Grid, Hockenheimring, 2018

Liberty’s plan for a 2021 rules revolution is turning into the usual F1 fudge


Posted on

| Written by

2021 was going to be the year Liberty Media’s revolution hit Formula 1. Better, cheaper, more spectacular engines. Budget caps to level the playing field. An overdue overhaul of the sporting regulations. All this plus revamped cars which would race more closely, running on up-to-date low-profile rubber.

But as the sport’s owners are discovering, turning the F1 ship around is not so easy.

Back in 2009, when the 2010-12 Concorde Agreement was signed, the reason given for its short duration (its predecessor prevailed for 12 years) was to enable Formula 1 to start with a clean sheet after years of internecine war. The plan was for the sport to head into 2013 with new commercial agreements, revised governance structure and revamped technical and sporting regulations.

The first hiccup hit F1 shortly after the signing in August 2009. Bridgestone, then F1’s (first) sole-contracted tyre supplier, gave a year’s notice of exit, and thereafter F1 struck a 2011-13 deal with Pirelli. So before the Concorde ink had properly dried F1’s tyre contract was already out of kilter by a year.

On the engine front, Ferrari and Mercedes rebelled against the turbo inline-four hybrid engines scheduled for 2013 introduction, and a year was lost while (the current) V6 regulations were framed. Their introduction was postponed a year, so in one swoop technical regulations, tyre contracts, commercial agreements and the governance structure so were all out of sync despite F1’s laudable objectives.

Start, Nurburgring, 2013
F1 first tried to harmonise its rules for 2013
‘The good news is we have eight years to sort things, and get everything back in line by end-2020,’ was the official line put out by the Formula One Teams’ Association at the time, shortly before the body became irrelevant, then shut down completely.

During the 2016 German Grand Prix press conference I asked those present – team principals and technical directors – when the sport should start looking to post-2020 regulations, particularly engines given the sport’s recent history in this regard. The consensus was immediate.

Fast-forward two years to June 2018, and there was much bickering about post-2020 power units – after unanimous agreement had been reached in May to drop exhaust-driven energy recovery systems to reduce costs and complexity. Two months on the situation – which remains fluid – is that H-ERS will be retained, and fuel flow and engine speed restrictions relaxed to boot.

However, the question is: Just when will such changes eventually be wrought?

During the run-up to the Belgian Grand Prix, Ross Brawn, FOG’s Managing Director for Motorsport, suggested that any changes should be pushed out beyond 2021.

“We want to try and create a set of technical regulations on the engine, which are appealing to new manufacturers coming in as well consolidate our existing suppliers.

“I think we just need to think of our timing on that, whether 2021 is the right time to do that, or whether it’s better to keep our powder dry until we are certain that a major regulation change will bring fresh blood into the sport.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Ross Brawn, Monza, 2018
Brawn admitted F1 may have to delay its engine rules change
Brawn is not alone in calling for postponement: Asked by RaceFans during the Belgian Grand Prix FIA press conference what sort of time frame he envisaged for change, Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner said, “I think at the moment now I can’t see anything changing before the 2023 season, to be honest with you.”

Thus, after five years after constant and continuous criticism of the current power units, particularly by the likes of Brawn and Horner, the sport cannot agree on a replacement for the current power units despite their original shelf life expiring 30 months hence. Now recall that the current regulations took four years to NOT agree – then consider why no newcomer has committed to F1 in ten years, save that Honda returned…

The tyre situation is equally confusing: Past tyre tenders have been for three years, but the sport was caught out in awarding the current three-year (2017-19) tender, which thus expires a year before the much vaunted technical revamp. With a bit of foresight that deal could (and should) have run for four years to take F1 through to 2020; yet, clearly, somebody overlooked the long-term implications

Thus, in calling for expressions of interest for the post-2019 period, the tender specifies the supply of 13-inch tyres for 2020, and 18-inch rubber for three years thereafter. Any wonder Michelin, a prime candidate for the tender, did not even bother lodging documents?

“Obviously the fact that we would have to produce some 13-inch tyres to start with was pretty much a no-go,” Pascal Couasnon told RaceFans after the tender closed. “Budget are fairly [substantial] in motorsport overall, and, for us, it’s very important to ensure that the money we [spend] makes sense for our research.”

There are, according to FIA president Jean Todt, two interested parties: Pirelli and a yet-to-be-named bidder – thought to be Hankook, already DTM’s supplier- and let us assume the “other” bidder is successful: imagine the upheaval as teams adapt their 2019 cars to 13-inch rubber supplied by a newcomer while designing wholly new cars for the post-2020 period, when the sport switched to (untested) 18-inch rims.

Tyres, Hockenheimring, 2018
F1’s outdated 13-inch wheels will stay for 2020
Against this background, is it any wonder that F1 budgets spiral out of control? Where the Lotus 72 was able to win races for four straight years (and claim two drivers’ and three constructor’s titles during that period), current F1 cars are good for just a season before becoming obsolete through such tinkering.

True, the FIA’s relentless efforts to improve safety collateral cost implications, but are new cars truly required every year? For 2017 wider wheels necessitated change, 2018 saw Halo mandated, 2019 regulations call for totally different front wing aerodynamics and larger fuel tanks. How much does a complete chassis change increase development costs by? Force India’s technical director Andrew Green estimated adding Halo this year cost “hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars”.

The flip side is that, according to the rule makers, most teams introduce new chassis each year in any event. Maybe so, but surely the answer is to grant them the option of wasting a million or so, rather than forcing them up that road. Have we learned, does it stop for 2019?

Not if sources are to be believed: these suggest there are plans within Formula One Group to rejig the sporting regulations – mainly changes to race weekend formats, but who knows what else could be on the list – for 2020, so a year earlier, which, again, plays havoc with continuity.

Thus teams could be forced to build cars to meet one-year regulations, all while the big spending is aimed at post-2020 F1.

So, where the (laudable) intention had been to have all F1’s regulatory, technical, sporting and commercial ducks in a row for 2021, the reality is that engine regulations are likely to be delayed, sporting regulations introduced earlier, and tyre supply a mish-mash of 13- and 18-inch rubber, regardless of who eventually gets the supply deal.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Cyril Abiteboul, Paul Ricard, 2018
Abiteboul called F1’s plan “extremely ambitious”
In Belgium Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul suggested that it was “extremely ambitious” to “at the same time change chassis regulations, engine regulations, Concorde Agreement, governance structure, new budget cap,” adding that “it would be the first time in history” [that this occurred simultaneously].

Maybe so, but the sport had eight years’ notice, yet dawdled for over half that period. Now the ambition lies in making up lost time, time that could have been more constructively spent; instead, virtually every team boss (and the commercial rights holder of the period) expended enormous of energy on criticising their own product!

Asked in a separate interview whether staggering the introduction of changes would not result in an even more un-co-ordinated F1, Abiteboul professed to be in favour of “a complete reset, a complete revolution of everything. I like it”

“But, I just think that by trying to achieve that there is a risk of actually achieving nothing, which I think will be the worst situation for Formula 1. So I’m just saying ‘maybe let’s try, I’m just saying let’s be pragmatic and let’s make sure that at least we secure some of the most pressing and important changes’.”

He sees the immediate priority as not being commercial and not technical: “In my opinion, it’s more the financial and commercial setup of Formula 1 that needs to be changed, in priority, and for which we are going [need financial parity] as quickly as possible.

“We are making financial investments, substantial financial investments, in Formula 1. But we have absolutely no idea where this is taking us from 2021. We are going to need that in the next few months, otherwise we will have a problem to keep on spending the way that we are spending.”

Against that background, is it any wonder no newcomer has committed to post-2021 F1?

Unlike the regulatory framework, which is at the mercy of the (utterly dysfunctional) Strategy Group and Formula 1 Commission, or tyre tenders – in the gift of the FIA/FOG – F1’s commercial agreements are legally binding documents with fixed expiry dates – 31 December 2020, unless, of course, all parties unanimously agree to an extension.

That’s about as likely as Elvis Presley strolling about an F1 grid sometime soon…

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

So, yes, the commercial agreements are likely to be sorted ahead of the rest, but even here there are no guarantees: The last Concorde Agreement but one, namely the 1998-2007 covenant, was rolled over until end-2009, but only after the commercial rights holder agreed to up the team share of F1’s revenues to 50 per cent, from the effective 23 per cent they had myopically previously agreed to.

Start, Monza, 2018
F1’s smaller teams stand to gain from prize money changes
Somehow one can’t imagine Liberty doubling its disbursements, so end-2020 remains the cut-off. The plan is to stick to the distribution structure announced by Liberty to the teams during the Bahrain summit, i.e. an equitable, predominantly performance-based structure, with Ferrari receiving a smaller heritage bonus.

However, team profitability is the function of income (mainly the share of F1 revenues) versus costs, and unless the regulations (engines, sporting and technical) are sorted, teams have no idea what they’re in for financially. So, while the teams may well sign up to new commercial deals, until the regulations are cast in stone they have no idea whether they’ll be at all profitable; hence promises (note) of a budget cap.

Originally punted at $150m (excluding driver stipends, marketing and hospitality costs, and the largest individual pay packet), its introduction was aimed at the 2021 season. The level equates to around 450 heads – depending on business model – and with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari employing double that (and counting), it is little wonder they kicked against the cap concept.

Indeed, so hard did they kicked that they now argue that too little time remains to reduce headcounts by the cut-off date, whether through retrenchment or attrition – and thus plans for a glide path. In Monza a source told RaceFans Liberty has proposed a $200m cap for 2021, reducing by $25m per year for 2022/3, and remaining at $150m thereafter – although a factor for inflation is envisaged.

According to an FIA spokesperson, the cap will be enshrined in the sporting regulations, thus providing for sporting penalties in the event of breaches. One grid place penalty per $1,000 over budget, anybody?

The bottom line is that F1 has failed itself, its teams and its fans dismally by not having a functional “reset button”, as Abiteboul referred to a “complete revolution” of the sport, for that, frankly, is precisely what is required t take F1 into the next decade.

Back in 2015, a year before F1 was acquired by Liberty, then-F1 tsar Bernie Ecclestone likened F1 to an “old house that always needs repairing”, but admitted to being unable to knock it down and build a new mansion in its place, and, let’s face it, under his final watch the house crumbled further.

Rather than rip it down, it seems new owners Liberty have embarked on an excruciatingly slow renovation project, rebuilding the house one room at a time. The question is not so much whether the house will be totally renovated over the next eight years, but whether F1’s various components will ever be sync. If not, the sport is destined to be forever dysfunctional.

Follow Dieter on Twitter: @RacingLines


Browse all RacingLines columns

66 comments on “Liberty’s plan for a 2021 rules revolution is turning into the usual F1 fudge”

  1. I miss the Bernie/Max era already, yes there was some knee jerk reactions, but boy F1 had some charisma at that time, nowadays it seems in direct competition with NASCAR for the dumbest motor spot on earth, RIP F1.
    I sincerly hope that Liberty Media get bankrupt so we can stop this continuous utter non sense.

    1. Mr Mosley brought us as his goodbye three expansion teams that earned a grand total of two point-winning positions over a collective 280+ Grands Prix before they all eventually folded.

      I can live without that sort of “charisma.”

      1. The battle between those three teams usually was the best product on-track during the early 10s, so yeah, more of that “charisma” please.

    2. I miss the Bernie/Max era already

      Impressive for somebody who started following F1 in 2011 :P

      1. @coldfly I started a whole lot earlier, 1953 in fact and I can sure relate to Understeer’s comment.

    3. I’d rather live without the constant knee-jerking and attempts to change things and add unnecessary gimmicks. I think we could all do without ideas like sprinkler systems and elimination qualifying circulating in F1.

      1. Why is there no up and down vote for comments? Didnt we have that on F1Fanatic?

    4. Oh come on, take off your rose-colored glasses. Blow the nostalgic dust off Bernie’s face and realize that past grass is almost never greener.

      1. @knewman oh absolutely. this kind of disorganised rule changing is almost enshrined in the sport’s history. in 1961 when 1.5-litre engines were introduced no one was really ready except ferrari (cue a dominant season apart from a couple of moss wonder-drives). in 1966 – change to 3-litre format – it was similar. brabham were ready with a reliable, decent car/engine and duly took the next 2 titles without much opposition (the famous lotus 49 and cosworth DFV were too late to the party and quite unreliable at first, though clark did win 4 times in 1967). in 1966 some teams were running 2-litre engines because they hadn’t got anything better!

        the rules around ground effect in the late 70s and early 80s were mired in political controversy and infighting (the brabham fan car was banned after a race because Ecclestone, the team owner, had his eye on bigger things so he let that one go. gordon murray, the designer, was disappointed to say the least).

        in the late 80s there were numerous attempts to control the power of the turboes (or were they attempts to control the dominance of the honda engines??). 1989 the introduction of the 3.5-litre normally aspirated had a semblance of calm, but the gaps were huge and honda were dominant anyway.

        in the 90s we saw the ban on driver aids, resulting in a messy 1994 season full of bickering and allegations of cheating, under the dark cloud of two drivers killed in unstable cars.

        since then I can’t remember a season which didn’t involve great upheaval in either the aerodynamic or engine regs (or both). maybe in 1999 there was some stability in the rules from the previous year. 1997 was similar-ish to 1996 but for the introduction of a new tyre supplier (therefore, total game changer, lap times falling by seconds, hardly stability).

        from a scientific point of view, it is impossible to tell if any of these changes have truly worked/failed. there doesn’t seem to be much hypothesis generating and in any case if we are looking at one outcome (viewing figures, for example) there are countless uncontrolled variables that make it difficult to test any hypothesis.

        who knows what liberty’s aim is? if they don’t know what they want to achieve they will not be able to measure their success. at present it seems to be blind shots in the dark by different people with different agendas – at least the on-track action at Monza was quite good!

        1. I’m a fairly new fan but I’ve read a lot about the history of the sport and no, things aren’t a lot different than they always were. There WAS a slightly better chance of an outlier winning a race but otherwise? Not a huge difference. I do think that with Liberty it appears we’ve traded a single Bernie for a committee of Bernies and THAT won’t end well for anyone.

          Liberty seems to be out in front of the house; admiring the new paint job, pulling weeds and planning to paint the fence; while ignoring the roof leaks, plumbing backups and the several rooms that are on fire.

  2. The longer the engine regulations remain constant, the closer the field will get, the better the racing on track will become.

    Hence, I very much like the idea of extending the current PU regulations into the future, especially as the alternative was for the four engine manufacturers already involved in Formula 1 to spend hundreds of millions on new PUs that were influenced by a company, in Volkswagen, that may as well never have intended to enter the sport in the first place.

    1. Agreed, let the basic engine outline alone as long as possible and greater parity will develop naturally. If the current four engine manufacturers remain to supply the ten existing teams…there is no crisis demanding new entrants, is there? F1 has plenty of larger problems to tackle…

      1. Well, I guess the main problem of current formula is the lack of an “independient” PU manufacturer. Nowadays only works teams have a prospect of medium-long term competiveness. Hence only Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and RB-Honda will be viable, with the rest of teams either flocking around them as B-teams or disappearing. This is a trend we have been seeing since the advent of hybrid era, and I’ afraid it will speed up in the near future.

        1. As an eternal optimist, I’d say that making sure customer teams have full & equal access to the PU software, auxiliary systems, and lubricants/fuels it should allow customer teams to get pretty close to the factory team if they can get their car/chassis/aero bit to a decent level.

        2. I don’t thing big manufacturer dominance on engine front has been created with the current turbo/hybrid era. It started already in the 1980 with Renault, Honda, Ferrari, BMW… Cosworth kept lingering around for a while, as were the likes of Judd, Hart, Mecachrome, Asiatech. But the times of competitive independent PU suppliers are likely gone forever…not just in Formula 1.

          1. @gpfacts, it’s debatable whether Cosworth was even that independent during that era, since for much of it they were working under contract for Ford, and from 1998 to 2004 they were fully owned by Ford – I’d say that Cosworth has really only been a fully independent entity since 2005.

            It should also be pointed out that Mecachrome, strictly speaking, was really more of a rebadging exercise. Renault were still carrying out the development work on those engines, which were continuations of the 1997 spec RS9B, and all that Mecachrome really did in 1998 was pay for the licencing rights to that engine.

            I think that, in 1998, Mecachrome didn’t even produce any engines at all – they were produced by Renault and then handed over to Mecachrome for distribution (I think that Mecachrome did start producing some components in later years, but basically were producing them in partnership with Renault).

            After that, they then signed a distribution deal with Supertec with Mecachrome supplying the engines and Supertec really just operating them on their behalf – so, at their heart, outfits like Mecachrome and Supertec were effectively ways for Renault to indirectly keep some links with F1 before they then made a full return in later years.

            As for Asiatech, although they were an independent organisation, they bought the engine, the production facilities and most of their staff directly from Peugeot when Peugeot decided to withdraw from F1 in late 2000. They didn’t really create anything from scratch themselves – they bought a design and facilities from an existing manufacturer, with most of their assets and staff being sold or handed straight back to Peugeot in late 2002 when they closed.

            I’d say that the only companies that you mention there that really operated as independent entities that designed and built their own engines from scratch would be Hart and Judd. Out of those, the former ceased to exist decades ago after TWR went into liquidation, whilst the latter ended up working on behalf of Yamaha in the early 1990s.

      2. In my book the issue is that they’re again talking short cycles, as in keep the engines for a few while we sort out other stuff. They’ve had eight years to do that … and the nett effect will be that engines are even more out of sync. If something works, keep it – and don’t then replace it after two years.

        1. @dieterrencken

          What do you think, now that Red Bull has their own works engine again, will we see an engine regulations extension in line with the duration of the next commercial agreement right away, or more piecemeal extensions that in the end amount to the same thing?

          1. Coincidentally I was saying to Keith this morning that now RBR has Honda, the team is no longer calling for an urgent revamp of the engine regs…

            More likely piece-meal extensions in my opinion

  3. Don’t go as far as the Lotus 72. Because of the continuity in regulations even HRT managed to use the Dallara developed chassis for 4 years. These days we have major changes every year. These cars are the most expensive ever, if what I’ve read is correct, so imagine the cost of next gen cars if all these changes happen together!

  4. I used the Lotus 72 as example because it won races and championships (plural x 2) over a four-year period, and thus there was no need to replace it. I don’t recall that sort of pedigree with the HRT…

    1. In all fairness if we see the positions that they were finishing they could pretty much use the same car every year, the result would have been the same…

      1. @dieterrencken i didn’t mean it wasn’t a good example, just that things used to be so much different and it wasn’t that long ago. My point was that if regulations remain constant, it converges the teams in terms of performance and also allows them to develop the cars smoothly instead of revamping everything every year. Sorry it felt different!

        1. Crucially, the period you’re talking about was that 2010-12 period I alluded to. When Manor thereafter wished to run a year old chassis they need F1 Commission agreement and ditto any team now wishing to run year old engines…

          1. Full disclosure the revolutionary Lotus 72 did undergo many changes in the 4 years, going from a 72 through the alphabet to a 72E by 1973/4, so even back then to stay the same and not develop was to move backwards. But of course I take the point that it was still basically the 72, and no permission was needed to run it year after year. I just thought it was interesting that 48 years ago they already had to keep innovating even a revolutionary car to stay on top. Even those far more simple times foreshadowed complex issues in competing in and managing the pinnacle of motor sports.

          2. @robbie: full disclosure I specifically referred to basic monocoque designs being used for multiple seasons, which was the case with the 72, regardless of evolution.

          3. @dieterrencken Understood. Apologies if I sounded like I was disagreeing with you and I now realize my ‘full disclosure’ must have made it sound like you weren’t disclosing everything about the 72. Indeed it had changes made to it but not to the basic monocoque through those alphabetic versions and I did understand that to be the case.

          4. @dieterrencken, if you want to find examples of designs being used for a long period of time in more recent years, you can refer to the RB5 through to the RB9.

            Newey himself has referred to the RB6 through to the RB9 as being evolutions of the RB5 – for example, in 2012 he described the RB8 as “the fourth evolution of the RB5” in this interview.

            In fact, I recall that Newey has previously suggested that the RB6 through to RB9 were closely enough related to the RB5 that he didn’t actually consider them to be a different chassis – he personally thought of them as B, C, D and E spec versions of the RB5, with the RB10 being the first car in many years where he made a substantial enough change to the design for him to think that it merited being given a different chassis number.

          5. @anon I am aware of Red Bull’s RB5-9 evolution – it was detailed very well in Newey’s book. But, again, you’re referencing that 2010-12 period as per the above HRT example. RB9 was, in fact, an unplanned carry-over because the hybrid turbo engine regs were postponed, or the RB5-8 lineage would have coincided perfectly with 2010-12.

          6. @dieterrencken, then, in more recent years, there have been Williams’s FW36 to FW38 and the Force India VJM07 through to the VJM09, where the underlying chassis of those cars was an evolution of the designs that they first produced in 2014. Even amongst bigger teams, there rarely is a radical change in chassis design between seasons – Mercedes’s cars from the W05 to the W07 were, again, evolutionary changes (or “minor revolutions” as they termed it), not revolutionary.

            I feel that your article gives the impression that the changes in the design of the chassis are more radical than seems to be the case in practise, with a lot of teams tending to have more evolutionary changes rather than radical changes. Radical changes tend to usually occur at multiple year intervals, with the cars tending to go through more incremental changes in-between – it is usually only when there is something either fundamentally wrong with the original concept, or when there is a major regulation change, when the chassis changes that radically, but even then, behind the scenes, there still tends to be a fairly significant amount of carry over.

            As for bringing up the Lotus 72, even the basic monocoque itself didn’t remain unchanged throughout the period where it was used – Lotus had to make quite a number of modifications to the basic design over the years in order to keep it up to date with changing safety standards.

            Equally, Chapman really didn’t want to have to go down the path of using the same car for so many years, having made some fairly concerted efforts to kill off the 72 with far more radical alternatives (the 56B and the 76, for example). The man reason for sticking with the car for so long was really necessity rather than choice – he’d overstretched himself by committing to campaigns at Indianapolis and in Formula 2, the automotive division was hitting design problems and, in later years, John Player cut back their sponsorship by a large chunk (60% is a figure that has been quoted), preventing Chapman from being able to properly develop a new design (hence the failure of the Lotus 76, the car that was meant to have replaced the 72 long before the 72 was retired).

          7. @anon: regardless of the backgrounds, which I’m aware of but thank you for tabling them, the point is that Chapman or Newey or Green or Head COULD carry over monocoques, whereas no 20167/8 chassis can be carried over. My 72 reference represents one para in 1967 words…

  5. So the key question being whether F1’s various components will ever be in sync, I think the answer is yes. I think it is a tad, and just a tiny tad unfair to lay ‘the usual fudge’ on Liberty’s mantle, in the sense that the very thing they seem to stand for is change away from the usual. The usual fudge was BE’s and so it should be no surprise they are still dealing with that fudge…for now.

    Surely they are finding it difficult to coordinate everything, but did they ever claim it was going to be easy? The plans are still the plans, and the very fact that Brawn and Liberty are showing flexibility tells me they don’t want to force changes too abruptly that will only continue to ensure only the richest teams can adapt. If Liberty has discovered some realities that have put a bit of a stumbling block to some aspects of their plans, these were necessary for the process to continue, and for them to discover and to which they will adapt. Were they ever just going to snap their fingers and make everything right?

    I think the teams can go a long way toward helping Liberty and Brawn in this transition with cooperation with the end goal in mind, rather than just have the usual top teams carry the weight that leans heavily in their own favour. There already seems some sentiment toward that end, toward a better overall big picture. Beyond 2020 they’ll have cars with the same Pu’s and thus stability there. The cars will presumably have different wings and floors that will promote closer racing. The tire thing remains a question mark for now. The budget cap is in the works and cutting the top teams off at the knees down to $150 mill is no longer on for 2021, and rather a more gentle alteration is being considered.

    At least there is a long term renovation going on, and I have a ton more confidence that Liberty will get the house in order, even if it takes longer than their original plans had indicated. They’ve had 2 years so far. Bernie had what…40 years to make fudge? Let’s give Liberty some time, and look forwards, not backwards. It’s a different world now.

  6. The longer they leave it, they’ll be able to abort ‘road relevence’. Mercedes and Audi have just released two very significant electric SUVs with a lineup to follow and China absoloutely steam rollering ahead with EVs from buses down to mopdes, stand up scooters and skateboards.
    VW now showing off, beating records with their Pikes Peak weapon and their EV line-up due any time.
    F1 can go back to having raw engines, maybe as part of a compromise for cleaning up the roads if they’re clever. Leave EVs to Formula E and Rally X, forget that merger nonsense with F1.
    Maybe F1 can get into recycling and build cars with that concience instead of air-quality. Hell just recycle the 2006 cars!

    1. Liberty and FIA should take a harder ‘take it or leave it’ stance. As it is now the inmates are running the asylum, and the inmates can’t even agree on what color the sky is. They don’t care about racing and only push their own agenda’s to promote their brand. F1 doesn’t need (and is even better of without) car manufacturers running their own team like Mercedes and Renault, who leave on a whim if they don’t get it their way. F1 needs privateer teams like Williams, Sauber and McLaren who just buy an engine, bolt it onto their car and go racing just for the sake of racing. And Ferrari… well they’ll b!tch and moan about it for a while but eventually swallow everything that is pushed down their throat. Especially now that Marchione is gone.
      If you take out the top 3 teams, it’s a pretty exciting championship. Renault is now still in that group but will catch up to the top 3 eventually, so they also be taken out of the equation.
      If the manufacturers have no say, F1 can go back to simpler cheaper engines that are affordable for more engine manufacturers to make. And to those who say F1 must be road relevant and simpler engines are going back in time, I just ask this. Where are ABS braking, traction control and active suspension? They are not in F1 but are in road cars because it improves racing and drivers need more skill to controll the cars. So the same should be true for the engines. Just make 1000+ BHP, twin turbo engines with a simple kers and reduce downforce so the drivers can make more of a difference.

      1. “Liberty and FIA should take a harder ‘take it or leave it’ stance”

        The problem is the two key influential people running the FIA & Liberty both served at the head of Ferrari and Mercedes operationally. They also worked very nicely together in the Ferrari dream team days. They were both bought and paid for many years ago.

        “F1 needs privateer teams”

        A privateer team is not as we once knew it. Today they are basically extensions of the powerful trio.

        1. I don’t think Ross Brawn would put the neds of Mercedes above the needs of F1, Jean Toad i’m not so sure of.

          I know privateers are not what they used to be, but they could be if Liberty/FIA find a way to bring independant engine supliers back into F1.

      2. @pmr

        Liberty bought a business with a best by 2020 date, because none of the teams (or maybe none except for Renault, not sure how that turned out) are contracted to Formula 1 beyond that date.

        How do you think investors in Formula 1 would like it if their company had to shut down because of a “take it or leave it” attitude of the C-suite?

        1. @PMR I don’t disagree with what you have said, but as has been pointed out there are still contracts in place for now that Liberty cannot do anything about. But at the same time Liberty has wanted to consult with the teams and get consensus on changes going forward and try as much as possible to get everyone to agree on a direction for F1, with plenty of time for them to adapt, so that there is less strife going forward. I think there will come a day when they will finally say ‘ok teams, you’ve had your opportunities for your say, your say has mattered and all angles have been considered, and here’s what F1 now is.’ That ideally will be on a day when the teams will have understood the process, have participated in it, have gotten some things they want but not all, and everyone will then be on the same page as much as is possible with this kind of an entity. Horner has said as much too, that at some point they will have to say this is what F1 now is, take it or leave it. But I have huge respect for Liberty and Brawn to not just knee-jerk it and not just dictate right off the bat. All teams will be and are being involved in this process and so it is not like ‘leave it’ should even be a thought in any teams’ mind. Liberty is not interested in transforming F1 into something teams want to leave. The opposite.

          1. Oh i agree that this can’t be done ‘overnight’. But at some point they’ll have to take control back from the manufacturers. But i hope it happens soon. The reallity is thatMercedes and Ferrari are so far ahead with their enigines Honda and Renault will not catch up until the formula changes. I hope they prove me wrong but i doubt it.

      3. @PMR Very well said. I agree completely. We can’t continue to operate by a “committee system” wherein some teams have no vote, no say, no influence and a few influential teams consistently work to shape the sport to their own advantage at the expense of the health and well-being of the sport as a whole. Liberty and the FIA between them have the power and authority to impose fairness and rational thinking on the sport, and ought to do so both out of love of the sport and out of long-term business self-interest. You can’t own a business enterprise like F1 and allow outsiders to dictate how you run your business.

  7. I was never convinced when liberty surfaced beating it’s load drum and now my suspicions are starting to show its hand. I thought to myself how very clever, nicely played, the Jean & Ross dream team is back and all the Ferrari quit threats are just the usual smoke and mirrors.. Anyone that thought we would have a strong governing body willing to exercise its full power for sole purpose of fixing Formula One whilst not being swayed were kidding themselves. The pattern is predictable & laughable. The clever part was the gullible were easily swayed and signed onto the idea that significant change, if any, can wait for up to half a decade and beyond. The jury is still out and lets see what the extended narrative will become when 2023 rolls around..

    1. @ming-mong I doubt that many would agree with you that this is all some Todt/Brawn Ferrari/Mercedes conspiracy.

      1. It’s not a conspiracy because there is clear evidence. But I can understand how people would refuse to believe such a thing is going on. All involved are very happy to be ruling F1 and making the big bucks. It’s like a cartel.

        Libery are weak.

        1. “Clear evidence”
          Please explain to this unworthy mortal

      2. And there is that dismissive buzz word “conspiracy”

        Fact, the two key influential people running the FIA & Liberty today both served at the head of Ferrari and Mercedes operationally and have had financial shares in the company. What makes you think for the good of the sport when the time really comes to execute that one tough decision it can be achieved? Democracy is a an illusion and is easily corruptible with so many players at the table. For sure some things will change however in reflection they will not be enough. Massaged and drawn out is the best we can expect here.

        “The show must go on.. The show must go on..”

  8. as Freddy said so beautifully “The show must go on.. The show must go on..”

  9. Great article. +1

    Would read again!

    1. Agree, another great article @dieterrencken.
      The Wednesday RacingLines ‘editorials’ are a great addition to this site (if only we could get the ‘Caption Competition’ back).

      1. @Coldfly Working on it :-)

        1. 4th pic down.

          Pirelli have decided to name tyres after the teams.

          Force India, ???, Ferrari, Renault, Williams.

    2. @dieterrencken Agreed. Fantastic article. One read through is sufficient for me, though.

  10. Or the McLaren M23 …

  11. I think making all the changes at once is cheaper than making incremental changes

  12. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    5th September 2018, 18:03

    No one wants to commit to changing an EOL formula with all associated cost and hassle only for them to merge with FE anyway.

  13. A few more specific targets would be good, then we could measure success of Liberty.

    E.g. a target of top ten cars (five teams), within one second of each other after quali at Monza, costumer engines priced at no more than 15% of the annual budget cap, target of six different teams winning a Grand Prix each season, F2 winner guaranteed a seat in F1 within two seasons of winning F2, target of 12 teams on the grid…

  14. the tire situation is easy to solve in my head. Just negotiate a 1 year extension of the current contract with Pirelli and recompete the contract for 18″ wheels.

    1. Why would Pirelli agree to that?

    2. I believe they tried to do that and Pirelli said “no” quite emphatically.

      Why would they do it differently? Allowing that to happen would have allowed competitors to actually compete.

  15. Re cost cap, quite apart from the unlikely event of it actually happening, but supposing it did, it involves an annual spend per team, thus only at the end of the season can it be assessed. Alternatively the teams could be required to show a spend per month or per race. However much of the budget will be spent over the closed season in design, prototyping, manufacture, lifeing, performance rating, testing and hundred other things, none of which feature as a “per race” expenditure. Thus a target total divided by months will not work. Then how to separate development projects which may provide a step for the current season but will definitely be used next season if successful, that must apply to tens of components. Is design time costed per hour per component? Is total cost absorption accounting used? How can teams be sure of the new team of permanent FOM accountants now occupying space in the offices workshops and garages will remain schtum? What constitutes a cost? Can advertising be offset against cost? Can work be done in lieu of payment? If so is this still a cost or is it only bottom line money spent, ie open to all sorts of dodges in between?
    Nah! It will take 10 years to agree, but it was a nice idea!

  16. …is that H-ERS will be retained, and fuel flow and engine speed restrictions relaxed to boot.

    I agree with the retention of the Heat Energy Recovery Systems being retained, also I think the fuel flow restrictions should remain. This is more or less an equaliser between the engines. As far as I can tell none of the current engines are “revved” up to the maximum permitted RPMs during a race, so I don’t see a need to relax that either. I think things like the engine capacity and number of cylinders should be relaxed if it would encourage other high performance engine manufacturers to enter this racing series. I’m sure someone will tell me otherwise, but I don’t see how a 2.4 litre 4 cylinder engine using the same fuel flow and RPM limits as our 1.6 litre V6s will produce much more power than the current engines.
    As far as I can tell it’s likely the electrical portion of the current hybrid power units will become more dominant in the coming years, and with having to compete with the Formula E series, maybe that’s where the rules should allow some development, e.g. increasing the allowed size of energy stores.

  17. FIA need to make up the rules not the teams, this is rubbish, no wonder nobody wants to join the series any longer as it seems nobody is actually in charge hence nothing gets done….

  18. Great Article which confirms what I think a lot of us have suspected for a while now.
    There’s nothing really unexpected here, the only thing that surprised me from the outset is that given that these issues were all “known” Liberty (or anyone for that matter) was actually prepared to buy it for 8 Billion.

    Hopefully they actually will stay in for the very long haul (15 years +) because it’s going to take that long get sort the mess out and align all of the facets and relevant contracts of F1. Unfortunately in this day and age it’s not common for businesses to retain their holdings for that long, particularly if they’re not profitable or profitable enough.

    Once they work out which assets are worthwhile (most likely media based ones), I expect an asset strip just so they can recoup some of their 8 Billion and for the remainder to be folded.

  19. To play devil’s advocate, I have a measure of understanding for the teams, especially the smaller ones – if you’re going to revolutionize the sport a couple of years down the line, why would anyone outside the real championship contenders want to invest anything more into the current formula? This is all a good illustration of why it’s difficult to change existing systems once you start trying to balance all the vested interests. For myself, if the sport is going to survive and thrive and maybe even become an actual sport again, I see no bigger issues than revenue sharing and technical regs that make for cars that can properly race one another.

  20. Originally punted at $150m (excluding driver stipends, marketing and hospitality costs, and the largest individual pay packet), its introduction was aimed at the 2021 season. The level equates to around 450 heads – depending on business model – and with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari employing double that (and counting), it is little wonder they kicked against the cap concept.

    To go a bit left field on this: Seeing as they are already comfortable spending well above the proposed budget cap and employing double the number of people that the budget cap envisages, why don’t Mercedes and Ferrari just enter fully fledged, new entry, junior teams in a Red Bull/STR type arrangement? The junior squad could get their kit in through either a listed parts arrangement or a “Red Bull Technology” type arrangement, staff could move to the new teams rather than being made redundant and they’d have a place to put their junior drivers.

Comments are closed.