Is F1 really at crisis point?

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    Stephan Kelly (@brawngp) asked me to share this post I made a few hours after the Australian GP.

    I’m directly pasting it from the comments after the ‘Rate the Race’ article that I was referring to. So, please take this into account when considering the context.

    I hope you enjoy my contribution to the debate…

    Yeah, so… Getting up so early to watch the race live from the UK is becoming somewhat of a tradition for us. This morning though, I was already beginning to doubt the reasoning behind my commitment.

    I’ve been watching F1 for some years now. Since 1993, we’ve had a few dull races, but not like this. This was special and I’ll tell you why.

    We’ve had a few warning signs about the decline of the sport’s popularity, with a decline in TV audiences and the luke warm reception to the new engines, but today the warning should now be written on the wall for all of F1’s rulers and contenders alike to see as clear as day.

    The first bone I have to pick is with the engines. Yes, yes, yes. I know there needs to be a drive for efficiency and a test bed for road car applicable technology is needed, but these engines simply do not work within the current regulatory framework. The situation is bordering on a farce. These engines are a totally new departure for F1, and so, need lots of development. The teams can’t test the engines, the engine manufacturers can only make a token (see what I did there?) effort for development. Despite this, each driver is expected to use four power units per season. What? How can you expect teams to push when they have to run conservative races, purely to avoid a penalty later in the season? Not only that, but how can you expect each driver to use only four power units when it’s a gamble if it finishes the parade lap or not?

    The old engines were frustrating for manufacturers because they couldn’t develop it. The development of technology that feeds their road car business took a hit because of that, giving way to manufacture apathy for the sport. How are these engines going to challenge that? Well, they’re not. How can the slower teams catch the leaders with no testing and very little room for engine development? Well, they can’t.

    On top of this, they’re so expensive that two teams folded after operating on an already overstretched budget and the longer term future of two established teams has been cast in to doubt. I don’t have the answers, but surely something needs to be done to sort these engines out. Perhaps a new engine formula based on fuel flow rate and maximum fuel load alone. Let the engine manufacturers do what they like, providing the maximum amount of fuel per race is not exceeded and fuel flow is regulated? I don’t know…

    My second point is the constant tweeking of the regulations to improve the ‘show’. Things like DRS have distorted the idea of racing for the people that don’t usually watch motorsports. The regular veterans of F1 have a different idea of racing to the new comers, and with the best intentions, you can’t cater to both. It’s as if everyone is expecting a million overtakes and complain if they don’t get it. DRS needs to be scrapped on this basis. The 2009 aero changes created loads of great overtakes. I’m still not sure why the DRS was needed.

    Some people seem to have an artificial idea of racing, because the rule makers have created artificial racing. You can go a long way to fixing F1’s problems just by not altering the mix all of the time. Let the teams race and good racing will prevail.

    Couple this with the way FOM promotes its sport. It’s almost doomed. Never mind the poor official online support and content, but the TV viewing situation in the UK is symbolic of a poor marketing strategy (I realise that the BBC sold out). Sky Sports F1 is firmly in the artificial camp. It’s expensive, the quality of the coverage is poor (just one big advert, broken up with further advert breaks). There seems to be a scoop sensational mentally in their reporting. That might work in the world of football, but it’s just annoying in the world of F1. The BBC now has poor, fractured coverage because they don’t cover every race. Its a joke, really. Viewing figures will take a hit when the passing viewers don’t watch because they don’t want to subscribe. That, in turn, hits the pockets of the teams in reduced sponsorship money. F1’s marketing model only really works with maximum exposure and can only be achieved on free-to-air TV. They’ll be less money for FOM, admittedly. Oh well…

    As I understand, the there’s an opportunity to change things for the future this season. Let’s hope they stop the slide!

    Mackeine Loveine

    F1 is obviously in a crisis right now. I’ve been watching F1 since I was 4, in 2004, and now that I’m 15, I can now understand how lost F1 has gone right now.
    First of all, the Australian GP. Yes, it was painfully boring,and although I didn’t watached the race live due to reasons I’ll mention later I was biased by those 15 cars starting. Unbelievable. I know that in doesn’t compare to the Indygate in 2005, but with all the things sorrounding the event, I considered it a controversial race along with Japan 2014 and Silverstone 2013.

    Then the new engines. Here I kinda agree, because I have a mixed feeling about them. They are very fast, as we saw in Monza and Canada last year but they are constantly on fire or just with issues. The sound is not the perfect one but they are pretty good. But if you ask me if I prefer this or the V8, I prefer the V8. Even a V10 for sure. These engines need to be at the height of the V10 and V8 to be spectacular for me and for the people, and sadly they aren’t. They can be upgraded, yes, but it needs time. F1 needs time right now, although is running out too.

    Then the regulations. Here I’m a bit confused as a 15 year old, because when you mentioned “The 2009 regulations created lots of great overtakes” I thought that maybe yes, and maybe no.
    If you remember 2010 was a processional year in terms of racing. This was because of Bridgestone. Back then overtakes were worth watching.
    2012 for me was the perfect year of F1. Pirelli got it right nearly at every race, and the racing there was mental (ditching DRS). Incredible. I miss it so much.
    2013 is forgotten to me, and 2014 was kind like a 2012 but with this new engines. My point is: Which are the best regulations for F1 so it can be perfect? Fast degradating tyres? Better aero? Or driving skill? Why F1 can be like it was in the 70’s? Every race was spectacular and it was like watching a Bahrain 2014 race like 10 times in a season.

    Then the coverage. Yes, it sucks. Here in Latin America F1 is not live anymore. Suscriptions arrived. I couldn’t follow F1 as I was doing all this years and it was bad. Very bad. I don’t know which route F1 is taking, but Ecclestone looks like a Mexican politic with all his hunger on money nowadays. He is the reason F1 is on crisis right now. But does he care? No! He just wants money! The phrase “The main origin of all disasters and bad things is the love to money” fits in here.
    Since the accident of Bianchi F1 has just slipped down, and it keeps going down. We lost Caterham, nearly Manor, the German GP, then the news on nearly every round-up where a driver of someone who works on F1 critizes the sport, Ecclestone whining about everything, the Sauber issue, money for the teams in order to stay in F1, boycotting races, changing regulations so Mercedes can fall, what the hell?
    This is not the F1 I watched on 2012. Or even 2013.
    Something needs to be donde. Like I said, F1 needs time to recover from that fall it suffered, but it’s time is running out too.

    Ivan Vinitskyy

    May I ask which team / driver do you 2 support?


    I agree with you when i first started watching F1 around 1996 i just to eagly watch as much coverage as i could (and read as much as i could when i got acess to the internet). So i would feel i have a fairly good laymans understanding of the technology/ history of the sport but i am inceasing finiding it difficult to stay motivated to watch the races as the constant rule changes dont help (when having to explain things to people who dont have the same level of interest when watching with me). F1 needs to find a way to re conect with fans, how to achive this isnt a simple fix but it needs to be done


    I’ve said since the introduction of DRS & Pirelli that product is no longer “Formula One”. It’s some hybrid nonsense mix branded as that.

    If some other racing series came along with these stupid ideas none of us would watch it. The only reason we continue to watch it is because it’s called “Formula One” along the great teams of the past.

    DRS & Pirelli (are 2 BIG problems along with many others). I cannot and will not defend Pirelli’s poor tyres. The common defense to that is “Pirelli was asked for degrading tyres”. We all understand that but nobody asked for dry tyres that have to be nursed & driven at what 70-80% just to be able to make them last 5-10 laps. Replicating Canada 2010 means the tyres should last a reasonable amount of time while drivers are able to push 90-100% of the cars performance.

    Let’s not get started on Pirelli absoulutely horrible wet weather tyres. Go back and watch any damp/wet race and you’ll see how poor the grip is. It seems more like Rally cross than Formula One. That will naswer your question as to why so many races have been started behind safety car & then the SLS would come in and then teams switch to slicks shortly after.

    DRS , self explanatory.

    CVC nothing needs to be said.

    Why isn’t Germany as interested in F1. Look at the rules, where the races have gone. Over regulated , penalties for attempting almost any overtake. Engineers telling drivers how to drive.
    Seems like the German are ahead of most of us.



    It’s some hybrid nonsense mix branded as that.

    Why do people keep treating electric-ICE hybrids as nonsense in the wold of fast cars?

    It’s not like the LaFerrari uses such hybrids due to Greenpeace protesting ICE-only hypercars or something like that!



    Lol. I actually didn’t mean hybrid engines when I said “hybrid nonsense”. I wasn’t clear I meant Formula One has become morphed into some “sport” and product that is, in my eyes no longer Formula One.

    Actually, I HATE the new engines also. I think it’s better if they and other road relevant tech was used in WEC or something.

    And yes I have been to GP’s every year & will not return any more. It’s just not exciting enough or worth the admission price now. Most people I speak to agree as well.

    Either way, the only way to make a big change with this series, is if everyone stops complaining on the internet and stops subscribing to Skysports etc. Buying tickets, merchandise etc. Only when Bernie looses a large amount of money will things start to change


    @s2g-unit If the hybrid were road-but-not-speed-relevant I’d not expect to see it in hypercars.

    But yeah, F1 is very, very, very far from what it should be.


    Wow! Some good comments there! I agree with most of them…

    Now, I should explain that I try to be as neutral as possible when I watch F1. I simply love the competition and spirit. I wasn’t always like this. When I was younger I was a typical British F1 fan. I loved Mansell and Hill, respected Senna and his McLaren, despared at the help Ferarri seemed to get from the FIA and I didn’t trust Schumacher – not one bit.

    In those ‘early’ days, the things that attracted me to the sport have changed. Noise, flat out racing, characters, great circuits and lots of spectators with great access and free to air tv coverage…

    If we look at those things individually, we can begin to understand what has changed as a consequence of FIA/FOM nannying.

    The new enginels don’t make the same ear splitting noise that they used to, but I don’t think they sound too bad. I like the understated whistle from the turbo and the harvesting noises under throttle lift-off. My beef is that the bods that wrote the regs didn’t fully understand the challenge that the manufacturers would face. What they want can be done, but there needs to less emphasis on the harvesting of energy and more on internal combustion. It’s too difficult to do this reliably because the manufacturers just don’t know how to do it. They need more time. It would have been better to start with a higher fuel flow rate and more fuel load in the cars and then pinch these in as the technology evolves. They should have also introduced a lower maximum amount of energy that can be harvested. Then, when the technology is better understood, you increase this limit also. As an engineer, it seems like complete madness to introduce such massive changes in the regulations, whilst allocating less engines to the teams. All of this whist trying to control costs. It’s total folly and it’s a massive blunder. The FIA can’t take a backwards step because they have to look infallible. It’s pure arrogance that they did not offer more consultation. I mean, look at Honda. After a company of that size, spending the resources it has over the time period it gave itself, only one of its engines has ever done a full GP distance…

    Despite the best efforts of the FIA and the engine manufacturers to make these cars as fuel efficient as possible, the drivers still have to employ fuel saving techniques in most races, couple this with tyres that only really last 10 laps at decent pace, the racing can be exceptionally dull. If this is the sort of racing you’re in to, you’d already be watching the FIA World Endurance Championship!

    The drivers also look far too corporate. They tow the company line for vital sponsorship. I know the sponsors pay for it all, so the drivers and teams need to be nice to them, but I want the drivers to offer more opinion on things without fear of bringing the sport in to disrepute for any reason. No one would watch if the drivers weren’t such strong characters in previous years. Interviewing the new drivers (especially Rosberg) is as dull as appointment at the bank. Jenson, Seb and Kimi are sometimes great, but who’ll step up next? Sponsorship is far too important.

    What about the new circuits? They really don’t help F1’s problems. They’re like a massive car park with a circuit chalked out on it. All for improved safety. Again, this is folly. One of F1’s weapons is the show. Unfortunately, this means a little bit of ‘make a mistake here and you’ll put a wheel on the grass and fly off in to the barrier’ danger. This element of the show is completely at odds with Tilke’s philosophy of new circuits where the driver simply rejoins after a mistake. It needs to remain a little dangerous, or it will look far to neutral. The cost of these circuits to stage the GP is far too high, leading to outrageous ticket prices. The cost of staging needs to come down. Look at the German example. The nation of current champions and a great many successful drivers, yet no German GP? Are you watching this Bernie?

    I’ve spoken about the TV situation before, but after another week of nothing but repeats of crap programs on Sky Sports F1, I’ll revisit. The ‘Sky Treatment’ they’ve given the coverage is just a gimmick and, admittedly, some have lapped it right up. In reality, the coverage is poor, unless you love unsubstantiated hype and sensation. Also, there was once a time when a subscription meant no adverts. I’m already MASSIVELY uncomfortable with giving Rupert Murdoch any of my money. I don’t buy his papers, I find his companies utterly repugnant. Why is F1 getting in to bed with him? Is it any wonder why people are turning off?

    F1 is fast becoming an unnecessary expense, even for me. I’m very nearly ready to throw in the towel to some extent.

    To sum all of this up, I have a little message for the FIA, FOM and Burnie…

    You can visit a British Touring Car race for less than £100 for a weekend ticket, including camping, parking and three full days of quality track action. You do the maths.


    I forgot to add that FIA should have placed a way greater emphasis on engine sound.

    All I can think about is Lexus with the LFA and the fact they were smart enough to consult Yamaha & to tune chambers around the engine to get beautiful engine sound.

    I don’t believe that we need to forget the testosterone pumping, internal combustion, spine tingling sound just for the benefit of technology. New technology is not always good. In Formula One if we wanted the best technology and fastest lap times. We should have re-introduce ABS, Traction Control, automatic fuel saving. Obviously NOBODY wants that. I honestly think it’s time when technology has gone too far in the sport & it’s time to revert back to more classic pure racing.

    Mackeine Loveine

    @andybantam I had the exact same feeling when I began watching the sport. I was a Schumi fan only, and liked the V10 and cars of then. But i missed them so much, so so much.

    When talking about the engine, I said that like the sound. When the car is accelerating it sounds powerful, amd now that they sound is improved in Australia I liked it even more. But I repeat, the V8 amd V10 are miles better.

    Woth drivers I think that you’re write. Some of them looked like a bunch of desinterested people when it comes to interviewing, when in the 70s we had James Hunt with his epic comments. The most close to him is Raikkonen, but he has been warned about his comments so many times that he is annoyed of interviewing so much. Drivers must be like Hunt and Raikkonen, in my opinion.

    Also I forgot to talk anout tracks…. damn. First in my mind was Sochi. Awful track and that terrible turn 1, or turn 2. What the hell were thwy thinking about when making that corner??? They annihilated all chances of overtaking in that circuit. Abu Dhabi is a great circuit, but not F1. I like India, playing it on games is very fun, but again, not for F1. As well as Korea, same feeling. Is it so hard to make a decent track like Austin or China? Because the majority of the tracks are ruined just beacuse of nasry desings insteead of clean corners for overtaking. Challenging but essencial for racing.

    And also a new opinion about something.I don’t understand why in some races overtaking with DRS is neccesary. Look at Canada 2014, for me one of the most overrated races ever. Yes it was tense and epic with 5 drivers for the win, but the only non-DRS pass was Ricciardo on Perez, which was essential for his first win. All the other ones had DRS. All of them. So I was really annoyed when that race was voted better than Bahrain and Hungary, that they had exceptionally racing. The same runs Abu dhabi, Sochi and now Brazil. It is painful to just watch a driver past with only a button deploying extra speed. Utterly awful.

    Also the cost for racing. Oh my god. Here in Mexico it is more cheap going to Bahrain for the GP than going here the new Mexican GP! Even Austin is cheaper. A lot cheaper. Even Monaco is cheaper! I’ll just say that because I’ll faint with all the ticket prices.

    And yes, F1 is unnecesary expensive. Is better dealing with more accesibility than with more money. I really hope someone or something changes Bernie’s mind beacuse it’s devastating my passion.


    F1 has become just like many other things in this world.
    -Over regulated and restricted
    -too clinical
    -overly damn corporate image that nobody connects too because it’s not real life
    -people in power making decisions that go against the large majority

    DRS has been horrible and not every track needs it. Especially not in Montreal on the classic passing zones.

    Then throw in Pirelli tyres which they still haven’t got right because old tyres are too slow compared to new slicks. Which leaves drivers knowing there is no point in defending because it will ruin their tyres more.

    Overall, F1 has gone too far no longer being a race among cars on a track. It has stretched too far into just a time trial, hitting a certain speed to make your tyres last a certain time. I think it has almost gone in a rally style time trial where other cars are just some sort of annoying moving pylon.


    I know we’re far too quick to throw the blame at Bernie’s door. He’s guilty, but it’s not just him on his own.

    He answers to a board of venture capitalists who want their money – Bernie has to collect it. No matter what!

    The thing is, though, where’s the money going to come from after everyone’s switched off? Where do the circuits recoup their money from when no one bothers to pay the high prices any more?

    Sooooooo many issues, so many. I wouldn’t know how to solve them, but I’d start by protecting the national GP of the reigning champions (where applicable) and getting rid of that bloody DRS!

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