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F1 changes grab headlines, but behind the scenes motor sport has a plan for growth
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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Jun 2014   |  4:39 pm GMT  |  113 comments

This week in Munich the FIA staged its second annual Sport Conference, following on from last year’s inaugural gathering of motor sport federations from around the world at Goodwood House.

Much of what occurred there has been overshadowed by the news (and the reaction to it) emerging from Thursday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting, which followed the conference. That is hardly surprising, as Formula One, naturally grabs the lion’s share of the headlines. Also the artificiality of some of the measures proposed by the F1 Strategy Group and F1 commission and adopted by the WMSC has sparked a lot of debate online and on social media channels.

Fans could be forgiven for assuming that the WMSC only deals with F1, when in fact it decides on issues arising in every discipline administered by the FIA, from the WRC and WEC to the soon-to-be-launched Formula E and on to a multitude of categories below the top level including rallycross, cross country events, autocross, historics, karting and dozens of others.

Thus, the changes to the F1 rules, in particular the introduction of standing starts in 2015 and the singular lack of any meaningful action on cost-cutting, have dwarfed what happened at the conference.

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That is a shame, as it was a fascinating glimpse into how much effort there is going on to develop and grow motor sport around the world and the WMSC was presented with a plan for growth.

Essentially Munich was representatives of 109 countries discussing and coming up with a development plan to engage young people to become drivers, mechanics or fans, to encourage volunteers for marshalling and other roles and to light the spark of enthusiasm for the sport in as many people as possible.

Predominantly the focus of a conference like this is about the grassroots level. The world championships may be the big ticket items that put bums on seats and, in the case of F1, which pays the bills, but there is of course a whole world of racing and rallying taking place every weekend in a huge number of countries around the world and this year’s conference was centred around how to keep that motorsport healthy and how to attract new fans and competitors when all indications are that motorsport (not just F1 but all kinds) has an ageing demographic and that kids are more interested in consoles and smartphones than karting and touring cars.

There were five main discussion sessions, which were moderated by JA along with Sky Germany’s Sandra Baumgartner. There were also workshops where the delegates worked together in regional groups.

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In the opening panel session, designed to sketch out the broad talking points of the weekend for 109 national sporting organisations represented (the ASNs mandated by the FIA to look after motor sport in individual countries) a panel including two-time F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi, F1 development driver Susie Wolff, Formula E Promoter Alejandro Agag, five-time Le Mans winner and F1 steward Emanuele Pirro and WEC and FE driver Karun Chandhok pointed a number of barriers to the growth of motorsport, including competition from the digital world, the excessive cost of entry and in Chandhok’s view the relative lack of infrastructure in developing nations. Agag said FE had spent much time in researching methods of making the championship appealing to younger generations and said that the controversial ‘fanboost’ system, by which social media users vote for drivers to receive a brief power boost during races, had partly been inspired the Super Mario Kart video game. Each to his own there, perhaps.

Pirro, meanwhile, pointed to the lack of passion or personality that radiates from current major championship racers. “I don’t know who identifies with a driver who is fresh and clean [after a race] and who appears not to be giving everything,” he said.

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The follow-up to that overview, the next day, was to hand the baton to the ASNs themselves, with the FIA’s Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker telling them that the workshops they would undertake to enumerate the major barriers to development would define part of an overall development strategy the FIA will out into place utilizing the additional funds that will be generated for the federation as a result of the renegotiation of the F1 Concorde Agreement.

The results were interesting, with a number of key trends emerging, many of which are in some ways microsmic reflections of the issues facing F1 currently. Cost of entry, the impact of social media, the need to simplify rules, the need for better infrastructure and the need for organisational development within clubs were all highlighted as particular concerns for motorsport at every level, even down to karting, with a number of club representatives saying that karting has become prohibitively expense for youngsters interested in motorsport as a pastime.

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The issue of the explosive growth of social media raised its head in a session dealing with the thorny issue of how to reverse motorsport’s ageing demographic and attract young fans to the sport. With the discussion anchored by presentations from Twitter UK Head of Sport Alex Trickett and Darren Cox the Nissan GT Academy, which launched the career of gamer turned racer Jann Mardenborough, who was also present, the overwhelming sentiment expressed by ASN representatives afterwards was one of shock at how far behind the digital curve motorsport is, from grassroots to the very top levels.

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The outcome of the two days in Munich was that the clubs’ findings from their workshops were adopted as part of the FIA’s motorsport development plan, with specific reference being made to helping motorsport to build its presence in ‘e-media’, attempting to reduce the cost of competition through the development of affordable categories and to encouraging youth participation by defining a clear competitive pathway in all disciplines and again tackling cost and constructing affordable categories.

They are all laudable ambitions, delivered for the most part by people who are genuinely passionate about motorsport of all forms and it was refreshing to be in an environment where racing is not a ‘show’ or a ‘business’ but where it is still a sport enjoyed by millions and which needs to remain accessible to all, especially the young, the next generation of racers and fans.

The one fly in that ointment is that in the vast majority of cases it is the championship that is frustratingly touted as a ‘show’ and a ‘business’ that is the televisual point of entry for most youngsters and until it remembers it is a sport then we may struggle to find the audience it is so desperately and confusedly chasing.

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113 Comments
  1. Matthew says:

    Perhaps one idea for cost-cutting would be to place a cap on how much can be spent on the development of various components per season. That would help to lower costs surely?

    1. Victor says:

      Teams are not keen on open there’s accounts books to anyone, so it would be hard to police if they are indeed keeping the costs down to what was agreed. That’s exactly the main problem and the reason why there is no step forwards on anything substancial about reducing the costs of the sports.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Brilliant! – so simple a child could do it :)

      The FIA on the other hand:

      How much should it be? How do govern it? Won’t the big teams be unhappy? How do we make them happy? Won’t that make the smaller teams unhappy? How can we make them happy too? But then if make them happy won’t the big teams be unhappy again? Arrgh it’s just so difficult!!!

  2. Gaz Boy says:

    Wanted: free to air TV coverage of Formula 1.
    Obstacle: A small chap with a pudding basin haircut.
    Solution: Remove the obstacle? Over to Munich…………….

    1. Dansus says:

      That wont change anything unless the FIA can cancel the 100 year contract.

      1. Gord says:

        Why did the FIA sign the 100 year contract ?

      2. PeterF says:

        It is astounding that this question is not being looked at by the authorities! There is no way a 100 year contract was offered with good business practice as it’s motivating factor. The man on trial for bribery in Munich was the beneficiary of this incredibly illogical deal, what did he do to get it? [mod] Who in the EU business fraud decision is not doing their job in initiating an investigation into this matter? Why is all of this not being questioned in the press all of the time while the bribery trial continues?

    2. Pkara says:

      “Here Here” totally agree with that statement :-)
      can we get a “Hrumph Hrumph” ( Blazing Saddles classic) from all in agreement.
      Sky seems to suck everything away from general public into pay per view. Slowly kill the sport & isolate the masses. Thus loosing the next generation , present generation, older generation from seeing the sport. Unless you go to the Grand prix or pay the inflated price to view. Have to listen to the mad rantings of Pinkham et al & their endless stretched out debates & so called cliff hangers before every advert & you slowly realise that its a confederacy of bland duncies (except J Herbert Brundle & Hill) trying too hard. I’m surprised you dont get tumble weed blowing across the studio at times.
      B.T. have done exactly the same with Moto Gp. BBC team were the best…now It’s toe curling poor.
      Crazy times for Motor Sport.

      1. Pkara says:

        I mean the BBC were better at Moto Gp (like they still are at F1 coverage).
        But since BT took over Moto Gp coverage it is dull as dishwater)
        Slowly going the way of World Rallying Champioship.

      2. F1heroes says:

        Who is BT?

      3. Pkara says:

        BT = British Telecom who know do Sport apparently under the banner of BT Sports ..
        Very Poorly infact just like their telephone customer service line.
        Couldn’t hit a bullseye from point blank range.
        All the Gear & No idea !

      4. Andy says:

        Sky did not ‘suck it away’, the BBC gave it away to them because the BBC are incapable of running their business efficiently.

    3. Wade Parmino says:

      I agree. It would surely be more profitable anyhow to have F1 on commercial TV rather than Pay TV as networks can charge for advertising during the races. Although these ad breaks are annoying (this is how F1 is broadcast in Australia), at least we get all the races and don’t have to pay to watch the races. Unfortunately Formula 1 is run to make a gargantuan profit. Until a miracle occurs and an F1 enthusiast billionaire purchases the competition subsequently running it so that it is just financially sustainable (rather than focused on greedy profiteering), this is how it will be.

      Such a situation, although fantastical is not impossible. Bills need to be paid as do employees and budgets planned for the future however there is no need at all for a large profit margin at the end of the financial year just to fill the pockets of shareholders who see Formula 1 as merely an investment opportunity. The chap with the basin haircut whom you refer to, should be more appreciative of the sport’s rich history, passion and sacrifice considering how long he has been associated with it. At some point he lost his passion for Formula 1 and began a love affair with the Dollar Bill.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Astonishing to think that Australia is the only country in the English speaking Anglosphere that has free to air live coverage.
        In Western Europe, Italy, Germany and Spain do as well, but the rest – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France (yes France, the home of the FIA!), Holland, Belgium, Portugal have to cough up their dosh.
        Believe it or not, most Eastern European countries get free to air live F1 coverage. For all the readers in the former Eastern Bloc countries – make the most of it!
        Perhaps Mr E thinks because Western Europe and the English speaking Anglospere are affluent, progressive countries he thinks we have all surplus cash to throw his way…………………go figure!

      2. Matthew M says:

        Its only broadcast on Australian Free To Air because of our anti siphoning list. It was setup by our government to protects all major sporting events from being put behind a paywall.

        Has there been any moves to get a similar list applied in the UK?

        The Anti siphoning list in Australia give free to air tv networks priority bidding. Aslong as there is a bidder on free to air the cable/pay services cant bid for the rights.

        Funny thing is ever since 2000 i’ve wanted to pay to get the practice sessions/qualifying live. But its been 14 going 15 years now and we still dont have such a service. lol…

      3. James Allen says:

        Yes we have a similar law, but it concerns Wimbledon, Open Golf etc

        World Cup and Olympics too

        F1 is not on the list

      4. rkkallur says:

        Free to air is present in Germany and many places. But In Germany, for example, it is very annoying when the race is interrupted multiple times to show advertisements. I would rather pay for it, and get an uninterrupted stream, and so would the many I speak to here in Germany (Yet the alternative – Sky Germany- offers poor commentary and hence don’t switch). BBC is an exception i guess, if I remember right, they did not pause coverage to show ads (but then BBC is not free to air, you pay the TV license of about 200 pounds don’t you?).

      5. aveli says:

        the bigger the profit margin, the more successful a business is. should f1 strive to be less successful?

      6. Wade Parmino says:

        That’s the whole issue! It is treated as a business. F1 should be a successful sport, not a successful business. The competition need only be sustainable, not profitable. So long as it makes enough money to keep rolling on year after year for all competitors and fans to enjoy. Greed and humanity’s susceptibility to it is what prevents this from happening. Capitalism is great, when applied to emotionless sectors like mining, resources, banking etcetera. When capitalism is applied to something which has it’s existence based on people’s true interest, love and passion (like sports), things steadily go up the proverbial river of excrement without any means of propulsion.

      7. aveli says:

        money is needed to run f1. ask tony fernandez. each team invested in f1 to turn a profit. not a single team entered f1 to please fans. they just happen to please fans as they make their money. the unfortunate thing is they way the fom money is shared between the teams. i think it should be shared equally each year and they teams can make as much as they want from sponsorship. this will ensure that each team has a better chance of winning the championship. either that or fom supply all the teams with free engines and back ends.

      8. Wade Parmino says:

        Money is needed, yes. A sufficient amount of money. Teams should not be competing for the purpose of making large profits. When Ferrari started in Formula 1 it was to compete and win for the love and joy of the sport and the honour of victory. Road cars were sold by Enzo to pay for the racing. I totally understand that money must be made to cover expenses (obviously). My point is that entering a competitive sport for the sole purpose of turning a profit is not only wrong but idiotic. Financial sustainability, not financial profitability. Regarding sponsors, if tobacco advertising was still allowed, there would be no financial issues at all for any team.

        Don’t race cars in order to make money. Make money in order to race cars. This is at the true heart of Formula 1 (if F1′s heart is still there that is).

  3. Spyros says:

    Still a sport for many, yes… but I have a sneaking feeling that as soon as those with actual POWER to make changes get involved, the sporty side goes out of the window, and the ‘show’ and ‘business’ aspects (show-business, get it?) are brought very solidly to the fore.

    The really scare aspect of it all, is that most of the talk about getting the youth interested still concentrates on the ‘show’ aspect. It’s good to hear grass-roots motorsport get a mention, though. Maybe there’s still hope.

  4. Torchwood Five says:

    Sorry, I seem to have missed somewhere, what an ASN is or means?

    1. ASN = National Authority/Governing body e,g, MSA – UK, ACM – Monaco

      1. Random 79 says:

        Okay but what do the letters A, S & N actually stand for???

    2. Random 79 says:

      Google told me it stands for Advance Shipping Notice, but in this context that doesn’t sound right.

      1. Gaz Boy says:

        Mr E might be shipped off to a cell in Germany in September………

      2. Pkara says:

        Hurrah :-)

      3. Wade Parmino says:

        I doubt it. If such a sentence is handed down, he will suddenly have ‘severe health issues’ preventing him from travelling and subsequently, from being incarcerated.

  5. Grant H says:

    No disrespect cos i love this site, but i can see why standing starts dominated the news, #who cares, sack the fia standing starts are rubbish

    Ps i dont get notifications when peeps comment on my posts since you changed this site

    1. BMG says:

      Argeemore”article racing”its just another way of putting a bandaid on a amputation.

      People see through this kind race manipulation and its not all about social media either.

      You would know James from your experiance on this sit that social media is only a tool not the product and fans use it more when the racing is close and thrilling.

      What you need to look at is getting more manufacturer involved to broadent the appeal.

      For example say I buy a Ford or a BMW and F1 had a team affiliated with that team then you have more of a chance of me following or showing an interest in the category.

      Your competitors are not other sports, but other categories of motorsport and thats why the FIA should not be involved.

    2. AlexD says:

      Yeap, I think it is a common problem for many. I do not get notifications as well, but James said that he is working on it, so hopefully it will be fixed.

    3. Wade Parmino says:

      Standing restarts could be a much better alternative. For example, Canada turned out to be a great race this year however, at the start an entire 8 or 9 laps were lost behind the safety car. Over 10% of the race became a slow parade. It should have been Red flagged and restarted at the grid. The race director needs to make a judgement call regarding how long the safety car will be out on track. If it is more than 3 laps then it should be restarted from the grid.

  6. AlexD says:

    James, there is something wrong with my posts. Latest post is shown as awaiting for moderation for a couple of days already and when people reply to my posts, I do not get eMail notification. It is something that the admin or host need to change. Will you be able to help and fix the problem? Or I should give up asking?

    1. James Allen says:

      We are working on it

      1. AlexD says:

        Thank you!!!! By the way, did not get notification on this comment. Thank you…

  7. PaulL says:

    Ideas like “fanboost” suggest F1 has a secret death wish. The post-2009 rule changes have been like a surgical series on a former popstar’s face.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Fanboost is an idea of Agag for F-E, not F1 (so far as I know and hope).

      And yes, I also think it is silly.

      1. Tom says:

        I would never ever ever watch a race with ‘fanboost’.

      2. Random 79 says:

        I agree with that for F1 or any other established form of racing. F1 has had a few gimmicks introduced but I can live with them they’re available to all the drivers and they’re dependent on the drivers.

        Fanboost on the other hand can only be applied to one driver and is decided by people who aren’t even there which to my mind makes it more of a ridiculous reality show concept.

        But having said that F-E is a completely new series which is targeting a completely new audience, so it can’t be criticized for introducing new ideas – if it could what would be the point?

        So if we happen to get it on TV in Aus I’ll try to keep and open mind and give it a fair go. Maybe I’ll get into it, maybe not, we’ll see.

        Not that you’re listening FIA, but if you do introduce something like Fanboost in F1 then all I can say is it was nice knowing you.

    2. littleredkelpie says:

      Agreed. I read ridiculous ideas like this and my head spins like I am trapped in a bad dream and can’t wake up. Mind-boggling what these $%£@-wits are threatening. Death wish? Absolutely.

      1. Wade Parmino says:

        Have you seen the Jason Statham movie “Death Race”. F1 50 years from now? Glad I won’t be around to see such a disgrace. :/

    3. Wade Parmino says:

      Instead of “May the best driver win” it will be “May the most popular driver win”. What a joke! If such an idea were suggested 20 years ago, it would have been treated as exactly that, a joke to be laughed at. Now it is a realistic threat. Terrifying for the future of Formula 1.

  8. Vincent McLauchlan says:

    Yes the last part said it all; we hear it so often with the V8 telivision in Australia that wording
    ” Our business ” IT IS A SPORT !!!!! When I was racing 20 years back people would say to you
    then ” That a good hobby you have ” never a sport . FIA should go to work at making it
    “MOTOR SPORT”

    1. Wade Parmino says:

      V8 Supercars has become too much of a control formula. There may be five manufacturers in it now, but so many of the cars parts are generic. The buzz word is ‘parity’. Engineers can’t find an advantage anywhere. This ‘parity’ has been artificially induced for the sake of ‘entertainment’. Motorsport is about more than drivers. I have not seriously followed the V8′s since the mid 2000′s when Mark Skaife and Marcus Ambrose were racing.

  9. Mazdafarian says:

    The WMC need only look at the sales of Gran Turismo tmao see that motorsport and technology are partners, not adversaries. If F1 wants to engage gamers and reduce costs, it could invest in the F1 game. Compel the teams to contribute their simulator data to it, produce some top notch track maps, and peripherals. Circulate this to all teams and you have a ‘control simulator’ which can also be sold to the public as the greatest racing game ever.

  10. F Zero says:

    James,

    Is there any comments from the people in attendance concerning the inauthenticity of new ideas in general?

    They must know how much fans dislike ideas like ‘vote to boost’ in Formula e. Not to mention all the F1 gimmickry.

    Do they just not just care about peoples reactions? Do they think they know better and that complaints are from a vocal minority? Do they have some other behind the scenes agenda that is more important to them than being authentic?

    Would love to know what these people say about it behind the scenes.

    1. James Allen says:

      You are into the debate between what purists want and means to attract new (young) fans

      There was a counter flow argument that the sport should not alienate its large existing audience, yes

      Bear in mind FE is one thing completely new so why not try things?

      Also bear in mind that F1 wasn’t really the subject here as the article states, grassroots is what most national federations are concerned with

      1. Matthew M says:

        1st impressions last… Maybe you can get away with it by saying FE is targeting 15 year old’s with a conscience.. But the whole idea just reaks of teams and staff making as many prepaid mobile accounts as possible and then voting for the boost themselves.

        Its just so easy to abuse…

        And putting permissions or authentication into the app to prevent such a thing from occuring itself is’nt going to be successful because people arent so keen to hand over private information anymore. Look at the facebook app for android and what happened when 1 update asked for ability to read sms messages.

      2. PaulL says:

        Why not educate young fans how to understand and enjoy a pure spectacle? There need be no paring off of interests.

  11. Roger says:

    I live in the US and can’t practically watch any of those motorsports. The reason is I don’t have or want TV service, and even if I did I would have to pay far too much until I eventually got a package that might include some of them some of the time. I can trivially watch movies and TV on any of my devices at any time using Netflix.

    They need to figure out how to let people watch this stuff. When done right viewers will also be able to put their favourite clips on youtube, remix content etc. Or heads can remain firmly in the sand as people find other outlets for their time and attention.

    1. Matthew M says:

      I dont even own a TV anymore either.. I watch some races at my friends house some races i miss because the races cant be streamed through PC… Last year it was okay but this year channel 10 arent streaming the races so again in the dark…

      The power players around F1 are so out of touch its a wonder they’re still getting any viewers at all..

  12. luqa says:

    Fan-boost??? You’ve got to be kidding?

    How can anyone in their right mind suggest that with a straight face? Well maybe those individuals who want to destroy F1 from the inside..

    Standing starts after a safety car phase and double points for the last race are gimmicks we can do without thank-you.

    Even giving shrift to these asinine ideas is counter productive. What do some of these people have inside their skulls, because it sure can’t be brain matter for rational thought. These must be some of the same people who thought up the rules that make the front end of the current crop of F1 cars look like mobile phallic symbols.

    With each new rule, the sport is becoming more and more complicated- something that doesn’t attract new fans, but only the most needy of techies, and how many of those do you know??

    One obvious solution is to simplify the rule book, instead of making it more complicated!

    1. Random 79 says:

      “One obvious solution is to simplify the rule book, instead of making it more complicated!”

      I don’t mean to steal your thunder, but apparently they’ve already stumbled onto that one. From the article:

      “The results were interesting, with a number of key trends emerging, many of which are in some ways microsmic reflections of the issues facing F1 currently. Cost of entry, the impact of social media, the need to simplify rules…”

      So maybe there’s a bit of light at the end of the wind tunnel.

      1. James Allen says:

        Yes there was a lot of talk about rules being too complicated and the need to simplify

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        yes james, maybe lots of talk but talk is cheap is it not? will there be any action resulting from this ‘talkfest’? if the past is any guide i very much doubt it, but i would love to proved wrong.

      3. James Allen says:

        I think there definitely will be at grassroots level

        F1 is a different case, of course, because of the spread of stakeholders.

      4. Wade Parmino says:

        When you refer to changes at the grassroots levels of motorsport, what exactly do you think these will be?

      5. James Allen says:

        It’s in the Development plan

        Simplify rules, cheaper pathways, e-media development, train the trainers in terms of marshalling etc infrastructure grants that kind of thing

      6. luqa says:

        No worries, I was just trying to emphasize an obvious point ;-)

  13. kenneth chapman says:

    forgive me for being ultra cynical james but i didn’t see any reference in your article to suggest that the major points, outlined ‘ad nauseum’ on this site were even discussed?

    sure, these FIA junkets discuss the broader aspects of motorsport but the driving force, F1, needs to make changes to avoid and arrest the obvious displeasure of the fans/followers. does the FIA even acknowledge those complaints that we are currently seeing here on this site are even reasonable? JAonF1 is, to my observation, a well represented cross section of fans who are quite passionate about F1 and as such should give the FIA an insight to the inherent issues and problems that the sport faces. yes, some ideas are questionable but in an overall sense the general thrust of dissent is palpably obvious.

    i am also sure that i speak for a great number of posters when i say that ‘ collectively we feel totally impotent’ when voicing our opinions as nothing is ever done to show that we are being listened to. if the FIA was even remotely interested then a quick perusal of the social media sites dedicated to F1 would show an almost universal condemnation of these ridiculous rules that are strangling F1 and turning off the audience.

    as i have said many times before james, when are the responsible parties going to face off with the FIA et al and make out a case for the fans. you yourself enjoy a notable platform within the F1 fraternity and have the eyes and ears of a great number of F1 movers and shakers. will you undertake your best endeavours to see that our voices are heard or do you simply go along with whatever is dished up?

    this is not in any way to be construed as being provocative but surely it is a reasonable request.

    1. Sebee says:

      Truth is this kenneth. We are the old guard. We already watch, and if not we aren’t as important even if our earnings should be the focus because it is us older demographic who will buy a SL63, Hublot, Ferrari, etc. It likely won’t be a 22 year old kid unless its Bieber or some other young kid who fell into money – a tiny minority.

      They are not trying to appeal to us anymore. They want to compete for eyeballs with X Factor, America Got Tallent, etc.

      It’s funny to us because we can see it. They cash the TV rights…a logical move, but reduced number of viewers. Now they are trying to recapture what was lost. Yet this product is not for everyone and I always felt everything possible was done to goose the viewer numbers. 500m viewers per GP? Think about it for a minute. There is just no way. Wouldn’t marketers fight for those eyeballs? Meanwhile 1/2 the grid is naked without title sponsor. And today youth are out and about thanks to mobility devices. They won’t subscribe to cable TV packages either. This is not just F1′s problem. It’s TV’s problem. Solutions are hard in f1.

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ seebee……well yes, you are correct to a certain extent. i am of the ‘old guard’ when it comes to age with 60+years of total interest but that is only a statistic. i am of the ‘new guard’ when it comes to technology and the implementation of exciting new and radical elements. there is one caveat however. those technical advancements must only be used to improve the ‘actual on track racing’. this is where i get somewhat angry and disillusioned.

        i am also not one of the so called ‘purists’. i do not want to try and revert to historical situations simply because they were ‘of their times’ and we have now moved on. what i do want to see is more freedom of ‘engineering expression’ whereby those geniuses that reside within the teams are encouraged to put their ideas into action. today we see the opposite happening. those very people are being denied those freedoms that push the development of technology forward. the new PU’s are a superb example of new technology but in introducing them they have done away with one of the most crucial aspects of F1. sound. yes, some people don’t mind but when you are selling a product like F1 you have to be able to give the client a unique experience and the very sound of a screaming F1 engine does that.

        i would like to give you a prime example. in my business career i ran a JV for two of hollywoods major studios. my company was primarily a marketing organisation and we sold ‘experiences’ based on filmed entertainment for both theatrical and TV. that’s what films are, ‘experiences’. my point is this, have you ever seen a film without music or other sound effects? that is a weird but unique experience that the FIA should consider. think of ‘raiders of the lost ark’ with only an oral track! a disaster.

        sorry to rant on but this is but one example and i have so many but will not bore you with these. needless to say F1 is on a downward slide and if it is not arrested then it will drift lower. i do think that there are many issues that could solved quite easily but the teams and the FIA are drifting aimlessly and ignoring what the fans really want see/have. a unique experience.

      2. aveli says:

        the sound is not much of a problem because the fans who have attended races this season have loved it. it has only been 7races and v8 sound has been forgotten. it’s all about on track action. how interesting would it be if the williams drivers win the remaining 11 races, 4-5 between them?
        i understand what you mean by sound effects but sound is not much of a priority. why do you think fewer people go to the cinemas lately? their home cinemas systems do not sound anywhere near as good as at the theatres but they don’t go out to watch films because it’s not good value for money.
        the main reason fewer people watch f1 is because they are asking people to pay for something you used not to pay for. i think it’s better for them to offer the races for free viewing and sell anything else they have to offer by making the show more interactive. people tend not to mind paying for new things but don’t like paying for things they used to get free of charge.

      3. Sebee says:

        aveli,

        I think you are wrong and your example is off too.

        People don’t go to the theater exactly because their home setups sound great and look good too. Have you seen? 70″ TV is $2K….why go to a theatre? Plus sit in dirty seats, pay for parking, $20 for popcorn, starts when they say so…forget it. I’ll stay home, watch on my super comfy sofa on my own schedule.

        Also, new engines don’t sound like an F1 engine should sound. Even if only 20% of fans bail because of the sound, it’s something F1 can’t afford

        Bottom line…cars look funny and sound weak. It’s not what F1 claims to be. F1 cars should make you stand in awe and should scare the living hell out of you when they are alive. Not make you admire sound of tires or turbo. Sound of turbo sucks! Seriously…people who say they like those sounds make me laugh.

    2. aveli says:

      there is a show in the first couple of days in july at the olympic park in london so you can express all your frustrations there.

      1. aveli says:

        f1 fanshow is on from 4th to 6th july at the olympic park over the british grand prix weekend. £10 adults £25 vip kids go free.

  14. kenneth chapman says:

    apologise for a double dip but a quick question to james. have you been to goodwood and have you listened to what F1 used to sound like. glorious. i had almost forgotten just how sublime those engines sounded but this event brought it all back…..and that was on TV!!!!!!!!!

    1. Sebee says:

      We shall never forget! :-)

  15. PhilipB says:

    With the obvious exception of F1 (and then only in certain markets) has motor racing ever been anything but a niche sport?

    As proved recently by NASCAR, a swing to the bleachers to broaden the fan base does nothing but provide a temporary bump in viewership followed by a larger slump as the original fans are driven away by contrived rules and prices and the new fans move onto the next “popular” sport (probably MMA right now).

    It seems that at the grassroots level (where tracks have survived the housing boom at least), racing seems to be as popular as ever. I can only assume from the pages of Motorsport that in the UK, like the US dirt bowls & drag strip Friday nights, Formula Mazda, Atlantics and Spec Miatas, there seems to be lots of cheap, fun action going on for the real fan.

    I really didn’t appreciate the sport as a youngster, it was fun to watch but not a meaningful part of my life and I don’t know if today’s ultra-distracted youth will feel any different. irrespective of gee-gaws and the “show”. My suggestion is to ensure that the maturing fan is kept interested with real racing.

  16. JF says:

    I am not sure about the need to simplify rules and techinal regs. I really prefered the mystery (when I got involved) late ninties early 2000. Tech was more open, refueling, tire choice. you didn’t now what was going on into the first part of the race. What was fuel load. What tire was chosen? Would the car last?

    All these things are gone. Victor is decided after first test. Once you know who is fastest thats it. Hamilton has this year, its already done unless he self destucts (which is 50-50) in that case its Rosberg.

  17. Ted says:

    “introduction of standing starts in 2015″
    ????????

    What am I missing here, have we not had standing starts for decades?

    1. IJW says:

      “after a Safety car” is the bit you need to remember.
      So, if a Safety car needs to come out during the race (after the first 2 laps and before the last 5 laps), then once the field is altogether and the original incident cleared, the cars will stop in their RACE position grid slots and wait for a new standing start.
      I can imagine like in Monaco this year, drivers end up starting in the wrong grid position and end up getting penalise for it.

      1. Keith says:

        “I can imagine like in Monaco this year, drivers end up starting in the wrong grid position and end up getting penalize for it.”

        How would drivers a lap down be handled in a restart? Would they be stacked up in respective order at the back of the grid or clutter the standing start from their existing track position? Is this method used in any other racing series and if so how are lapped drivers placed on the restart? My guess is they line up based on track position.

        As a side note I am impressed by the amount of knowledge many of you possess, both past and present. Very informative.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Standing starts after a safety car.

      Might you the way they’re going they’ll probably also introduce a re-shuffle where the drivers will qualify by egg and spoon race.

    3. Opa says:

      after the safety car…

    4. aveli says:

      i think they’re talking about restarts after the safety car has been deployed.

  18. Monktonnik says:

    I would love to get my son into karting, but struggle to find a cart track in adelaide which will allow him to drive as he is under 1.5m tall.

    He is 9 and at a good age to start, bit below average height, so it will be a while before he can start.

    Strange that a sport in which being tall has a theoretical disadvantage hasn’t looked at that.

    How can I get him to try karting without having to buy a kart?

    1. Random 79 says:

      “I would love to get my son into karting, but struggle to find a cart track in adelaide which will allow him to drive as he is under 1.5m tall”

      I was going to make a crack that at under 1.5m tall he should be able to get a seat as an F1 driver :) but you actually make a good point: Smaller is better these days so why shouldn’t he be allowed to race?

      If he stays at below average height for his age and he has the interest and talent then some day he could have a genuine shot, so best of luck to him :)

    2. Peter W says:

      Monktonnik
      I race a kart in Adelaide, and I’m not sure who is leading you astray, but there are no height restrictions to go karting. The karting association also holds two “come and try” days a year, where for $10, you child would get to have a crack in a kart without the race environment. Try the website http://www.kartingsa.com.au/ to get some info and contact numbers.

  19. RacingFanatic says:

    The only thing I want to see in relation to F1 is that the powers at be actually listen to the fans for once!!

    It seems like over the last 6-7 years (the case could be argued for many more years in the past as well) the sport has gone in a totally different direction to what the majority of fans want. It seems like rules and regulations are changed whenever those with $$$ see fit and nothing is done to get fans feedback prior to implementation. Just look at the rules introduced over the last 2 years, its an absolute joke and Formula 1 is fast becoming a laughing stock.

    One thing that I am really missing this year is the really emotional feeling you used to get from the sound of an F1 car. I know the new engines are genuinely masterful and massive achievements, I also know that the sound is not an issue to some. But lets be honest, out of most of the people that go along and spend their (ridiculous amounts of) hard earned cash to see a race in real life, most of them will explain that sound was a big motivating factor!!

  20. Elie says:

    “until it remembers it is a sport then we may struggle to find the audience it is so desperately and confusedly chasing.”

    Pretty much sums it all up thanks James.

    The more the WMSC & the various motor sport assoc. need to “invest” in reaching families and children the greater the long term prospect for maintaining its fan base & participation. TV shows & entertainment come & go. Sport instils a far greater passion of competition that is at the very base of human instinct.
    Exposure & Accessibility at a young age is probably what kept me from trying it out & by the time I knew about it I was too heavily involved in other sports & career. Identifying and nurturing that passion is vital.

  21. DanielH says:

    Isn’t any effort to grow the prevalence of social media in F1 at odds with today’s Sky+ and iPlayer world, especially in Britain? Having to wait for the highlights (or choosing to record e.g the Australian GP and watch at a more sociable hour) means that I personally maintain a “media blackout” to avoid finding out the result. If my phone was constantly buzzing with social media updates this would ruin F1 for me.

  22. eric morman says:

    first off how about making the cars look more like racing cars, that stupid nose is ugly
    why not make sure all the teams are painted a different colour, Mclaren and Sauber are too close,
    how about the cars number being larger? then you can see which driver is in that car easier,
    these are just a couple of thing that are easily fixed that would make viewing for the newbe to ID cars drivers quickly.

  23. aveli says:

    more people watched f1 when it was all available free on tv. now casual fans are not sure when it’s on TV simply because of the long intervals.
    changing some aspects of the sport may attract more viewers but i doubt that can affect the viewing numbers as much as asking people to pay to watch.

    1. James Allen says:

      There does seem to be some evidence for that.

      1. GWD says:

        I think local broadcasters could help in this matter. For instance, Aus’ SBS is broadcasting classic Football/Soccer World Cup matches intermingled with the previousl night’s games replays/highlights. Because they are broadcasting a known exiting match from far enough in the past to be out of strong memory, the casual audience will watch, enjoy the ‘drama’ and wonder why they don’t allocate more time to this exciting sport (!) Why not broadcast a classic race each week at the same nominal time you would see the live broadcast in between current season broadcasts? It doesn’t happen in Aus. Does it happen anywhere else? If so, do they broadcast at the same time the live broadcast (or delayed) happens? People are creatures of habit, and surely this would help a new audience habit to coalesce?

      2. Mazdafarian says:

        That would be brilliant. Do it on ONE. In fact, move the live races back to ONE as well so it’s back in HD :D

  24. David in Sydney says:

    If it’s any consolation NASCAR is having problems but for different reasons.

    Motor sport is expensive. Always has been. Has always been a bit biased towards those with money, power and luck. Making it cheaper isn’t a way forward. Making it more excising isn’t a way forward.

    Making it financially sustainable and more easily accessed is the key.

    Financially sustainable like capping costs, running it as a NFP (paying wads loads of cash in interest and dividend steams to a VC firm for financing is just, well, plain dumb. It’s a sport, not a business. BE and the FIA should have lost their roles in F1 decades ago for what they allowed to happen for personal gain.

    More easily accessed b ensuring cheaper tickets, FTA or low cost Internet subscription for live sound, vision and data would create a more streamlined B2C revenue model that avoids the need for top dollar paid by PAYTV and trackside promotors.

    Every sport needs an enthusiastic fan base or it dies.

    1. Sebee says:

      You can’t blame them for taking money for TV rights. May be last chance as TV is changing. How many TV stations will have the budget to justify crazy cost for F1 in 5 years?

      Old guard is doing all they can to keep it old model. But that train has already left the station.

      I actually believe OTA will be hot again and sports will want the exposure on those channels. I think all these specially channels are doomed anytime now. Look at US…CNN is having a hard time, history and A&E full of crap about pawn, storage lockers, etc. Public has spoken….no one wants to pay for these crap channels. TV will consolidate back and channels will go away the minute bundles are broken and viewers can choose what they want to pay for by channel.

  25. Jake says:

    There is always so much talk about the diminishing fan base. Is this mainly from falling attendances or is from TV viewers? Either way the cost is the major factor, particularly if they wish to entice a younger demographic.
    Luckily here in Australia F1 is FTA, but if I had to pay then I would not.

  26. Howard P says:

    ” by which social media users vote for drivers to receive a brief power boost during races, had partly been inspired the Super Mario Kart video game”

    There isn’t a facepalm big enough for this

    1. Sebee says:

      Can’t you buy followers and friends?
      Rich teams can just buy votes or hire popular drivers with most followers who could be mobilized. It’s fake. In F1 Lewis or Alonso would get all the pass boosts…poor Vettel would get no love!

  27. Steve C says:

    You cannot attract viewers to watch a race that is false. Stirling Moss summed it up today at Goodwood when he said how can it be a race when you have a fuel restriction preventing drivers from driving flatout. I watched for the first time today a British Touring Car race on TV and it make’s F1 look stupid. It was flatout close racing and was really thrilling. There was barging, banging and shunting for position at high speed,something which F1 stewards would have a heart attack with. No penalties or other silly reasons to penalise the driver during the race but made good viewing. Whether its always like that I have no idea. False sparks on a plank or keep stopping the race to start again after a boring safety car that stay out too long is unbelievable.

    1. Alastair Purves says:

      I wouldn’t hold up BTC as an example of where F1 should go. Btc is manipulated by it’s owner through “success ballast”, cynical deployment of the safety car, and distinctly inconsistent application of rules and penalties. It may be superficially entertaining but it isn’t “real racing”.

      1. Steve C says:

        I’m sure you are right as I have never watched it before and have no knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes but it certainly came across as entertaining on a TV set. F1 is not racing either when you consider that most of it is spent saving fuel and then in the last ten laps they break into life. Last year we had to endure tyre saving which was just as bad. Its all a bit pointless and does not give the impression of a proper race to the average TV viewer who may drop in on the “race”. Its no wonder TV figures are dropping. I have subscribed to Sky and watched the various repeats of races from years ago and there is no mention of fuel saving as they refuelled so we had no way knowing at the beginning of the race who was stopping when. That was fun and mixed the pack during the race. Now its all prearranged by software engineers and the politically correct brigade with the slightest racing incident that becomes a stewards enquiry. Pathetic. But thanks for the info on BTC.

  28. Vincent McLauchlan says:

    They only look at motor racing as a business and forget it is a sport. In Australia with our V8 car
    telecast all they keep saying “our business” it should be ” our sport”. Can you see them saying on the tennis “our business” no way. Even when I raced cars 20 year back’ people would say to me. “That a good hobby you have ” FIA need to start promation it as a SPORT !!!!!!
    Also payed TV will also help KILLING it, which will happen in Australia when our V8 racing goes on
    to payed TV next year. Only 28% have payed TV in Australia.

    Vincent

    1. James Allen says:

      Good point: F1 went from a hobby, to a sport to a business and that is how many inside the sport see it today

  29. Luke says:

    James, my girls aged 10 & 7 are only more interested in F1 now because I’ve shown them Senna, Rush, F1 The Killer Years & 1. It also helps we have a great Aussie in DR flying the flag.

    But the point is, they are pretty fascinated by the stories, the danger and the noise of F1 from 20+ years ago. Sadly, today’s sport of F1 just isn’t the same.

    And regarding “free” to air coverage, I understand the advertising I’m forced to watch pays for the privilege and I’m more than prepared to put up with them. I’ve never understood pay TV wants me to pay a hefty fee to watch the races(or any other sport or show) but I’ve still got to put up with the advertising. I want to pay specifically so I don’t have to watch the ads,but the product in TV land doesn’t exist that I know of, so don’t think I’ll ever pay a cent for TV. If that means eventually I’ll lose F1 coverage, so be it. I’ll be one less fan F1 will never see again.

    Thank goodness for the internet, where these days I can pick and choose what I watch and generally ad free. I think the TV business model of pushing content decided by the TV stations is in serious trouble, and partly because of the above. If I’m paying, I want no ads.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that

      Would be interested to hear from other readers about their kids’ interest in F1.

      My 12 year old son told me no-one in his school year group ever talks about F1 in the playground etc

      My 10 year old has two friends only who are interested and with whom he chats about the sport. But they talk as much about Freestyle Moto X. He has got really into World Rallycross this season, although he hasn’t locked onto a driver/hero yet. He just likes the mud and the drifting!

      1. Pkara says:

        Solberg is excellent. Ex World Rally Champ. He doesn’t hold back & his feel for tarmac to off road is exceptional. Though he is still learning the sport. I think Rally Cross will overtake World Ralling in spectator ratings as will the venues.
        This sport will rocket up. Lets hope Sky/BT keep their filthy paws of it for now. Though it is on Eurosport at least they show speedway too & single seater racing.too.
        The sport is still in its raw unpolished infancy which makes it all the interesting.
        Rally Cross has been going for decades…but this year is the first time its been presented in this new format.

      2. JohnBt says:

        My boy started watching F1 at 6 years old and my daughter at 15. They’ve been to 13 live races between Sepang and Singapore since 2008. After this year at Sepang they were so disappointed with the sound, the speed and the funny noses. Now my daughter has stopped completely and I have to coax my son to watch and he just watches the start and a few laps and that’s about it. I too feel a lull with the new ruling and watch the races out of loyalty as I’ve been following F1 for a few decades. Non of my son and daughter friends watch F1 at all. Parents who follow this sport are a huge influence to the children who carry on as passionate fans. I just hope I don’t lose interest totally myself. At the moment I still read about F1 but not as much as before.

        Too much silly gimmicks does kill the sport and it’s getting sillier and sillier. There must and has to be ways to save this wonderful and awesome sport in this planet!

  30. kenneth chapman says:

    i am struggling to come to terms with the new sporting regs re the introduction of the safety car. prior to the new regs the cars didn’t actually stop prior to the rolling start. now with the new regs the cars are actually stopped. wouldn’t this then signal that the race has actually terminated? surely the new start would signal the start of a new race?

    what actually is being called a re-start is actually the start of a new race. what is the difference between the ‘new ‘re start’ and the effect of a red flag? in the case of a red flag the race is terminated and certain new conditions apply such as being able to work on the car prior to a re start.

    i mean, how can you stop a race and then restart that race and not alter the construction of what constitutes a race? the current safety car conditions mean that any meaningful advantages that have been gained by individual racers is somewhat negated but the cars aren’t brought to a complete standstill which, as we all know, means that some drivers will get an advantage and others will be disadvantaged due to the very nature of starts especially given the state of the track surface. where a racing line is established it is, in the main, clear of marbles. in the race itself those marbles cover the non racing line and any driver unfortunate to be gridded up off the racing line will suffer terribly during a re start.

    this is another useless bit of unnecessary interference with F1 racing.IMO of course.

    1. aveli says:

      has there not been times when races were stopped due to poor whether and restarted from stand still on the grid? did they not restart races in the 80′s following a pile up after the start where drivers used to run back to the pits to get another car to race in?
      it’s nothing new, the only difference is that race control has another option apart from the safety car rolling start.

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ aveli….different scenarios entirely. if i recall those years and some of the incidents they were all, or mostly, red flagged. reading what has been posted re the new sporting regs the races are not being ‘red flagged’. this is not the same.

        it appears at this stage that if there is an incident where the SC comes out then the cars will tootle around under yellows [ i presume] until the track is cleared then they will form up on the grid for a re start!! surely, once all the cars come to halt then surely the race is over and new race then starts?

  31. iceman says:

    At least one of those photos is crying out for a caption competition :)

  32. ozherb says:

    Hi James.
    With the decision to introduce standing restarts, didn’t anybody consider driver safety? Surely that is paramount to everything else. The standing start/restart is the most dangerous moment in the race, so to introduce the likelihood of additional ones is ridiculous in my view.

    Wouldn’t it also take longer to complete a race, unless the 2 hour limit still applied.If so, it would mean less time actually racing as they would take longer to grid them up again etc.

    Finally, is that decision alresdy set in stone, or does it need final approval?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes they would have to have a grid procedure again.

      It is now agreed by World Council which means it is in the 2015 regs

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ james…..could you please clarify for me what you mean by a ‘grid procedure’?

      2. James Allen says:

        The procedure counting down to the start, mechanics on grid, tyre blankets off, clear the grid etc

      3. kenneth chapman says:

        @ james, sorry but it must be something in the water! are you saying that upon the departure of the safety car the grid then reforms under a set timing period before the lights go out, again? what is the ‘timing set’ for a restart?

        what i am asking is this, is it the same scenario as for a ‘red flag’? your explanation sounds very much like it and if so why make any changes? every time there is an incident that would normally result in a safety car why not simply wave the red flag? sorry to be so obtuse but it still isn’t very clear to me. i ahve re read the 2015 regulations and is doesn’t appear to answer any of these queries. help

  33. Kieran Donnelly says:

    Reminded more and more of this

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH_ihfDnohI

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