The other Hamilton raises questions over the excellence of F1 show
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Jan 2018   |  8:42 am GMT  |  334 comments

I went to the theatre this week to see Hamilton, the musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, which is now running in London.

Many have written more eloquently than I ever could about how extraordinary this show is, but what struck me most about it was how everything was of the highest quality. The writing, the music, the staging, the rapping, the choreography – it was perfect.

Hamilton sets new standards for what is possible in musical theatre and the response from the public is clear; good luck getting a ticket for this side of June 2019.

What might seem to some a tired old format, people singing and dancing on a stage, has been reinvented, proving that nothing becomes obsolete if it is brilliant.

It makes one wonder about what Formula 1 is trying to do in presenting itself as a show, as an entertainment as well as a sport.

You see, when I am asked to sum up what I think the USP of Formula 1 is I would say “excellence”. What I see up close every two weeks at race tracks around the world is excellence; the engineering, the driving standard, the pits stops, the logistics, the attention to detail, the safety standards.

Pretty much everyone there is striving for excellence – certainly among the competitors – and that sets a culture for everyone else in the sport, it raise the standards of everyone who comes into contact with it; suppliers, organisers, sponsors, TV companies, you name it.

The culture is of relentless self-improvement, that’s what a lot of companies see when they consider sponsoring F1 or one of its teams and they often trade on those values in their marketing and activation around the sport.

However, that doesn’t always come across on TV.

And, more broadly, you don’t need me to tell you that in recent years, the show that F1 has put on has disappointed, for various reasons.

Some very poor decisions have been made, like the farcical qualifying format we suffered at the start of 2016 and this stream of wrong moves has diminished the impression of excellence in the eyes of many fans.

When people switch on the TV they want to see the best drivers in the world driving the fastest cars, ideally in stunning locations. And they want to see a competition, with real highlights.

Like in a theatre, they also want compelling storylines and to some extent we have had those with our own Hamilton in F1 and the ups and downs of his story as well as his duels with Rosberg and Vettel, the renaissance of Ferrari, the arrival of Verstappen and so on. The cast in F1 is pretty good, we just need to do better at bringing out the characters.

So in looking to see where Chase Carey and his team build this sport, to make sure they fill the theatres every time, now that the honeymoon period is over and the work begins in earnest, they really want to start by looking at what makes F1 special, which is excellence and not accept anything that undermines that.

As Zak Brown blogged here last week, the plan for 2018 and beyond envisages a revamp of the TV coverage of the sport to try to showcase better the spectacle and the storylines.

Many fans have already made their feelings known on how the arrival of the halo on the cars will affect their appreciation of the beauty of the cars. My concern with the halo is that it is another thing that distances the driver from the fans, at a time when the major push is to bring the fans closer to the sport.

But a whole new approach is needed to what an F1 car should look like from 2021 onwards if this show is really going to fly into the next decade.

Just like in the theatre, where so many elements have to come together for the show to be ‘perfect’, F1 is complex, with technical rules, the rule making process, varying team budgets and many other factors that have dictated the quality of the show in recent years.

This is the nub of the argument between F1 and teams like Ferrari and Mercedes who don’t want to ‘dumb down’ the engines or other aspects of the sport.

But there has to be a compromise here; excellence doesn’t have to mean complexity. Some of the most perfect things ever created by man have been very simple.

In a busy world, people appreciate simple things done to the highest standards.

The F1 Strategy Group met in London yesterday and discussed details about bargeboards and rear wing heights. Let’s hope, as we move forward in redefining the sport over the coming months, that they remember to always put excellence first.

Otherwise the theatres could have a few more empty seats in future.

What do you think about this? What to you is the most important thing to present in F1? Leave your comments below

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Not bad Mr Allen, you seem to speak more sense here than on TV. Sorry about that. I know the TV world requires a certain kind of entertainment shall we say. Your original Notebook on ITV Sport was great and thanks for letting us fans get involved with a dude who’s in Formula One.


Ted Kravitz did the Notebook, not me !


Well, here in Australia we now have all but one race locked behind a horrific paywall. Sure I can afford it, but I do not want to give my money to the despicable human being sitting at the top of that particular food chain.

F1’s willingness to sacrifice viewership in exchange for broadcast rights dollars is not helping its numerous problems. Couple that with a dysfunctional governing body, the vested interests of a bunch of megalomaniacs etc and it’s no surprise that the “pinnacle of motorsport” is actually putting out the worst racing of pretty much any motorsport format. How perverse and laughable is that? I think we sometimes forget, but your average F1 race is typically awful these days, with the good races being the exception rather than the norm.


Am I the only one who can never see replies to my posts online, despite always receiving emails from JAF1 that indicate their existence?


Sometimes Gary there is an exceptional long lag between posting and hitting the site. I always read your posts and often see them. Are you saying that there are many more that simply vanish?


I’m 44 yrs old now and have watched f1 since I was old enough to sit up straight on my own, I have some great memories through my childhood and teenage years sat with my nan screaming in excitement at the TV as the races unfolded.

The cars were loud, the drivers were on the ragged edge and there was always a sense of impending danger, it made each and every move or overtake an event.

As you approached the circuit you could hear the cars from 2 miles away which just built the excitement to near fever pitch. The cars when you were there almost seemed alive such was the noise, I was both in awe of them and a little bit afraid at the same time.

F1 right now is a mere shell of what it used to be.

I know everyone will frown at me for this but for me all it would take is a return to a proper n/a engine to bring the excitement back, current f1 is about as exciting as dish water especially with hamilton/mercedes winning everything, yaaawn.

These days I watch the WEC instead, the racing is fast and exciting and the drivers actually race and push, it’s a genuine thrill to watch, everything f1 isn’t anymore.


f1 is a lot better now than it has ever been with cars smashing lap record after lap record by much better skilled drivers and the cars look light years ahead of those old awkward looking things.
if you still think f1 was more exciting in the past, lost a link of video footage from that era which is more exciting than this.


@ jason clark…A very good post. Many will agree with you.


I was getting ready to attach Hamilton, then I realised it was the wrong one. Oh well, better luck next time.

Great article.


It is an interesting comparison, but ultimately it is not fair to compare a stage show with live sport. A sporting competition (whether its F1, football, rugby, etc) is unpredictable – sometimes it is thrilling, sometimes not. With a stage show, it may be great – but if you go back the next night, it will be the same. And the same the day after that, and so on. It may be great, but it will be predictable. So sport trying to imitate art is not the answer. But F1 can do a better job of bringing the fans along. Let’s see the drivers’ heart rates. Let’s have some kind of tool the comentators can use that shows more clearly where a Hamilton or a Verstappen is clearly faster because of a piece of skill, not just because the car is better. More radically, I’d be in favor of running the race in two halves, with the second half starting with the grid reversed (an aggregate time of both halves deciding the winner) so that we see more overtaking. (Would also mean that the cars could be lighter – less fuel needed – and use the fastest tyre compounds).


if they want to learn from stage shows, they should know that fans do not tell the producers what they want to see.


@ Aveli…Wrong again. Fans do tell producers what they want to see. They tell them via the most open and public way…they stay away. Nothing invokes producers to engage with their audiences quicker that a box office flop.


Aside from the aesthetic of the cars, I think F1 needs to look at it’s venues. Some circuits are uninspiring and too similar to inspire fans. Honestly I couldn’t tell Abu Dhabi and Singapore apart if I was a casual fan, the same goes for Bahrain, Malaysia, China etc. They just have no variety. If you compare that to most of the European circuits, each one has a unique look and character.

So I think F1 has to look at its strategy towards race hosting and whether it is more lucrative to push for high race fees or to go for cheaper more popular venues and provide their own streaming service direct to the fans.

If something like WWE can charge £9.99 for their own network and back catalogue of shows, F1 should be looking to do something similar.


Me : Hon, how about we fly down to Melbourne for the F1 GP ?

Hon : Babe, it’s kinda boring and not very exciting on TV, I’m not fussed about going to a race.

Me : Excitement? Who needs excitement? Think of the excellence !

We’ll be staying home.
Started going to GPs in ‘85.
Been to about 25 I reckon.
I don’t go anymore.
And I can’t see that I’ll be terribly interested in watching anything on TV either.
But, by all means, please work on the “excellence”.


If the teams can agree to a change in car design for their sponsors signage, then why don’t they agree on a change on design which will allow cars to race more closely. Which design change do you think will improve the show????


@ Antpic…because they know that Ferrari would veto it. Can’t have anything to challenge Ferrari’s best interests!!!!


But won’t Ferrari benefit as well???


Not necessarily.


For me it is so simple. Simply cut back the red tape and let the manufacturer,s make the cars go as fast as possible. You wanna put a super duper electric turbo on it ?? Go for it!! Make them as noisy as possible?? Go for it!! after three years the public will demand more rules as the bigger teams will have won everything and there will be no small teams left. Then the rules will come back and the smaller teams will come back. The FIA will make F1 affordable and evryone will want the rules better. There you go simple.
Therefore I can say you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don,t. Thats F1its almost impossible to find a solution??!!??!!


Make it simpler, easier to understand for new viewers.

Make sure rules and regulations are clear, monitored and uphold in a very clear, unbiased, way.

Introduce re-fueling again, no more saving fuel. F1 can do a lot more in terms of being sustainable than save a bot of fuel.

Drivers should be more open to the media and the fans… Like NASCAR, IndyCar or WEC (And I am fm Europe.


Formula one is so restrictive now, to the point of there being penalties for everything under the sun. The appearance of the cars is bordering on ridiculous with so many aero appendages sticking out every where, and now we’ll have a massive halo on top of everything. After decades of passionately following the sport, this fan has little or no passion for it any longer.


its so stupidly simple: make the fuel on board and tires such that there is no limit to how fast the driver can go. You will get a spectacle instantly and identify the guys who are really fast.


Not bothered anymore. Just cancelled Sky – they asked why. I said its because of the halo and drivers who want mega bucks and not willing to put it on the line. No one deliberately seeks to see any driver killed or maimed and yet on weekends throughout the year all over the world other non mega buck drivers lay it all on the line every time they take the starting grid.


That’s the spirit! #nohalo


Watched the Grand Tour over the weekend – always excellent! never ever disappoint… last one was a case in point, especially the article on the World Rally Championship ‘tween Audi and Lancia…. all the tricks – plotting – drama – just brilliant, but SO importantly all on terrenstial TV and a collective experience for all. Ask anyone over a certain age and we all know Hannu Mikkola – Stig Blomqvist etc etc.. Okay I accept the predictable rant of an older chap, but drifting into pay or streaming mode can only diminish the audience. I am a huge WRC fan, so big I’ve not watched it for two years…. and last when I did, fragmented and cheap coverage shouted loud. To be fair to the participants – there’s a good show there – already! Fiddling with the rule – overtaking / faster – all good – keep it going – but I feel the trick is in the presentation more than the show. The content is good – less Ron and Bernie some true personalities may emerge – they’re all there – let them flourish! And present it better too…. on free to view…


As many others have mentioned, the problem with the “show” is twofold. First is the production. Hours of talking to fill the gap pre-race, and then the same again post race, with often very little of interest said. I don’t care about celebrities on the grid, it’s sometimes excruciating to watch. And then we have the often baffling choices of the director of what is shown, many times killing any excitement that might be happening. I’ve taken to watching the official highlights on YouTube rather than the Channel 4 coverage as it boils down the key points of the race quite nicely.

And I say “might be happening” because the racing itself is often dull. The unpredictability of racing was always one of F1’s highlights. Engines blowing, running out of full, cars getting beached in the gravel etc. All of these things meant that you often had no idea what the finishing order would be (or who would finish at all), and meant that you couldn’t turn away for fear of missing something. Now? I feel I could doze off and not miss anything major.

So what do we need? More excitement and unpredictability on the track, and less bloated production. How do we get that? IMO by removing many of the driver aids and complications so that we see more of the drivers skill, and replacing the concrete runoff areas with gravel. I’d love to see cars with only enough just fuel to finish at full pelt with no engine or fuel modes, meaning that it’s the driver themselves that manages the fuel simply by their driving style. And tracks where one mistake leaves the driver beached and cursing his luck (or the opponent who forced them off). And for the production, make the pre and post race shows shorter, and during the race, show the race, not the pit-stops by Sauber and 100 replays of the start.


@ james C …good post. Well said. Unfortunately none of that will happen!!!


I fear quite simply F1 has lost itself.

When you say ‘the cast is good we just need to bring out the characters’, well sadly im afraid there doesnt seem much scope for that. Corporate image/money and PR people have seen to that. Drivers dont say anything interesting anymore. Heaven forbid they do anything ‘out of line’, Vettels wheel bump this year was action / story but too many vanilla types responded ‘like someone peed in their milkshake’ (i am no vettel fan). This is truth, just look back at the recent Mansell article on this website and we realise the years that made F1 great.

The new tracks are too flat, too much safe tarmac run off, too wide, too boring, make cars look slow (Exemption given to COTA) ….Ticket prices are too high to attend.

The cars are way less physical (even with the 2017 aero changes), sound unimpressive. (I do agree with modern safety on cars though)

We have this ridiculous situation where engines are so ‘green’ and environmentally friendly while we know this is image driven and not anywhere close to the whole footprint of the engine programs. All the while we maintin this charade going through bucket loads of tyres that get freighted around the world! Ha.

The distribution of money is cartel like.
This system was built so manufacturer interest was stabilised and Bernie could pocket more money for the fat cats cvc. Thats great for them but sucks for the ‘sport’ – unpredictability etc.

Bernie took us away from FTA tv and so the sponsors have dwindled, affecting mostly the small teams and generally the broad appeal of F1.

Jean Todt continues to use leverage to maintain his ‘democratic’ position in the FIA, seemingly for the purpose of progressing his political career. FIA is supposed to be our sporting body while they attend to road safety? I want a sporting body that gives a damn!

So….F1 exists off its former glory while pissing itself away. Frankly the problems are too big.


Drivers need to be able to hang onto the gbx of the guy in front, to push him into mistakes. The complex aero of cars prevents this. Reduce aero grip and inc mech grip


As a partial response to the technological and financial burrows that F1 and other open wheeler formulae dig for themselves, in Australia there’s an attempt to bring back raw lower-tech racing with the creation of a modern F5000 competition using engines from the Australian V8 touring car competition in a new chassis.

This is a clip of a Super5000 car from the Adelaide Motorsport Event in December 17 on part of the old Adelaide F1 GP circuit.


@ Bob….Bodywork/design is naff but the sound is oh so sweet…if only?


kenneth, you’re right about the look of the cars. It’ll be interesting to see if they can pull together decent fields and provide some close, entertaining racing.


For me its the closeness of the racing but that sadly has been diminished over the past few years as one team totally dominates.

I believe F1 was run into the ground on selfish ideologies and hopefully after a year of Liberty Media ownership, they will have learnt not be so selfish and put the sports best interests above any owner, team or driver.

Also concerning is the lack of free to air coverage and after hearing what is soon to happen in Italy it paints a bleak future for the sport if a fan / audience member can not access at an affordable price.

One last item is the ticket price to entry and specifically at Silverstone – about 180 pounds for the Sunday race, that is ridiculous when you can go to the Austrian GP for about 90 Euros…something needs to be done here.


“As Zak Brown blogged here last week, the plan for 2018 and beyond envisages a revamp of the TV coverage of the sport to try to showcase better the spectacle and the storylines.”

I’d like to be able to comment on how good the spectacle of the showcasing of F1 in 2018 will be, only I won’t be able to since it is now behind a paywall here in Australia


Oh God, spare us the US obsession with “the storylines”, which is now blighting so many things on UK TV. I don’t need 20 minutes of back story about the challenges faced by A. N. Driver because their auntie Pauline survived a minor ailment or trivial setback in their lives.


@ mr banana,….. You’re too late…it’s coming.


I see the new indy cars are designed to run close to each other next year in races because 66% of their downforce will be generated by the floor. for me the lack of f1 cars being able to do just that, get close and really have a go at each other has been one of the biggest issues for the last 15+ years. why do you think f1 hasnt taken the same approach to the aero side in order to improve the racing and the show?




The difference is ‘Indy’ had to start making good moves beacuse open wheelers wars destroyed both series in US.
Only when we tear F1 down can we rebuild it from the bottom.


Good question, the F1 cars need to generate a lot more downforce to get the lap times they have, but I’ll do something on that, adding it to the list Thanks


@ James…Have you had time over the break to read Newey’s latest book? I mention that as a direct corollary to the matter of downforce. Newey cut his teeth on downforce and ground effect especially during his time in Indy cars early on. What chances are there that you could entice him to pen an article for us ?


Yes really interesting


@ James…. Did you find it ‘illuminating’ in regards to certain elements that have been presented differently in the past? I certainly did.


You make a good point that the essence of F1, the sport, is the attention to detail and the strive to achieve excellence on all levels.

Its a bit like comparing Bangkok to Tokyo. The attention to detail is strikingly apparent when your in Tokyo however the grit and raw energy of Bangkok stirs excitement.

F1 needs both. I think we agree that the attention to detail is well covered, its the former that we are struggling with and In my opinion that trait is what we refer to as the element of danger, tampering with it is wrong. Safety car wet starts, halo, you name it. This was not meant to be a family friendly sport ( the word sport being used loosely to describe what is essentially a serious business).

Racers that are comfortable and afraid, like Alonso, need to find another sport. its not for them, no matter how well they appear to drive. If you want to raise a family – great – retire like Nico did. Otherwise leave our sport alone. It was great before you and it will survive without you.

Does there really need to be a compromise here ? Some of the most perfect things ever created by man have been very simple – yes on the outside – that’s whats so perfect but in reality what appears to be very simple is in fact complex to create.

Nature always reminds us that its through disorder, that we achieve what appears to be as order. Its simplistic to think otherwise.


What makes you think Alonso is afraid? Of what?


I think that he’s suffered some close calls in his recent crashes and this has taken something from him which I feel he needs to prove to himself he still has what it takes.

Indy was such an event. When a racer needs to prove to himself that hes’ still fast, then I think its over – at least on an F1 level.

Indy 500, in its current format, is ridiculously insane. Your in a race car that is driving you more than your driving it, in a field of second tier drivers. Surely that’s not comfort, but his F1 seat is.


@ James…you beat me to it. Alonso, ‘comfortable and afraid’!! What a complete nonsense. Watching Alonso throw his car around is more aptly described as being relatively ‘fearless’, the same as his daring raid on the Indy 500, which, had the Honda engine not let go, he stood a great chance of winning. Comfortable and afraid….?


Not sure Alonso stood a “great chance” of winning. He was already falling behind somewhat as the race was gearing up, as it does towards the end. Chilton and Sato were 1-2 up front, with Alonso in 7th, when his engine blew. That front group stayed the same for quite a while, so much so that I feared Chilton might actually win it!

I’m guessing the OP was thinking about how Alonso is a firm backer of the Halo. But it’s silly to then say he’s afraid … Alonso would race with the Halo or without, that’s clear.


When I do track days today, I can tell you that at times I feel like I am a passenger, strapped in that seat, thinking of times gone by when such thoughts never entered my mind…… well I describe it as a form of fear. Its oddly comfortable but its not racing anymore.


@ TC…Track days in what?


Off topic, does anyone know what channel will cover F1 in the states?




Sitting at the computer trying to book 2018 tickets
F1 fans are getting ripped off
Paris Formula e €40
Le Mans 24 hour €85
Paul Ricard £185 ( general access cheapest stand €275)
German GP had discounts in 2016 but not this year and even with free parking it is going to put a dent in my holiday fund
Now for €40 euros in the middle of Paris that’s like tickets to Hamilton but Paul Ricard in the middle of nowhere and no gurantee of a good show is taking the preverbial. No wonder some tracks are struggling to sell a full F1 ticket quota.
TV coverage is dire and mainly behind a paywall.
Liberty now face the challenge of trying to enthuse a twitface generation who get their music and video for free ( or close to it) Somehow I don’t think they are going to be as gullible as my generation.
Good luck


Check out historic racing events. Monaco, circa 60 Euros for the weekend. Race of the Ramparts, Angouleme, peanuts, Le Mans Historic race weekend, pocket money.
Who needs F1 with it’s penalties, PU’s, fuel flow management (subject to a penalty), halos and the Racing Prevention Committee aka Stewards?
(Yes I know drivers have always had to manage fuel consumption, but the only penalty then for getting it wrong was a failure to finish, not a reprimand or worse from a committee).
I hate to use the ‘P’ word, but what’s happened to the ‘passion’?


Agree and will do more Le mans this year . I am a bit spoilt as we have free road rallying events near me plus a fair amount of cheap motorsports events. Going to my first Formula e event this year (should prove interesting) F1 is the pinnacle but the days of going trackside on a whim have long gone.


“The rapping”


Haha, I read that and was also like 🤔😬

James, it’s “Hamilton got bars”, not, the “rapping was good” 😂

Is this another sign that “rapping” is over and done? I mean, here we’ve got a 50+ year old British guy talking about “good rapping”, while majority of the hit singles on the Urban Charts feature “mumble rap”, where you can understand a damn thing they say.


Excellence is in f1 yes but the competition is not there. There is still there management, fuel management and the drivers can’t follow and overtake. My diehard friends probably watched half the races last year as they don’t have sky and have no intention of getting it so when it all goes behind a pay wall well I will only have you guys to tell me what happened. I can easily admit I am not enjoying the sport as much as I used to and I am flabbergasted by the decisions being made as they seem devoid of fan interest. I will probably watch the first few races but almost guarantee I won’t be watching as much as last year.


happy birthday jolyon palmer!


I think the halo, once it was shown to reduce injuries from flying debris without reducing visibility, was always going to be introduced: how could you defend a lawsuit if someone got hit by something when we knew we had something that could have prevented it? The main concern for me is that Liberty are taking the wrong lessons from the fans: yes we want fast cars, but it was inevitable with the current design rules that overtaking would be impractical without a massive advantage. I would be intrigued to see if there could be a rule implemented to improve the ability of a car to follow the one in front.


Motor racing is so dangerous that the guardians of road safety the FIA will eventually stop it and we are all sleepwalking towards this!


how could you defend a lawsuit if someone got hit by something when we knew we had something that could have prevented it?

Simple, read the back of the ticket. It clearly states motor racing is a dangerous sport and that the promotors and circuit owners are not liable for any injuries that occur. The same goes for the teams and their drivers. You have to accept the risk to play the game.


The. Racing.


Re the handicapping, to make it fair both cars in the same team would get the same weight added, that way the better driver will not be disadvantaged in the same machinery.


I’d like to explore the idea of handicapping the cars – add a decreasing amount of weight to cars in finishing positions 1-10, none to the rest. Not too much, say 500gm down to 100gm in 50gm steps. Win five races and you’re carrying 2.5kg which should be worth a couple of tenths.


The fact is FTA is dead, with slip watching available, less and less people actually watch the advertising anymore, they just speed search through it. This has dramatically reduced the budget for FTA channels which means they can’t afford to pay what the promotors can get elsewhere. FTA channels are going broke all over the world. The only thing that keeps the BBC alive is the TV licence fees that people are forced to pay, even the ones who don’t watch the BBC.

Plus the fact is advertising and live sport don’t fit very well together, nothing annoys a sports fan more than going to an add break just when something exciting is happening. Or a 2 hour race with half an hour of adds, which is what would be required to pay for the rights. Some countries have “major sports on FTA” legislation but even that is disappearing fast (communist countries excluded).

All the bitching, whinging and moaning won’t change that, best to just forget about FTA and sports coverage, it’s gone and it’s never coming back because it’s just not economical for anyone involved. If we want to watch F1, like all the other sports, then we are going to have to pay for it. Whether that be pay TV, pay for view, web subscription and/or paying for the internet access for them.

Personally compared to the woeful FTA coverage we had to suffer through, the pay TV viewing is fantastic, all live with no adds, all the practise and qualifying sessions, no add breaks, driver and team manager interviews, uninterrupted coverage, Ted’s notebook, etc, did I mention no adds!


It’s not a simple equation. The promoters want to switch to a pay per view system because it is direct, guaranteed money, easy for them to budget ahead. But it severely restricts the global reach of the product. That is bad for sponsors who want to get their product in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Mr E would previously claim that it wasn’t an issue because he was interested in sponsors like Rolex where they only wanted customers able to afford paid subscriptions (and likely expensive watches). Liberty Media want to broaden the fan base which means promoting to the masses. I’m sure the likes of Heineken would be happier with 100m FTA viewers that couldn’t afford an expensive subscription, compared to 10m who could afford it (but probably drink champagne rather than lager).


How much do Sky pay you to write this?


Fundamental points James.

For a long time I have believed that many of F1’s current entertainment problems can be solved by significant change to driver contracting or the ‘cast’ as you put it.

If the drivers were drafted on merit and centrally contracted (to F1) and randomly allocated to drive for each team twice in the year, there would be much more entertainment.

Additionally, this strategy does not interfere with organic competition (like synthetic entertainment aids such as reverse grids) but will actually lead to a greater correlation between talent and success for both drivers and teams.

The big hurdle is commerciality, however this can be worked around considering the entertainment value of such a significant shift in the sport.

Imagine after a race weekend is completed, the driver lineup for the next race is announced and hamilton/Vettel are driving Toro rossos together for the next race…


That’s an interesting idea! I think I would like to see that but one problem would be that it would eliminate season long driver duels which are usually what define a season. You may end up with the top 3 drivers in the final championship standings having never competed with each other directly on track with equal equipment.


I think drivers driving for different teams in a single season is a terrible ide. Makes the whole thing into an exhibition.

What would be better is for new drivers coming up, for them to be drafted by the lowest ranking teams from the previous season, just like most other pro sports handle the draft. Have maximum size contracts for rookie rookies and 2nd year drivers.


Yes that’s been discussed of course. Very hard to do commercially, if you benchmark other team sports like NFL, English Premier League football etc. Understanding well how sponsors activate in F1, it’s hard to see how you could get value out of having Hamilton one minute, then not having him the next because another team is using him in their campaigns.

You’d have to take a completely different model for the funding of teams


@ James…Many many years ago i read an article about how the progression of F1 into the new millenium would be handled. It was suggested that in the future a ballot would be taken for the initial placement of drivers into teams. All teams would be driving identical cars from one dedicated manufacturer and owned and leased by the FIA. Qualifying would take place to set the benchmarks of performance rating and then post quali an auction would be held where teams would bid for their best choices based on their ‘quali’ pace. Thus the grid would be based on how much each team was prepared to pay for the driver that they wanted in the cars that they were running. It was an interesting speculation i thought. What it would do is allow for the cream to rise to the top and top drivers having to prove their ability to maintain their economic value. This process would be undertaken for each and every race. Quite interesting really as top drivers would be challenged more thoroughly based on their driving talent alone. One or two below par races and they would then be under pressure to perform and justify their $ value. Their personal take would also vary as they would only be paid per race as a percentage of the ‘sold’ auction price. Think about it…. that would be pure racing irrespective of any ‘baked in’ mechanical superiority like we currently see with Mercedes ,and Ferrari to a lesser degree.


For once James Allen is correct!


TV coverage getting better to focus on what ?

Mercedes continuing dominance?
Hamilton being a self-important primaDona fashionista?
Boring tracks?
Fuel saving and tire preservation?

I have already deserted F1 as a fan

What I want to see is what For nearly 20 years fans and many former drivers who had to wrestle the beasts when they had simple two-plane wings and simple elegant bodies have been howling for : a lessened focus on aero and greater focus on mechanical grip, all to be ignored by the FIA and whoever owns FOM

I have given up , F1 is dying and will not survive.

The decision makers have no balls, instead of outlawing the outrageously expensive budgets that pour millions into wings and fins and t-wings , instead of restrict fuel flow, restrict rev limits, and add ugliness called HALO, the answer is simplifying the aero, allowing full fuel flow and hi revs, they think that TV and social media will save the sport. This sport is rapidly dying, and I will never spend another penny on it. As a fan for 35 years, I have given up hope. The answers are simple, but F1 will die.


I agree, I just don’t understand why the owners can’t see it!!


Sad but true


@ db… a passionate response and one which many would also feel appropriate.


Desert harder…


1) The next market
60% of the worlds population lives in Asia. Much of it is under 15, and most importnatly, none of them has heard of F1 before.

The pinnnacle of motorsports is not interesting to them for reasons of nostalgia.

The circus has to travel far and wideit needs to be viewable and playable for a streaming audience.

2) Keep F1 “as is”
Bring the venue out to the travel destinations for the “old rich” and make it a niche product, with nostalgia and household names. Remnescant of the old times,

Bernie tried to go east, but stayed offline.
Liberty will go west and old rich, and back on air, but at a price.

I think it will be a difficult new decade.

Lets hope for closed canopy, no helmet, high G – short sprint F1 shows in 2026.
New engines, like hydrogen quasi turbine with full hybrid package.

Also: lower series F2 and F3 + F4 spreading out to other street circuits to build an audience.

my two cent


I am pleased to see that the F1 Strategy Group spent a day talking about bargeboards, because they are really important for all F1 fans.
The halo need not be a barrier to drivers. For instance, if it is painted in a distinctive colour for each driver in a team it will help to identify them. Larger numbers and 3 letter codes on cars have been added to help us see who is in the car, so why not a coloured halo?
I disagree that F1 needs to add ‘entertainment’ to be successful; but it must offer value for money to anyone who pays money to go to a grand prix. Tickets for Wimbledon are extortionately expensive, but people are willing to pay the cost because they will see the best players in the world in several games. Motorsport fans enjoy seeing cars racing but are unlikely to be tempted to a circuit by the prospect of watching a marching band.
As others have said, F1 must simplify aero so that we can see closer racing. The only entertainment we want is nose to tail or wheel to wheel.


Ahh! Again I totally agree… Oh for the days when aero wasn’t king.
Not only was the sport cheap enough for any team to be competitive if they had the talent and determination, but less aero also allowed for some extraordinarily close slipstreaming battles.


Tennis is perfect competition. A true meritocracy. F1 is rather less of an attraction from the competition viewpoint.


2018 is thee crunch year for F1.

The show cannot be pathetic prior to locking it behind paywalls with Liberty not addressing the competition issue for yet another year.

Going on recent years racing, going on the Merc PU at closure of 2017, the signs are not good.

If Mercedes have no real competition from the other PUs, if Saturdays are predictable like never before, if victories are controlled with a 5s lead, if teammates don’t challenge each other or vary strategies, if it’s like ’14,’15,’16, or 2017 with Ferrari on Red Bull pace, then F1 is in deep deep s.

How will the casual fans get right into F1 when the die hard fans are shouting for improvements and not even little steps are being taken.

How will the kids get into F1 when it’s not on their TV unless their dad is a die hard fan, and even then will they be bothered if their dad is praying Alonso has a car to race Dan and Max so he doesn’t just end up watching Carlos v Hulk!


@ Clarkes4WD…liberty have been there for one year and apart from a new logo what have they actually done? Basically zilch. There is no doubt that an organisation the size of Liberty would have carried out due diligence and sussed out what major elements should be focussed on to build a better F1 [mousetrap ] What they appear to be doing is obfuscating and in some areas expanding into regions of no importance, like Vietnam, just to maximise the $…like BE did only Liberty are spending more to achieve the same! The very pillars of control ATM, Ferrari and Mercedes, have just announced, surprise surprise, ‘they are 100% in accordance with each other’ as quoted by Zetsche. Initially i had expected that we would see some possible changes being made that would open up the field but to date, zippedy doo dah. Another three years of the same old same old.


Liberty Media can only affect the way F1 is shown for now. Only after 2020 will they truely be able to sort things out.
Personally, they should come up with a formula (agreed with by the FIA), and simply tell the teams take it or leave it, Ferrari included! Naturally of course, that means equality of income to all the teams, and the only bonuses should be based on positions in the previous years championship. There should be no historical payments because these are simply a fancy way of bribing some teams to stay. I wonder who will stay and who will go?


I think given the inclusion of the photo from this past season at Austin, it might have been appropriate to state that the pre-race ceremonies there were not the direction of excellence, unless F1 wants to become an excellent farce.


Same with the DJ on the podium is Mexico. Tres cringe.


@ Anonymous Pi….. A very telling comment. I would not be so elegant and restrained in condemnation. Ir was totally cringeworthy and a major embarrassment…pure tat.


Yes, in comparison makes Edie Jordan look like he knows what he is doing in the podium interviews.


Nothing could make Eddie Jordan look and sound like anything worthwhile. That guy is a joke with all his phony bon vivant anachronisms and forced ‘bonhomie’. Why do the organisers make such massive errors when employing talent for the podium pressers? Mark Webber, Martin Brundle even DC are streets ahead. This is not ‘excellence’ in anything but farce.


even DC are streets ahead

I agree EJ is dreadful, but what’s wrong with DC? I reckon he’s on a par with Brundle – generally offers good insightful comments. Probably my favourite is Webber, though, he just says what he wants and hang the consequences – at least that’s how it feels. Maybe in reality MW is carefully cultivating that impression and fooling us all 🙂


@ C63….maybe i was a little harsh on DC but he’s not in the same league as Brundle and Webber when they are on the podium. Re Webber, he’s a no nonsense , candid, affable and intelligent easy going guy and what you see is simply that. There is no carefully groomed artifice IMO.


As I think I posted at the time, ” The Razamatzification of the sport”.
I do remember receiving a certain amount of derision.


Unjustified, if that was the case.


Well if you want bums on seats, the way to do that is stop the iron curtain that is the paywall like Sky and such.
Basic economics – if you want to increase your audience, lower your prices/make it easy or free to take part. Your not going to get new fans if they have to pay for the tv package.
The revenue should come from the grandstands (which your expect to pay for). A day out at the races is bang for your buck, whereas being a couched potato at home is not pay worthy.
Sponsorship needs to be sorted out too. There needs to be an desire for products to want the f1 real estate.


Trouble is Liberty are in the hole for a lot more money that can be recouped from race attendees/promoters. In fact their whole business model is doomed unless thay can milk enough from pay TV. I think they can’t survive but hey my A level economics was a long time ago.


I get the impression LM are not likely to recoup their investment just from the attendee/promoters. I think online streaming market is very promising, even to a complete novice like me, the opportunity for expansion there is very good. The behind a paywall model they inherited from bernie, is killing the sport, not so much in terms of numbers watching, as that has been stable for a while, even when it was on fta. Its more the younger casual viewer who just chances upon a Saturday practice or a race and is hooked or at least interested enough to want to watch in the future. That is the segment of prospective fans they need to find a solution to and fast.


F1 has become a race between usually two, sometimes four, and rarely six cars. Where’s the excitement in that? Last year was the first year in 35 years as an avid F1 fan that I found myself recording the races only so I could fast forward through them.

Do you know what’s interesting? Fast forward the race on the fastest setting you can, and watch only the graphical list of drivers on the left. It’s shocking how rarely it changes.

That’s the #1 thing that needs to be addressed to improve the ‘excellence’ of the show.

Richard Mortimer

Wow, Roger, that is serious! Don’t actually watch the races now. Just get the highlights on F1 website! The problems are numerous, including a large dollop of vested interest. Reducing the aero-war would do a lot in my view.


You’re right.

Sadly, often not a race between 2, just a race between 1, be that due to only two fast cars but lot slower teammates, or ‘dirty air aero’ meaning 2nd place can’t race.


C’mon Clarks, we all know that its about the driver and not that spluttering lawn mower engine in the back of that Merc. Put him in the Sauber or last years Honda powered McLaren and he still would’ve won.

Now expect Aveli to reply genuinely agreeing with me…


I think the sport is in pretty good shape, the tv rating falls mirror those seen in other sports that switched to ppv, the competition is getting closer, and it seems liberty are determined to bring in a more equitable split of revenues.


“I think the sport is in pretty good shape, Lewis is winning everything in these Mercedes cars.”

Statistically the competition is getting closer if the Merc pole domination drops from high nineties percent to low nineties percent, but there is not really competition, just an era of domination like never before.

The fact that Newey and his team, the greatest engineer/designer in F1 ever, cannot close the gap after all these years tells all about the competition not really getting closer.
What was it the Red Bull team said to Max when Lewis’s PU blasted past him in Brazil after passing the McLarens and Williams like an LMP1 car passes a Porsche 911, something like ‘don’t worry we can’t race him today’…


Clarks, Mercedes has the best qualifier in the history of the sport, what do you expect?

Your brazil comment is a joke! Was it not the race prior max was able to slip stream seb into turn one and walk away with the gp? Did he not hunt down and overtake lewis in sepang, ultimately winning? How about japan, where he shadowed lewis the entire race.

Your comments give the impression you’re only interested in the results or talking down lewis. Might want to expand your myopic view of the sport as a whole.

As for brazil, RBR were off the pace because the fia took away their trick suspension.


@ Oblah…without that car and the box of magic tricks contained therein, Hamilton would be toast.


A lot of Red Bull time lost for a ‘trick suspension’ change.

Best qualifier in history, nah, not even on the podium for that.

Most dominant car in the history of the sport, top spot on the podium for these years.

Rosberg even took his pole trophy home one year, anyway:

Fangio 57% poles in his GPs
Jim Clark 46% poles
Ascari 44% poles
Senna 40% poles

Hamilton 35% poles.


@ Clarkes4WD…I am currnetly down to last few pages of Newey’s latest offering and it should be labelled a ‘must read’ for any fans wishing to understand that ‘bit more’ of how F1 operates from an inside view. A very worthwhile knowledge investment.


Clarkes. Mercedes pole percentages;
2014, 94.74
2015, 94.74
2016, 95.24
2017, 75

Mercedes win percentages;
2014, 84.21
2015, 84.21
2016, 90.48
2017, 60

You need to rewatch Lewis overtaking Max in Brazil, he was right on the Red Bull’s gearbox through the twisty final sector, tucked into the slipstream up the hill, and then even with the tow and drs only just got by him in the braking zone for turn one.


Wow, quite a drop with Rosberg retiring 😉


Nico who……?


From where I sit Over Here, with an ancestor who expatriated himself from Gen. Cornwallis’s outfit after the battle of Yorktown and the great victory of Gen. George Washington, and as one who’s appreciation of F1 goes back to the ninteen-sixties formative years, here goes.

Alexander Hamilton was a great American patriot; the play ostensibly about him has become a left-wing political statement over here. Thankfully, that may not be a focus in Britain. Entertainment and stagecraft for sure, and James hit all the apexes in this analysis. Modern day F1 necessarily reflects culture, high stakes, entertainment and grand Opera. Bernie Ecclestone and Enzo Ferrari were masters of this grand Opera. Politics is part of the Opera. I just wish left-wing politics were not the dominant ones. Unfortunately it has snuffed out the competition factor. I want Lewis Hamilton to be Carl Lewis not Alexander Hamilton. Maybe we ought to go back to dueling!


Well said! As someone who defines himself as a liberal, I get increasingly uneasy about how much the left is publicly toying with facts….and no one calls them on it, out of fear of being labelled a bigot.

Look at what JUST happened to University of Toronto’s Dr. Jordan Peterson when he “debated” CH4’s Cathy Newman. She lost that debate so incredibly bad, that they’ve had to “hire security to protect her from misogynistic threats.”…all for saying there’s a biological difference between men and women.

I gaurentee you, by saying “Hamilton is factually innacurate,” someone will read that and label me a racist.


Excellence doesn’t come across. The impression is ‘who exactly is running this show?’

The FIA constantly undermines everything, whether it is introducing stupid grooves tyres, or daft scaffolding in front of the driver’s face.

I’d be delighted if Carey, Brawn and Bratches had carte blanche, but you just get the feeling that the FIA will bring in some daft rule and ruin everything, or that Ferrari will have a tantrum over something stupid.

And loosen up the rules like Adrian Newey says.


Great article James, thank you. What fascinates me, especially after reading the comments, is the ownership people have for F1. To me, it shows great passion and I’m guessing the cast of the musical showed great passion which might be the connecting chord. We fans have passion, the players have passion but do the rule makers and now Liberty have passion?


In Formula1, it’s the little things that seem to comprise victory….the micro- environment of the sport. All we really see on TV , most of the time, is the macro-view: drivers’ remarks, tire gradients, passing duels etc. etc. I think the showcase needs the more granular detail that truly causes the victory or failure to occur: what are wrong set-ups, how much of a difference did “pay driver” money make, management personality issues versus team comraderie conflicts, where in the internal workings do things truly breakdown. This, I believe, is where things are ultimately won or lost. By highlighting these elements the fundamental excellence of F1 of will be found and the greatest show-value will be created.


It is a difficult line to draw. For the ardent fanatic then all the details you mention will certainly add to the experience. But for the casual observer it will switch them right off. You have to be careful, or risk turning F1 into reality TV where the show-value will be 100% artificial.


“the plan for 2018 and beyond envisages a revamp of the TV coverage of the sport to try to showcase better the spectacle and the storylines”

What’s the point in a revamp when behind the paywalls, there’ll be hardly any viewers left to watch it?


Hallelujah! Someone’s hit the nail on the head. Viewership is declining because the vast majority of potential fans will have zero exposure to this wonderful sport. I for one became a fan through channel surfing a sunday afternoon. With paywall, how will potential fans get any access?


Well i discovered F1 in late 1990 (i was 8 years old) when i caught the tail end of the Australian GP. I was fascinated at seeing Nigel Mansell putting pressure on Nelson Piquet as the two battled for the lead. It was being broadcast on Sunday Grandstand (BBC) and had magnificent commentary from Murray Walker and James Hunt. Had i been that age now though, i most likely would not have discovered the sport at all as the cost of a Sky subscription just to watch it is obscene, if it was £10-15 a month then perhaps i might have reluctantly given it a go, but £40+ is beyond a joke, and where does all that money even go? I suspect most of it ends up in the pockets of premiership footballers.


The halo is most definitely not excellent. Stop adding appendages (shark fins, T wings, halos, tipped noses)!

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


James this is possibly you’re best piece. F1 is about about excellence and it’s an analogy that I have used for years in my businesses. The problem is that all this excellence has come at a massive cost and reduced the number of spectators and viewers when increasingly hiding behind a paywall. Speaking of excellence the halo is as far away from excellent as possible as a solution. It’s frankly an embarrassment to the mantra of F1 being at the pinnacle of engineering and sporting excellence. As you have rightly highlighted this decision along with others has severely damaged the dna and brand of F1. It’s going to be a long crawl back from here when the sport has blatantly disregarded its core fan base in the millions. A new logo and a new merchandise stand simply isn’t going to cut I’m afraid. The bubble needs to burst and start over.


#nohalo solidarity




The word that comes to my mind with F1 is “cutting edge”, the cutting edge of technology and terrestrial speed.

But not sure that preserving tyres and engines has played into this vision.

But fully agree that complexity should be not confused with being cutting edge.


Yes it does. Tire/engine/gearbox preservation has always been a key aspect of GP racing. The drivers who excel always have an edge on his competitors. Prost was known for being very gentle on the mechanical.


Most importantly, convince the major manufacturers and their budgets to stay –
As the motoring world shifts to electric what real incentive will they have to remain?

As I see it, a ‘Legacy’ series is the only option –
With that ‘Pinnacle’ title inexorably moving to FormulaE.


if you are so passionate about electric cars why don’t you buy one?


What makes you so sure I haven’t already done so?
If you are so passionate about posting idiotic replies –
Why not troll a less informative blog?


if you had an electric car, you would have told me so. you would’ve also told me which make and model it was and for how long you’ve owned it..


why can you not accept reality?
the general public do not like electric vehicles so they do not buy any. because of this governments have stated their intentions to ban petrol and diesel cars in an attempt to force electric cars on people.
it will not work because such an act is against nature and we know very well how difficult it is to fool nature.


why can you not accept reality?

Your version of it?
Which implies that as of today public preferences are forever frozen.

such an act is against nature

Truely mindless.


the fact that you feel the need to take extracts from my post confirms your intention to conceal the truth.
especially removing sections of sentences.
shame onto you.


your intention to conceal the truth

Not at all – Just trying to help you!
By highlighting the areas you should have proof read.
You should try posting less hastily and with more forethought.


you should try and help yourself understand that just because a couple of european nations have proposed to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars doesn’t mean all other countries will ban them too.
once you’ve grasped that, you may consider offering help to others.


You should try posting less hastily and with more forethought.

Understatement of the year so far… he really should but funnily enough I very much doubt he will take your advice on board!


@ Ritchie J…how very very true.


people are not buying electric cars.


Tesla is changing the game here.
People dont want to buy lame electric cars they want something sexy and modern.
The reason car companies have dragged their heels is the money they make from service / parts industry, investment in tooling and production along with fossil fuel kickbacks. Also why mess with a priven money maker?
Its not consumer driven because they havent been given a good alternative, until now.


They still don’t have good alternative and they won’t for some considerable time.


if only tesla knew how many vans and minibuses mercedes sold around the world, they would have understood how mercedes is so profitable.


tesla is changing nothing. they are throwing away their money in those electric cars of theirs.
until they make a profit, they are a failure.
a couple of european countries will not change the entire global motor industry.


Yes, they are – in limited numbers currently.
But the transition to electric is going to happen.

And the major manufacturers will lose interest in F1 –
when its appeal is largely historic.


what are you talking about?
people prefer petrol and diesel engined cars. electric cars are a waste of time and energy.


i hope you understand what you are saying. only a couple of european countries have talked about banning petrol and diesel cars. vast majority of the world are not interested in banning petrol and diesel cars and vast majority of people are in asia, not europe.
car manufacturers sell most cars in asia and will not leave f1 simply because of the risk of losing 10% of their market.
electric motors are not even good enough for milk floats let alone cars.


The problem with electrification isn’t the motor but the storage. We currently do not anything as energy dense as gasoline. When and if tesla or anyone creates such a battery then its bye bye to ICE.


the whole system is a joke. unless electricity is got from photo voltaic cells, it’s not worth doing in the first place.


electric motors are not even good enough for milk floats let alone cars

I’m sure Elon Musk would disagree.
You are really living in the past.


think about the number of people who buy cars around the world. a couple of european countries will not stop the motor industry from selling cars to the rest of the world.
you should not post in haste and think carefully about what you want to say.
it’s you who need the help not me.


The best part of the F1 experience is seeing the fastest cars possible, followed by the drivers trying to tame them.
Pay walls will take this away from most people.
If entertainment & close racing with lots of overtaking is what people need, then I’m sure Dallara can make an exciting looking car that is only 10% slower, for 5% of the cost, & 20 000 clever people can be sacked.
No thanks, please retain the highest standards.


if all drivers drone identical cars, hamilton will win every race because he’s the best. is that what you wish for?


Really, win every race.
He has an identical car to his team mate, and I am sure he has not won every race between them.


ok, slight correction, won most races.


Did you forget 2016 already?


jimothy, not as much as alonso fans forget 2007.


why would i ever forget the year mercedes manipulated races to get rosberg a championship?


They actually manipulated races to get Hamilton the WDC but he still couldnt beat the mighty Rosberg, remember Monaco when the team ordered ROS to move aside for HAM?
I dont recall HAM moving aside for ROS in 2016


Jimothy, I don’t recall the ‘mighty Rosberg’ ever being two seconds a lap faster than Lewis, do you?


Rosberg dominated Hamilton at Monaco, Lewis never won there on merit, he was gifted both his wins there.


Jimothy, there’s no way you actually believe that’s true, you are clearly trolling for a reaction, so I will leave it there.


Tim, even you would have to admit that Rosberg was better than Ham around Monaco, out of eleven races there, Hamilton has only managed to out qualify his team mate four times.
Even Heikki Kov and Bottas out qualified Hamilton there.

Hamilton is a great driver sure but he is rubbish around Monaco, i would put my money on over half the grid beating Lewis there in equal cars, even Kimi would blow him away there.


@ Jimothy…Daniel Ricciardo put 12 secs on Hamilton at Monaco.


is that why rosberg is going around grovelling to hamilton to become friends with him again?
rosberg was an embarrassment in monaco. it was too obvious and we all saw what hamilton did with the opportunity to pass rosberg.
how many drivers could achieve that?


rosberg was an embarrassment in monaco

Rosberg out qualified Hamilton in Monaco, 2016, 2014 and 2013 and won it three times, Rosberg has a much better record than Hamilton around Monaco.


you wish.


It seems that the F1 powers-that-be are failing to understand the mindset of their customers. Barge boards and wing heights? Isn’t this supposed to be, with necessary practical considerations, an unlimited racing series? What is developing now is over regulation combined with political correctness. Tiny engines with electric assist, halo (rhymes with Hell No), gas mileage concerns, carbon footprint discussions, etc. Ten years from now they will be modifying tracks because the G forces will have been found to be detrimental to the drivers. The US just threw out a huge number of regulations. If a whole country can do it, it couldn’t be that hard for a racing series.


please name ten of the most exciting f1 races you have ever witnessed..


Spot on …..


Surely the singular most important thing for the future of F1 is to give the maximum level of entertainment to the greatest number of people for the best possible price. People need to get satisfaction for the cost they have to bear. F1 has become too complex and they need to find an ‘elegant solution’. That is, achieving the desired effect by way of the simplest and most effective manner. Does it really matter one iota if the cars are a full one sec faster or slower? I would willingly trade off some speed if it meant that there was a greater chance that any one of 6, 8 or even ten drivers were in with a chance of winning. F1 needs to thrilling again. ATM it is not. The hackneyed mantra of ‘road relevance’ needs to be totally discarded. It has no place in being the basis of what manufacturers claim as their ‘raison d’etre’. We need to see independent engine builders encouraged to return and return they will if they are able to compete against the leviathons of the car industry by introducing an engine that gives the same performance but may not be overly complex. It can be done. It is my belief that they, the manufacturers have introduced complexity for the very reason that justifies their investments and thus allows them to take greater control. Once they’ve established that, they then dictate who can and can’t have their products which is tantamount to race manipulation. This has been sanctioned by the governing body. Liberty may try to make changes and then again they may simply just accept the status quo and continue down a trouble free road!!! Ultimately this approach will hasten the implosion.
What F1 needs is simplification and cost reductions to attract the fans and rebuild a dedicated audience. All i see/read are fans/followers who are dissatisfied with what they see as largely a cost rip off for very little excitement. What the circuit owners should do is challenge the operational cost model. They should be charging FOM for the use of their circuits and Liberty should then take over the ticket sales. I bet we’d see some rapid changes then. My greatest problem is that we are faced with another three years of what we’ve got and that isn’t really exciting to contemplate.


All very sensible, I dare say, but, the sport has been sold bound hand and foot to the manufacturers, who supply the whole grid. For them, road relevance is the the only reason they are in F1. True, independents could be enticed to return, (how the economics of that would work with only at most 2 possibly 3 teams likely to want to use it, if it is any good) but the formula would have to change radically. Is any of this likely, I see no evidence for that.


For them, road relevance is the the only reason they are in F1

Is it really?! I’m pretty sure the promotion and marketing of their brand is the key reason for manufacturers being involved in F1


manufacturers make their money from road cars. that is road relevance.


Yes that is true aveli. But more to the point, the argument that there is ‘trickle down’ from PU formula to road cars is weak at best.


@ Bonbonjai..Road relevance is a ‘red herring’. Max Moseley used that argument and it has proved to be well wide of the mark, especially for F1 and that’s not just my opinion but that of one of the luminaries of today’s ‘pinnacle’. I do share your pessimism though as i very much doubt if Liberty has the muscle or the inclination to take on the might of the big tree manufacturers. Their very substantial investment could become decidedly precarious.


how can liberty possibly take on manufacturers in motorsport?


f1 is more exciting than it has ever been. i was watching some old races from the eighties and nineties and realised how boring they were. not to mention how poor the quality of driving was. today’s drivers are much better and put on a much better show.


Surely a slightly more informed perspective would take into account – tracks being dirtier with grass and gravel, run offs with consequences so when a driver goes deep into a corner thier line is altered rather than just scooting through a tarmac run off and carry on with very little loss of speed.
– cars with hp and often wild power delivery, no power steering, less complex understanding of aerodynamics and specifically thier stability.
Drivers both past and present are skilled competitors using what is available to them.


f1 drivers of today are good enough to adapt to any race track. do they not race in suzuka and the a1 ring?


Its just that a few of the drivers back then never made the next race which unfortunately drove the press highlights which attracted imbeciles to watch the sport – the same ones who now have children complaining the sport is too expensive to go see.

If its too expensive then guess what – its not for you. Since when was the top tier be for everyone?

Not only do they not understand the sport – by complaining about it – but they want to change it to something it isent- something that already exists across the pond.


f1 is more exciting than it has ever been. i was watching some old races from the eighties and nineties and realised how boring they were. not to mention how poor the quality of driving was. today’s drivers are much better and put on a much better show.

100%. Agree..Senna, Prost, Lauda Schumi. Hill, Piquet All poor quality drivers putting on a poor show. Totally boring don’t know how we all got so excited


Senna, Prost, Lauda Schumi. Hill, Piquet All poor quality drivers putting on a poor show. Totally boring don’t know how we all got so excited

Lauda’s first race was in 1971. Schumacher’s last race was in 2012 41 years, and half a dozen great drivers. Senna and Prost won WDCs in cars which utterly dominant. Ditto Hill. Piquet was box office because everyone hated him but like Hill “The great” doesn’t sit easily in front of his name.

The school friend I went to my first GP with (in 1983) talked about the race becoming a procession, and not every driver Prost raced against was a Piquet or a Senna, or Lauda or Mansell


name a single one of those drivers who could drive in the wet, defend, overtake or qualify as well as hamilton and verstappen do.


Senna and Schumacher for two.


are you still looking for senna and schumacher video footage?
i can help by telling you that there aren’t any simply because they couldn’t drive as well as hamilton.


you may compile as many video footages as you like, from as many drivers as you like and yet they wouldn’t come close to hamilton’s.
none of them could ever dream of 9 consecutive podiums in their rookie season yet hamilton achieved that.


We are discussing the future, not the past.


You have to understand that decisions are made by middle-aged (and older) men, who say “the sport isn’t as good as it was”. Decisions about the future are made by reference to the past.


@ James Encore…what has peoples ages got to do with it? Yes, some people do prefer the past racing, so what? I have watched it closely as i’ve been an enthusiast my entire life. It is what it was and i don’t look backwards. The future is all that’s important. Different cars/drivers and results. The way it’s headed we’ll have seven years of predictability with Mercedes plundering the silverware annually. Yes, there may be some limited attempts to overturn the results but ATPIT i see nothing to alter that viewpoint.


yes but your making your argument based on what was are you not?


@ tie clipper….I’m afraid you’ve lost me…?


your right , I was sampling the new batch of Bunnahabhain 16 year old when writing …..


@ Toe Clipper…the what?


f1 is fine as it is, it doesn’t need much change. the only changes i’d request is the comfort and convenience of fans at the races.
most areas of the spirt has progressed leaving that behind. at this day and age, we shouldn’t be queuing so long for merchandise toilets and food. we should be able to order from our seats and have them delivered. those who don’t like the winners should go and join donald trump in the whitehouse.


aveli, it comes as no surprise, I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment. Rose tinted glasses desperately needs to be taken off. Today’s f1 is far superior to the bygone years.
Taking nothing away from the drivers of the past, the sport is in a much better place.

The drop in viewing is due to paywalls rather than interest. Had bernie appropriately invested in social media and an online presence, the numbers would reflect that.


the sport is in a much better place.

You have read the comments on this very article, haven’t you??


The drop in viewing is due to paywalls rather than interest.

And you know this as a fact do you, Oblah?


NickH, no he doesn’t, nobody does. We can say that other sports who made similar switches from fta to ppv have seen similar drops though, and we can also say that track attendance has been steadily rising for the last seven years, while Nascar and Indycar have seen alarming falls.


There will be a time in the future when HAM is no longer racing – this discussion is for a time such as that – will there still be fans left when HAM goes?


f1 existed long before hamilton and will continue long after hamilton.


Agree 100% but sadly the sensible voices may as well be aiming a small jet of liquid into the wind !


Absolutely agree!!!!


I’ve thought this before but maybe one of the reasons the big teams fear cost control is that teams like Force India who have had to make do with less for years, would be better at getting bang for the buck than huge teams who have always thrown money all over the place and can explore various avenues of research rather than being cleverly selective. I do wonder if Force India could beat Mercedes if they had the same number of staff and same budget.


Unlikely, mercedes is a juggernaut. It’s structure is immense. What’s impressive about Force India is the mockery they’re making of williams, who consistently blame finances as their only roadblock to success. It wouldn’t surprise me if williams is fighting over 9th with Sauber.


Andy, they would if they had Ferrari’s budget…


f1 has always evolved and it will continue to evolve. whichever way we look at f1, it’s history will remain intact..


Correct –
It will ‘evolve’ into an international historic series under the ‘Goodwood’ label.


if you had an electric car, you’d tell me which make and model you have and how long you’ve had it without me asking. i now know you don’t have an electric car..


if you had an electric car, you’d tell me . . .

What’s this got to do with my original reply above?
I’ll keep you guessing as your perception of ‘credibility’ is of no interest to me.


it is a fact that the public do not like electric cars and this reflects in their car purchases. a couple of european governments have threaten to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars because they are sure the public will not buy electric cars otherwise. majority of car buyers live outside europe if you weren’t aware. car manufacturers don’t care about governments all they care about is their sales numbers and right now they sell more petrol and diesel cars than they do electric.


i expected you to turn to insults because i know you have nothing else to turn to.


i expected you to turn to insults . . .

I don’t see any in my original reply above.
Trolls are desperate to receive them in order to fuel their ‘creativity’.
So I’m now happy to oblige.


The entertanment factor of F1 as a pure sport has dwindled as perfection has been neared in many of the engineering fields involved. This has stopped close racing and made it all about tyre and fuel strategy. Whic is ok if you are a real enthusiast, but it reduces impact as a spectator sport. I think of Mansell chasing Senna around Monaco about a foot behind for so many laps, I wish we could see that kind of stuff again.
Obviously it used to be far more exciting in the old days when there was less aero effect and the ratio of tyre vs aero grip was vey firmly biased toward the tyres.
Until we drastically reduce the downforce and turn to mechanical grip, we shall remain with the problems of increased tyre wear due to lack of grip for any car following another. Many of us would like to see the return of slipstreaming as it used to be. However the restriction of front wings to two closed elements and genuine flat floors with no slots, holes dimples etc is most unlikely. But we could go in the opposit direction and allow live suspension, front active movable flaps for steering and air braking, 4 wheel energy recovery, ABS steering assist, etc.
If Liberty try to turn F1 into an American circus show, it may help the US audience figures. We will have lost the UK FTA coverage by then and many of us fans who cannot afford Sky will quit in disgust.


It was not more entertaining back in the day. It was sloppy and chaotic. Cars sliding about, monumental driver errors and far more processional than today. They’d have their baku 2017 or bahrain 2014 but like today, they’re were the exception, not the rule.

The same is said about the NBA. Older fans prefer 80’s/90’s, as it was more physical but the efficiency and speed of modern nba is unparalleled.


Excellent article James – I think you hit the nail on the head here. Is the public really interested in ‘excellence?’ F1 lives in a kind of ‘bubble,’ that previously, I’ve struggled to understand, just knew it existed. It’s this ‘excellence’ bubble that goes very deep (to sponsors and technical partners). This is a real problem.

Of course, excellence should be a part of any sport. But, I think that comes automatically to a certain extent. I love the way Michael (Schumacher) pushed that envelope as a competitor, but those were the most boring years ever when he re-wrote the record books! I am an F1 fan of over 40 years standing, drove karts competitively for many years and can still put in the fast laps when I need to! Ha
Also, I am an engineer. Just to say I surely would be on the short-list for the number one F1 fan?

Those articles by Gary Anderson and illustrations in Autosport and on the F1 site fascinate me, but I absolutely hate this ‘aero-formula’ with it’s escalation war! Something has to give. There is too much of a ‘disconnect’ from F1 to other formulas and the world outside.

Another excellent point is that something ‘old-fashioned’ can be re-invented, like the ‘Hamilton’ musical. A few years back my wife and I went to Stratford-on-Avon to see ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ It was incredible! Never laughed so much at Shakespeare!

1. F1 needs to be more conscious of it’s history. Witness the popularity of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
2. Engines should be properly ‘frozen.’ Which means, the leading engine is ‘frozen’ for the year, and others are given development ‘tokens’ according to where they are. This will give those behind (especially Honda) a chance to catch up and slow the development pace.
3. There needs to be a 2-tier formula in place so that ‘works’ teams and ‘budget’ teams can compete. Here is, perhaps, the way to do that:

F1-A = limited aero (standard parts, ban on slots and multi-part pieces, etc.) a very simple aero package; fuel tank limit (which can change relative to F1-B); open budget; 3 car teams; must run a ‘rookie’ in one car (means someone not done a full year of F1).

F1-B = budget constraint (£100M?); open aero; more open engine formula including NA engines with KERS or something like that possible (including Horner’s high-revving V12); 2 car teams.

The 2 divisions are ‘pegged’ according to the previous year and the history of the teams competing. So, each division is ‘restricted’ or ‘opened’ to control the division relative to the other.

Maybe even an F1-C = tendered chassis and engine running on the same tyres and pegged to back of mid-field. A chance for new teams to come in and run one driver, etc. This might require an extra grid where, say, the first 3 rows in the ‘Saturday’ race go on the back of the GP proper.

Food for thought?




Of subject Richard, when and where did you race karts?
I raced karts myself back in the early 80”s

Richard Mortimer

Thanks for reading my long post!

Mainly 1980 and 81, then 87-88, and 90. That was due to when budget allowed! Main circuits: Clay Pigeon, Little Rissington and Shenington. Did not like Blackbushe (although I did race there a few times). Also raced at Rye House, Tilbury, Kimbolton and Fulbeck more than once. Made it to Rowrah, Felton and Langbaugh once each!

Best year (only raced until May) was 1988. Got a year old Gillard in 100 Britain, and 4 engines (2 x Parillas & 2 x Hewlands). William Hewland tuned one Parilla and one Hewland for me. They were flying machines! The other Hewland was quick too! I found one Tillotson carb that seemed to just hit the sweet spot. Had the Parilla on at Felton and I was passing everyone. I kept winding the high-speed jet out, and it would not 4-stroke. Just ate all the fuel it could! It was intoxicating. Into the first chicane at Felton I was just braking later and later! Wanted to hear that baby rev!

I sold the Gillard and the Hewland William tuned with that carb to a friend. He could not believe how quick it was. He was passing people with ease on the (short) Blackbushe straight! Then, the chain flipped and cut that carb in two!

Stopped in 1990 at the end of the season, trying to break into cars. Plus, I had a really nasty somersault at Clay Pigeon earlier in the year! Very busy practice day, a junior seized right in front of me as I was about to pass! Had nowhere to go but into the air!


I raced at all those tracks many times!
First in junior Britain and then in junior national/international.
Had a good race with Jason Plato at Felton in the junior Britain British championships in 82. Same month, with Steve Brogan and Jeremy Cotterill at Wombwell junior national championships.
Raced against Allan McNish in juniors. Raced against Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen at the junior WDC in 83. I was lucky enough to be sponsored for a few years by Art karts, and then Bruno Ferrari.
Loved Rowrah, won a super one race there. Little Rissington was great.
Was club member at Rye House but raced most of my club meetings at Kimbolton. But I mostly raced the super one series.
I’ve had a flying trip at clay pigeon to, round the outside of Billy’s blind!
Had a bad one at Rowrah as well. But luckily came out unscathed👍
Great to meet a fellow karter from back in the day.
I stopped in about 87, if I remember rightly.

Richard Mortimer

Wow, you really did name drop there! I remember all those drivers (from karting)! (Apart from Scumacher and Hakkinen, of course!)

I remember ART karts. Not the split chassis? I met Bruno, although a friend of mine knew him much better! Nice to drive a Ferrari! LOL

Did you ever have a Wright chassis, which was pretty much de-rigeur in those days?


Name drop.. they were just competitors to me. But a good laugh as well.
I didn’t really get on with Plato, because of the competition between us. Plus he knocked me of at the last chicane at Felton at the British championship. Never really forgave him for that.
Then 2 weeks later, at wombwell, junior national BC. Was leading that, when 2 laps from home, I got taken of by a backmarker I had just passed! Was so far ahead, that I still managed to finish 2nd… behind Brogan.
No, the art chassis I used, wasn’t a split chassis, but I drove for them for 2 years.
Simon Wright loaned me chassis at one race. It was a good chassis but I went to Bruno Ferrari instead.
The Ferrari chassis was just a Italian chassis called Sirio. Bruno imported them and put his name on them. Then he changed to All Kart. Another Italian make.
Did you race club meetings, or did you race in a series?
Talking about rye house.. great twisty track, used to practice there a lot.
From what I can gather, it’s where Hamilton learnt his trade. It was his local track I believe, coming from Stevenage.

Richard Mortimer

James, I wish I had kept my Karting magazines, then I could look up your name! I tried going onto the Karting website. They have summary articles, so they mention Plato, but not who he knocked off!

You must have been really good to be racing with those guys!

My racing was very patchy, especially 80-81. Then, I would save up and do a race, then have to wait! I did my novice races on successive weekends mind you. 3rd race at Clay was a huge grid of 100 Britains, and I qualified mid-grid A-Final right in amongst the white plates! Then, next week, at Shenington, I lead a heat!

Problem was, with my budget, I should have stuck to the club championships. I wanted to enter the SAM 80, which was the first year of a national series for 100 Britain. I turned up at Tilbury with a brand-new Barlotti and Hewland engine, it was not even run-in! (Remember those days, before Teflon pistons, running in all day)? I was totally out of my depth!

Mind you, I entered the last round at Fulbeck and went much better. Lead a heat for a long time, but threw a chain.

The circuit for me was Clay Pigeon, which produced Button, amongst others. Mind you, Rye House seemed to produce a certain style of karter, such as Brogan and Darren Gibbs. Flicking into corners at the last moment Senna style! I learnt to do that a long time after I retired from karting proper in 1990. Mind you I am better going right than left! Ha

The end of my last season (1990) I was working for Kart Pro, and had a works drive with the Minarelli chassis! Great at Rissington where there is high grip! Chassis was not really a Britain chassis, and, by then, the TKM Rotax replica was taking over the class, and leaving my engines behind!

Kart Pro offered me a sponsored drive in base 125 class for 1991. I turned it down, which I really regretted.


I’ve still got all my old clippings from karting/ kart and superkart magazines.
But when I was a kid, I was called Jamie, not James. So it’s Jamie kavanagh. And I don’t think it says he knocked me of, if think they called it a “kerfuffle” or something like that. It happened at the back end of the track, so not many people saw it, only a top steward from wombwell who happened to be standing there. He said after, that if that had happened at his track, he would have disqualified Plato. But that’s racing I suppose😄.
Clay pigeon was one of my favorite tracks aswell. It just had terrible tarmac back then.. no grip, but great if you liked to chuck the kart around a bit. I never raced on the new track when it was redone in the mid 80”s.

I remember Darren Gibbs. I’m sorry, but I didn’t rate him that much back then. Actually had a little argument with him once at tilbury ( a track I hated) during some testing.
I caught him up and wanted to get past him, which I did after a few laps. But it was like he just wanted to race me… in testing!😄

I remember running in engines aswell, totally boring back in the day, but necessary! If I got a batch of new engines, then it was of to Rye house during the week to play stop/start for half the day. Then back to Bruno and get them tuned.

Do you still watch kart races?
I watch a lot on YouTube.
Getting a bit excited about Lando Norris. I think he’s gonna do well.

Shame you didn’t take the drive at kart pro… but then life is full of regrets I suppose.



I do remember your name. I think it was more from Karting magazine than actually seeing you.

Actually, I said Clay, which I did like a lot, but my real favourite was Rissington. I had a little trick where I would brake early for the chicane and turn in late, but get really early on the power! That meant you were on the inside going faster into the next corner!

I told a friend how to do it. And, sure enough, I came up behind him, and he did it really well, passing 2 karts at once. Then, I went on the inside of him!

Darren Gibbs was a bit naughty at Clay once. Someone took him off, by accident. And, he targeted the wrong guy! Waited until he came round and timed it to perfection to turn in in front of him, tipping him off the track! Naughty, naughty!

I don’t really watch karts. There is a short indoor track in Gloucester, which I’ve driven at many times, so that is my karting now! It’s a bit short, but flat out through 3 corners into a banked hairpin. I discovered a way of flicking the wheel left to use the front tyres to brake and keeping my foot flat on the throttle! Then, as the kart is pitching around the front tyres with the back on power, it tucks in close to the barrier. If I lift I go wide! Seems to work, but I think it probably sounds and looks more spectacular than anything! Ha!

We will have to meet up some time. Can you pass email on here, I don’t know what the rules are? Did you know William Hewland at all? Think he was karting before and after your period! I do keep in touch with him from time to time.

A few years back my father organised a race evening in Reading. Like Gloucester, it’s a bit short, tight and twisty. Which in some ways is better for me, being tall, as my weight does not make such a difference. However, I found a way to sling-shoot out of the chicane and then straight-line the circuit into the hairpin. It means you are the totally wrong angle for the hairpin, but you are on the inside, going faster, and the circuit is so narrow they can’t get back past!

I messed a heat (clipped the inside) so was on grid 5! Did #4 off the start. William was #3 but had a dud kart, so that was me in 3rd on the first lap. Then, it was my brother 2nd. Bid my time, and used my sling-shot to get him. Then, a bit more time to catch the leader. Same thing. So, I finally won a race! LOL

My brother is pretty competitive, and a lot lighter, so we have some good scraps. He wanted to go to Surbiton, which I had never been to before. I just got the hammer down! He was quicker than me there, but he changed kart and had an off, so could not catch me. Also, my nephew Jeremy is even lighter! So, quicker too!

We tried another outdoor track in Cornwall. Jeremy was a couple of tenths quicker. But, they both found they could find time if they followed me! So, there is life in the old dog yet!


I remember William Hewland from when i first started as a novice in junior Britian…. then he disappeared.
You must remember Jonny Herbert in karts aswell then?

I’m afraid we could never get together, as I live in Denmark now. Have done for 23 years😄.


@ James K…why Denmark?


My wife is danish. We met in England.

Richard Mortimer

Ha, Denmark? Closest I get is to the Netherlands, where my wife is from! We go there regularly! Not done any karting there though. have a young family, so it’s harder to get the laps now!

I think William lost interest, as many teenagers do. That’s why Hewland sold the engines to Tal Ko. The problem was, they had a special recipe for the liner and the rod, etc. Don’t think Alan Turney could afford to make them the same? Not sure Hewland made a profit on the engine, either….

Have you ever driven a race circuit? I have a few times, mostly in a road car. The best was Silverstone organised by a friend who knows Ian Ashley. We had a Lotus Exige for most of the day. Just the 2 of us with Ian instructing. Funny: he said at the end of the day, “OK, you are both ready to race now!”


How does one reinvent the telling of factual history? Reinvent Shakespeare all you want…how would you feel if I “reinvented” the story of the Holocost to be less historically accurate, and then made millions off of it while singing on a stage?

Richard Mortimer

It’s completely evil to reinvent history. History must always be factual. But, there is no problem reinventing a sport before the history has happened!

We are not asking to go back and say, “Let’s make Mansell world champion in 1986 & 7, or Damon in 1994!” That’s reinventing history! We are saying, “Make changes now, before it’s too late. Look at the ‘Hamilton’ musical, etc.”


Damn, I read that back and it’s like, “woah, straight to the holocaust, eh”. In my defence, that was early this morning, pre coffee.

To put a more light hearted example forward. How many people would be excited to go see a biopic about or musical about the life and career of Michael Jordan – starring Channing Tatum as MJ? How many people people would watch a movie about Lewis Hamilton with Ryan Gosling driving #44?


Well I did watch a movie where Ryan Gosling’s character invented jazz……and the critics soaked it up. Perhaps we all should live in la la land.


Excellent piece James, couldn’t agree more.
Always looking to apply a Kaizen approach…..
As a LFC fan you might not appreciate a certain Latin phrase….but we need F1 to always be Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.



Richard Mortimer


Had a great exchange (lower down) with James Kavanagh, about our karting exploits in the 80s. Totally off-topic, of course. How do we get in touch with each other? I am happy for him to have my email, for example. Just did not want to break any rules or etiquette!


Just thinking James – The F1 fan base is declining while yours is rising (and presumably that’s increased with your new Motorsport deal).

In all seriousness, give it a few years and your F1 site might have more of a following than F1 itself.

Just please don’t go sticking a halo on your site 🙂


I agree.

For me, the open-cockpit abomination that is halo is the last straw (after cumulative slaps in the fans face from tipped noses, shark fins, T wings, snowplow front wings, 2016’s farcical qualifying format experiment, etc.).

The tipping point has been reached: I won’t be watching halo-ed F1 in 2018. A shame.

But I’ll still be reading all the analysis and commentary on JAonF1.


In a few years, we probably won’t even notice the Halo is there! Give it a chance.

We’ve lost too many people to head injuries: Senna, Henry Surtees, Bianchi, Justin Wilson. OK, so 2 of those are not F1, but the point is still the same.


Senna would have died regardless. Wasn’t it a track rod end that went straight through his helmet?
F1 has had far too many add-ons since I started watching in 1975.
There is far too much of everything but the racing. The powers that be are missing the point and just completely ignore the fans altogether by having turned it into a cash cow.
There are no characters in F1 any more. Every driver is bland and boring. They all speak in a monotone voice splurging company rhetoric out week by week. Fans want to hear THEIR true opinion. Not company policy. If Senna, Hunt, Lauda, Irvine or Webber thought their car was poor, they would dam well say so. So would many drivers of the past.
Since the garagistas (sorry for the spelling) have disappeared F1 has just been on a slippery downhill slope!
I used to watch every race, every season. These days, I don’t bother if I miss a few races. It’s all become a money making joke!

Richard Mortimer

“Senna would have died regardless. Wasn’t it a track rod end that went straight through his helmet? ” You don’t know that. Maybe the track-rod end or wheel or whatever would not have got to him with a halo? Personally, I think his head hit the wall! So, you may be right, but that changes nothing.

“F1 has had far too many add-ons since I started watching in 1975.” You mean the era of huge rear tyres and huge rear wings? Plus, massive air-boxes and front fins? You started with lots of add-ons (that were nothing to do with safety), but they were OK, as you were new to it. Anything since has been a disaster? Really?


Thanks for your comment. Fair enough. But there’s already a solution to all that, so the halo is unnecessary.

For drivers that want to race open cockpit at the pinnacle of motorsport, there’s F1. For drivers that don’t, go elsewhere.

There are no surprises. Drivers know F1 is open-cockpit long before they make their own choice to pursue F1. If they’d prefer racing with a roll-cage, no problem: don’t choose open cockpit racing.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for safety. Advances like the HANS device were quantum leaps forward. But did not change the fundamental DNA of open cockpit racing.

Helmets and pads made hockey safer. Replacing the puck with a beachball would make it safer still. But then it wouldn’t be hockey, would it?

So roll-cages on an open cockpit F1 car? Sacré bleu!

Richard Mortimer

That’s like saying, “no roll cages in top-flight rallying! it needs to be dangerous!” This was the fallacy of the 60s and early 70s! If you don’t risk dying, you are not a man! What complete non-sense and rubbish.

Drivers were dying horrible and unnecessary deaths then. Witness Bandini at Monaco in 1967! That was and is totally unacceptable. Then, we lost Bruce McLaren, Piers Courage and Jochen Rindt all in 1970! A dead world champion! That is an outrage!

Look, I am a driver. I’ve been driving competitively for over 40 years! Of course there is risk, but there should never be unnecessary risk. Open cockpit protection has been a long time coming. Maybe, if it had been in all formulas 10 years ago, those drivers I listed would still be with us.

The answer is: if you don’t like the Halo, don’t watch! A much better although silly solution!


Whoa…when did I say any of that?

I’m pro-safety. Right up until the point you change the fudamental DNA of the sport.

MotoGP is more exposed than F1. It’d be safer with four wheels and a roll cage. But then it wouldn’t be MotoGP.

I’ll watch open cockpit racing in 2018. But since F1 won’t be open cockpit, I’ll watch it elsewhere.

Richard Mortimer

No, you did not say you did not want safety. But, you can’t compare shark-fins and those horrible stepped-noses with the Halo. Plus, it’s not a roll-cage, that is the air-box hoop. This is to try to prevent the fatal head injuries we’ve had far too many of in recent years.

Of course, if it was not for the massive safety in other areas, this probably would not be happening. That wonderful fact has high-lighted the head’s vulnerability. Personally, I would prefer a polycarbonate ‘canopy’ like a fighter plane. That would look better and open up the possibility of seeing more of the driver.

Whether this changes the DNA of the sport is a matter of opinion. Surely, those large air-boxes of the 70s did so more. You can’t compare the Halo with 4-wheeled motor-bikes with roll cages.


Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

I think the halo is as awful aesthetically as shark fins/stepped noses. And it makes an open cockpit car not an open cockpit car.

A canopy is a step to making F1 a sports car. Come to think of it, covering the wheels would also make things safer. Then F1 is a sports car.

And hey, why not then a canopy on MotoGP’s?

Leave open cockpit, open wheel racing as…open cockpit, open wheel racing.

But, to each his own.


Nice article James…….I’m afraid I disagree on a few points. When a sport becomes an entertainment and the entertainment and the money becomes more important than the sport then it is no longer really a sport. What I want to see is F1 drivers in fairly equal machinery so if a driver has talent it will shine through. The Mercedes, Ferrari dominance due to money strangles this vision. We will never see days of the garagistas ever again as long as money rules this sport.


Mark… a well presented view point. The Mercedes /Ferrari alliance is there for all to witness. Renault have a small part to play as well. Listening to Zetsche announcing his ‘100% support for Ferrari’ was to be expected. They are controlling the future of what we will have to pay to see and that is not healthy. I am vehemently opposed to Ferrari having a ‘veto’ on any changes that may impede or result in unfavorable changes to Ferrari’s perceived place in the championship. That is just plain wrong and makes a nonsense of F1 being a competition. If it is to be believed, then it is rigged!!! How can that be lawful?


Money has always ruled this sport. Its just how much of it are you willing to spend to win?

Engines are only one component of this sport. Chassis, racer, etc. Through the evolution of F1, this component can become either more or less prominent. The FIA sets the rules and this is another key component which then drives other factors like tires, chassis, aerodynamics, safety components, etc.

Currently Merc has something to prove and Ferrari is thankfully there to challenge. Renault and Honda are working hard to provide battle. Back when we had Cosworths and Ferrari’s – was that better?


Yes and No.
Money has always been yes. No because now the investments are now CONTROLLING the script in a cartel like fashion.


The first few lines of your comment made me smile. That horse (money for entertainment, we have Bernie & the FIA to thank for that) bolted a long time ago. The moment money became the deciding factor in who wins in any sport, competition takes a back seat. F1 is merely going through the motions, sadly. We have a paradox here, no wants to dumb down these power units, as they are a wonder of engineering, and yet only Ferrari and Mercedes have perfected them, having spent billions to achieve it. Now we say get rid of all that investment to encourage others to enter F1, at a fraction of the cost. The sport we love is in an awful mess.


I have not seen any discussions on the statement by Toto regarding supplying the MGUH as a standard part to other engine manufacturers.
This would be a huge boost to both Renault and Honda.
Toto’s comment was a response to the suggestion to remove the complicated MGUH from 2021.
Seems to me like an easy fix to close the gap to the Merc PU.


If Mercedes wanted to be charitable they could offer their mgu-h as a standard part for the whole grid. Now that would change the game completely as that the area where their advantage is considerable and no one has made a comparable system.


do you not think wolf would use a superior component for his cars?


Does anyone have any components that are better than what Mercedes have in their car. It is possible, but I doubt it.


Sounds good Jake.


why do williams force and india not beat mercedes?


Speaking of theater, I think the biggest challenge the sport usually finds itself in is due to the fact the best drivers tend not to be in competitive seats at the same time thus creating less drama than the Opera

If you look at the 80s era, it provided lots of theater because the best drivers either had equally matched cars or at least one or two of the top teams had equally matched teammates

Another problem the sport has is thanks to Bernie’s high fees, not only did tracks get off the calendar but also fans couldn’t afford to attend live races to enjoy the sport’s excellence

What’s more, in this day and age, the sport is moving more behind a pay wall thus restricting it’s fan base more

Overall, the only magic pill to get people back in the seats is reduced ticket prices like the 80s & 90s but unfortunately due to inflation in the world’s markets, this isn’t a realistic option.


How has football survived, in fact improved with increased ticket prices and being behind a paywall? genuine question, I just wonder why F1 fans are reluctant to pay for what they watch where football fans seem to be able to manage it. I don’t know exactly but I believe a cheap ticket to a top premier league team is £40 or £50, and sky sports is what, £20/month?


@ smorris200

Well, football has been able to survive as an F1 ticket is more expensive than football ticket

As for the paywall subscription, football fans are more willing to pay because it has more value for money as several games are shown per weekend whereas F1 airs once every fortnight


Spot on…competition!

Closer competition between teams (current PU gaps still massive, customer PU team has no chance, qually is predictable again and again)

Top teams having two top drivers racing each other (AS/AP, FA/LH)

Fans, new and old, and casual fans, being able to watch F1 to get into it (wow that F1 race was great, that Villeneuve/Pironi battle is intense … wow that F1 race was great, that Dan/Max battle is intense…Sorry who are they?… You know Dan and Max that you have to pay £20 per race to see on the telly… Oh, nope.)


Clarkes, just out of interest, how ‘massive’ do you think the PU gaps are?


In my point of view, mercedes still has by far the best PU. Ferrari had the best chassi and aero kit than mercedes, but it was a small difference. You can see from Pole positions, when mercedes engine was on qualy mode, 20 races and they took 15 poles.


@ Clarks4WheelDrift

Indeed, and here is to hoping 2018 provides a treat for the fans in terms of close competition


@ goferet…I’ve been expressing that self same comment for the past multiple decades!!!! This year i will refrain.


@ Kenneth

Aah perhaps this points to the fact that it’s the fans that really should be in charge of the FIA


@ Goferet…yes please. I’ll put my hand up for a position.hahaah


DiGrassi has beaten you to it!


Hamilton is a scripted, routine day to day performance, and F1 has drifted towards a script without a doubt.

We (fans) want organic spontaneous sport magic!


So you mean through a bit more Book of Mormon at it ? That would please me greatly.


tell us the script for melbourne 2018 sebee.


Hamilton to qualify on pole, Vettel in second. Vettel jumps him at the lights and they follow a procession to the end….. Vestappen in third, slightly faster than Hamilton in race trim but unable to pass due to the loss of down force as he approached the rear of hamiltons car. Bottas starting from 4th loses out to Ricciardo at the start but manages to make up a place through a well timed pit stop. and so finishes exactly where he started, Ricciardo in 5th, Raikkonnen in 6th and the mclarens in 7th and 8th, just holding off the renaults, followed by the force indias and williams,


Hard to argue with this.

Although I have a feeling Mercedes may not give away two years in a row. Personally, right now I’m thinking Mercedes will play 2018 70/30 – deciding to win 15/21, leaving 6 on the table for others. And they will kick it all off with a win in Australia.


What happened to the Toro Rossos?


take that to the bookies with a hundred pounds and lets see how much you win in march


Define organic spontaneous magic please. I agree we need it.
Whats your definition of it ?


For me the idea of ‘organic spontaneous magic ‘ is jeopardy. That is not knowing what the podium is until the last few laps.
Of course that would entail fragile cars/engines (not PUs you note) close racing and a willingness from both the teams, drivers and stewards to accept unmanaged risk. The removal of engine and gearbox penalties would be a good start.
The sport has become far too clinical. Digital rather than analogue. It is now all about geniuses with lap tops sat in an office somewhere hundreds if not thousands of miles from the action micro managing the whole event, even before the trucks turn up at the venue. For the most part being slaves to the ‘computer model’ . It’s drained the sport of most if not all spontaneity. And ‘magic’.
But there again I guess you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. The technology can’t be uninvented. But it could be limited. Perhaps we’re stuck with the consequences of progress.
For better or worse.
My comment is based on many years of watching F1 and for the most part holding my breath up until the moment that the flag fell. Sadly for many years now I have been struggling to stay awake for the entirety of the snooze fest that most Sunday afternoons result in.
I offer no solution. There are many people out there that are far more qualified than me a mere enthusiast, that can hopefully find a fix before it’s too late. If it isn’t already. I hope and pray that it isn’t.
Motorsport from the TT through WRC to Touring Cars, Moto GP, and Superbikes and up to and including F1 is the only sport that I am interested in, but that interest as far as F1 is concerned is on the wain.
Please, please, somebody bring back the magic, bring back the heroes.


Just Sayin’
I challenge that way of thinking as nothing more than unbounded youth. As a child,everything is more exciting, more awesome. With age, our entertainment threshold increases, making it difficult to enjoy anything.

I challenge you to rewatch the “ferrari golden” age and tell me it’s more entertaining than today. Everyone knew MSC would win, and ferrari was leagues ahead of anyone else. At least mercedes allowed their drivers to race.


You bring up some interesting points.
Personally, I feel one of the biggest problems in F1 is that there’s too much technology between the driver and the car – they’re managing the computers as much as driving it. However, the impact of computers outside the car is probably also damaging a lot of the potential for spontaneity and surprise in a race.
Here’s a simple ‘cost saving’ rule that might spice things up – the pit wall (with driver) should work in total isolation to the rest of the world. No analysts back at base plotting the lap by lap deltas and best time to pit etc. Just the half dozen people on the wall, with stock equipment for everyone showing lap times and gps tracking etc. (plus car sensors for over heating/damage etc). The only communication allowed would be with the pit crew to indicate tyre choice, coming in, repairs etc.


Last season, I was very frustrated at how changing an engine part or gearbox affected the starting grid so much, so wondered if rather than a grid penalty, could they deduct points from the constructors championship? 1 point loss for each grid position that they would have incurred?


@ Sebee…to further expand your concept analysis i would i would say that James analogy is only partially correct. The stage play is enacted, word for word, multiple times in front of a different audience each time so for them it is a refreshing moment but how many would come back 20 times to watch the same show? That is what is asked for by the F1 owners. Yes, there are times when the order is shuffled about but overall the result is the same…the last four years bear witness to that being a truism. There needs to be an element of surprise somewhere with regular but unscheduled race by race results culminating in a cliffhanger last few races where the WC’s are up for grabs. An ‘unscripted’ finale.


you seen to live in a black and white world. many people love to watch the same show at the theatre over and over again. this is the reason we have film sequels.
by the way, since when have you ever seen script writers asking theatre goers what they’ll like the story lines to be or which style of costumes they’d like to see? it is up to the producers to dream up, create, what the think is spectacular enough to draw in the audience and if indeed it does turn out to be spectacular, reviews would pull in the crowds. ecclestone did that to f1. he dreamt about how he could make it more spectacular and went about changing it to bring it to this stage. that made f1 the most spectacular and globally watched motorsport. the drivers, circuits, cars and the entire process of f1 have improved over the years. i remember when wrc was the most popular motorsport. there is no way f1 would reached this stage had ecclestone gone around with a clipboard asking people how to go about improving f1. people have varying ideas of what’s attractive and what’s not. this is the reason ecclestone says his dictatorship works best for f1.
get yourself back to reality and learn the true meanings of the words wrong and correct.


@ Aveli…I don’t think that you’ve really got a realistic grasp of creative entertainment. Do you know what a ‘sequel’ is. To be clinical it is ‘something that takes place after or as result of an earlier event’. Given that interpretation then ‘sequels’ only occur if the original is deemed a success which is turn is reflected by the box office. That is a decision made by the audience and producers follow it slavishly.


all forms of entertainments are creative.


” There needs to be an element of surprise somewhere with (sic) regular but unscheduled…”

Regular surprises which aren’t scripted are impossible to achieve on a daily basis. That is why some races turn out to be action packed and some don’t. Even Singapore, where it rains all year round (thus kind of guaranteeing a wet race) had to go a full decade before we got a wet race.

What James is saying is that there are somethings in our hands, execution and performance of the event, which should be flawless. This is true for every sporting event.


@fdrtu You are reading something into my post that is not there! I did not mention on ‘a day to day ‘basis. You are either looking for an argument, you are being deliberately obtuse or you are unable to comprehend the thrust of my comment. I will simplify my comment by saying that during the course of a season the racing could benefit largely by having a few different drivers step up and take either wins or podiums in order to liven the series up. In other words, some real competition rather that the farcical situation where we see one team vanish into the distance and not really challenged. The flawless execution of staging was not being questioned. A fact that i recognised and posted on.


Of course, that’s where sport differs from theatre – it’s real live drama – but my point is about excellence in execution and presentation.


James – in your opinion, what is the key difference that means indy cars can follow really close to each other and F1 cars can’t? Maybe that is what Liberty Media need to concentrate on?


Importance of front wings in F1


James, why they didn’t restricted the front wing design with a much simpler one? I mean, it is a problem that has to be addressed for quite awhile now.


Hi James, wouldn’t allowing bodywork in front of the rear wheels again (like in 2005) tidy up the dirty air from the wheels and therefore allow the car behind to be closer in corners?


@ James….There are times when i marvel at the ‘excellence’ in being able to consistently stage the F1 ‘production’ in a variety of global theatres but then again when ‘they’ [ the actors and cast ] do the same thing race after race, year after year, one would expect a very high level of excellence in execution and presentation.


f1 can never pu on the exact same performance race after race if it wanted to let alone year after year. all the circuits have a completely different flow. different number and mix of turns. even the race results and other incidents are different.


I was going to say pretty much the same thing. Plus I bet that if Hamilton was performed at a whisper quiet volume, and some kind of thong obstructed the performers, it wouldn’t have the same effect.

I think it’s pretty obvious what f1 needs to be spectacular and engaging. The problem is that it seems to be doing the exact opposite. It’s no good to disrespectfully bin all of the most important elements of a sport’s DNA, and then start thinking about a show.

James does make a good point about simple being good. I think simplicity is elegant and beautiful. But it must be real. If it’s not real it’s not engaging as a sport and as a spectacle I’m afraid.


Free to Air viewing is the m9st important thing.
Or the ability to access directly from F1. Rather than some monopoly broadcaster !
The rest is just razzamatazz.


What’s free to air?
Corbynist economics?