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Video: Team principals on Free to Air TV and F1 going green
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2011   |  12:19 pm GMT  |  13 comments

McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh, Mercedes’ Ross Brawn, Virgin Racing’s Graeme Lowdon and Force India’s Robert Fearnley met face to face with 300 F1 fans at the FOTA Fans’ Forum, UK at McLaren Technology Centre to discuss topics raised by the fans and hear their points of view.

Top of the agenda was fans’ concern that F1 should stay on Free to Air TV and the rumoured NewsCorp take over was discussed.

The team principals also tackled the subject of F1′s green credentials, with Fearnley putting forward a slightly different tone from the others, describing F1 as “a celebration of excess.”

“The job of F1 is to help develop the technologies, as with the V6 programme, so that we can benefit the whole economy through the manufacturers, ” he said. “Through the efforts of FOTA it would inexcusable to waste more than we need in terms of travel, but I think F1 – and maybe I’m a bit of a dinosaur – is a celebration of excess.

“We have the most powerful engines, we have the best show in motor racing, we have the best parties and the prettiest girls and we should not lose that. We are a show at the end of the day and the show must be maintained. But we can also do more than our fair share on the environmental side too. ”

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13 Comments
  1. mad max says:

    I tend to agree with Robert Fearnley’s comments. F1 seems to be getting a bit carried away with the whole green thing. It’s motorsport not Greenpeace.

    They can tackle the green issue in other ways that don’t take away from the spectacle like changing the calender.

    1. Mark V says:

      If they are as serious about being more environmentally responsible as they are about reducing costs, they could combine the two efforts into one initiative by also putting a limit on how much energy they use OFF the track.

  2. Matthew says:

    How wonderful to hear Robert Fearnley’s comments on green issues and F1.

    It’s refreshing for someone within the sport to finally stand-up and say what I’m sure most people are thinking behind the enforced, albeit understandable, PR veneer.

    And of course, it is understandable that the sport needs to appear green; every commercial enterprise must do in this age. Perhaps though, F1 is not going about it in the right way.

    My personal opinion is that consumers, viewers, fans – whatever one cares to label the demographic that the marketers are aiming to hit – are much smarter than they are being given credit for. I don’t think many would dispute that the average intelligence of an F1 follower is higher than you might expect in a sport that has less need to revel in such geekery, with our endless discussion of technology and subtle strategic machinations.

    With this in mind, it’s frustrating to be patronised by such a crude veil of greenness that’s being thrown over a sport that ships thousands of people, tens of thousands of tonnes of freight and 100k spectators to 18 countries, in 5 separate continents every year.

    There cannot be too many people left in the developed world that wouldn’t understand immediately that the fuel being burned by the cars every fortnight makes up an almost meaningless fraction of F1’s carbon footprint. Plus, it will probably take many decades of running V6 turbos just to cover the carbon emissions of developing them.

    So from a marketing perspective; please, sponsors, I implore you not to worry! Anyone that is so concerned by environmental issues as to demand a reduction in engine size won’t be watching. Let’s be honest, If they were, they certainly wouldn’t be appeased by a reduction to a V6 Turbo engine producing 750bhp. That’s not really in the same league as say, cycling to work, or switching to micro-wind-generation, is it?

    Surely the real reason is money.

    Manufacturers can’t sell enough V8, V10, or V12 power-plants to consumers, so they have no interest in it. And if this were purely about green technology development, we could learn the same amount from developing 120KW KERS on a V8 couldn’t we? Of course we could! That’s precisely the argument the teams, manufacturers and FIA used this week… the number and formation of cylinders is not important, we can still do the same work on green-tech with V6’s as we could have with 4-pots. Thanks for making that clear when we all wanted to stick with V8s guys…

    What Robert Fearnley has said is true. The sport, traditionally, is about excess. That is the why it has such glamour, such draw and is so marketable. The problem is that everyone is running out of cash and it’s difficult to keep excess going without cash, the two are symbiotic.

    So, I think I’m getting my head around the situation we’re in and for an F1 fan, it’s a frustrating time, albeit an interesting one. How will the sport evolve? Is it worth the sacrifices to become more efficient and every bit as green as we can be? I hope the answer is ‘yes’ but I wish more people would have the honesty to remind the world what the sport is about and that we do by far the greenest thing possible – drop 1 fly-away race from the calendar – which would FAR outweigh any green-engine development policy.

  3. Who has the prettiest girls exactly???! Now, I would like to see the quaulifying for that!

  4. Greg says:

    Excellent. Thanks James!

    Agree about the prettiest girls quote. Though they really do have to work hard, just watching the grid walk on Sunday and they stood in front of Alonso car and that grid girl did not drop here smile or posture for one second and they were there for a good few minutes.

    Thanks again James for what is now the best F1 site.

  5. PZ says:

    Free-to-air may be important in the UK but in the rest of the world, F1 would be better served with other options.

    1. Noodles says:

      Why would it?

      1. PZ says:

        In the US, the pay-to-air broadcasts are tape-delayed and chopped up to fit into a shorter time slot…the broadcast starts with the installation lap (no pre-race) and we only get bits and pieces of the usual post-race material. The commentary is dumbed down explaining everything to the masses, to the point of being insulting. The recent race from Valencia was awful. We still have two more of these races to tolerate before we go back to the excellent broadcasts on SpeedTV.

      2. RC says:

        In canada cable channel TSN carries the BBC feed minus the pre show – and it’s excellent of course. I vote for more free-to-air at least in the UK!

  6. Alain says:

    I wonder how green the manufacturing of a F1-car is. The green idea is all about fuel consumption during the F1-weekend, but how green are Pirellis tyres, carbon fibre brakes, windtunnels, CAD-CAM systems, worldwide travel, TV-broadcasts. The only green thing are the girls ;-)
    The actual F1-car is only a few percent of the ecological footprint of the whole F1-circus during a race weekend

  7. Iqbal_M says:

    To me it is imporortant for F1 to remain free to air, preferably on the BBC (they should all they can to keep the broadcast rights). I have Virgin Media but can not afford Sky Sports.

  8. F1_For_Free says:

    Do u want F1 to stay on Free to air TV? follow us to get the message out.

    http://twitter.com/#!/F1_For_Free

  9. Jos says:

    F1 to Sky : Fota shafted by Bernie again ?

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