would see at the end of 2018 if RB still wanted their engines and if they would keep providing them. Clearly, no final decision has been made on that.

          I can imagine though that they aren’t too happy with RB having a look in the kitchen of both the Renault and Honda engine programs.

          1. I think you have got it wrong – the divorce is final.

            No worries though, Aston Martin or Honda will furnish them with engines.


  2. But is there not dominance is almost every discipline of sport?
    It’s just how it is. Yes it’s annoying when it’s not your team winning but.. that’s just the way it is.

    I would much prefer dominance by one/two teams than watch manufactured ‘unpredictability’ any day.

    1. I would much prefer dominance by one/two teams than watch manufactured ‘unpredictability’ any day.

      It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Only thing f1 really needs is better engine parity (read: racing engines). Once that is taken care of we can have 5 teams battling for wins (mercedes, ferrari, red bull, renault, mclaren) while mid teams have legit chances to finish on the podium on pace.

      In its current form f1 can not even organize a race on purpose where mercedes of ferrari will not win. You can start them from pits and they are still fast enough to win. It pretty much takes a start from pits and a stop and go before the 2nd division cars can beat them.

      Only exciting thing next season is where mclaren finishes. Mercedes will win everything, ferrari is second and red bull third. Fourth is force india or mclaren. Before these horrible hybrid engines I used to watch majority of all f1 sessions. But nowadays I barely bother to see the races. I’ve never been a fan of the fuel saving spectacle.

      1. Engine parity, which everway its supporters sugar coat it, gets us 1 step away from a spec series, and I for one don’t want it. It is just a fact that Mercedes have done a better job that anyone else in the hybrid era, and Ferrari are not too far behind. As for suggesting these are horrible enginees, may I suggest modestly, that not a single manufacturer in F1 today would have stayed if the V8 were retained . What should be blamed for Mercedes dominance, if anything, is the token system, in 2014 & 2015, which prevented the other manufacturers from spending as much as possible, to close the gap to Mercedes, once their dominance became clear. These hybrid power units, or a version of them , with an ICE, combined with turbos and electric generators are the future, like it or not.

        1. Engine parity () gets us 1 step away from a spec series,

          Exactly. As much as I want to see more competition at the front, it should be based on fair competition. The best combination of chassis, PU, driver.

        2. Engine parity does not mean spec series. It simply means that the engines are close enough so the whole championship doesn’t revolve around the engines and around the wishes of the engine manufacturers . And engine parity would be good for racing as you can not expect every team to build engines. I always laugh out loud when people suggest teams like haas, sauber and williams should build their own engines!

          F1 is after all chassis building championship. Not engine building, not tire building nor fuel making championship. Sure you can do all those things but you should not have to do all those things yourself. But nowadays you need to be engine manufacturer or you have no chance to compete.

          As for hybrid engines. They are only good at killing race series. Lmp1 is now dead because hybrids and the massive costs they bring. F1 competition is non existent because hybrids and the massive costs they bring. No new engine manufacturer will come into f1 as long as the engine regs stay as they are.

          And future is electric. Hybrid is old tech and it is not the future. The first hybrid car that was sold to the general populace was toyota prius which came out in 2003. 15 years ago. F1 is using tech that was new 15 years ago. Everybody knows the future is electric and driverless cars. Just because that is the future of road cars does not mean it should be the future for f1.

          1. And future is electric

            . @socksolid we already have electric racing and we already have driverless racing cars. It’s called ‘Scalextric’ and it’s been around for years and it even makes the same sound as Formula-e. Apparently some people are also very skilled Formula One drivers, when driving on a simulated environment, on a computer. I believe Nikki Lauda said that Formula-e is not proper motor racing because it doesn’t have an engine.

          2. @socksolid, so you are now prepared to ignore pretty much the entire history of the sport by now claiming that F1 is solely a chassis building championship?

          3. @Lotus49 Scaletrix is not driverless. There’s still a meat bag directly controlling the volts. Driverless is for a computer to drive it entirely.

          4. @anon
            F1 has been primarily chassis building championship. At least for the last 50 years. The constructor’s trophy is for the best chassis constructor for example. Not for the best engine.

          5. @lotus49

            why choose scalextric? RC car racing has been very popular since the 1980s and is more fun to watch than F1, let alone FE

      2. @socksolid Fuel saving has always existed in F1 to some extent at least, i.e., F1 has never really been flat-out racing 100% of the time, not even during the refuelling era.

        1. Like the link you dug up last time said the fuel saving has never been as bad as it is now.

          1. @socksolid Fuel saving isn’t that bad now, You hardly see drivers having to lift & coast anymore for instance. I’ve been watching races from the OnBoard channel for a decade now & the only time fuel saving was a big part of the races was 2014/2015 when you did see a lot of lift & coast, short shifting etc… The past 2 years that hasn’t been the case.

            Fuel saving was way more important & a way bigger part of the show in the 80’s & even in some cases the early 90’s where it wasn’t uncommon to see drivers run out of fuel late in the race or on the slow down lap. In the 80’s especially the turbo powered cars were given severe fuel restrictions to prevent them running higher boost levels in races in the hope that it would allow the non-turbo cars to be competitive (Which they still weren’t).

            F1 is after all chassis building championship. Not engine building.

            At the very start of the championship engine’s were considered more important which is why the push back then was simply on creating more power from bigger engine’s.

            Lmp1 is now dead because hybrids and the massive costs they bring.

            But at the same time those hybrid engine’s & all the attention they brought helped that series grow.

            Outside of Le Mans sportscar racing wasn’t that popular a decade ago, The hybrid era & the manufacturer’s & attention they brought allowed sportscar racing to get to a place where they could create a new world championship via the WEC & through that series sportscar racing was able to become more popular than it had been since probably the Group C days.

            It’s maybe also worth pointing out that LMP1 was in trouble before Hybrid’s were introduced. I mean how many LMP1 cars were there challenging Audi through most of the 2000’s? In the ALMS for instance there primary competition were LMP2 cars from Dyson’s that struggled to finish races & Penske/Porsche which were given advantages on top of Audi been handicapped to create competition between the 2 classes.


            I hope jere posts his favourite paddy lowe quote where lowe says fuel saving is “mildly more than it used to be”. I’ll let you decide whether paddy means the 80s, 90s or 2000s.

            |At the very start of the championship engine’s were considered more important which is why the push back then was simply on creating more power from bigger engine’s.

            You mean in the 1950s or 1920? In other words 70 years ago or 100 years ago? Not very recent…is it? What about that little cosworth era? That doesn’t count because it was chassis building? Or in the 80s when 90% of the teams bought the engines outside because f1 is not engine building championship? You know those pesky williams, mclaren and lotus (dare I say red bull?) teams who never built their own engines and won tons of championships… That’s not f1?

            I mean look at this thing I found:
            I won’t mention that it is specifically chassis constructors’ championship but I will mention that 24 out of those 60 championships have been won by engine manufacturer team. And 16 of them is ferrari. In other words your engine building championship has been won 60% of the time by non-engine manufacturer team. And if we exclude ferrari then only 8 other engine manufacturers have won it. Last 4 of them by mercedes. Only once has a privateer won by building their own engines. Vanwall.

            F1 has always had periods of dominance but back then everybody could negotiate a good engine deal even if you were private team. Now that is not possible. What williams, mclaren or lotus did in the past by building the best chassis and getting good engine contract to win the championship is no longer possible.

            Unless you are the engine manufacturer you can’t compete. Merc and ferrari are using every trick in the book so they can keep their advantage. Back when toyotas, hondas and bmws competed they did not have this unhealthy amount of power. They could not totally control the sport like the engine manufacturers do now. F1 has truly transformed from chassis building championship to engine building championship. But that is a change that happened when the crappy hybrids where introduced.

      3. The only way anything like that will happen is if one company made the car. Even if the engines were levelled out.. someone will find an advantage somewhere else.. again it’s just how sport is. Why should the teams who perform the best not be rewarded with a win? Yes I understand money comes into it, but I think Force India have proved time and time again that that isn’t always the case.. (partially because VJ doesn’t have any left haha)

        Yes F1 mate lose some ‘fans’ but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case during Ferrari and Red Bull’s reign. Mercedes may well dominate this era.. but come the next major change it could and probably will flip to someone else. Also.. im sure the second they start implementing reverse grids or overtaking point or any other gimmick like that.. they will lose many more genuine fans.

        It’s almost like they want to try and please the people who have no interest in F1 as whole, rather than those who appreciate the goings on behind the scenes and understand all the efforts put into getting those cars onto the grid.

        For me the idea of sport is wanting to be the best. Pushing yourself to knock someone off the top spot. Not take a punt and see what happens because of some daft rule(s) to encourage ‘unpredictability’

        1. I quit being a fan in 2002 when I realized I was wasting my time on Sundays, after all if I had just watched the first 3 laps and the last 3 it would probably be all I needed to see especially when today’ reliability. Mind you if I had been a mercedes/hamster fan I also wouldn’t mind if they won 20 times in a row and also couldn’t care less about the others.

          1. That pretty much explains what your (and most of the spec engine moaner) issues are – you just do not like who is doing the winning.

            Frankly childish behaviour because the sports history has been about engines right until 2010. Some here forget that parity did zero for who won. Particularly in the aero years.

            Get with it – since the dawn of reliability F1 has changed and even now can throw up a few anomalies like the last couple of years.

            Enjoy it for what it is or just stop moaning and go watch something else.

            Just two years ago the doors round here were banging to the sound of mass ranks of fans off to watch WEC!

            How did that go for you chaps?

    2. @nemo87
      “But is there not dominance is almost every discipline of sport?”
      No. You miss the point. Do you know of a sport where an athlete or a group of athletes is winning only because they’ve been given better shoes? Or a fundamentally better tennis racket?
      Nobody would accept tsuch sports and their results would be deemed illegitimate, rightfuly obviously.

      Humans competing with their talent and skill is the essence of sport. If someone achieves dominance by talent, skill or domination, that is just desired. If someone achieves dominance by opportunity and better fortune, it’s against the whole idea behind sport.

      The problem with F1 is that it is, in fact, two totally different competitions: constructors race and drivers race, merged together in a way that ruins the latter one by making it only secondary to the 1st one.

      McLaren have constructed the fastest car – they win the constructors competition. The rest has built slower cars, somebody has built the very slowest cars. That’s perfectly fine.
      But then, those results are imposed on the driver field, and 2 drivers are given the benefit of McLaren’s success, the other drivers get a gradually larger handicapp by getting worse cars. All based on nothing else than affiliation.

      And so, the competition for drivers is as legitimate as democracy in China. It’s fake.

      As we saw last year during qualifying sessions in particular, the drivers competition almost perfectly reflected the results of the constructors race. It had been pretty much reduced to redundancy.
      But then they still have the guts to name somebody “the best driver” at the end of that farce…

      1. so putting say.. Max Chilton or Karun Chandhok in the Merc would have made them world champions?

        No. I highly doubt it. Yes the better car has a massive say on winning. Of course it does. But ultimately so does the talent of the driver.

        It varies from sport to sport.. football. The team with the biggest budget generally wins bthe cause they buy the better players.. Man City, PSG, Barcelona.. same with formula one.. bigger budget teams usually win because they can afford the resources to produce a better car?

        Are we going to start seein reverse leagues in football?

        If it doesn’t come down to the individual as a whole it’s will almost always come down to the tools they have around them to get the job done.

  3. Sean Bratches, right on, the racing has to be good, the cars have to race each other rather than run a tyre strategy.
    Valentin whoever, we the grumpy old men are still here because every year we have been expecting the next year to be Bernie’s last and consequently we hoped the parasite sucking the lifeblood (money) out of the series could be vanquished allowing the teams more opportunity to survive and innovate their way to the front. Fools that we are we still live in the hope that Liberty can find a way to make the field bigger and more competitive despite the multi-billion dollar millstone hanging from their neck. None of the above should cause your ignorance of F1 past to be a source of pride.

    1. +1 @hohum

      And…Branches…you look older than most…but still…Get Off Our Fake Lawn!

    2. Liberty will retain just as much of the sport’s EBITDA as Bernie and CVC, in fact more. How do we know this? Because Liberty has far more capital “invested” in the sport (the $8 billion paid to CVC and Bernie) than CVC and Bernie ever did, and that capital reqires a return on investment. Anyone who thinks Liberty is going to “plow money into the sport” (as opposed to the $8 billion they plowed into CVC, et al’s pockets) is ignorant.

      1. Totally wrong.
        Just see how other successful modern companies build their Corporate Value: Amazon; Facebook; Tesla; etc. They invest a lot without taking any money out with the sole purpose of building a customer base. As soon as they have the customer base they start creating posive cash flows to repay shareholders.
        This model can work perfectly well for sports like F1.

      2. I can’t say that upon the news a few years ago of Liberty taking over F1 I ever thought to myself ‘Oh good they will plow a bunch of money into F1.’ I did however, and continue to think, ‘oh good someone who isn’t BE to manage and grow the sport in a better way and who has been saying all the right things about a deliberate and long term plan, not a season to season short term throw of a dart to problem solving (read: ignoring).’

  4. The only way F1 will be more competitive is if:

    a) there is an increased chance of DNF’s by top teams but on of the prime causes for that (stuck in gravel trap or spun off on the grass) has been pretty much removed.

    b) innovation – but the rules are so proscribed, there’s no room for anything “radical” to be brought to the track by a midfield or lower team.

    More “talk” from Bratches – everyone agrees with him but I’d actually like to hear some “solutions” put forward that might address either of the above.
    Maybe they need more tracks like Baku lol

    1. My understanding is that the solutions are being worked on, ideas are being floated and discussed, and Liberty has known from the start they have to let some things that are in place by contract work their way through so as not to disadvantage lesser teams, or advantage the resources teams too much. There are deals and contracts in place that Liberty can’t affect yet.

      They are studying the dirty air effect, only this time there is actually a team in place for this study and I wholeheartedly believe that for the first time a genuine effort will see the 2021 cars with the results of these studies implemented, unlike 8 or 10 years ago when what studies that were done were never implemented.

      Their goals are cars able to race closer amongst each other, and lesser teams able to be closer to the top teams. There is no reason they cannot achieve this now that there will actually be a genuine effort to do so. And that includes with the removal of DRS.

  5. Here is a way to make F1 more competitive. Drop DRS and let the drivers demostrate their skill sets.
    This idea of DRS helping to improve racing is Fake news. Nobody believes it. There was a time when we used to recall classic moments where a driver and a good racecar could carve up the field and when done so in a spectacular fashion gives us the special memories of Formula One and why we dig it.

    1. @TEDBELL When will you realize this: DRS has to stay at least as long as following another car closely through the corners is as difficult as it is due to how the cars are designed aerodynamically. Fix that problem first, and then we can talk about dropping it altogether.

      1. +1
        DRS allows the faster through, if this was not the case the now passed car would simply use DRS to re-pass..

        1. Just because a car is faster doesn’t mean it has the right to get past.

          @jerejj So what if it is difficult to follow/overtake, Overtaking should be difficult because overtaking should be about driver skill rather than pushing a button.

          I’d much rather watch a race with fewer real overtakes that are actually exciting t watch than a race with more fake one’s which are about as interesting to watch as paint dry.

          I despise DRS, I despise what it’s done to the racing & how much it’s helped reduce my love & passion for this sport.

          1. @stefmeister There have been countless ‘DRS-assisted’ passes that haven’t been easy-looking, i.e., have still required skill to be achieved, for example, Ricciardo’s pass on Raikkonen into the first chicane of Monza. Furthermore, I’d say that in many cases it isn’t even the primary factor behind an easy-looking pass. For example, I’d say Hamilton’s easy-looking DRS-assisted passes into turn one in Brazil were much more down to the fact he had a fresher engine (and some other PU elements) than most of the drivers he overtook on his way through the field than DRS alone. That was my impression at the time as well. People are always eager to blame DRS (alone) for easy-looking passes that are completed before the braking point for the approaching corner without thinking about the possible other factors that could actually very well have more influence on making them look easy than DRS.

        2. @stefmeister @Rocky @Sviat @rob91 When will people realize that most of the time these days DRS doesn’t really make any difference in aiding overtaking, and that applies to even the few circuits where it used to be a bit too effective at times during its first three seasons (2011-13) but since the introduction of the current engine formula, it hasn’t been that effective anymore even around the likes of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Spa, for example, as it used to be prior to the 2014 reg changes.

          1. I.e., Having DRS doesn’t automatically guarantee (far from it) that a driver with a faster car will pass a driver with a slower car as has been proven countless times especially since 2014.

          2. @jerejj DRS may not be as effective as it was, But in a lot of cases it’s still far too effective than it should be.

            And while DRS doesn’t automatically guarantee a pass 100% of the time, There are far too many cases where it does.

            Every time I see a DRS pass I just lose interest in that race a little bit more because I just don’t like seeing them, I don’t find them to be interesting, I don’t find them fun & I certainly don’t find them to be exciting.

            I want to see quality overtaking rather than quantity & DRS may help provide quantity but it certainly does nothing for quality or excitement.

      2. @jerejj – DRS has to go because there’s no skill anymore. When you push-the-button pass another driver and have 20-40 km/h advantage, that’s not racing. Remove DRS and give drivers good tyres – not Pirelli – is the solution.
        DRS is stupid and kills racecraft.

      3. @jerejj TEDBELL is completely right, DRS has not improved the racing, it has made it worse. Why can’t you (and others) realise that for as long as DRS stays as a feature in F1 that the stakeholders are never going to seriously look at properly fixing the problem of cars struggling to follow each other closely through corners because of the aerodynamics. DRS must be abolished if there is to be any serious progression on changing the aerodynamic designs to improve the racing.

      4. Jere why not just let the ability of the drivers solve the passing issue? Aero design is so efficient that it does challenge the driver to get down to business.
        DRS (the Dumb Racing System) is an artificial method of giving the car behind a free pass…get it…and for that fact alone it is hated by drivers and fans alike.
        Drivers like Senna who mastered passing by his own skillsets may not have thought much about this freebee known as DRS. Fans in general agree.

        1. @TEDBELL ”giving the car behind a free pass” – That isn’t the case most of the time these days, though.

    2. “Fake news” – 2 words which ridicule any argument.

      1. While I do understand the sentiment that DRS must stay while aero is at it is, one counter to that is we’ve had the dirty air effect for years with no drs, and we have also had processions either way.

        My take is that the only reason we still have drs is that Brawn, who has made it clear is not a fan of it, has also said the cars are designed for drs right now, and to yank it too abruptly will advantage the resourced teams and disadvantage those who can’t adapt as quickly.

        So in a way I think the conversation is moot. DRS will be gone, but it will be removed when it is best for all the teams. I predict the 2021 cars will have differently shaped wings, ground effects work, and tech regs that will ensure less wake behind cars, in a combination different than we have ever seen before.

        They can’t just yank drs overnight, but nor should their deliberate method of working toward all around changes be taken as meaning they are happy with drs and aren’t addressing the issue. Far from it I say. I see drs not seen by Brawn as some ‘solution’ that works for now…it is appalling. I just see it as something that was brought in under BE, that has proved to have far more negatives than positives now that they have lived with it this long to see, and that will be gone in a few years, giving the teams time to plan and resource for a new era coming, with ideas that are being floated now by Brawn for them to digest and ponder and discuss and tweak and agree.

        1. How about this ??

          Every other Grand Prix in 2018 the use of DRS isnt allowed.

          Over the course of the season the statistics might give back true advantage or not from this experiment and we might get a more true evaluation of DRS

    3. TEDBELL, and how long would it be before we get the same figures who moan about DRS then predictably moaning about the return of “Trulli trains”?

      1. We have Trulli trains now, with drs.

  6. An official young driver is a weird job title so to speak. A better one for his role would be something like a test/development.

    1. Test/development driver. I forgot to add the word ‘driver.’

      1. I forgot to add the word ‘driver.’

        You’re forgiven, as many test/development drivers never turn a wheel in an actual F1 car.

  7. It’s strange that Kubica, Sirotkin and Rowland all tested Renault last year and all 3 ended up at Williams. Maybe Williams can sign di resta also.

    1. They may be desperate, but not that desperate.

    2. di Resta was Williams’ reserve driver last season (hence him racing in Hungary) though and either got dropped or decided to leave.

  8. Yeah I’ll remind you of that at the end of next year @todfod


  9. A “young driver” who is older than both the teams main drivers!

      1. But.. with less money

      2. @george No way is he better than Sirotkin, did you watch them both in GP2? Stroll on the other hand…

  10. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    24th February 2018, 9:42

    In 2014-16 (14 particularly) I used to wonder what Williams could achieve if they had a better driver line up. Don’t get me wrong I knew Williams weren’t going to attract the best drivers but I did just wonder what a top 5 driver could of achieved…………. My god what I would give for that line up back now!!!! I’d even beg Senna and Maldonado back! When you look at the incredible job Force India have been doing it makes you sick. Even teams like Sauber and Manor always had one exciting up and coming driver alongside an out and out pay driver. This is just abysmal.

    1. @rdotquestionmark

      Even teams like Sauber and Manor always had one exciting up and coming driver alongside an out and out pay driver.

      Sauber lineups:
      2014: Esteban Gutiérrez, Adrian Sutil
      2015-2016: Marcus Ericcson, Felipe Nasr

      Manor/Marussia/Virgin lineups:
      2010-2012: Timo Glock, Lucas di Grassi/Jérôme d’Ambrosio/Charles Pic
      2015: Will Stevens, Roberto Merhi

      Methinks we have different semantic conceptualisations of either ‘always’, or ‘exciting up and coming’.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        24th February 2018, 15:59

        Okay ‘tend’ to, happy?

  11. I think there is an argument to be made that on occasion the ‘Swansea City’ of F1 does beat the ‘Manchester City’ of F1. The problem is the teams run two cars, and there are ten teams playing at a time so you don’t always appreciate how amazing a result the backmarkers are achieving.

    When Hamilton came 9th in Mexico he had a real scrap with Alonso in a McLaren and was beaten by Magnussen in a Haas. When he came 7th in Monaco he was beaten by Sainz in a Torro Rosso.

    The fluke results of soccer would never happen if it wasn’t a head to head sport, having ten teams on the grid running two drivers means that even if a driver has an off day the best team has a backup, and even when the best team slips up, there are two other front-running teams with two drivers to soak up their losses. It’s unrealistic to expect a backmarker to collect a win when they aren’t just going head to head, they’re fighting nine teams at the same time.

    1. @philipgb You mean they should have the top contenders start with a damaged car and from the back?

      1. @patrickl

        No, what I’m trying to say is they should let lobsters drive the cars

        1. I’m somewhat stunned by that reply.

        2. @philipgb That actually makes more sense than your original rant. Which says about a lot really.

  12. When all the focus on engine parity? Maybe it could help if driver errors have more consequences. If you miss your brake point and you hit a gravel trap, you might have a DNF every now and then.

  13. If F1 isn’t “free to air”, most fans will leave. As a 30+ year F1 fan, it is already trying my patience missing half the GPs and with no FTA source in the UK from next year, audiences will be minimal. I for one will probably reduce my interest to checking the papers the next day, if that. I can’t see many major sponsors paying top dollar for such a rapidly declining audience, already down from 8 million to less than 400,000 in the UK in the last 10 years. Formula E might get more interesting, more sponsors & more audience, if it remains FTA.

    1. @inkpen99, as you say, the availability of free to air broadcasts have been the overwhelmingly dominant factor in viewing figures for the sport.

      For all the bickering about the engines from certain sectors of the fan base, or for all the complaints about dominance, it seems that those factors have had a pretty negligible impact on global viewing figures whilst there’s been a pretty strong correlation between subscription services and falling viewing figures. For example, when you look at the drop in figures that occurred between 2014 and 2015, when the viewing figures dropped by 25 million, that difference equated pretty much exactly to the loss in viewers after the French and Chinese markets moved from free to air to pay TV services that year.

      There is also the question of how long the pay TV market can be sustained before the small audiences start to have a negative commercial impact. Some people bring up comparisons to the Premier League, given they have managed to do well out of deals with pay to view TV channels, but things have started looking less rosy for them recently – over the past two years, broadcasters in the UK have shown that viewing figures for the Premier League have fallen quite sharply (Sky reported a 20% drop in 2016 and 14% in 2017: BT has reported smaller falls, but they’ve only just entered that market) and have now hit a 7 year low.

      It means that, in the latest round of bidding for TV rights, the amount that the broadcasters were prepared to pay the Premier League has, for the first time in quite a few years, fallen instead of risen. Ultimately, it seems that a lot of younger viewers, being unable to afford a full subscription, are instead switching to cheaper online services that offer highlights packages or short term passes that give them access to a small number of games. It’s a model that Liberty Media do seem to have hinted at moving towards in the past, but it’s something that will not come about soon.

  14. Whatever, Bratches. F1 has only been in existence since 1951. Quickly , save us!

  15. The thing with trying to make F1 more competitive is how to do it without changing what F1 is.

    For me the Performance, Technology, Development & competition between not just teams/drivers but also engine manufacturer’s, Designers & engineer’s etc… are all a big factor in what makes F1 as great as it is & why I have always loved F1 about everything else.

    Creating more competition by taking away some of those things, By equalizing performance, Removing the areas in which teams/manufacturer’s are able to develop & find an advantage, By doing artificial things etc… isn’t the right approach because that isn’t what F1 is or should be.

    A team, manufacturer or other supplier finding an advantage & having any period of dominance may be frustrating & may risk turning people off but that is what F1 is about. F1 is about finding advantages, It’s about out-developing the opposition with your chassis, It’s about engine suppliers creating a more powerful/reliable engine than the others & the moment that changes then it’s just no longer F1.

    If a team has a better chassis then it should be left upto the others to do a better job, If an engine manufacturer creates a better engine then it should be left upto the other engine suppliers to improve there own. The rules should not be changed to hold the best back, It should be upto the others to find ways to make gains on there own. That is the essence of sport & the moment you start doing things the other way then all your doing is putting show before sport.

    1. @stefmeister I think that is well said and is something Liberty and Brawn are well aware of too. It is a difficult challenge and is what they are working toward, and teams have already expressed their views that they do want some room to apply their trade and outdo their competitors through innovation. I think nobody within F1 wants it to be too spec, and yet they know they must deal with the issue of the ‘have’ teams constantly being the only teams with a shot simply due to more resources.

      I think the aero departments are the ones that need to take the biggest hit and have their weight curtailed somewhat…be somewhat more spec with the leaning toward less of it…and/or also to have them concentrate their efforts on ground effects as opposed to wings. After that I think they should continue to allow freedom of development in other aspects such as engines, trannies, brakes, suspension. Aero is the big downfall to closer more competitive action on the track.

      1. @stefmeister,@robbie, Here, here, well said Stef and I agree with robbie on aero. The reality is that racing began and has always been about finding out what works best, in motor-racing that meant the best motor, then suspension, then brakes, then reducing aerodynamic drag which is why we have open-wheeled single seat racing today but around 1970 with engine power to burn and short twisty tracks dominating the aberration of drag inducing downforce arrived and in an era where safety limits top speeds has come to dominate at huge cost to the racing.

  16. I have news for you mister Bratches, more than half of the fans have already left over the past decade….

    Down from over 800+ million to under 400 million…ouch. Racing cars in a world that’s moving towards green, renewable energy and in which cars will become obsolete all together over time…. Yup, you bought a cat in the bag for $8 billion Mister Bratches. Congrats

    1. Yes…under BE. Now a new regime has a chance to put their twist in the plot. And they have all the facts in from of them as to how F1 has gotten into the state it is in. Hybrid cars are here for quite a while yet as electric continues to grow but also have it’s own unique issues. F1 is now hybrid and will remain so and are using fully one third less fuel. There’s no reason F1 isn’t sustainable for many many years to come and can be grown under proper management.

      1. Well, the first real piece of commercial business the new commercial owners did was putting F1 fully behind a paywall in Italy and the UK…. This after falling ratings last season relative to the 2016 season. I guess we all know why the cars have more acres of empty space on them every year and moves like that are doing nothing to help.


          Sounds like a work in progress for Liberty. Trying to do a mix of free to air, pay, and streaming. They inherited BE’s deal with Sky, so no ‘they’ didn’t put F1 behind a paywall in the UK, BE did. Let’s see where they take it but I think streaming in general is probably the long term way ultimately.

  17. I just want to comb Sean’s eyebrows for some reason…

  18. Bratches is spot on.

    It is an entertainment in itself to see them try to achieve that.

    For sure if all teams were within half a second then we would have better races.

    There could be some kind of performance balancing going on.

    Teams further down the constructors championship could be given extra fuel flow for example, or unlimited testing for final five teams on the grid.

    Something has to be done. Brawn mentioned spec front wing. I’d jump on that in a heart beat. Also slower teams should simply get more power. Hybrid or ICE whatever form is viable.

    Let Sauber get 260 bhp from their electric engine, it would make slow cars faster on the straights and still slower in the corners, some idea like that.

    And let top 5 teams race unaided, but if only 3 teams are naturally competitive then aid everyone else.

    Would anyone be bothered if Nico Hulkenberg gets an occasional podium, because his engine was aided?

  19. Competitive racing and please bring back the sound!! F1 should give fans new and old something they will never forget, the aural experience of hearing those ear piercing NAs! nowadays fans don’t have something to cherish when they watch live. There’s racing of course but the sound will be remembered more.

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