Claims Liberty are dumbing down F1 are “offensive” – Brawn

2018 F1 season

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Formula One’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn said he took offence at suggestions Liberty Media was trying to ‘dumb down’ Formula One.

Last year Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne threatened to pull his team out of the sport if the commercial rights holders turn it into something he likened to a ‘global NASCAR’.

Brawn, who will present his vision for F1’s future regulations to teams in Bahrain on Friday, rejected the idea Liberty intends to dilute the technological side of F1.

“I think it’s critical we have a vision of where we see Formula One,” he told Radio Sport New Zealand.

“I find it very frustrating that people accuse us of spoiling the DNA of this, that and the other. Formula One has a long history of incredible competition and it’s the pinnacle of motor sport. Why would we choose to damage that?

“I find it personally offensive when people accuse me of dumbing down the sport because we know if we did that we’d spoil the sport at its core and we’d spoil the commercial basis for the sport as well.”

However Brawn said F1’s top teams must understand the cost of competing in the sport has become excessive.

“The teams at the top at the moment are probably spending two or three times what they were spending five or six years ago. And yet you wouldn’t say that five or six years ago the sport was dumb. It’s just a question of degree.

“We have to help the teams at the top recognise and realise that to have a sport for the future we’ve got to re-base the commercial revenues of teams, re-base amount of scope the teams are allowed to explore technical in order to give a more exciting competition.”

Brawn said the work being down to improve the quality of racing in F1 is an example of how F1 is approaching decisions differently under its new management.

“We’re looking at a total solution, a holistic solution of all the parts. We know the percentage drop in performance that comes as a car approaches another car and already we’ve found ways of improving that in reducing the disturbed flor from the car from the front and reducing the sensitivity of the following car to that disturbed flow.

“We’re trying to do it in a properly structured way. That will be the solution we’ll apply for 2021. And anything we can learn in the meantime which we feel is safe and fair and correct to apply will be done.

“But I think it’s critical that we take this opportunity to [make] – what we call in Formula One – evidence-based decisions. So let’s make a decision based on proper evidence: how do we get that evidence, how do we get that information analysis done so we can at least make a decision based on some work?

“That’s how a Formula One team works, why shouldn’t Formula One as a sport work that way rather than making knee-jerk, compulsive, non-instinctive decisions and reactive decisions rather than properly structured decisions.”

Read Dieter Rencken’s analysis of the challenges facing Brawn’s vision for the future of F1 in his column for RaceFans tomorrow

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Keith Collantine
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  • 57 comments on “Claims Liberty are dumbing down F1 are “offensive” – Brawn”

    1. Would a global nascar be bad?
      Ok, F1 is a constructor championship, but what good had come from that in the last years.

      1. Yes, it would be very bad.

      2. NASCAR and IndyCar should have a round at Rockingham in England in August.

      3. There’s a reason why Nascar isn’t global, one, too many crashed cars to be shipping around, second it’s already the greatest championship in the “world” the US version of the word.

      4. Even a boring F1 race is better than NASCAR. Only Americans can get excited about cars going circles.

      5. Very dumb to make F1 like Nascar or Indy. In what part of the world is it acceptable for a successful business to adapt the dumb principles of lesser businesses…

    2. F1 NEEDS ‘dumbing down’ if it has any chance of survival. The large majority want, and have always wanted, exciting racing where the best drivers win, not the best car with its fancy winglets and engine modes. Sure a minority will get wet over those pointless expensive details, but its just that, pointless and expensive! In a world of instant action, F1 can no longer afford to be about one or two teams dominating the sport for years on end, it HAS to find a way to make it competitive and accessible to all the teams. And the only way is, like it or not, standardising many of the aero parts and tightening the engine rules.

    3. I understand Brawn is talking more about the technical regulations, but from my point of view merely as a fan, the presentation has been dumbed down and that doesn’t give me much confidence for their future plans, and it’s irrelevant whether that’s offensive or not.

      rather than making knee-jerk, compulsive, non-instinctive decisions and reactive decisions

      But hang on, didn’t they just dumb it down with an ill-thought, problematic, rushed logo; an illegible font, a pathetic theme tune, and diabolical graphics? Now I know Brawn isn’t in charge of that side of things but I seem to recall he pushed for a lot of it.

      By the time they make the technical changes Liberty will have been in charge for four years. Again, just my opinion as a fan; if they want to do things how F1 teams do then they ought to start reacting sooner and gradually. This way they avoid knee-jerk reactions but they get on with it. Did Renault decide to wait until 2020 to rebuild the team? And introducing all the new regs at once, even in 2021 after they thought about them for four years, is a problem in waiting. What if they don’t work out as they expect like the current engine regulations? Just an idea, wouldn’t it be better if they had planned to gradually introduce the changes from 2018 or 2019 and spend the next few years building on it and refining it? Fans won’t wait until 2021 to stop watching

      1. So you acknowledge he’s talking about the technical side, and then go ahead and use the most insignificant little things they have changed superficially, to express your doubts?

        I think they have explained well enough why the teams should be given four years to prepare, but in fact it will be days until we know more, which makes it a little over a year since they took over that they will start spelling out their real plans for the future. How much sooner could that have been?

        They indeed are reacting soon and gradually. The engine makers will have tons of time, catching no one out, and the aero people will also be given much notice, and some changes where prudent will appear gradually, much sooner, too. I don’t know what more we can ask and I think what you are asking would be exactly a continuation of the BE way that would favour the bigger teams who can adapt to bigger yearly changes leaving the smaller teams caught out. Exactly what they’re being careful to avoid.

        Just an idea…let’s trust these highly intelligent experts to make some good changes the right way in an unprecedented way that isn’t more BE. Can we just give them a minute of patience FFS?

        1. +1 Robbie

          But hang on, didn’t they just dumb it down with an ill-thought, problematic, rushed logo; an illegible font, a pathetic theme tune, and diabolical graphics? Now I know Brawn isn’t in charge of that side of things but I seem to recall he pushed for a lot of it.

          The logo is just fine, the font is readable, the theme tune goes well in actual use and the graphics don’t bother me one bit. I’ve been watching F1 for just over 30 years and if I can look on these things positively then I think the problem lies with your own tastes my friend. Also, going to go out on a limb and state that ROSS BRAWN knows more about what makes F1 great than you.

          1. the font is readable,

            Not for me it isn’t, I’ve been having a really hard time with it both on the TV graphics & official website/app/Timing screen.

        2. @robbie and others, well yeah I’m basing my doubts on what we’ve already seen which isn’t unreasonable. The last new engine regulations were planned years in advance and the smaller teams were still the ones who lost out. That’s how it’s always been simply because they are smaller teams. If the bigger teams have four years to plan they will still come out with a huge advantage.

          ROSS BRAWN knows more about what makes F1 great than you

          And I said several times this is from only from my perspective as a fan, my opinion. Ross Brawn knows more about F1 than me, you might as well have told me the sky is blue

          1. @strontium But again, you are basing things on a BE driven F1 that in the last decade was all about a money grab for CVC. There was no motivation, no movement to look after the smaller teams a bit better. BE gave the power to the top 4 who inevitably shut the other teams out to favour their own chances. This is what Liberty is out to change somewhat, for a better balance and a healthier F1 overall.

            Where I think it is folly to assume things will not change is that Brawn is already talking about leaning back away from the need to be a factory team to have any chances, by going back moreso to a plug and play format of being able to put someone else’s (less complicated) engine into someone else’s chassis and still stand a chance. It’s too factory based now, which falls on BE’s shoulders to have let that happen.

            What is unprecedented is Brawn having two cars in a tunnel at once to actually legitimately study dirty air, and they will actually put evidence based findings to the track.

            So by no means does all this mean that the bigger teams will, in four years, still have a ‘huge’ advantage.

            Btw I know you said me ‘and others’ and I didn’t try to point out the obvious which is that Brawn knows more than you. He knows more than all of us combined and it was I that merely pointed out that we should give him and his team their chance in the sun with this mandate that Liberty has given him.

            1. F1 is no doubt confused between ‘change’ and ‘improvement’ the latter would be welcomed but all I have seen in many changes that are more annoying than anything else. I am speaking as a fan from the U S of A market. Having to listen to near hysterical announcers for several hours a race week end (practice, qualifying, and used to be pre race, race, and then post race shows) is absolutely not acceptable to me. I have been a fan for decades, when at one point F1 was called F5000 and there were races at least in the states where F5000 and Indy cars raced each other. The last one of those that I recall was at the now long gone Ontario California race track in the mid 1970s. So back to the new F1, Brawn and Maloney (owner of Liberty) and the rest of the gang had better get their proverbial stuff together and years is not the time frame. Also a note to Mr. Todt, we do NOT want more noise, we WANT engines to sound like engines not vacuums / or Hovers as you Brits would say. Thanks, Racer Norriski

      2. Year after year I hear people threatening to stop watching but so far from all the people that said to me they were not watching have actually never really watched F1. The real people complaining are those that watch F1 and will continue to watch for the most probably.
        For years F1 has been half good, half bad, with dominating teams. In 8 years the only change we’ve seen is passing from a dominating Red Bull to a dominating Mercedes, and a dramatical raise in costs.
        So I welcomed Brawn’s arrival and I’m pretty confident Liberty and him will bring something fresh and nice to the sport.
        And that’s precisely what a lot of people is afraid of: change.

        1. @spoutnik every single person I know personally who watched F1 has stopped watching. I myself missed more races last year than since I started following F1. People do stop watching and you don’t hear from them again, and the viewing figures over the last few years reflect this

          1. @strontium Indeed stats don’t lie but I feel it’s more loosing casual viewers than fans? I don’t know but from my experience at least it is the case.

    4. Neil (@neilosjames)
      4th April 2018, 0:25

      I don’t see any evidence that F1 itself is being dumbed down, so I’m with Brawn on that. But the product provided to fans has indeed been dumbed down, on the evidence of Australia at least.

      My own personal gripe is with lack of information provided by the on-screen graphics, which has been done for one of two reasons – ‘simplifying’ it because we’re obviously incapable of processing the information we had on screen before (dumbing down)… or trying to push people to buy F1 Access on a mobile device to get all the missing data and more.

      1. We now get the speed displayed in miles per hour, maybe we will find out how many bushells to the gallon they use next.

        1. There are 0.125 bushels to the gallon. :)

      2. I don’t know, i wouldn’t call the new graphics simple, there is more clutter and they are harder to read.

    5. “I find it very frustrating that people accuse us of spoiling the DNA of this, that and the other. Formula One has a long history of incredible competition and it’s the pinnacle of motor sport. Why would we choose to damage that?”

      uhhhhh have you looked at or heard the cars lately Ross? Everything the fans wants F1 ignores.

      #halosucks

      1. Uhhhh did Liberty and Brawn run F1 when the noise was reduced and F1 had committed to cockpit protection?

      2. This is the problem, people don’t know who to blame for what, so I can’t blame the regulator and the commercial rights holder for thinking we don’t understand what’s going on. F1 is a complicated sport and very rarely is there a case when you can say “person X is responsible for Y problem”.

        The FIA, as the governing body and rule maker of the sport, mandated the use of the Halo. Not FOM. Ross works for FOM. Liberty are the entity that owns FOM.

        Also, beauty is subjective. Every F1 car made looks rancid compared to the Eagle Westlake (save for the Jordan 191), but I’m not expecting FOM or the FIA to propose rules that force the teams to build low flying cigar tubes again…

    6. just cause he takes it as an offense doesn´t make it untrue…

    7. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      4th April 2018, 2:18

      If Ross Brawn wants F1 as a sport to work the way F1 teams work, he should:

      Hire somebody high-up from another sport’s governing body who has inside knowledge of everything that sport is planning to introduce, without an equitable period of gardening leave.

      Try to get any successful innovation introduced by other sports banned.

      Have the aforementioned hiring steal and bring with him a highly sensitive technical dossier.

      Constantly seek creative ways of re-interpreting competition rules so as to give F1 an unfair advantage over other sports.

      Constantly try to get those rules changed so as to inherently give F1 an unfair advantage over other sports.

      Once instituted, threaten to discontinue F1 if said unfair advantage is ever threatened.

      Spend so much money developing and promoting F1 that most people didn’t realise numbers went that high, and in doing so price every other sport out of the market, leaving them unable to compete for viewers and dropping like flies.

      etc…

    8. I’m looking forward to seeing the plan that Liberty is presenting later this week. I don’t think they have it easy, I don’t envy their position trying to please fans, teams, and shareholders. They have a strong leadership team, with enough sporting and business experience to make some positive changes in F1: more exciting racing through changes in technical regulations, a more fair distribution of prize money, and hopefully to make the sport attractive to new fans without alienating their existing one. Bring it on, I’m optimistic, I still prefer this over the last regime.

      1. Thank you @thedolphins well said.

      2. Well said.

    9. I wonder what Ross thinks of the Saturday qualifying race idea. Dumb enough?

    10. Whilst I can sympathise with Ross, there have been some “ideas” floated by Liberty that certainly added fuel to the “dumbing down” picture.

      Those that to me weren’t good signs were:

      More races (too many cheapens the product IMO)
      Shorter races – this is the biggie to me – it’s like replacing test cricket with T20 so our ADHD youth of today can follow it.
      More US races and on Street circuits – doesn’t really add anything (again just my opinion)

      To me, they just seem to be trying to design a product that suits the lowest common denominator in terms of viewer market and that doesn’t necessarily fit with F1 as it is now and would indeed be a dumbed down version in order to attract the casual viewer rather than a true motor sport enthusiast.

      I’m hoping I’m wrong in my interpretation.

      1. To me, they just seem to be trying to design a product that suits the lowest common denominator in terms of viewer market and that doesn’t necessarily fit with F1 as it is now and would indeed be a dumbed down version in order to attract the casual viewer rather than a true motor sport enthusiast.

        You hit it on the nail here.
        This is the question that not only sports leagues, but also producers of commercial products like TV series or music etc. should tacle with a large degree of understanding and foresight.
        Do you want to appeal to a larger audience of casual followers or built a fanbase around a demographic with specific interests you will cater to?
        If you’re thinking long term, you have to take the latter. Where you can compromise that approach is in how you garner attention to attract new viewers, but after this it’s only one way or the other.

        1. I think it should just start with the basics of making a good product on the track. First and foremost the cars need to be able to race closer so we can actually see gladiator vs gladiator action. That should enthrall veteran fans and newcomers alike. Surely all the teams can agree on that basic premise.

    11. Teams would happily reduce budgets if the starting grid was arranged by lowest budgets at the front to highest budget at the back. It’s all about finding the right incentive for them.

    12. Liberty doesn’t need to ruin (dumb down) F1 as the automobile OEMs will do it for them.

    13. Formula One has a long history of incredible competition and it’s the pinnacle of motor sport.

      What “incredible competition” is he referring to?

      Formula 1 has a long history of forcing the notion that it is the pinnacle of motorsport, that’s the one thing I know.

      1. deMercer (@)
        4th April 2018, 10:02

        What “incredible competition” is he referring to?

        @damon I think the competition of building the best performing car given the set of regulations.

    14. I think we should give Liberty the benefit of the doubt. This is part of a what I posted on another site.

      Lets wait and see what changes Liberty media make, I don’t think they will go down the one make RD. If they want to add more razzmatazz they should first look to the slow as a wet week V8 Supercars….whoops just Supercars now :). Different winners each race more hits than a dart board and more off track entertainment than you can poke a stick at. Yet still they are losing numbers.

      This article from Peter McKay on the falling viewing numbers of the more “controlled” forms of Motorsport is quite interesting in particular the quote from Sam Michael

      https://www.wheelsmag.com.au/news/motorsport/1704/why-motorsport-fans-are-abandoning-the-sport-in-droves

      I will continue to watch F1 as I have for a considerable time now and it will continually change no doubt. That’s something I look forward to.

      1. @johnrkh, thanks for the linked article. It’s interesting but it only guesses at why popularity is waning.

        I only watch F1, so will only comment on F1. My perceived top three fundamental problems with F1 which make the sport as a whole less exciting are already well-known:

        1. There are too many negative impacts on a car closely following another car.
        2. The disparity between teams’ racing cars performance and reliability is ridiculously high.
        3. Drivers are not pushing themselves to the limit for the whole race.

        Close racing between teams and drivers racing on the ragged edge of the limits of their skills and cars. That’s what we need. Whatever Liberty need to change to get there, fingers crossed they get half way there by 2021.

        1. In regards to #3 when have drivers ever pushed themselves(or their equipment) to the limit for the entire race? You are asking for something that has never existed. Remember back to Spain 2017 when HAM deleted his drinks bottle system and was huffing, puffing and panting on the radio, when was the last time you heard a driver sounding like that on the radio?

          If you think that the gap between cars is too high go back and check the advantage RBR had in 2013, or the FW14B or the MP4-4 had. Your#2 point is nonsense when viewed thru the history of F1.

          The only of your 3 points that have any type of validity is #1.

    15. From the comment section I see that the reasons for dumbing down are many, including but not limited to:

      New logo – is dumb
      New font – also dumb
      New tune – dumb
      More races – apparently also dumb
      Shorter races – dumb because teens these days
      Car noise – dumb, even though Liberty has had no way of influencing that yet, but if they can change the logo they can surely put a bunch of old V10s back in again, aah those were the days.

      So yeah, get used to it Ross.

      1. I don’t know why people keep whining about the noise, but the rest of those things are indeed steps in the wrong direction.

        1. “I don’t know why people keep whining about the noise”
          Motorsport is what I’d call an “action sport”, whose main appeal is excitement. Noise is an element of cars in general that makes them exciting.
          Can you imagine an action film in which all explosions, bulding collapses, car crashes and gunshots are silent and smooth like butter? Sth would be lost, wouldn’t it?

          1. deMercer (@)
            4th April 2018, 10:06

            There is a difference between silence and the noise of the deaf-making old V10/V12 :-D
            Personally I am more fan of the noise of the current engines (but please don’t use the new on board microphones).

            1. “There is a difference between silence and the noise of the deaf-making old V10/V12”
              Uhm, that’s the whole point?

      2. Shorter races – dumb because teens these days

        Very offensive to teens. They have the ability to get obsessed with anything broadcast these days to the point that they only watch it day and night. I think they can handle a 1 and a half hour long race.

        1. Football match – 2 hours (with a 20min break)
          NBA basketball game – 2 hours (with 2 minor and 1 major break)
          Formula 1 race – ~1,5 hours (no breaks)

          It’s hard to think the length of an F1 race could be considered a problem. It’s rather how much action happens across its duration and its timely distribution.

      3. I see the sarcasm got lost somewhere. Oh well.

    16. “We have to help the teams at the top recognise and realise that to have a sport for the future we’ve got to re-base the commercial revenues of teams, re-base amount of scope the teams are allowed to explore technical in order to give a more exciting competition.”

      I think we all know what Liberty will do: pay Ferrari twice more than ~100 mln* so that Ferrari stays in the sport.

      * the approximate amount that Ferrari gets paid every year just because they are Ferrari.

      1. I doubt that very much. My opinion is that Ferrari will never leave F1. However much they bark, they will never bite. F1 is too important to them as support for the development and marketing of their road cars.

        Here is an interesting article on the topic which includes an analysis of the costs and profits of Ferrari F1:

    17. I’m encouraged to hear his words and encouraged that he’s part of the core change to F1 as he knows what it’s about. I’m glad Liberty have not come in and assumed that they alone can make F1 better, because that’s a sure-fire way of ruining it.

    18. So I guess he doesn’t consider shortening the Sunday race & adding a Sprint/Qualifying race on Saturday to be dumbing down F1?

      Because that is what Liberty pitched to the teams on Saturday in Melbourne.

      1. @gt-racer Interesting. Didn’t know that. Did he pitch that for this season/this format? Or for 2021?

        At first blush without knowing any details of how much shorter a Sunday race for example, I would think it would spice up the show on Saturdays and perhaps make Sundays a little less conservey, but I wouldn’t want to see the races too much shorter…maybe 15 minutes?

    19. When Ross says he is offended I would answer bu saying ¨we don´t know what your planning to do about this debacle¨.

      He might be working extremely hard breathe new life into this stagnant series of technological but very boring marvels of engineering but all we get are click baity headlines for our information, we don´t know what he´s up to and the time frames involved are horrendously long with him saying things along the lines of ¨don´t worry, we will get it all sorted out in the next 3 or 4 years…probably¨ and most cynics knowing that anything he tries will be vetoed by Ferrari and Mercedes or whoever else is winning at the time.

      I might suggest to Ross that he come up with a series of short term (per season) fixes that build on each other and lead towards the bigger changes that he is planning in 2021 or whenever it is. F1 fandom is a data starved environment so people just make stuff up to keep that subscriber or ad revenue coming in and controversies pop up out of nowhere.

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