F1 Winter Break
Why is F1 flatlining in Japan?
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Aug 2011   |  10:48 am GMT  |  217 comments

I posted the other day on Kamui Kobayashi and his chances of moving up the grid to a top team and made the point that Japan could do with it as the sport is in decline in Japan.

Several readers asked why this is the case, so here’s an overview of the situation, as I see it.

It’s a slightly misleading picture to look only at the fans who come to Suzuka each year as they are some of the most dedicated fans on the planet. Their consumption of team merchandise and willingness to queue the night before the race, if necessary, to secure the best seats, are legendary. So the hardcore support is just as strong as ever. But it’s not as widespread as before.

Part of this is because there are no real rallying points any more, beyond Kobayashi. Young people aren’t really engaging with the sport. Ayrton Senna driving a Honda engined McLaren was the high water mark of Japanese passion for F1 and the whole thing became self promoting.

F1 is on Fuji TV in Japan, as it has been for many years. But the live coverage is only available on a pay channel. The audience for the pay TV show is around 2 million, each paying £12 a month, so it earns plenty of money for F1 and for Fuji. The terrestrial audience is around 5 million. This is well down on the Senna days when around 17 million watched F1 in Japan.

Japanese business involvement in F1 is cyclical and although there have been periods in the last 20 years when Japanese companies were heavily engaged in the sport, currently the high value of the Yen and the impact of the financial crisis on Japanese car manufacturers means that Japanese corporate involvement is quite low.

Japanese enthusiasm for the sport tends to be driven by the manufacturers. There is no Japanese manufacturer currently competing and only one driver, Kamui Kobayashi and his team’s main sponsor is Mexican! At Suzuka last season, for the first time in almost 30 years, not a single car had a Japanese engine in the back of it.

Bridgestone, the world’s leading tyre company, which was the sole tyre supplier in the sport since 2007, pulled out at the end of last season, to be replaced by Pirelli, whose global market share has flatlined for the past few years, while Bridgestone’s has increased to almost 17%, partly due to F1.

Bridgestone entered the sport in 1997 with the specific objective of raising awareness and market share in Europe. At the time it was lagging well behind Michelin. Between 1997 and 2002 it’s European market share almost doubled from 8% to 15%, much of that attributed by the company to it’s F1 involvement.

Japanese sponsor engagement in F1 also tends to be led by the manufacturers. They engage Japanese sponsors via their advertising agency in Tokyo, typically the giant Dentsu, leading to extensive business to business opportunities. Japanese sponsors in the sport at the moment include Casio, a sponsor on the Red Bull car and Kenwood, a small sponsor on the McLaren.

Toyota spent big in F1 (Darren Heath)

Toyota competed in the sport for eight seasons from 2002. Starting from scratch in a huge factory in Cologne, Germany, the team struggled to match success with investment. The team never won a race, took just two pole positions and in its best season, 2005, managed to finish fourth in the championship. They were sponsored by electronics giant Panasonic, which quit the sport at the same time as the team.

Honda has a much more proud history, winning three Grands Prix as a team in its own right and 72 as an engine builder. Honda’s involvement in F1 happened in three phases; the 1960s, where it entered a team, building both chassis and engine and won two races, the 1980s when it came back to supply engines only , first to Williams and then to McLaren. These years were when Japan’s passion for F1 really ignited as Honda engines dominated F1 for almost a decade, driven by some of the greatest names – Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet. Honda powered all of them, except Mansell, to world championship success.

Honda withdrew in 1992 to focus resources on the US car market, but they couldn’t stay away for long and reappeared for their third participation in 2000, initially as an engine supplier to the BAR and Jordan teams.

This was a period of manufacturer teams in F1 and Honda acquired the BAR team in 2006, winning a race with Jenson Button that year. They made a huge investment in the team, but then withdrew abruptly at the end of 2008 at the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, after weak global car sales figures,

But the costs were out of control. At the peak of the last business cycle, Toyota and Honda were investing an estimated $700 million a year into their Formula 1 teams. This contributed to the decision to withdraw once the financial crisis hit.

In response the teams brought in a radical cost reduction agreement, legally binding among all the tems, with a glidepath over several years to take team staff numbers and budgets down to around a third of what they were at the peak. Had this been in place before the crisis, on wonders whether one of the manufacturers might still be in today.

The economic picture continues to be difficult. Car sales in Japan went through a positive phase, with 12 successive months of growth, but that came to a halt in September when many of the government backed incentive programmes around the world such as scrappage schemes, came to an end.

In Japan domestic car sales have fallen as the government stopped accepting applications to green car subsidy programmes. This has had a particularly strong impact on Toyota.

There was hope that the new engine formula for 2014 might bring Honda back in, but there are no clear signs of that at the moment. While Toyota looks set to target the FIA’s new EV racing series rather than come back to F1.

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Sky take note - £12 per month to see F1 is reasonable. £40 per month is not.


Hmm. But I wonder what else they get for that £12. The £40 Sky Sports package also gives you NASCAR every Sunday night, Speedway, premier rugger, cricket, golf, and of course footy..

If it's more of Fuji's standard fare they get on the pay channel it'll be loads of mud-wrestling and cos-play stuff..


If we were interested in watching the other sports you've mentioned on Sky, we would already have bought a Sky Sports package. The fact that many of us haven't means that, should we decide to move to Sky, the whole cost of that is down to our interest in F1.

I have had no interest in Sky up until now, which means that the £50+ a month (£600+) it would cost me on top of my licence fee needs to be divided between the 10 races I can't see on the BBC. And I doubt I'll be at home for at least one of those, so that maybe makes it 8 or 9 races. £75 a race, on top of my licence fee? I don't think so.

If the Japanese baulk at £12, and audiences fell from 17m to only 2m paying customers, who knows what will happen in the UK


It's closer to £55 per month actually, not that I would pay Murdoch £40, $20 or $10 either. However, that aside.......... This is a great article in a series of great articles about issues no other website raises.

It is no cliché to say that Japanese manufacturers who have entered teams in F1 have brought no honour to themselves in terms of results. Personally, if you are not winning races I cannot really see the point of advertising yourself all over the world as a looser on a fortnightly basis for hundreds of millions of dollars. It feels counterproductive. In a similar manner, I have no idea what Pirelli get from showing the world that their tyres do not go the distance (surely THE most crucial factor in the average consumers’ decision?). Some of their competitors have rightly seized on that fact – I too would have exploited the heck out of it were I them!

That said, Japan has been an important part of F1 for a long time, be it as team owners, tyre or engine suppliers, hard core supporters or just the bringers of the marvellous Suzuka! Long may they remain a part of F1 and I hope to see their collective enthusiasm swell again – maybe once the nation has finished licking its wounds caused by the terrible earthquake/Tsunami that seems to have slipped off the radar of all western press.

As for the resource agreement - Pah the 'top teams' will always find a way to spend more money than they are permitted. This to me is another of F1s publicity stunts without having any real world effects. Just like KERS was supposed to be an environmental boon!


Don' forget that every GP this year has been won on Pirelli's.

That's worth shouting about.

The biggest problem with pay TV is the audience goes down - so only 2 mill Japanese see panasonic whizzing around instead of the 17 mill in the old days - if I was Panasonic I would want a huge reduction in the price of advertising on the rear wing.

Surely the teams can see this and will fight Bernie to get more eyes on TVs.


I'll point out as well that I wrote a polite letter of complaint to 3 major F1 sponsors and FOTA. The only group not to respond to or even acknowledge me was FOTA. Santander were very quick to reply, and while I disagree with them, they should be commended for their handling of my complaint.


Teams will not care very much wnow SKY has opened their massive cheque book. Notice how all the Teams' grand speeches about the 'sport not going anywhere without them' and 'F1 being free to air is fundamental' went quiet as soon as they found out how much cash they would get? The teams lack of loyalty to their fans has been truly sickening. Bernie is just being Bernie but the teams reaction has been 'uncomfortable' for me after all they said before.

We are now headed towards a whole lost generation of F1 fans in the UK thanks to their collective greed.


Speak for yourself if you think it's reasonable but that doesn't apply to everyone, including me. I wouldn't pay any more over what I'm already being asked to pay, the license fee.

F1 take note, Japan has over double the UK's population and only attracts 2M paying viewers at "only" £12 per month, while we are being asked to pay £40 to £50 extra on top of the license fee! Yes, I know it's not a direct comparison before anyone tries making a smart comment, but it's not insignificant.


Its new fans isn't it. Why would someone who has never seen F1 pay to watch a race? If it is free to air then casual viewers might tune in to see what the fuzz is about, and eventually become fans.

I'm afraid it'll go the way of boxing. Boxing nights were watched by millions, and were the talk of the pubs and office. Look at the fan base now that Sky (and HBO) have been charging for a few decades: Niche sport.


Well exactly! It is indeed new fans. I spoke about this in one of the first (excellent) pieces James wrote. There is a much reduced chance that anyone in the UK will stumble across F1 as I first did 20 years ago on a Sunday afternoon....

I also asked - would we have Lewis Hamilton if this agreement was in place when he was growing up? Lewis comes from a very working class family with little or no surplus income. Would they have been subscribing to motorsport on a pay channel? Would Lewis, heaven forbid, still have been interested enough in motorsport to begin his terribly difficult and trying climb to the top? Will future UK racers?


Would make an interesting off-season articles(s) to compare all the F1 drivers routes to the top. I'd assumed someone like Di Riesta had alot of family financial backing and of course could of utilise /tDario's contacts.


malcolm.strachan, your comment is a bit too casually dismissive don't you think? How much does someone need to sacrifice before you deem it worthy of note exactly? Lewis' father had to hold down multiple jobs and the pair of them slept in the back of a van for some years. Lewis comes from a 'broken' (not sure about the term broken as many divorced families work very well) working class family and demonstrated he had the talent and was prepared to make the sacrifices to get the help he needed from Ron. I think other people's efforts (including other drivers but I was talking about Lewis) should be recognised for what they are not just dismissed by someone anonymously on a web forum.


Terribly difficult and trying?

Perhaps up until he wrote that letter to Ron Dennis... after that, I'd say it got a little easier for him. 😉

Difficult and trying would be more fitting for Kobayashi, Glock or di Resta, where moving up the "ladder" didn't result in title after title with top teams in each category.

Having an F1 team backing you from karts certainly helps.


They should make it a race by race fee. I don't want to pay for Valencia or Bahrein …

5€/race is a good deal to me, especially if you invite some friends over (to share the costs) 🙂

In return I want value for money: in depth commentary, the possibility to follow the driver you want, etc.

Qualifying should be free.


Neil take note - £0 per month to see F1 is reasonable, £12 per month is not.

The cost of F1 is already priced into the market - we already pay for it in the price of the products that we buy that come from manufacturers that sponsor F1.

F1 is already a mega profitable business, and with the Resource Restriction Agreement is likely to be even more so.

If the teams are spending less on the show, and the commercial rights holder taking ever more out of the sport, why should the public end up paying more?


Everyones personal price point is different!

Grandparent would pay £12/month. I'd pay £5/month. I think £0/month is unrealistic long-term. But that's just my position.

All Sky need to do is work out the sweet spot for them. It's called business...

Personally, I'd rather Sky showed all the races live, and the BBC showed all the full races delayed. Then people could pay, or not, depending on their choice.

Neil. (Confusingly a different Neil!)


"If the teams are spending less on the show, and the commercial rights holder taking ever more out of the sport, why should the public end up paying more?"

Because we're willing to. Supply and Demand.


It's not about "should", F1 is (sadly) just a huge business. If Bernie thinks he can make CVC more money this way, that's what he'll do.


Sorry, £12 per month is not reasonable. Over £100 per year to watch live races (even assuming cancelling over the winter!)? If we have a season of Schumacher-like domination that would kill F1 in the UK.


JA wrote - F1 is on Fuji TV in Japan, as it has been for many years. But the live coverage is only available on a pay channel. The audience for the pay TV show is around 2 million, each paying £12 a month, so it earns plenty of money for F1 and for Fuji. The terrestrial audience is around 5 million. This is well down on the Senna days when around 17 million watched F1 in Japan.


But when 17 million watched F1 in Japan, it was free to air. I think what the evidence from Japan and the US shows is that when you give up free to air, the only people watching are hardcore fans, who are a declining number.


£12 per month is the cost of a TV licence, which I suspect was the point being made.


There is no over the airwaves broadcast (save for a couple of tape delayed broadcasts) in the U.S. That could be a reason it's not caught on here, although NASCAR is also only available for "free' for the first third of the season, then it reverts to cable/ satellite broadcast only. So I guess I just shot down my own theory. My cable bill in order to get "SPEED", which covers F-1.\, is well over the equivalent of 12 pounds. I think that here people tend to either have cable or satellite, or do not get broadcast television all together. It's also no choice, as I would only get three channels over the air, two of them Canadian, and no racing at all.


Toyota had 3 poles, 2 in 2005 and 1 in 2009.


I remember Trulli at Indy. Nearly any fuel in the car, knowing that they wouldn't race the next day due to the Michelin tire issue.

Is this really worth mentioning as a "fought-for" pole position???? Lol


Well, he beat his teammate, anyway. 😉


All I remember Toyota for in F1 is giving Lewis his only championship. 🙂


"Is that Glock? Is that Glock going slowly? It is!!" 🙂


Yes Toyota KNEW that the rain would only come on the last lap and that Lewis would be in 5th by then, so they deliberately left their drivers out on dry tyres to that Lewis could get back to 4th on the last corner of the race...



@Peter Freeman

Are you saying that's not what happened?


Me too! Big thanx to Timo, Jarno & Toyota!


Guess we will have the same article about UK in 20 years time saying "remember the good old days when we had two British world champions on the grid and we had up to 6 million watching races on terrestrial TV" as compares to probably then with half a million of the better off part of society watching on pay TV and a lack of new British fans and talent."


Paying for the channel isn't the problem; lack of funds is. If the government didn't support the BBC, there wouldn't be a tv licence fee/stealth tax.


And what of the fact that Channel 4 was snubbed by the BBC, possibly because the BBC did not want to share the spoils with another terrestial broadcaster?

Perhaps the BBC should never have signed up to broadcast F1 if it could not honour the original contract?


"In the end, F1 will be better represented on SKY."

How exactly? F1 on SKY will certainly be watched by a lower audience so even if F1 revenues rise for the next year or so, dwindling audiences will see F1 brought back to free terrestrial TV where it belongs in order to save F1 and Bernie's blushes.


"In the end, F1 will be better represented on SKY."

Playing to a smaller audience? Yeah, right!


The BBC should rely on advertisers to pay for its broadcasting, not those in the UK who own a tv. It is because of this artificial revenue stream (which has been buoyed by a loan from the EU and a grant from the USA) that BBC felt they could even entertain the idea of hosting Formula 1 races in the beginning - commercial free!!! When their attempt to increase the tv licence fee was rebuffed, they discovered that it would not be fiscally sound to continue on with F1 coverage. That is fine, and I applaud the BBC for making that tough decision.

In the end, F1 will be better represented on SKY.


Well, Aside from Mansell and Hill there had been quite a period without a british champion but the heart of F1 has consistently been in the UK and the area around Silverstone, save for Marinello. So I think that the UK and F1 are inexorably linked.

As to more than £20/month for F1 on tv is nuts, or is £40/month for all of sky, which happens to include f1 as part of the package.

Robert in San Diego

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button??? Which rock have you been hiding under. Oh, and by the way, F1 has always been a pay show in America and it is growing in popularity.


This article touches on some significant motorsport trends as far as F1 is concerned. Your point about UK in 20 years could relate not only to UK, but the "western world" in general. And your time frame of 20 years may be too far off. Hear me out...

Japan has historically been ahead of other nations on various trends. Could Japan figures be the foretelling of F1's future?

F1 is declaring itself the Rolex, Luis Vuitton, etc. of motor sport and demanding customers pay for the product.

The goal now must be to post strongest viewership in a specific earnings/age demographic, instead of appealing to the largest possible general audience which will never buy any of the products the marketing show is promoting.

Seems the richer the country, the more educated the consumer, the more challenging the promotion of motor sport because we learn eventually it's the guy who finds the rules loophole and holds onto the secret the longest and not always the best driver on the grid who wins.

Look at US - F1 is not exactly a top motorsport, open wheel in general is barely alive, and the main motorsport tends to cater to lower income, lower education. F1 cars aren't running around with Tide, Cherrios or McDonald's marketing money - are they? They are gunning higher-end brands. Therefore it would be logical that they would want the customer who buys AMG, Boss, Ferrari, etc. It is no longer relevant that 17 million used to watch, what is relevant that they identify the higher income customers - those 2m paying customers - because they offer more income than 17m free-to-air customers ever did. And therefore, it is the model that will be probably be adopted everywhere.


A very good point. But will the ego's of the drivers cope with being admired by fewer people - even if their wallets are unaffected?


I think this misses a key point. It's not so much that Sky have the right demographic but that they can provide extremely detailed information on what that demographic is. Advertising is moving from a broadcasting model to a narrowcasting model - far better to reach 500k viewers but know the ages, genders, location, interests etc of those people than to reach 2M but have no idea which 2M. Advertisers used to care about total viewers as that was the best (only) way to reach their markets - now companies like Sky, Facebook (in fact anyone where registration / subscription is needed) have something more valuable - details of the people who consume their content.

For F1 this makes sense - monetize the current popularity using the pay TV model and provide the advertisers with targeted advertising capabilities - it won't be long before the ads one household sees on TV differ from the ads another household sees based on the details of the subscriber or what channels / programmes are watched. The BBC simply cannot offer that.

I am still against the move away from free to air but working in digital media I can see the way advertising is going and would be surprised if this isn't a factor. All it needs is for Sky to share subscriber demographic info with the teams or FOM as part of the deal and suddenly F1 can offer added value to advertisers: choose who you reach and only pay to advertise to those people rather than the other 5.5M who will never buy your product in month of Sundays...



Thanks for the reply. Sorry to be so long getting back.

I work in marketing and obviously accept your point. However, I was commenting on the suggestion that those who subscribe to SS were the richer ones.

I still have trouble accepting that the number who watch SS will be sufficient for the advertisers. Whilst targeting is an essential, if the wrong people watch the races then those advertiser will fall away. Those that replace them will hardly be the stack 'em high brigade.

Look at the price of a sponsorship deal on a rugby shirt. For the same price you'd struggle to get something about that size on a driver's overalls at the moment.

I think the teams are in for a shock.

You say Sky needs to 'monetize the current popularity': I'm not sure that the popularity will remain. F1 was for years a minority sport. Television changed all that, but it was free to air. Will this be maintained with PPV for, currently, half the races? If the choice was holiday or SS - a choice which an increasing number are facing at the moment - then I know which I would opt for.

I've been a fan of F1 since the 60s. I already have SS yet I considering dumping it. I can easily afford but I hardly watch TV. When I added up how much I was paying just for rugby union I was stunned. I thought that this change might have stopped me but when my current contract runs out later this year I think it will go.

I watch rugby locally and might do the same for my motor racing.

Murdoch is probably negotiating for a buy-out of the commercial rights. That will change things even more.


I think you will find that the demographic for Sky sports subscribers is far, far from the Rolex wearing, Veyron driving, Champagne slurping super rich.

When I was working I hardly ever watched television. I made time for F1, rugby union – normally recorded – and the occasional news programme. I found the same for most of my friends who were in testing jobs.

I had Sky basic package because my terrestrial signal was poor. My wife, and I to an extent, are film buffs so we went for movies and Film 4. The only reason I became a Sky Sports subscriber was because my son, an athlete and semi-professional rugby player, paid for it.

Here in Brighton there are residential areas where it looks like Jodrell Bank on acid. None of these could described as locations of high earners.

Advertising is normally free and F1 is advertising. Its attraction to advertisers is cost per view. Restrict access and the investment of the sponsors suddenly becomes less valuable.

I belong to a level 4 rugby union club. The opinion of the committee is that Sky limits recruitment of players and, more importantly for funding, members. This year both will increase due to the World Cup being shown on free-to-air. Even the occasional RFU cup match on BBC gets one or two wandering along. Whatever it brings in to the RFU, it hurts the lower level clubs.

We get a number of, often middle-class, under-grads coming from local universities. Many see rugby on the uni screens and fancy a go but these are 19 and it often takes 3 years to get them anywhere near good enough. They normally thoroughly enjoy the sport but it is new to so many. Sky hurts grass roots (or mud) level rugby.

Ditching the Ch4 bid and going for Sky Sports is a very risky strategy. Sky needs BBC showing live to air and this probably will keep figures healthy for a while.

But at a time when many are feeling the pinch, with utility prices shooting up and commuting costing as much as a hotel room for the week, the middle classes will have to make cutbacks. I can’t see most being able to justify the extra cost of Sky Sports. And if there is no substantial increase in subscriptions the sport will suffer.

We need to accept that for half the races we will not see the parade lap. This is when the adverts will come in. No build up of tension, not anticipation, no standing up and fighting for a good view of the TV as there is in my house. The final advert in the break, the one that costs a small fortune, will end when the red lights are beginning to be illuminated, the advertiser will demand that.

Not F1 TV as we know it.

I’m comfortably off. I’ve got a pension, I run a small business and am a professional writer. However, I warm my house, I put petrol in my cars, I like to go on holiday. Something will have to suffer soon. My son will leave home this year and then comes a decision.

At the moment I think I will continue to pay for Sky Sports but I have to say that the rugby is the main draw. I will watch 20 live matches this year. Last season I felt all rugbied out at times. I skipped some on Sky.

If my subscription is not secure, what are the chances of the middle and upper middle-classes opting for the extra? I can’t help but think that few people of the demographic you describe will opt for Sky Sports.

2 million on Japan pay per view? Sky won't come anywhere near that until the economuy improves.


You're a bit off Sebee.

Japan is a country that is very interested in itself, and its people. This is how they've developed their culture; they're very, you pat my back and I'll pat yours.

Formula 1 has always anointed itself as the top within its perspective market, hence, it is known as the pinnacle of motorsport. By denying a full season of F1 coverage to the Beebs, it didn't all of a sudden try to rebrand itself as an iconic brand.

The goal is to make money, period. It doesn't matter if you're Vijay Mallya, Carlos Slim, Bill Gates or Sir Richard Branson - when you start a business, you essentially want to make money. By building a quality product, you increase its value. Bernie has worked hard during the past 33 years to build the brand, to encourage more spectators. He has done just that, and is now at a point to where he can charge more money for tv rights.

As for your NASCAR spiel - tv figures are dropping, so their fan base has also lost interest in that sport as well. Perhaps it is because of the Chase non-sense, or that all vehicles look identical to one another. Who knows.

When it comes down to it, Formula 1, while on BBC, was not free-to-air. In order to watch the BBC, you needed to pay your tv licence, or essentially a fee to a television station that broadcast shows or events you wanted to watch. Because of that, any petition or court battle will prove pointless, as Bernie and his team of attorneys can argue (easily and correctly) that the British audience have always paid for F1. They main point would be that the tv audience is upset because now they are being asked to pay more.


Pointing out that British TV isn't free is a bit of a red herring, frankly: what we're talking about here is Formula One increasing its price for HD coverage from £145 (whether you think of that as “free” or not) to over £700.

I can't think of any market that would take a hike like that lying down.


I wouldn't say Red Bull is a high-end brand, and they secured 30.5% of total exposure.


All excellent points.

Dear Bernie,

You remember how empty the grandstands in Turkey have been the last few seasons? That's what the viewing figures of F1 in the UK are gonna look like next year! F1 was just beginning to make a big breakthrough with rising viewing figures and you've blown it!


Your comment makes a lot of sence. Unfortunatly.


Point well made. F1 is only on pay TV in Canada & aside from a few events, in the U.S. as well. Sorry UK, it was only a matter of time.


"I’m in Canada and no one cares about F1 here. I think that’s telling enough for the future of F1 if that’s the model they’re choosing to follow"

Isn't the "F1Technical" website a Canadian Fansite?


Hisham is right virtually no one I know watches F1 out here in Canada. It's on at 3 or 4am and never repeated. Our coverage also shows the lack of care TSN have for the sport. They put no effort into presentation at all. We just get the FOM feed with the BBC commentary. It's nice to hear Martin and David talk about their feature on this or something the mentioned in their track guide earlier. You've been so lucky in the UK to get those things. I can only hope that when you pay for it, the quality remains. Having moved from the UK I'm still bitter to be paying more and getting less.


I'm in Canada and no one cares about F1 here. I think that's telling enough for the future of F1 if that's the model they're choosing to follow


Well said, Sebee. I think this describes very well the shift in the F1 business model over the last decade.

* We've got a third of the races at unloved circuits in far-flung corners of the world that host races not because of a local love of motorsport but because of the "prestige" that comes with buying the right to host a global sporting event.

* We've got facilities at "old world" circuits increasingly geared towards impressing corporate entertainment visitors and sponsors' guests while actual fans are marginalised and priced out of visits.

* Well-loved European circuits are at risk from disappearing from the calendar because they can't pay the fees (why would anyone who claims to love F1 allow Spa to appear only once every 2 years when it is the greatest circuit by a country mile?)

* And now we have the emergence of pay TV in the UK as the model for supporting the sport financially.

I suspect this decade will mark the final shift in F1 to an expensive club paid for, and for the primary enjoyment of, the richest in society.


It's too early to tell if such shift will happen. Club Football remains incredibly popular despite the Premier League being shown on Pay TV and ticket prices being exhorbitant.

"* We’ve got a third of the races at unloved circuits in far-flung corners of the world that host races not because of a local love of motorsport but because of the “prestige” that comes with buying the right to host a global sporting event."

F1 is a global sport and Mr Allen is a great example of that as he works for the Ten TV Network in Australia.

Having been to Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, I can attest they are all great races in fabulous locations with great fans. I just wished more Malaysians could afford to go to the track rather than watch their own race on TV.

You would also be amazed to see how quickly local Singaporeans have picked up F1 and how knowledgeable they've become in the space of 3-4 years.

Canada, Brazil and Korea are well supported this year, just as Melbourne, Singapore and Suzuka are. India and the USGP in Austin probably will too.

As the saying goes, you are only as good as your last race. I think this very much applies to the extended track used in Bahrain for 2010. However the 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 events provided very good racing.

The race in Abu Dhabi in 2009 was excellent too. Remember the Webber/Button scrap at the end of the race? What a finish! 2010 was one of the most frustrating races to watch although I think the track changes they have implemented

I can think of a couple of European races we could do without such as the Valencia and the Hockenheimring which is nowehere near what it used to be. I may also add Barcelona to the list as the race there is more often processional than not.

It is probably Monaco, Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza that you had in mind as "Well-loved European circuits". I also hope these are kept in the calendar.

Half of the world population now lives in the Asia-Pacific region. This is well represented by the F1 calendar in 2011 with 9 out of 19 races happening in the region (that is excluding Turkey which is considered a European round by the F1 circus).

Why should we deny some countries the prestige of a Formula 1 grand prix? After all, it helps to put those countries on the map and does a great deal for the local population by lifting their pride and economies.

It is your right to be frustrated by the Sky deal, although I don't hear any of the teams complaining about the extra revenue this will bring (as explained by Tony Dodgins in Autosport.com PLUS http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/3721/the-potential-upsides-of-the-sky-deal/).

As Edd Straw (Autosport F1 Editor) puts it "We'd all like free-to-air coverage of the races, uninterrupted by adverts with hours of build-up and post-race analysis. But somebody, somewhere has to pay for it or else no one sees it. That's the way of the world." Taking emotions away, a logical mind could hardly disagree with this. I almost feel lucky we have ad breaks during races in Australia.


I'm extremely torn between F1 going all out for revenue, and being every man's sport. My business side says - revenue grab makes sense. My sport side says - why should I have to pay to see F1?

Bernie is fully sold now on the "Pay for full, free for some" access model. There is no going back sadly. I agree with you that it is a high society play boy sport, but it has been for quite some time. It tends to be successful however, in pulling in some aspiring high society middle class and monetizing the dream while F1 is still chic and relevant. Who knows what we will think about F1 in 10 years. For all we know we'll be driving air powered cars.


That, it has to be said, is a very good, if disenchanting point.


The same sort of thing will probably happen in the UK, but neither Bernie nor the teams seem to care.


Interesting notes on the TV deals in Japan.

Can't help but wonder if the Japanese experience holds any lessons for the UK with the new Sky/BBC deal in place... declining audiences and enthusiasm outside hardcore fans, but more money for teams?


Not sure if that was what James was alluding to.

I think the article was suggesting a lack of a Japanese team as well a lack of a winning Japanese F1 driver has seen a decline in the sport.

Let's just say, when Vettel / RBR wins every race, F1 gets boring for everyone except the Germans (and possibly the Austrians). When McLaren and their two boys are fighting for wins, the British crowd goes wild! When Webber is in the hot seat, Aussie fans increase in numbers....and so on. If your team/driver is not winning, you are going to be a lot less enthused about F1.

A hypothetical for you: Say we eliminated RBR, McLaren and Ferrari from F1, which team and driver would you barrack for? And why?


Williams - easy 🙂


I assume you are a UK based fan. I would have thought Di Resta would have been a more intimate choice.

For me, since I am from down under, Daniel Ricciardo would be my choice. But, while he is in HRT, my enthusiasm would wane until he got himself into one of the RBR teams.


Not sure that argument holds true. The popularity of F1 in the UK during the Schumacher years didn't drop.


Fair enough. It would be interesting to see viewing figures year by year. Does this exist anywhere?


- - - - - - - - -

I've said it before and i'll say it again. If you care about F1 in the UK and want to see popularity of the sport to keep rising, please sign this ePetition to keep F1 free to view in the UK.



- - - - - - - - -



This petition is to the UK government? Why not the Malawian government or the Chinese government? They have as much say over Bernie as the UK government has...

You need a petition aimed at CVC, a RELEVANT party in the debate. And you need to make your argument in terms of their own prospective business, someone pointed out how boxing has declined since it became a niche sport, get figures and facts. Its short term money!


Becasue the UK goverment have the power to say that certain sports events must be free-to-air.



Exactly! The BBC have handled this Sky deal really badly - not replying to thousands of complaints etc...


Your cause is noble, but it will not undo a signed contract.

Take comfort in the fact that no TV rights contract in UK was seen to completion in recent decades. Perhaps market forces in 2 years will dictate that F1 goes back to Free-To-Air. Or perhaps, BBC will exit the F1 contract and your only option will be to pay. Money talks, and petition walks.

As for action over words and petitions...

If you don't pay Sky - they won't keep it on.

If you watch BBC however, they will think the tape delay works.

So your only course of action UK F1 Brothers - is to watch BBC Live races only, and nothing else. And before you know it, I bet F1 would be back on Free-To-Air live.


Won't undo a signed contract but at least gives it a chance to be debated about putting it unto the governments list of protected sports for the future. Probably won't even achieve that but has any UK viewer anything to loose by signing it?

What is really not fair about the whole thing is Channel 4 was an option and probably would have happened but for BBC teaming up with SKY.


I understand what you are saying but I think you are wrong in regards to the contract part.

The contract has not been signed. In all press releases (albeit very little - hardly any on Sky which is strange) it says an 'agreement' has been reached which implies that a contract has not been signed or completed yet.

This ePetition is our only chance to stop the signing.




"F1 is on Fuji TV in Japan, as it has been for many years. But the live coverage is only available on a pay channel."

How long before we are analysing the decline of F1 in the UK? I don't know if F1 in Japan was always on pay TV, but to get large numbers to watch in those circumstances the fans need to be very passionate. Apparently most Japanese have lost their passion for F1, and I doubt whether most British F1 fans are committed enough to keep watching after the move to Sky...


I spent 3 months in Japan in summer 2009, the people I was staying with were fans, and I inquired about watching the F1, they said they didn't buy the coverage on TV, and we had two choices if we wanted to watch F1 and over the course of the period I was there I viewed in both ways.

First was watching the delayed highlights, which from memory were on at around midnight, and lasted about half an hour, the program was: The start, Nakajima did this... and Toyota did this, followed pictures of the podium and then a translation of the press conference, I was not impressed and there were far better programs on at the time.

The second way was heading to a sports bar in Sendai and renting out a booth to watch it live, this cost 20000 yen (≈£150) but drinks and food were included in this deal. The coverage was the FOM feed, but it was still late at night and there was only one other booth watching F1 at the time.

I asked about F1 in Japan and everyone said that it was really popular but it is on too late and costs too much to watch the full race, so many people simply ignore it, however I will admit that Michael Schumachers possible comeback was the 2nd news story on the news after some rather terrible news on landslides.


Fourteen years of living mostly in Japan, starting in the Senna era, and I'd say F1 in Japan was pretty similar to the way people here treat NASCAR (exciting, exotic, a bit alien, inconvenient with races late Sunday night because of the time difference - that last point being the most important, if races were held on Saturdays then I think a lot more people would stay up late and subscribe to the live coverage.) The exception is the week or so of the Japan GP (and possibly, nowadays, the Korea and China races too?) when it makes the mainstream news. That's the general audience. Petrolheads (mostly male), and it helps that Japan has a massive car culture, will follow things more closely through magazines and websites (is your UBS strategy thingy available in Japanese, James? Can't say I've ever bumped into it, but I hope it is because it deserves to be..) but their true passion will normally be the Super GT series, which is darned good. Or the drifting subculture which, I'm afraid to say, I always felt was too 'kiddie' to get into.

The overriding sense if F1's 'foreignness' makes people cynical, though, about Bernie and his motives and about whether it's really possible for an 'outside' team (Toyota, Honda)to come in and win - don't the rules always get changed to favour a certain red team? And isn't Bernie English, so isn't that why Mclaren and Williams have won so much? - that's the underlying psychology imo, having spoken to hundreds of enthusiastic fans. Mind you, that's up to four or five years ago - can't really say how things are right now.

Of course, JA's main point, that having a Japanese car or driver do really well would perk things up, is entirely valid.


Interesting article James.

The decline in popularity partly due to pay TV will worry a few people here in the UK. Though as you explain there are many more dimensions to it than that.


I'd be very interested if there is a pattern around the world of countries that only have live coverage on pay-TV having a considerably narrower fan-base.

As someone without Sky (and never will have it) I see the recent deal to start the move of UK coverage to pay-TV as disastrous: the breadth of the fan-base is key to revenue. Screwing more and more more money out of fewer and fewer people is not an attractive future for F1.


Sadly, I think a lot more dust will have to settle before F1 sees the Japanese manufacturers participating once again. They have shown themselves to be skittish in the hard times by bailing out and I think any team would seek some pretty strong assurances before getting into bed with them again anytime soon.

Also, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Ferrari and Cosworth seem to be doing just fine and I would be concerned that the arrival of another manufacturer could squeeze the Cosworth name out of the sport again. The Honda's of the world only need to offer factory support and the Cosworth powered teams would show interest and that would be a great shame. Cosworth is relied upon to pick up the pieces when the fly by night manufactures pick up their ball and take it home but they could also so easily be forced out again.

The only possible exception I can think of would be MVR as they have a commercial tie in with Cosworth for their road cars.

I know it's cut throat business and the teams must strive to have the best engine they possibly can but It would be awful to have the great name of Cosworth abused in such a way.


For what its worth Honda is the sole supplier of engines for the IZOD Indycar racing series. Admittedly, those cars are not as tecnically sophisticated as F1, but they sure move fast!


They wont be next year as Chevy is joining and Lotus the year after (maybe others as well).

I fail to see the point of this, IndyCar and LMP cars are sorted by Honda Performance Development, part of Honda's US arm. Any F1 involvment from Honda will come from Japan.


"They wont be next year as Chevy is joining and Lotus the year after (maybe others as well)."

Oops did you say "Lotus" will they supply Renault engines then?


Honda and Toyota were scarcely fly-by-night engine manufacturers. Renault has flitted in and out, Mercedes hasn't been back in F1 for much more than 18 years. Renault has flitted in and out of the sport, only Ferrari has been a consistent presence, but not always of consistent performance.

Cosworth almost had to be dragged back into the sport after their exit, which was long after their glory days were gone from their rearview mirror.


I understand your point but in terms of the length of the sports existence they are fly by night. They dip their toes in when the water is warm and then yank them out the moment things cease to meet their requirements. Compared with the stalwart teams such as Mclaren and Williams they are beginners! Also, you don't know your Ferrari history. They are originally a privateer team. Enzo used to buy Maserati's and race them. He then started building his own race cars which was very expensive and in the end he had to start to build and sell road cars to fund the racing. The road car business is now an international company run by a board of directors but the Spirit of Enzo lives on in the race team. It is utterly wrong to compare the Japanese contribution to F1 with these 3 great teams that are the backbone of the sport.

I think the guys at Cosworth would resent your comments at being dragged back into the sport. Manufacturing race engines is an expensive business so inevitably they wanted to make sure the project was viable but when they decided to go for it they did a fantastic job. They should be applauded! You're just being inflammatory for the sake of it.


Very interesting observation. It's my observation that the UK Formula One viewers are just as skittish in the hard times. Many have become "entitled" to what they've received in the past. Entitlement is a skittish being. While many are outraged by what is perceived to be taken away there are many of us who have paid all along to be viewers and don't know anything else. We're the fans who've always been asked to invest of ourselves in the sport. With a personal investment comes greater appreciation.


This is nonesense. You have neglected to observe the very thing that Formula1 is. It is a marketing tool first and foremost and secondly a plaything of the huge corporations that participate in it. The people that buy all the products (the fans) that are produced by the companies involved in formula 1 such as Mercedes cars, Air Asia plane tickets, lenovo computers and cans of Red Bull already fund Formula 1. Formula 1 is a marketing overhead and should be funded by proceeds from sales like any other overhead. So, we've already paid for it actually and the fact that the massively wealthy corporations involved now want us to pay again stinks.



It's not they're freeloaders it's that they've become entitled by what they've already received at the hand of their Government. It's a typical story IMO. They pay taxes expecting more than those taxes can afford, the Government tries to provide the service anyway at a net loss and when they come to their senses and start thinking balance, they have to take away from the people what they've become entitled to receive. Most anything Government provided ends up over-promised and under-delivered.

Now that slap in the face stings because the people will have spent their income on their accustomed lifestyle. Figuring out how to include the greater expense of what was already entitled is their quandary. Some can't so they'll go without. Some will and can pay if they really want it.

I'm most surprised by the juvenile attitude expressed by so many here. Life costs money if you want from it what you really want as compared to what you need. Many of us have always paid for what we've received from Formula One. We wanted it that bad and always have.


Fullblownseducer, you're handy with the inflammatory remarks but you're argument is as thin as water.

Clearly you aren't aware of one rule that underpins Formula 1. The fact that teams must have sponsors! It's one of Bernie's prerequisites.

If you think TV subscriptions pay for your racing you're very naïve. It’s a contribution sure, but its pocket change compared to the money teams get from sponsorship deals or by manufacturer support. Have you never noticed that Formula 1 doesn't just suddenly stop taking place because the TV arrangements change or come to an end. However, teams do fold when the sponsorship money stops or the manufacturer pulls out and this is no coincidence. When companies feel that they are using too much of their profits for too little return to be involved with Formula 1 they pull out. Teams then have to desperately search for new backers or fold. This is why the grid is comprised of ever changing teams.




















Red Bull









Force India

Torro Rosso

Lotus Renault GP

Red Bull

Lotus Racing



Mercedes Benz

If you think your TV subs have any bearing on this you really must be new to F1.

Also, the UK viewers that object to paying twice to watch Formula 1 are entitled to do so, they must be the only ones that have realised they're being taken for mugs. This is no reason to launch a tirade of abuse on the British. If you already pay for your coverage twice then more fool you. We in the UK pay a fee to the government for our Television. The BBC is a non profit making organisation being funded by the public, this is why its fees are far more affordable than those of SKY etc and is of far superior quality in every respect because of this.

The SKY coverage will inevitably look amateurish by comparison as everything is done to keep costs down and profits maximised.

I'd bet that SKY don't know what they're getting themselves into and before long Bernie will have squeezed them so hard that they will feel compelled to bail out too, leaving the fans/viewers in the lurch one again.

TV money pays for F1, Hilarious!!


Hmm, I'm with David, and if that precludes me from being a "real" fan, so be it. The last 30 years of being a fake fan have been good though.


No. Cerino is right. Advertising on cars is a different matter. F1 is paid for by TV subs from around the world - except the cosseted, socialist (in thinking, whatever political persuasion they claim to adhere to) fans in the UK. I think your fear is that in reality, when asked to pay, many will leave the sport and be shown to be the fairweather freeloaders they really are and the UK will be shown up as having not really as many true, passionate fans as people on forums such as this try to claim (when begging special treatment for the UK TV viewer, for example, crucible of motorsport and all that, blah, blah, blah..)

When it does go to Sky properly and the Beeb is ditched completely, we'll see the wheat and the chaff go their separate ways - and about time too.


Nice article James, I'm sure the economic situation that is effecting the Japanese manufactures is important but.. I can't ignore the fact that Pay TV is the only way to watch the live races and see that this is as a highly influential feature in growing an audience. Just a glimpse into the future of F1 in the UK then.


It comes down to Paid TV reduces viewership.



"so it earns plenty of money for F1 and for Fuji"

Sadly I think we'll be heading the same way..


No mention of Infiniti's involvment with Red Bull Racing?


The engine itself is a Renault one. As Renault and Nissan are effectively the same company, it's a little mundane mentioning them.

This was just a little PR stunt to try and get the Japanese more interested in F1 again, as well as making Nissan (and it's Infinti child) more fashionable in Japan, as well as everywhere else in the world


Ah I see. Interesting. I was hoping they might have a say in Koby joining RBR in 2013! 🙂


Plus, Infinity is the upmarket American arm of Nissan thats trying to spread to the rest of the world, its seen as a Japanese owned American company.


So basically the Japanese people are Nationalistic just like the rest of us & so love F1 when they have cars on the grid & more importantly one of their engines are bagging wins - Totally understandable for I remember many on this side of the channel were turning off during the Schumi glory years.

Likewise F1 wasn't that big in Germany before Schumi & it wasn't big in Spain before Alonso, big in Brazil before Senna etc and as you can see, F1 is pretty dead in Argentina & France after Fangio & Prost respectively.

Heck Hungary 2011 wasn't the same (numbers & atmosphere) simply because Kubica wasn't on the grid

In England we're pretty lucky in that we have two National teams on the grid that have been pretty successful & hence have a large following.

But this Japan situation can easily be resolved, all that's needed is for some top team to give Kobayshi a chance & voilà Japan will be the biggest F1 market again in Asia & North-South America combined.


Even though the cost reduction agreement was in place before the 2008 credit crunch hit, I think both Honda & Toyota would have still pulled out just like Porsche & Lamborghini did before them because these are top manufactures that had average drivers and were getting their rears handed to them on a constant basis -

That's not a good selling point for your road car business, No sir!


Are you sure that F1 wasn't big in Brazil before Senna?

Numbers at the Hungaroring were well down in 2009 when Kubica was driving for BMW Sauber.


Yep. Toyota's biggest mistake was not to pay top dollar for top drivers (which, considering their overall budgets over the years) was absurd to the point of laughable.

I heard once (in Japan) that it was because nobody, but nobody at Toyota is allowed to earn more than the CEOs and board members - hierarchical society - not sure if that was really true, but it is weird they never made the likes of Kimi an offer he couldn't refuse...


I think Ralf got paid a lot more than the CEO of the company....


Ah, isn't Kubica POLISH?


Yes, but the polish fans turn out in the masses at Hungary to see him.


Poland is very close... so there tend to be many Polish fans that make the trek to see their driver. He's often said it's the closest he has to a home race because of that.


Live channel in Japan is 1260yen, which is more like 10 pounds. It's the only thing on the channel worth watching, but it's still a lot less painful than 40 pounds.


OK we can understand why Japanese support for the sport is low because there is little stimuli except of course for Kamui Kobayashi who is a real racer. I suppose commercially these things tend to be cyclic, but economic pressure cannot be overlooked. It would of course help if viewing was free to air in Japan, and I suspect the current deal for the UK 2012 onwards will not do the sport any favours in the long term.


Why can't SKY offer an F1 only subscription for those fans that don't need the other SKY content?

Surely it would make sense if Pay TV is the way F1 is heading that the fans are at least offered a product that would interest them?

I have serious doubts that many UK F1 fans will bother paying heavy subscription fees for a channel they will only watch once a fortnight. Those of us F1 fans that want SKY TV have probably already got it so those that are left out by the new deal could be unlikely to commit to a SKY package when they already have 10 of the races as part of the TV Licensing deal and can't justify the expense for a channel that only gets turned on on raceday. It doesn't represent value for money for those people that aren't interested in all the other repeated garbage SKY has to offer and as such I foresee a sharp decline in F1 viewing figures immediately after the final round of the 2011 season.

The idea that (as Adam Parr would have us believe) that we the fans have had it really good so far and its time we contributed to the costs of F1 if we want to continue watching it is disingenuous.

I would suggest that we the fans do already pay for our Formula 1 with the Mercedes and Renault cars we buy, the Shell petrol we buy, the Red Bull we drink, the Vodafones we talk on and the Pirelli P Zeros's we fit to our cars. Formula 1 is an advertising tool for these brands and last time I checked marketing costs came under overheads which are the sole responsibility of the company that incurrs them. You can't expect us to pay twice just because these conceited companies don't want to fund there F1 playground anymore. If it's too pricey pull out and we'll go back to the good old days of the garagistas.


I'm afraid I disagree. We pay the sponsors through the purchase/use of their goods, but then paying to watch the sport is no different in my eyes to paying to watch premiership football.

As it happens, my decision on that was not to pay the sky sports fee and therefore I dont watch premiership football much nowadays (other than BBC highlights)

At the end of the day, as unfortunate as it is, we in the UK either need to not pay and watch highlights or pay and watch live.

There will be no U-turn on the sky deal. As both the BBC, the commercial rights holder and SKY wanted it to happen.


Bravo! Excellent comment.

I've never quite understood the general resistance to pay-per-view, to be honest. I'd happily pay, say, £10-15 per race weekend, but I resent having to take out a subscription for something that I'm simply not interested in 95% of.

Sky owns three slots on digital terrestrial, one of them currently being used simply as a +1 channel. PPV has been used on DTT in the UK before, when Setanta had the Scottish Premier League rights, achieved via clever use of the MHEG “digital teletext” system rather than smartcards (to be fair, I'm not sure how secure this proved to be). Surely the potential size of what might be called the “paid-for-Freeview” market outweighs the possible losses in subscription sales (which, to judge by the reaction to the deal over the last few weeks, would be minimal anyway since so few fans intend to take one out)?


Spot on!


It's funny that the Sky deal is only worth just under £90,000 per team, per year, more than the Channel 4 deal, but the loss in sponsorship brand exposure of the Sky deal, (based on 2010 UK exposure figures) is £3.4million per race.


Autosport reported the extra revenue of the Sky deal to be an average of just over £1 million per team per year (not distributed equally but according the WCC position and past achievements as per the Concorde Agreement).


I agree, and the proposed Channel 4 deal would have netted the teams £910,000 in the same way, so nearly the same.

The difference being, if Sky fail to achieve nearly 1 million viewers per race, the accumulated UK brand exposure loss per race will be £3.4 million, (based on 2010 brand exposure figures).

Whereas Channel 4 were also offering "commercial opportunities for teams through sponsorship and ad-funded content."

How much that would be worth isn't clear, but one would assume more than the £90,000 Sky/C4 discrepancy.


How do you work that out?


From the relative 3 contracts.

BBC (not including the widely misquoted broadcast costs).

Sky (what FOWC say sky will pay, excluding escalator).

Channel 4 (What they pitched to the FOWC, not including escalator).

To round off the figures the teams would (if the money was distributed evenly, which under the CA, it will not, but if it was...)

The Sky/BBC deal will net the teams £1millon each, the Channel 4 deal £910,000 each, a difference of £90,000.

Or do you mean the exposure figures?

Exposure, is the UK exposure of a brand or brands based on the 2010 season, how much that would cost if it was traditionally advertised on commercial TV, then the projected loss of exposure due to the Sky deal is taken into account, (of course accurate figures will only be available from 2013).

Exposure is of course not sponsorship money, it is the sponsors brand exposure value.

Red Bull (which includes STR) will be the biggest loser, losing exposure calculated at £19.8million.


It was such a major shame to see Honda quit after spending millions (200 million I think) on the Honda car - which then later became the winning Brawn car.

Another shame was Toyota who pulled out, with no one exploiting their car technology (although their wind tunnel is leased out). Peter Windsor's USF1 had the opportunity to buy the Toyota car but didn't and we know how that turned out. In my opinion, the Toyota car would have beat the likes of the GP2 cars that were/are Lotus, Virgin and HRT back in 2010.....

There might still be life in a Toyota comeback story in the not too distant future.


At it's core, F1 is largely a European sport. Some would argue it's a Western European sport. Still others would say it's a British sport. And it's also an EXPENSIVE sport. The cost of an average F1 car is about that of a NATO fighter jet. The fact that F1 can maintain inroads at non-European venues during a down economy is pretty remarkable when you think about it. When global markets rebound, and they will, look for F1 to rebound as well.


Sad but true, there's a lesson there about Pay Per View and the effect it will have in the UK on the sport's popularity.

I guess we should have seen it coming as soon as BE started promising that F1 would always be free to air.


The figures speak for themselves, pay TV reduces your audience figures and alienates the casual viewer.

The BBC/SKY deal will strangle F1 interest in the UK, and in 10 years time the 2008-2011 period will be seen as a high water mark of interest in the sport.

Truly a sad state of affairs.


Please lets don't let this thread become another rant about pay tv.

The piece clearly points out that the fans follow the involvement of the Japanese manufacturers, not the other way around. (It would be interesting to know how many watch IndyCars, since Honda is such a big name there.)

And those manufacturers are totally vulnerable to *global financial forces. They are only in it for the money, and the days of spending half-a-billion dollars a year to "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" are clearly a thing of the past.

They'll be back when the global economic forces allow a positive ROI, and not before. And their fans will follow right along, pay tv or not.

After all, if there were NO British teams nor manufacturers (un-thinkable, I know), would there be *any UK fans? I think not.


In Finland, F1 is only available live on MTV3 Max, which is a pay channel. Depending on the timing of the race, a one hour condensed version is shown about 2-3 hours later on the free to view MTV3. Although Finland has had a strong folloing in F1 through Häkkinen and Räikkönen, it has dwindled recently. Much is made of Heikki Kovalainen, but it is more in hope than anything else. How much of this is due to the race only being available on pay per view (and no driver from this country at or near the front?).

On the bright side, we got to see the last session of the montreal race live - it was delayed for so long, and there was no time for MTV to edit it, that they put it live on the free channel. Worth waiting up 'til 2 am for that!


I think the causes of F1 being poor in Japan is that nothing Japanese has ever done well in F1 (Apart from Honda engines but not as a constructor).


Super GT (and before that JGTC) has always been bigger over there. It's a bit like the situation with F1 and Group C sportscars in the 80's in Europe - people 'follow' F1 through the mags and so on, but they're watching Super GT...


Interesting how the Japanese have to pay to see F1 live. As for the UK, well if the Sky deal goes ahead in its current form, then I for one will no longer be following F1. There's no way I can justify spending £30-40 on Sky per month for watching a few hours of F1 and I don't want to watch half the season. I also intend not to renew my TV license at the end of the month when that becomes due. There's not much on TV that I watch as it's broadcast. What I do watch, I can legally catch up with on iplayer without needing a license at a time it's convenient for me. Bye bye F1...


I agree with the comments on here, pay tv in the uk will lead to fewer people being interested, except for some hard core fans that are willing to pay £40 per month or £480 a year, making it £48 per race to watch the 10 races in 2012 that are not free to air live.....I dont think so Bernie or Murdoch no matter how hard core I am.


I understood why Toyota pulled out of F1, motorsport was never really part of their heritage. But for Honda to up an quit so quickly really was a shame. Honda has been involved in motorsport since their earliest days and they were successful in F1. They must have been very sad to see their team win the championship in their car the year after they pulled out. Good on Brawn to capitalize on their mistake though!


I can't add much more than said above.

The UK will follow the Japanese model of decline then. No stable affordable business model for fans, no fanbase to watch it. F1 may well need revenue, it isn't worth an additional £600 a year to watch.


Just making sure that in Japan live coverage for F1 has never been available on Fuji's terrestrial channel, even Senna-Honda days.

That F1 popularity in late-80s to mid-90s in Japan was unusual, typically a bubble, which was meant to burst sooner or later. But, a miraculous combination of heroic Senna and invincible Honda...if that didnt bring big sensation, what would? Anyway I guess that in Senna days any part of the world saw F1 popularity surge to a greater or lesser degree.

Mid-90s through 00s when F1 didnt have Japanese driver or big manufacturer, F1 did just fine in Japan. Sure it seems F1 is declining here now, but it's largely due to diversifying interest among people - nowadays there are many things to do and watch, eg football, baseball, video game, music, internet, etc etc etc. Also note that overall TV rating just keeps declining in Japan.

But declining popularity in general doesnt necessarily mean a category is in danger. Take a look at Japan's baseball. In Japan, baseball has been a "national sport" for more than half a century. Just decades ago at least one baseball game was on terrestrial TV everyday, but nowadays the number has reduced to about one game per week (or maybe less than that). But more teams are making more money, more fans and audiences are coming to stadium to actually watch games at the venue. Japan's baseball is surely in good shape now, definitely better than it was 5, 10 or 15 years ago when games were shown on TV everyday and it had wider viewership.

I think it's inevitable that even in UK live coverage of F1 has to go to pay channel. Of course it would be wonderful if live F1 stays on BBC or any non-pay TV, but live coverage of F1 is huge burden both money-wise and program-wise for TV station, so I guess even in UK it's getting tougher to keep F1 live broadcast.


You're absolutely right. Monetize your viewer base.

At one point sport was free as it aimed to grow and get bigger. At some point it started to get huge and attract big sponsorship and ad money. Now it's so big, that monetizing the viewer is another revenue stream that they can't refuse to realize. Even if it means loosing a few million free viewers, they gain huge revenue stream with paid viewers. 17m free viewers is not always better than 2m paying viewers on the bottom line. It can be justified even to the sponsors in terms of earnings/age demographic and targeted marketing.

There are a few problems however.

1. User Participation. You can play football, baseball. Video game, internet is all user participation as well. You can't drive an F1 car. You can kart - but it's not exactly F1 now, is it? So TV is your window to grow your fan base - meaning you have to be accessible.

2. USA - NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, Golf, Olympics, World Cup - all free to air. So is 1/2 of Nascar season - and I'm sure it will be even more than 1/2 soon. Indy 500 - free to air if that's your thing. Meaning, major sporting series and events can be ad supported. Which is why there is such outrage in UK. And I would argue, not enough outrage on the matter in general if F1 aims to be compared to World Cup or Olympics on ratings.

3. The access. You only need to visit a DTM, ALMS, or other smaller motor racing series event to see how much more involved the fan is. F1 is sterile, and quite restricted in access to those with VIP passes and those who paid extra to have that access. I'm not here to argue if extra revenue for extra access is right. But when you see a little boy get a signature from a top F1 driver, it's likely because his daddy paid some serious money for VIP weekend access, or he works for a key sponsor. I've been to nearly 20 races, always Gold grandstand and rarely got to see more than 1 or 2 drivers up close during the weekend without a helmet. Sorry...Oh yes, I did on the flatbed truck - driver's parade!

I've only seen an F1 engine at a car show - never an F1 event. I've always had to put in serious effort to see a driver up close to sign a program.

But when you go to ALMS event for example and have incredible access to drivers, cars, garages - you realize what is missing in the F1 experience. I have sat in various LMP1 cars in pre-race trim that went on to win the race for $60 weekend ticket - 10% of an F1 weekend pass. Few of us have ever sat in an F1 race car. (Display mockup chassis at Ferrari store don't count!) Even at the Ferrari Museum, there wasn't a real F1 Ferrari car from any era you can sit in! F1 has become too big, too marketing and money driven - and my gut feeling is that it does turn off many fans now. Are those fans valuable to the bottom line - truth is probably not. They couldn't be monetized further anyway. Just like those watching free-to-air and not willing to pay for the ability to watch probably aren't as important to the decision to go to pay TV in today's F1.


It was free to air terrestrial on Fuji back then yes. Up until five or six years ago


James, it was terrestrial, but never live and always edited (at least during all the years I was there, 90-04). I think that's what Hiro means.


I mean it has always been free on Fuji terrestrial ever since they acquired F1 TV rights back in circa 1987, and still is and will be at least for a while, but never had the status of live coverage except few GPs. F1 race programs shown on Fuji terrestrial are recorded and edited ones.

F1 live coverage in Japan started a decade or so ago on Fuji's pay channel when they started the satellite TV service.


@Brisbane Bill

You are right, JP baseball case does not necessarily apply to F1. Teams of JP baseball have shifted to "localize", but it cannot be applied to F1.

I think in Japan, current coverage and availability on free channel, even tho recorded and edited, and however awful, is essential for F1 to keep its popularity and recognition. Definitely so in UK. UK might end up current Japan style (full live coverage on pay channel, recorded and edited 2hour show on free channel) in few years, but should not be less than that, absolutely.

It's true that UK fans are spoiled, as someone has said on this page, but it's sad if F1 gradually migrate into pay channel in UK.


I don't think we can apply what has happened to Japanese Baseball to F1. In fact, what happens to other "team" sports (football, rugby, cricket etc) is not applicable to F1. If you turn off the TV supply of those team games then the keen follower has the option of buying a season ticket and attending home games and watching live and can even go to the odd away game. For F1, a season ticket is one round of your country's race! If you want to follow your team then you have to shell out big bucks to fly around the world and attend. So the Sky deal will start to polarise the behaviours of current viewers. Those that cannot (or will not) afford the monthly fee will other put up with the highlights and occassional live terrestrial broadcasts or stop watching. These people are unlikely to attend the British GP in person as a weekend at Silverstone is way more expensive than a year's subscription to Sky. Bernie and CVC aren't interested in these people - no profit potential. Those who do have the means and the interest to subscribe to Sky and those who attend the GPs - they are the ones Bernie is looking to continue to market to as that is where the F1 business profits will come from. I expect him to look after that audience very well and the rest will either move onto another minority sport (is British Touring Cars and/or the BSB still on free-to-air?) or find it in their monthly busget to get a subscription and return to the F1 fold. Brutal but that's business.



It's not exactly a highlight that's shown on Fuji terrestrial, but pre-race activity + whole race + post-race podium & interview all squeezed into 1h40m show. Sorry if that's what highlight mean. 🙂 But for me highlight is sth like 30minute show that picked up action scenes only to make it look like action-packed and more interesting and exciting.

and about that video, yea that's great fun. Maybe quite a few people mightve watched already but young Kamui vs Aguri Suzuki kart battle circa 1998 was great too!


I wasn't aware that Fuji were only showing highlights in their early years.

There were certainly some great F1 pieces on Japanese TV at the time - check out this gem of Senna racing karts (against his Japanese twin brother and the Japanese Prost!):



i read the other day that man u v chelsea on sky tv had just over a million viewers last year. the last f1 race had 6 million odd viewers. it just shows how much nonsense bernie is saying when he goes on about more people will see f1 next year. 5 million less people watching f1 races at least then. good move there bernie.


But those 1M are paying 40M GBP each month for the pleasure. 480M GBP per year!

I said it before, and I'll say it again.

Revolt UK F1 Brothers and Sisters! Watch BBC LIVE races only. Forget the delayed and Sky races - catch up on JAonF1. It will show up in the viewership numbers. It's the only way you can win. Spread the word! Be Strong! 🙂


Today I have received 20450 pound as part of a claim for a hand injury and I can promise bernie and Murdoch that they won't get one penny off me. I have followed f1 religiously for years and years but next year I won't. I had planned on going to a race next year also using this money. Now since the deal with sky came out I won't be as I don't see the point spending money on a sport I will only be watching half the time. Not a mission I will give in either because I'm also a massive football and boxing fan and I have not bowed to sky television yet. The person I can't stand most of all now is Martin whitmarsh. 2 faced as any politician


“ F1 on SKY will certainly be watched by a lower audience so even if F1 revenues rise for the next year or so, dwindling audiences will see F1 brought back to free terrestrial TV where it belongs in order to save F1 and Bernie’s blushes.”

Are you sure about that?

From what I have read, Sky has paid “Bernie” £40 million a year for the rights to broadcast F1 in the UK.

Considering that a monthly Sky Sports subscription costs £33.97 on Top Up TV, Sky would need only 98,126 new subscribers per year (£40,000,000/(12 months * £33.97per month) = 98,126) to cover the payments to “Bernie”.

There are probably 2 million “hardcore” F1 viewers in the UK, which is more-or-less the lowest viewing figure for a race this year, so Sky would break even if only 5% of current hardcore F1 viewers subscribed to the Sky Sports package. I have no idea what Sky’s production costs for its F1 coverage will be per year, but I doubt that the figure would be tens of millions of pounds.

If Sky Sports gains 200,000 new subscribers because of its F1 coverage, then Sky will earn an additional 12 * £33.97 * 200,000 = £81,528,000. i.e. Sky will make a substantial profit if 10% of hardcore UK viewers subscribe.

As for your hyperbolic “save F1” claim, you need to appreciate that TV viewers in the UK account for a very small percentage of worldwide F1 TV audiences. And if “Bernie” and the teams are blushing, then it will be because they are benefiting from an embarrassment of riches!


@Damian J

Don't blame Ferrari, blame Fernando Alonso. Your favourite driver is blatantly guilty of this move. No doubt.


I'll be share the pain with you next year. I also won't be spending a penny on SKY! Hell will freeze over before that happens. 🙁


Why not blame Ferrari for agreeing to the SKY contract? They have more political clout than most teams. I think you will find that your Ferrari, your favourite team has agreed to the principle of pay tv, otherwise FOTA and it's current chairman, Martin Whitmarsh would have objected!

It comes as no surprise from reading your previous posts that you don't like Nigel Whitmarsh, possibly because of the fact that he is the McLaren team principal and nothing more.


Fantastic article! Such 'politics' don't usually interest me but it was a wonderful encapsulation that explained a lot, thanks James.


From 17 million to 2 million. Wow, what a drastic contrast.

Even comparing the terrestrial audience of 5 million it's less than one third.

Very informative article, good one James.


Hi James - Nice article as always (am a regular reader but don't comment much).

I do have a few questions though:

- How do some countries like UK or Germany have so much young talent coming through and others like Japan not? Is it related to the junior racing series or sponsorship?

- How is the viewership for Japanese junior racing series and F1 support series like GP2?

- Could it be that the steady decline in F1 viewership (less value for money for sponsors) means that no Japanese driver gets the funding to make it up the ladder to F1?



It's because there are popular drivers that are winning from those countries.

Before Schumacher, there were hardly any German F1 drivers that were anywhere near the top for many years. Mercedes backed him through his ascent to F1. After he became successful, he ignited a huge following in Germany.

With that, companies started to notice how popular motorsport was getting. Every decently-sized company gets sponsorship proposals floating through their doors, but now suddenly they were taking them seriously, as Schumacher's name was all over the media. If a German driver like Timo Glock said he could get to F1, it would be a great investment to fund his ascent to F1 so your company could be the logo on his hat.

The problem is, Japan never got that driver. With Japanese manufacturers, there were some good opportunities, but the drivers never seemed to make a real impact. Kobayashi has a chance of turning that around, if he can get into a top seat. If he ends up winning a whole bunch of races, or even a title, just watch: five years later you will see three more Japanese drivers on the grid, helped by the explosion of interest in Japanese fans, followed by the companies wanting to ride that wave.

Pay-TV won't help that, but like I said in another comment, it just stands to make it more polarized. Right now interest is down in the dumps, but it stands to spike if Kobayashi starts winning.

It's all about the tipping point where it makes sense to start subscribing. It's easy to flip on the BBC right now if you read in Saturday's paper that di Resta qualified 8th, but it takes a bit more for the Japanese fan to want to fork over the cash if Kobayashi is doing well.


I think we will be having this debate about 'why has audiences flatlined in uk' in 2019 when sky sports will show all live races and bbc will just have a highlights programme like match of the day. I'm guessing bbc will show 8 live races in 2013, 6 races in 2014 and so on until we have none. 2million pay viewers in japan is not bad, UK won't get close to that figure until 2019.


UK viewers have been spoiled so far. I've lived in India and the US, and F1 has always been on cable pay channels, with ads at that! Indian viewership is in the region of 25+ million, and the quality of the coverage is nowhere near as good as the BBC. It's amazed me that the BBC does such a great job and spends so much money for viewership that less than a fourth of Indian viewership figures. Welcome to the rest of the world.


But India has about 20 times the population of the UK. Shrink that audience by 20 and you get 1.25 million which will probably roughly equate to what Sky will get in the UK.


That might well be true. The point I was making is that in terms of absolute numbers, supporting a relatively tiny audience does not seem to be sustainable long-term. The fact that the BBC has made a very good attempt notwithstanding.


Pay TV discourages the casual viewer, and the young viewer, both of whom are the future.

And the Japanese love their technology, and F1 has been stagnant for several years, and with FOTA trying to dumb down the sport at every opportunity it's likely to get worse before it gets better.


I think you are 100% correct.

The new generation is not interested in paying $100 a month for cable TV service. They go out, meet in coffee shops, bars, clubs and use hot-spots or data service on their mobiles.

With Free To Air Digital TV finally available in most of the western world, I really believe that in the upcoming years we'll see a shift of content to the networks that own FTA airwaves.

But until then however, they are going to squeeze out all the revenue they can.


I'm not paying cable TV either.

I go down to the little Italian sports cafe. Excellent lattes for the 8:00 AM start, and a rowdy bunch of Canadian Tifosi yelling at Hamilton and singing along to the Italian anthem whenever Ferrari wins. I feel like I'm at Monza half the time.

The times I haven't gone there are watching at friends' places or once streaming it on the internet... or when I've gone camping and missed the race entirely.

I'll find a way to watch the race cheap or free, or it won't get watched. 😛


Here in the US we have some free tv (5 or 6 channels) but most people subscribe to either cable or a satellite service like Direct TV, which also offers packages (extra fee) to watch the various major sports in their entirety (every game). So to watch F1 in the US on SpeedTV you need to have one of these services (not all have SpeedTV)which range from around $40 to $99 per month in their basic form. 1 or 2 races are shown on Fox and if you happen to get the free digital tv you would get these for free I suppose.

I am not 100% sure how the TV works in the UK but it seems Sky is similar to having DirectTV, paying a subscription for the service which among other things provides the channel airing a large portion of the F1 races. If you pay monthly for Sky do you still have to pay for the TV License as well?


Yes, you do, the license fee is mandatory if you wish to watch any TV at all.


If you want to watch TV you have to pay for the license. If you want Sky or Virgin media on top of the 5 basic terestrial channels you have to subscribe to them. With Sky you have to have the basic package and then pay for Sports and/or movies.


Yes, you have to pay the license no matter what other services you subscribe to.


The real issue is that in the Senna-era was F1 on free-to-air in Japan or was it on pay-TV? I don't believe the Japanese took to Senna in their millions simply because (for some of his career) he drove a Honda-powered car.

With Kobayashi in the sport and celebrities like Hamilton plus some great racing in the last few seasons then surely the massive decline in popularity is on some level related to its migration to pay-TV.

I would love to hear the honest view of a major UK-based F1 sponsor as to what they think of this deal and if they would have agreed to their current sponsorship had this deal been in place.

However if you are prepared for some upfront costs and are not too fussed about HD then get a free-to-air satellite kit and watch F1 for the foreseeable future on Germany's RTL - don't bother watching races or highlights on the BBC or Sky.


I personally think what it shows is that having a Pay-TV structure makes viewing figures highly polarized.

You either have a boom period, which I bet you'd see in Japan if Honda and Toyota were still involved and competitive, with Kobayashi in one of them, winning races; or you have a bust period, which is what I think we are seeing the end of right now, since Kobayashi was the only Japanese entity in the sport for the last two years.

Basically, there is no middle-ground, apart from a small number of die-hard fans. It's hard to casually follow F1 and watch all the races when it costs you over $100 a year to do so.

I think you will see that popularity will increase over the next few years with Kobayashi's influence. If he starts winning races, you will see a Piquet/Schumacher/Alonso effect where popularity starts skyrocketing due to their countryman's success, and more Japanese teams, engine-suppliers and drivers will move up through the ranks.

The important thing for drivers to make it are sponsors. It will be a very quick process for more Japanese drivers to get to F1. There are many now that are only 2-3 years from F1, that if they got a boost of sponsorship from a Japanese company eager to ride the Kobayashi wave, they could hop into GP2 and then start looking for F1 seats.

If you see that happen, suddenly it will be just enough for the tipping point to be reached and many many more Japanese fans will pay.

Similarly, as long as Button and Hamilton are fighting for wins in McLaren, UK fans will pay. If Hamilton ends up out of a ride for whatever reason, viewership will drop drastically - far, far more than if the races were still free-to-air.

Want a stable viewership? Go free-to-air. Want to make good cash in the boom times and hope that it'll carry you over the bust times? Go Pay-TV. I think SkyTV is dipping their toe in the water by carrying half the season... but since Hamilton and Button have so many rabid fans, I think enough will pony up the cash to watch all the races. UK will see all of their TV move to a pay-channel, at least until Hamilton stops being so popular.


Spot on the money - imho.

Edward Valentine

Hi James,

An interesting piece indeed. Are there any territories where F1 is booming or at least in steady growth? I'd imagine F1 is enjoying healthy figures from some Arab States given the GPs that have emerged there in recent years.


Audience share is very interesting.

UK has gone up from 48% to 55% in the last 2 years, the Sky deal will make interesting reading in 12 months time. Can the UK hang on to an impressive 40% share of the female audience F1 currently enjoys in the UK.

Spain has 71%, down from 76% when Alonso was winning championships.

Germany is down 18% from the Schumacher years.

Brazil has a 65% share, up 21% from 5 years ago.

China has a measly 10% share, but with their population that amounts to F1's biggest single audience, with over 110million unique season viewers.


I agree. Bernie, I have noticed that he seems to favour the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi races (declaring Abu Dhabi as one of the finest tracks and wanting to bump India to the back of the queue for Bahrain).

Possibly because they bring in more money. I would like to know if certain races/tracks pay a higher fee to host an F1 race. If so, what are the figures?

Tom in Adelaide

An interesting article for sure.

However, I think to really understand the decline of F1 in Japan you have to look deeper into Japanese culture.

During the 80’s, 90’s and even early 2000’s Japan was basically a fledgling “Western” culture. The main cultural beacons being the US and UK. Western brands, celebrities etc were worshipped. Japanese popular culture was very much based on absorption and imitation.

Today, Japan is a reasonably mature western culture. Cultural trends are internally generated. Celebrity worship is as strong as ever but is directed more towards Japanese celebrities. If you take motorsport as an example, the Japanese gravitate towards National based turbo sports and drift events. Having a very strong “sheep” mentality, F1 has no chance of penetrating the psyche of Japanese youth. It just does not align with the “new” Japanese culture.

The thing you also have to keep in mind is that today’s youth only knows today’s culture. They weren’t around for the 80’s. I’d say the majority of kids in UK, Europe, Australia etc today are introduced to F1 by their fathers. Again this doesn’t ring true in Japan. The role of the father is quite different in Japan, most work insane hours and are often quite detached from the parenting process. They are also completely alienated from their children because they don’t understand the youth culture at all. It’s completely foreign to them.

So what about Kamui then? From what I can gather from friends over there, he’s pretty popular (partly because of his girlfriend). The Japanese people enjoy seeing one of their own competing well on an international stage (there is still a massive undercurrent of nationalistic pride going on). But it would take Kamui winning races to really spark any National interest. And even then it would only last as long as his success did.

Japan is a strange place. I lived there for a year and gave up trying to understand their collective thought processes after a few days. I think the tipping point for me was during the Olympics when NHK (the national TV broadcaster) started pixelating the results of athletes who placed higher than Japanese athletes. That’s not normal.

Really though, Japan is not the only place where F1 has become marginalised. As long as F1 is run by out of touch old businessmen the decline will continue (Sebee’s post up above really nailed the issue).


>During the 80’s, 90’s and even early 2000’s Japan was basically a fledgling “Western” culture. The main cultural beacons being the US and UK.

actually that trend started around 1870(yes, eighteen seventy) when Tokugawa dynasty returned its reign to emperor and modernization began.

>Western brands, celebrities etc were worshipped.

"worship" doesnt sound right. We just admire brands and celebrities pretty much the same way westerns do.

>Japanese popular culture was very much based on absorption and imitation.

and alteration and adaptation.

>Today, Japan is a reasonably mature western culture.

no no no, not at all.

> Cultural trends are internally generated. Celebrity worship is as strong as ever but is directed more towards Japanese celebrities.

yes but it has been like that for as long as I can remember.

> The thing you also have to keep in mind is that today’s youth only knows today’s culture. .... They(parents) are also completely alienated from their children because they don’t understand the youth culture at all. It’s completely foreign to them.

yea but it's the same everywhere, isnt it? My friend who is Briton in UK in his 50s doesnt know anything about what his teen daughter is into.

> Japan is a strange place. I lived there for a year and gave up trying to understand their collective thought processes after a few days.

No. It's just different from where you live. Sure outsiders view and opinion is always helpful and necessary, we can learn by seeing others and listening to others opinions. But strange? no. It's just you gave up your effort of understanding. It's interesting to see that some foreigners in Japan just cant mix here and only pick up negative things, while some end up loving Japan and being loved as well (and accepting negativity as negativity). Of course Japan can be alot better, being Japanese I'm more aware of Japan's problems. But calling Japan a strange place shows your lack of respect. It's just that we are strange in a different way than you are.

Anyways F1 in Japan nowadays sure has become one of established and well recognized sports/genres like baseball and football. It was still "new" in Senna-Honda days. I think it will go through up and down, but not disappear.

Tom in Adelaide

Hi Hiro,

Thanks for the reply - I may have expressed myself poorly above so I thought I should clarify - I love Japan, as I said, I lived there for a year and have visited 5 other times since for holidays and to catch up with friends etc. It's an amazing place and I tell everyone who will listen to visit. Heck, I often find myself longing for the return of my "Alien Registration Card" 😀

I think sometimes it's hard for Japanese themselves to see just how unique their country is. And I must point out, I use the word "strange" not as a negative word, but simply as an attempt to convey just how different things are. You only have to look at the number of texts analysing Japanese culture to see that it is more idiosyncratic that most.

Regardless, I can't shake the feeling that F1 will slide into irrelevance in Japan in a generation or two. If I were seeking a sponsor in the region I would feel much safer looking towards China.


@Tom in Adelaide

Thanks for your explanation! I got what you meant 🙂

Good to know you having fun in Japan and with your friends!

>I think sometimes it’s hard for Japanese themselves to see just how unique their country is.

yes indeed, I agree. People in general are kind of unable to put themselves into perspective on global scale. But actually there are some good japanese books addressing this point, which sells quite well. Many people are interested in theories of what Japan/Japanese is.

> And I must point out, I use the word “strange” not as a negative word, but simply as an attempt to convey just how different things are. You only have to look at the number of texts analysing Japanese culture to see that it is more idiosyncratic that most.

I see. I find outsiders analysis/views always intriguing and often helpful in many areas. Actually I can point out and keep moaning about Japan(ese) forever...I hate many things about Japan, but at the same time like quite a few things about Japan.

>Regardless, I can’t shake the feeling that F1 will slide into irrelevance in Japan in a generation or two.

I think, as long as domestic motorsports (SuperGT, F-Nippon, F3, Karting etc) exist, F1 will stay in Japan. F1 used to be kind of fashion/trend that tends to be connected with bubble economy (late 80s - circa 92), so some people still have "wrong" image (it used to be associated with "lavish" and "extravaganza", which is often laughed at or seen as negative now), but notion in general did change, now the sport is more recognized and established here.

>If I were seeking a sponsor in the region I would feel much safer looking towards China.

yeah, of course, everyone is now looking to China, silly not to! I think it's v interesting to see how F1/motorsport will unhold in China. My dream is F-Nippon/F3/SuperGT expand and interact with China, Korea and some other countries to form pan-Asian series, like in Europe.


Nice one Hiro! It is good to have a real Japanese perspective on the issue.

By the way we have missed you in the UK, waiting for the new series of "Heroes" (assuming of course you are really Masi Oka.)

Surely much of the problem is the profitability of the car manufacturers in Japan, because F1 costs a vast amount of money and if it is not there it cannot be spent on F1.

As you have said, after the first Shogun the modernisation of Japan began and Japan has been very successful in taking ideas from other countries and improving upon them, then mass producing them. So we look to Japan for better batteries for our future electric cars and KERS systems.

The Japanese production process itself has been refined almost to perfection in many areas and the systems and quality assurance methods are copied around the world.

However even in my lifetime the commercial world has changed in Japan; when I started work with Pioneer 27 years ago, there was full employment and salarymen were guaranteed a job then pension for life, nobody would dream of leaving to work for a competitor, (indeed the competitor would never accept such a disloyal person). But now things are different, my old boss left Pioneer to work at Panasonic because Pioneer wanted to send him back home, but his kids grew up here, understandable to us westerners but unthinkable 20 years back, to a Japanese guy. Now you also have unemployment a western ailment, enjoy! It will get a lot worse the more you adopt western values.

I would guess that the old traditional ties between car manufacturers and electronics companies are now gone. (one amusing consequence of this old tie still tickles me today. I was informed that I should contact Mazda UK who would buy Pioneer car audio from us. So I duly made contact (with a great guy who I understand later left to go to McLaren) and found that they had been instructed that they would buy car audio from us, neither of us though very much of the typical Japanese arrangement but had to go along with it; yes sure I wanted the sales but this was something else! Firstly it turned out that the product would be branded "Finish Line" the then Mazda aftersales marque, thus would not be normal stock from our range. (This would increase our stock holding and not allow it to be sold to anyone else) The products were not normal UK spec but apparently what everyone needed in Japan, almost unusable in the UK. Then we got to the silly part, Pioneer Japan sold it to Mazda Japan who exported it to Mazda Europe who sold it to Pioneer Europe who sold it to us (Pioneer Hi-Fi GB) for us to sell to Mazda UK, however each time it changed hands, costs and margins were added so that very cosily everybody along the supply route got their share, so buy the time I tried to sell it to Mazda UK, quite apart from it being the wrong spec it was 50% or more overpriced. Neither Mazda UK nor us could say "no it's ridiculous" because the Japanese had agreed how many would be sold in each territory and that was that, wrong spec, branded and vastly expensive, was immaterial because the two companies had extended their mutual cooperation and commercial/cultural agreement. As far as I know they sit still unsold in a warehouse in Surrey)

If Japanese car manufacturers become profitable and wish to participate in F1 they will also spent the necessary equal amount in PR and advertising. (although today the viral advertising business may be a lot cheaper to run than the traditional above the line stuff)

Then F1 in Japan will become alive again.

The MotoGP seems to be doing ok in terms of public awareness and I would imagine it is well publicised in Japan.

An un-western characteristic of the Japanese

that I remember from my Pioneer days is that you all want to be unique, separate and different from each other, but you all want to do it together! Thus motorcycling is very appealing.



haha Masi Oka, he's amazing, gifted man!

btw yea you're right, that kind of thing you mentioned, those silly old customs and way of thinking, really p** me off too. It's increasingly hindering Japanese manufacturing industry. Nissan was typical example, what Gosn did was nothing special, but, it might sound silly but sacking Japanese workers and cutting Japanese subsidiary companies (car parts supply chain) was impossible for Japanese boss to do. There would be internal and external friction and resistance and bashing (like you are bloodless devil to sack fellow Japanese! or sth like that, for example) that had prevented it. If it was some foreigner who did it, people would just accept it. As a result, Nissan had to go under umbrella of Renault, which was inferior as a car company but business-savvy. I find it quite shame. Toyota, yea it's still a typical keiretsu. Their cars are certainly good tho. Honda is very different on the other hand, freer and more flexible. I like Honda as a company.

Post 2000 style "selection & concentration" policy that has been adopted aggressively here by many companies to cope with globalization and increasing level of competition is putting many companies in jeopardy. Sony just keeps falling, for example, and many capable engineers at giant companies are leaving and seeking Korean, Taiwanese and Chinise companies in order to find places where they can maximize their abilities and fulfill potential, as a result of Japanese companies downsizing and inflexible labour market. Very ironic and sad phenomenon.

Until 90s, there might actually have been more restriction but workers also had pride and freedom and resources for development. but now only restriction is left there. I said it bit too pessimistic, but Japanese manufacturing industry is certainly at a turning-point now.



This strange (to us) arrangement was a hangover from the Keiretsu (combines of interdependent light and heavy industries and a bank all leaning on each other for support) which were formed out of the original Zaibatsu after they were broken up by McArthur after WW2. This keiretsu structure was also largely responsible for the fall of the Japanese economy in the 90s including the car manufacturers. Mazda is part of the Sumitomo keiretsu. Toyota is a keirtesu in itself, gigantic, while Honda seems to be outside the norm as it did not get going until well after WW2 and then it was primarily with mopeds and the legendary Honda-50 which was the start of the end of the UK motorbike industry. I remember well, the first one I saw, it had the clutch and front bake reversed and the gear pedals were on the wrong side where the rear brake should be, but it was not as loud as my Tiger Cub. which was the main thing! (in fact it was damn near silent by comparison).


"Pioneer Japan sold it to Mazda Japan who exported it to Mazda Europe who sold it to Pioneer Europe who sold it to us (Pioneer Hi-Fi GB) for us to sell to Mazda UK"

I wonder if the Toyota and Honda F1 teams worked in a similar way, thus killing any chance of success...?


I live in Tokyo so can offer an informed perspective. The terrestrial coverage is awful, but they have to spice it up with "will kamui win" as ultimately, Japanese TV is one big advert. Everything here is about the sell. The sponsors promote and pay for the TV shows via ads. Years ago, I was lucky enough to chat to a lady from Toyota's PR division. She complained that they were unhappy as Honda got all the press, as it was during the Sato years. Of course she admitted that Toyota's pole at Suzuka was a PR stunt to blight Honda that particular year (200?)

In Japan I would suggest that many of the casual viewers are women. It's not rocket science that Senna was a God here. Ok, partly to do with Honda but the fact that he was a handsome Brazilian certainly helped. I've had comments from ladies that they don't like driver xxxx as he's not 'good looking enough'

Non-sensical to me, as a 30 year F1 vet, but that's the reality. I would suggest that the closest thing Japan has to a new Senna is JB. It helps that Jessy is homegrown of course, but I think he's the most famous of all, excluding Kamui of course.

Red Bull entered the market here just a few years ago, and you would be surprised at the number of people who've never heard of it, or its F1 team.

The hardcore exists of course, but it's mostly the casuals that are catered for here. Fuji TV have exclusive rights in Japan. That means that another broadcaster cannot


As a fellow Tokyo F1 vet of 22 yrs, I think you make some excellent points that need to be stressed:

- Fuji TV free coverage is awful, nearly unwatchable. Late at night/early hours of Monday morning, accelerating ad breaks, cheesy voice overs/graphics...

- The (young) Japanese female demographic is a great point. Undoubtably there was a special connection to Senna. But I seem to remember that Alesi (Japanese wife) and drivers such as J. Villeneuve and Hakkinen were also popular in their day. Somehow I can't imagine the young female crowd being such high subscribers to pay-TV (in share terms), though don't have that data.

I would add that;

- I was impressed with recent jam-packed race day hard core crowds at the 2007 (unbelievably bad logistics) and 2008 (they all came back!) Fuji races. But was struck last year at the number of empty seats over the finish straight at Suzuka. Was able to move seat to the start-finish line. May be a sense of disconnect between the ticket prices (esp. this part of the track) and the economic times. Last year our tickets were corporate freebies that no one seemed interested in. May be the trends outlined in this discussion are starting to cut into even the hard core support.


Fuji terrestrial used to be quite good, but they shifted to appeal for novices and capture new audiences while leading veteran fans into subscribing satelite channel to watch live coverage. It's shame and mistake I reckon, coz I think catering for serious fans would eventually make more people seriously interested in the sport. I think tho that Fuji terrestrial coverage, however awful, is essential to keep F1 popularity afloat and acquire new viewers.

Not sure about male/female ratio for casual fans.. i feel it's 7/3.

Senna was a god everywhere tho. and powered by Honda apparently added oil to the fire. JB's popularity here doesnt grow somehow, even tho he'd been "prince of Honda" (as fuji guy put it back then) for long time. Kimi certainly was more popular, both among male and female, but that's same for rest of the world too.


Report even a single mention about anything to do with the sport. This is counter productive, surely as it limits the 'word' as such, to some degree. Overall, the F1 picture is not rosy for various reasons. Lack of Japanese drivers, lack of Japanese teams or engines, etc. I feared that when Toyota got bored with it's exercise, Fuji TV would also pull the plug but thankfully it didn't. So it shows that at least there still is some value to be had from the brand in Japan, at least not at the levels of the Senna years, anyway.


Here in the USA the coverage is on cable by Speed TV and it is pretty crap, especially the commentary. You cannot just have cable and watch F1, you must still pay extra for a bunch more crap channels.....you cannot pick and choose. So I have never paid for it and probably never will.

I get up at 4:30am to watch races live from Europe on my computer. Some guy in England or maybe India puts the BBC on line live for nothing. It is great coverage like you all see in England, but in the afternoon there. The only ones here at a decent time are Canada and Brazil. I do not know how it will all pan out with Sky etc. Bernie probably hates us for watching for free, and for a time they kept blocking the signal coming here for free. But somehow this guy has figured it out, and good for him. The BBC's coverage is intelligent, ex-drivers who know what they are talking about, informed information, and it keeps me awake. It will be a shame if this all disappears. But Bernie is all about money and power, and for his type that is all that matters. Sad days for F1.


I've never had an issue with Speed's coverage, and sometimes preferred it over BBC (or perhaps ITV? Can't remember which it was when I had access to both).

One major advantage of Speed over TSN's use of the BBC feed in Canada was a pre-race show that was longer than 5 minutes, and post-race coverage that didn't abruptly end after interviews.

Also, Bernie probably realizes that completely free-to-air in the USA wouldn't work, as none of the big channels (ABC, CBS, etc) would pay for it, especially with no commercials.


F1 is far too contrived these days - Button/Brawn winning a WDC is the ultimate proof of that.

I too have lost my desire to put up with the terrible direction F1 has gone - the aero is extremely excessive, and drivers are handicapped by the cars - driver skill is almost entirely irrelevant these days.

It would be a safe bet to assume that F1 has lost its core audience, as it no longer offers geniune hardcore racing.

DRS was the nail in the coffin for me...


One thing to note btw is that the free to air races in Japan are aired pretty much right after the race finishes. My friend pays for the subscription and when I got to watch at his place it always starts around 9. Another friend of mine she does not have the subscription and she can watch from around 11 if I remember correct. So it's not aired a whole lot later and not at a very insane time of day either.

Also I doubt Japanese teams being involved or not has really anything to do with it. My japanese friends who like F1 are mostly into teams like Ferrari, mclaren and drivers like Hamilton etc. So pretty much the big names, just like the rest of the world.

Lets be honest, how much more would somebody care if there is a team from their country? You cant like the sport just because of a single team, you will like the sport as a whole. Having a toyota or honda there isnt going to turn somebody who doesnt care about F1 into somebody that does care.


Your friends are pretty avid fans that provide part of the stable base that James was referring to.

It's the casual fans that read in a newspaper that Kamui is on pole and tipped to win the race, and then say to themselves "oh, I'd like to see that!", and then tune in... but if they read that Kamui qualified 17th, they don't bother.

And yes, it matters. F1 got significantly more coverage in Canada when Jacques Villeneuve was winning. I could read about it in papers... now the papers out of Toronto don't even mention it when the Canadian GP is on.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James - I think the decline in Japan is a reflection of the change in their culture. Anything automotive has taken a huge shift from performance orientation towards environmental bias. Similarly you have a generation coming through now that have no interest in cars, spending their money on other gadgets instead. You only need to look at the car sales figures and breakdown to see this change. Therefore in Japan amongst the younger generation, F1 (and cars in general) have started to lose their relevance.


This of course is the biggest concern of the whole 'pay tv' debate. It is good money, but it limits growth, your analogy about boxing is perfectly true! I can't name a single boxer and I can't tell you when last I even HEARD someone talk about boxing, never mind when last I actually saw some boxing! Its like the sport has disappeared from the world.

Pay TV is fine, but it must be cheap, spread wide, mass marketing NOT cream marketing, (high price few buyers) with constant advertising in the public.

I would suggest €5 a race, available on the internet as a downloadable, recordable stream so that even slow lines make it available. Perhaps even a €1 post event download to make it really cheap to watch as a 'non-live' option.

Think Global CVC!


Lack of participation by Honda and Toyota et al might have some bearing on the interest in F1 in Japan.- After all the Japanese are number 1 in the mainstream global car market.

Honda and Senna were a magic combo. F1 is thepoorer for the lack of Japanese manufacturers. With all the shenanigans in F1 these days I don't blame the Japanese for not turning up. The F1 business isn't fair or transparent enough to warrant the massive investment required to be successful in F1.F1 needs to adopt some green credentials to get the japanese interested.


The Japanese (Honda) were involved in the 60s and left. Returned in the 80s and left, returned in the 00's and have left. Something tells me they will be back.


I don't think that the UK audience will decline by as much as people think because it isn't simply a question of whether or not the BBC's 6m viewers will rush out and buy Sky because a lot of them already have it! Many of Sky's subscribers pay the fees because of the sports available already such as boxing, tennis, football, cricket and golf and it seems likely that many of them will be among the BBC's F1 viewers. From now on they will simply watch it on Sky instead of the BBC so the real decline will only come from those sports fans who don't already have Sky and won't in future pay for it. Sadly, I agree with Sebee that these people are not the target market as they have shown that they either can't afford, or are unwilling, to spend on F1 and associated products in the way that the sport wants.


Hi James, interesting article there.

I think there's one thing missing though. Back in Senna's day Japanese football was a sorry affair, poor quality and poorly marketed. Since the establishment of the J-league though, football has gone from strength to strength with the Japanese team winning several Asian cups and doing decently in the World Cup, viewing figures have soared as a result.

As others have said, many casual sports fans in Japan are women and many of them are far more interested in football than F1. I think declining viewing figures is a problem that many sports other than football have had to cope with, including traditional ones like sumo wrestling.

As a result I'd be careful extrapolating what the effect of pay-to-view will be based on using Japan as an example.


Please go to this page to prevent the same thing happening in the uk http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Keep-F1-on-BBC/149121281832578 together we can prevent the loss of free to air coverage


No thanks. It's a GOOD thing - paying for something is the real test of true fans (as opposed to the millions of freeloaders here in the UK). I'll willingly pay and share my viewing with likeminded true fans.


LOL... F1 is a big advertising business - racing is very controlled, to ensure the sponsors all get value for their money.

Paying for adverts is just plain dumb.

F1 is dying for the very same reason - people want racing, not contrived racing for the benefit of the sponsors.


well fullblownseducer if you want to pay £50 a month to watch it in HD thats your choice.

But as a person who pays their TV licence and other taxes through work i hardly consider myself a freeloader

I haven't missed a single live race in twenty years so yeah i'm dedicated

For your info if F1 goes from free to air in this country to pay TV it could damage the sport you say you are a true fan of but then again a comment like yours is just intended to wind people up anyway


Well everybody i entitled to an opinion but most of the experts agree that moving to sky will be very bad for F1 in this country.

part of the problem is the way sky i set up so you would have to pay £600 a year to watch the ten races you cant see on the BBC live. now if all you had to pay was something around the £20 mark that would be fair IE only paying for and receiving F1.

It would have been better recived if the BBC had said they will show full races delayed rather than highlights programs. personaly speaking if i could afford sky i would get it but i cant i have a three year old daughter to support and a wife who is being made redundant. so im being priced out of a sport i have followed passionately and defended for over twenty years. I also fear for the ability of the new sharing between sky and the BBC to generate new fans for the sport. A football match with Manchester utd only got 1.6 million viewers on sky at the weekend and that is the uk's most popular club in the most popular sport ( dont like football personaly )so F1 is not going to better that


No, not intended as a wind up - just the truth (which many, many people on here seem to dislike hearing from the other side of the argument - the sense of entitlement in the UK is of Everest-scale proportions. I say: hey, welcome to the real world, people everywhere else pay for F1 coverage - why not the UK? - I'm happy to normalize things and pay like everone else - you're arguing to continue being the exception to the rule (you might be the majority in the UK, but you're a small, small minority in global terms.)


If SKY is unable to attract any additional subscribers as a result of F1, SKY will need to recover the cost from its existing subscribers through a premium higher priced service which will also limit the appeal.

So the question is: Can the UK public resist signing up for SKY? If so, F1 will back with terrestrial tv unless SKY is prepared to make continued losses.


Well this member of the public will definitely not be signing up for Sky.

F1 and BTCC are the only sport I watch on TV and I'm not paying SkySports a subscription to watch a few hours of F1 every month. BTCC is fortunately still available free to air although not in HD. It's a pity Freeview HD doesn't carry ITV4 HD.


Sky will not make a loss and F1 will never fully return to free TV. Look up the Wiki on "pay per view" TV. In boxing, the pay per view earnings per fight are absolutely enormous. If even a faction of the current F1 audience signs up to view the "other half" of the season, Sky will be rolling in cash. And many will; they won't be able to resist.


The worst thing is that you can't jsut subscribe for the F1 coverage alone. You have to have SKY sports. Also, because SKY cynically move coverage around between SKY Sports 1 and SKY Sports 2 from one month to the next, you have to subscribe to both in order to guarantee you get the full coverage. It really is appalling in that respect!

Also, I believe there is a monopolies law preventing companies like EMI and SONY from promoting and selling their own concert tickets, hence companies such as Ticketmaster. How come SKY don't fall foul of this when touting their Pay Per View broadcasts? Essentially you are buying a ticket to view a broadcast from the company that owns the broadcast.


James Off topic technical question affecting 2014.

How is oil, water, hydraulic fluid etc circulated in current F1 cars? eg is it by convection or pump? If pump, is it driven off engine or is it separate electrical pump?

This will affect heat level in pits in 2014, currently engine is running circulating fuel (used to cool exhaust in some I believe) but if engine stops then fuel vapour lock may occur.


5.11 Engine auxiliaries:

With the exception of electrical fuel pumps engine auxiliaries must be mechanically driven directly from the engine with a fixed speed ratio to the crankshaft.


That pretty much answers it. No real worries about vapour lock, but they might want to figure something out to keep the oil and water moving, if that's thought to be an issue (it might not even be a problem at all).

Maybe the electric motor can also turn over the engine, even if it's not firing; that way, it will get airflow through the engine to cool it and also circulate oil and water. They say the engine must be "off", but it doesn't say anything about it not rotating, as far as I know.


James, is there a way to contact you outside of the comments?


I never thought I would say this.... Indy car racing is 10 times more exciting than F1. Don't even get me started talking about Aussie V8 supercars! For all of F1's rule tinkering, they still are about 1, maybe 2, and on rare occassion 3 teams, duking it out for the title...This year's title was settled WELL before the mid way point of the season... The decline of Japanese fans is emblematic of the snooze fest that is modern F1


Hello James, you spoke in your article about Honda pulling out of the sport in 1992. However, I have a question regarding Mugen-Honda. I know that Mugen is not a Honda subsidiary and was established by a Honda family member, but were these engines developed in house by Mugen, with the Honda name being used under licence?


I believe they were Honda blocks that were tuned and developed by Mugen. I recall commentators discussing the different engine performance of the BAR and Jordan teams and putting it partly down to the former having works Honda engines and the latter having Mugen Honda engines despite them both being essentially the same piece of kit.


What role will the internet have on attracting more fans?

Are today's younglings too busy playing World of Warcraft and fooling around on the internet's social networking sites to be watching TV. Back before the internet, there was little else to do at night but watch TV. Now days, kids rarely need a TV anymore (internet and mobile phones). So where are tomorrow's fans going to come from?

Will the gaming industry will play a larger role in pulling new fans. The game F1 2011 is so realistic and anyone playing it will probably become a fan....


I suppose it is what develops while you are growing up, my generation are telly addicts, we went from one tv per street to the current HD.

Ok we also in the same period saw the development of the personal computer from the original Apple, commodore etc kits at £3000 each through ZX81, Auric, WPC8256 then the IBM series. So some of us are computer addicts too. The current young generation came in with mobiles already sized and weighed less than bricks and cannot understand how we used to stop and use a phone box. BUT they watch F1 on the telly, the free telly, but that is about to change next year when many of us give up in disgust.


Yes, I remember those old mobile phones.

Kids will probably only watch F1 on TV if someone in their family is watching (like their fathers). But if no one is watching F1 on TV, I don't believe children will all of a sudden adopt an interest in F1. If what you say is true, that UK fans will boycott in droves, then there will be a reduction in viewers which could affect the sport in the future.

However it is still not clear cut whether we will see such a huge reduction in viewers in the UK.

The success of Lewis and Jenson will play a role in viewer retention. Improved broadcasts from Sky (more information like radio transmissions and viewer selectable camera angles) may persuade many the the dark side.

But, I agree with James that the popularity of F1 runs in cycles, and at the moment it is at its peak. My interest dipped when I used to fall asleep during races when Schumacher disappeared into the distance. But when Webber scored fifth in the Australian GP with Minardi - I was hooked (still am).


[Kids will probably only watch F1 on TV if someone in their family is watching (like their fathers).]

Yes you are right and that's exactly what happened. My young son and daughter never missed a race since they started watching from the 2006 race at Monaco. My first experience watching a live race was around 1966 at the Thomson Road Grand Prix circuit, but that was only Formula 2. Now it's a family affair yearly.

I am grateful that F1 has come to Singapore and Malaysia.


I don't know what's all that big buzz about pay TV. In other countries we pay for a Premium package, be it cable or satellite TV signal. In some of those packages comes racing, premiere league, NFL, NHL... Don't wanna pay, fine, there's the free-to-view TV. Yes it has F-1, delayed, edited and hardly without the podium ceremonies and lots of commercial spots.

With all due respect to Brits, stop complaining or go bezerk and destroy Bernie's facilities just as we witnessed the riots in London days ago.


Having followed Formula 1 for over 20 years, when you try and look at what were the major points for Formula 1 in Japan, one, it was the draw of the Senna magnet, Senna always appreciated the love from the Japanese people and especially how they became warm to him and his way up to F1, secondly you had these massive Formula 1 showdowns at Suzuka from Prost-Senna to Schumacher-Hakkinen. However I also think that an engine manufacture like Honda could afford to be more aggressive and focus totally on the engine, however, not only an all in one in house project could be more costly but the focus and attention, spreading of resources across Engine/Chassis could be huge and a team like Williams as did McLaren can focus more on chassis tuning and optimizing the car machanically and let their engine partner do what they do on the engine side and you have this great mix. One would have to look at Renault, they win more titles as an engine supplier like Honda used too. Honda has a great history in Formula 1 and to see them say goodbye to Formula 1, its always a sad thing.

For Me Kobayashi, i rate him as one of the best drivers to come from Japan, but climbing up in Formula 1 can be like snakes and ladders which can drag you down at the bottom, not only your results that can take you to the top but to also be allowed a room where you can get support but also need a team that can look you in the eye and tell you its ok to make mistakes and not show you the door. I also think this also applies in life that you need to lose in order to win, Ferrari lost 20 world championships before they could strike like a hot iron with 5 titles. Somehow, failure can be the first step in Formula 1 to become a world championship winning team.

Lastly the points gap has become too much that when there was a 10 point allocation, it could guarantee showdowns, the points are a factor, i think there is a huge gap between and i also think that Formula 1 dishes out too many penalties each race, if you look at the amount hamilton has and Schumacher, its ernomous, people like to see wheel to wheel action, they would love to see someone be put on the grass, they would love to see someone shutting the door and you need to see those breathtaking manouvres, I also think that with many penalties dished out each race, drivers will avoid being agressive and fear being punished, we need to see more of overtaking manouvres making some world records. For Me I would love to see Formula 1 relaxing punishment because when double standards apply some people avoid penalties and others get it for similar thing and if each races penalties are dished out, they would interfere with the outcome of the championship and we could be talking of Hamilton leading the championship had you taken away all these penalties, however, clearly defining what is a race incident and what is not, even a rocket scientist would have a hard time figuring that one out, its similar to a safety car, there were moments and I could pull a string of them where the safety car was supposed to be put out but decided against. Somehow if Formula 1 could create a blacklist of what is not permissible in Formula 1 and let everyone know the house rules of Formula 1, it would be better.


Why shouldn't we complain if something is taken away? What so many people just don't seem to get is the fact that we ALREADY PAY to watch F1 as it stands, and that we are being asked to pay ANOTHER extortionate amount to keep watching it live.

As for the riots, that's just being insensitive and an ar*e. Yeah, like you haven't had riots in your country before!


Bernie reveals in an interview that it was the BBC that effectively blocked the Channel 4 deal.


Hi James will you do preview of the fantastic Spa circuit? It is one of the highlights of the season and the year!


I will go to Sky, but won't like it. We should learn from Japan and not go the subscriber channel route.


In regards to Toyota, I remember the team getting a lot of flack for not being so successful for having such a large "budget", but to be fair them, they did start out from ground zero unlike other teams having already been in for so many years or in the case of Red Bull, buying out a team that already existed.

I hope I don't sound a bit ignorant with this, but if memory serves correct, the Japanese hierarchy is such that if someone is so much as a junior to someone they could not question the decision and I think it was mentioned at some point why Toyota and Honda were somewhat behind on the development front because it was actually relatively slow.

For Honda, when Ross Brawn came in, it became more of a dicusssion and positive steps were made including post-session debriefs being a lot longer!

It's a shame that this is happening with Japan, but hopefully once the global economy picks up again we'll see something of a resurgence from them.


The Same problem will effects MotoGP

Valentino Rossi has cast qualm over journey to Motegi in October

see the news: http://motogponlive.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-really-dont-think-ill-be-going-to.html

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