A while ago now, in the UK, there was a popular music chart television programme, made by the BBC, called Top of the Pops. It ran for 42 years. It was a countdown to find out what was the Number One that week. It drew a vast audience and every singer and every band wanted to be on it. Looking back now, in the age of whizzbangs and wonderment, it was all rather tame – and the clothing and hairdos were giggle-inducing – but it worked wonders for the pop music industry and kept the toothsome DJs amused with a constant stream of teenage girls, wanting to be in the audience, and willing to do whatever it took to get there… It worked because there was a structure, suspense and if some of the groups were awful (cue: The Bay City Rollers), there was always someone you liked. It was a win-win deal for all concerned.
Formula 1 used to be like that but in recent times it has all been getting rather confused and today, rather than everyone doing what they are told and singing in beautiful harmonies, we have Luca and the High Horses doing “Paint it Black”, Bernie & The Asset Strippers singing “Money, money, money”, Dietrich and the Untermensch warbling “My way”, Jean Todt and the Blazers doing “We are the champions” (without the sequins), the other teams singing “Ain’t no sunshine” and the media doing “Dancing in the Dark” all at the same time. It is a right old cacophony. A lot of noise.
Yesterday I read a Ferrari press release announcing that 83 percent of the fans do not like Formula 1. Fabulous! The team that gains the most from the sport, saying that the sport is rubbish.
Did they teach that one in PR school?
I read with fascination, it was like a chapter from Suicide 101, explaining how to load a pistol and point it at one’s head. I even went to ask the Ferrari PR man if there was any possible logical positive strategy for such a ridiculous release. His argument was not convincing.
Formula 1 is in the process of a brilliant technical revolution that has a real value to the world at large and the people in the sport are all whining and griping and trying to get things changed, because they have other agendas. It is incredibly depressing that the sport is delivering such a poor message to the public at a time when there is such a positive story to be told: the F1 cars of 2014 cover the same distance at the same sort of speed as the cars of 2013, but they do it using 35 percent less fuel. That’s impressive. But where is this great story being broadcast? Why can no-one remember the word HYBRID? The teams are squabbling as ever, the Formula One group does not do promotion (an odd stance for a promoter) and the FIA’s idea about communication is about as useful as a Trappist Debating Society.
It is as if everyone is working to bring down the value of the sport. Some may be, some may wish to drive away the investors so that they can buy the shares. The investors are, sadly, completely clueless. They look only at the bottom line and do not care how it is arrived at. And they don’t have the nous (nor the balls) to run the business as it could (and should) be run and they just don’t care whether the sport spins off into a wall and catches fire, so long as they have their pockets bulging with fivers when they depart. If they had any clue they would realise that there is still plenty of milk left inside this old cash cow.
What happened to the sport that we love? Why are the teams trying to get rules they like rather than buckling down and building better racing cars as racers do? The culprit today is Ferrari, and it is clear that the folk in Maranello have not mastered the new engines as successfully as Mercedes-Benz (major ooops). Yesterday it was Red Bull. They are not winning, so they are whingeing instead. They are trying to change the rules as Red Bull did last year.
They have no respect for the sport.
Well, as a fan of F1, my view is very simple: if you don’t like it, go away. There will always be other racers who will step in to replace these prima donnas. It is just a question of money. If we wish to see the sport destroy itself then we need to let everyone spend as much as they like. The dinosaurs can have a final party, but if we want to go forward, we need to do so with rules that restrict money and ego, just as they restrict wing size and tyre width.
Goodness me, I sound angry.