Maurizio Arrivabene, Claire Williams, Zak Brown, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

F1 team bosses holding more meetings without Liberty

2018 United States Grand Prix

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Formula 1 team bosses have held a second meeting in as many race weekends to discuss the problems facing the sport, RaceFans has learned.

As in Japan, the team principals met at Mercedes’ motorhome without inviting representatives from F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media or the FIA. The teams have also agreed to meet again at next weekend’s race in Mexico.

The teams’ concerns are believed to include falling F1 audiences, the need to attract new fans, and the balance between controlling costs and distributing F1’s falling revenues.

After the meeting several team principals appeared in a joint interview on Channel 4 in which they discussed some of their concerns around the sport.

Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer said Liberty are “learning very quickly” and have “done some things really well” but sees room for improvement.

“Whether it’s Bernie [Ecclestone] or Liberty there’s things we can all improve on and Liberty can improve as well.

“We’ve had discussions about a number of things: In the future should we have cost caps, better money distribution, that’s all up to Liberty.

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“But first and foremost we’ve got to make the show the best we can. We all talk about who the fan is and providing for the fan and this is a show. it should stick with its roots of ultimate racing, not making it fake, and that’s all for the fans.

“I think one thing Liberty have done well is to have a better understanding of who our fans are. They’re data-driven and hopefully we can now make changes to the sport to please our current fans and attract some others.”

The teams expect Liberty and the FIA to set the agenda for the sport’s future, according to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

“Formula 1’s a competition, at the end of the day. We all play nicely on the outside and then we all try to nick each other’s sponsors, people, technology, behind the scenes.

“It’s really down to the owners, the guys from Liberty, the regulators, to come up and say ‘these are the rules, this is what you need to go racing by’. And as competitors it’s in our instincts to compete and push those boundaries.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 18 comments on “F1 team bosses holding more meetings without Liberty”

    1. Are there more mirrors in the Mercedes motorhome than others?

    2. I am delighted that the teams are acting as a team.
      Liberty Media is a money making concern and will always consider the racing as secondary to getting rich.

      1. @nullapax Liberty are no different from any other owners of the rights to a professional sport. The issue here is the legacy of the decisions made by Bernie in the last decade of his tenure, his short termist decisions for CVC were a large colon-ejection that is still in the process of splattering down on Liberty and the sport.

        Liberty can be a ‘money making concern AND grow F1, the outcomes are NOT mutually exclusive, far from it. Sustainable businesses (thousands of which have been around for far longer than F1) operate this way. Liberty are a publically traded company, long term viability is critical for sustainable shareholder return.

    3. DRS is causing the slow death of F1.

      1. The slow death of F1 is the dirty air that prevents close racing. DRS was created as a stupid attempt as a work around. Then they had to add the DRS zone to prevent drivers from using DRS in corners. Then they added multiple DRS zones. Then they attempted to “fine tune the DRS zone lengths. So now drivers can just wait for the DRS zones instead of fighting for every possible corner that permits a chance of overtaking. So DRS is a problem that fails to fix the real problem of too much disturbed air that is causing the death of F1. And don’t get me started on the lack of access to non pay walled TV access….

      2. There is a hell of a lot more issues causing F1’s slow death than DRS.
        Unfortunately, it’s too bureaucratic and will continue to lose credibility due to power of a few.
        The final nail in the coffin has been driven.

      3. @BadgerBoy Wrong.

    4. I think one thing Liberty have done well is to have a better understanding of who our fans are

      I’d bet they have no idea who the fans are, or what they want.

      1. Oh they do. Or they think they do, they send out surveys all the time to “fans” whose emails they’ve sourced from who knows where. Basically someone/s have sold them a bunch of addresses and said these are your fanbase
        Liberty are a data-driven , make no mistake about it. They don’t go by feels, but by numbers.

        1. @uneedafinn2win: Data-driven, perhaps. But, as they say in the stats biz, bad data is worse than no data at all.

    5. Laughable – truly the joke of the year. I would love to be in the room when this was going on. As if Mercedes and Ferrari are going to do anything to compromise their domination.

      F1 is on a slippery slope to destruction for countless reasons – one of the the biggest is because 75% of the field have about a snowball’s chance in hell of standing on the podium let alone winning a race. So if you are not a fan of any of the top 5 or 6 drivers, there little reason to watch.

      Taking it one step further, the two top teams allow their top driver to approve if not select their teammate. It doesn’t take a genius to figure HAM or VET approved BOT and RAI instead of ALO. Of course it is Merc’s right to choose a stiff for HAM’s teammate, but it works against F1.

      The excuse is it would create a “toxic atmosphere” among the teams. Instead of all drivers in the top 2 teams in the hunt for a WDC this year, there are only 2, one of which has cocked up so bad, the WDC was decided several races ago. The last somewhat interesting year in F1 when there was this so called toxic environment – the year ROS and HAM weren’t on speaking terms to put it mildly and it came down to the last race.

      F1 isn’t true competitive racing and never will be unless it undergoes dramatic change. Liberty is trying to achieve it but but when Ferrari threaten to quit when leveling the playing field is suggested, it goes nowhere. Ferrari and Mercedes basically have F1 by the balls. Nothing will change when they are allowed to dictate.

      F1 is an impressive showcase of technology but true racing it is not. Indy cars are no doubt inferior but it is far better racing and the reason is because most of the field have a chance of getting a taste of being on the podium.

      I’ve watched F1 since 1990 and it’s gotten to the point over the past couple of years I record the races and skip through to watch the start and surf through to hopefully find something interesting. Far from a fan of Alonso’s abrasive character but a fan of his racecraft, I find it unacceptable that a driver of his caliber is leaving not because of his age or loss of competency but because it’s difficult if not impossible to be competitive unless you are fortunate enough to drive for Merc or Ferrari.

      It’s interesting that no other type of racing I know of is as bureaucratic and confusing as F1 currently is. But no worries, Ferrari and Merc will figure out how to make F1 more interesting. Not!

    6. The biggest problem facing F1 and all of motorsport for that matter is the total lack of sport. Coming up with the notion that what Magnussen did at Suzuka was wrong a week after the fact shows a total lack of discernment by the powers that be. Even the casual fan knows that what he did was wrong, a mere child could make that discernment. The competition is completely unregulated and when you have churlish behavior being displayed out on the track and it goes unpunished people just lose interest. There is a team that had one of its drivers deliberately take out his teammate with an illegal move, destroying both cars in the process and the team’s official position was that nobody was to blame for the incident, that is a great way to lose spectator interest and a perfect formula for creating a declining interest. People have better things to do than to add to their aggravation by watching such non-sense as that. Quite frankly I wish it would all go away and be replaced by honest competition. I love motorsport and so do motorsport fans unfortunately motorsport is dead and has been for quite some time. Money killed it.

    7. Culture and millennials in particular would rather stare at their phones than most anything else. Very different from the car culture the baby boomers grew up with. This shift has hurt all racing, not only F1 and IndyCar. Quit starting at your phones and get into something real.

      1. So it is the millennials’ fault that we have these phones that were in fact invented by baby boomers? The car culture where baby boomers grew up with doesn’t exist anymore because baby boomers killed it. Who put more wings into the cars to make passing more difficult? Who has focused purely on adding gimmicks instead of addressing the actual problems? Who made the decisions to kill free to view f1? Everybody, let’s play the blame game.

        1. @socksolid, no doubt you will find that those who caused most of those problems are keener to throw the blame onto another generation rather than facing up to their own faults.

          Don Dahler, the indication is that millenials are looking to things such as phones because your generation has so impoverished them that cars are now an unaffordable luxury.

    8. Good to heat that the teams themselves realise something has to change. Even better that they say that Liberty needs to come up with the rules. Time to make a new concorce agreement where the teams no longar have a vote/veto on the rules.

    9. I listened with great interest to the channel 4 interview with the bosses.

      I thought Otmar and Toto were great even if Toto was being overtly political, I thought Christian came up with some good points but mixed in some barbs that made him sound like a spoilt child.

      The separate interview with Claire Williams was also great.

      First and foremost, we need cars that can fight on track and tyres that, even if they have limited life, can be raced on. Then we will finally be able to be rid of DRS. Even distribution of funds is also vital.

      Always amazes me how little Ferrari interact with the fans.

      1. Given that they are the most popular team, and are preceded by a red armada wherever they go, I see little incentive for Ferrari to change!

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