Why an engine unfreeze is good for F1

The thing that kills F1 teams faster than anything is having to pay for engines. In the old days everyone could have a Cosworth at a moderate price and they could be moderately successful if they built a good car. But times have changed and there are no Cosworths left in F1. They have been driven out by manufacturers spending on engine development – and worthless development outside the F1 bubble, come to that. So, the FIA in the pre-Todt era figured out the best thing to do would be to ask the manufacturers what they wanted from F1 and then give them it. This is what the new rules are and Todt and his men can take credit for getting this done. So modern F1 is what the manufacturers asked for. Now, the teams will tell you that the new engines are too expensive and the manufacturers will tell you that they must charge customers because their bosses want to minimize the cost of F1. What no one will tell you is how to fix the problem. It seems to me that if one has an F1 with more manufacturers, each bound, say, to provide a customer engine at a set price for a second team – if called upon to do so – we would be in a healthier state. If the rules are what manufacturers want and the F1 world hits the markets they are aiming at, one needs to understand why there is a problem getting more companies into F1. Thus far only Honda has risen to the challenge. At first glance F1 is an obvious move for Audi, BMW, Peugeot and Hyundai to name just a few.!It is also logical for firms such as Renault to use the technology they have developed to promote more than one brand. If Infiniti (a Renault partner) wants to be in F1 with Red Bull with a rebadged V6, why not? Similarly why does Ferrari not badge an engine as Chrysler and get some US interest going in F1, to help sell both brands. When you work through the possibilities, one can see that getting to 12 teams with different cost-effective engines is not impossible.

So why is it not happening? The first thought I have is that F1 has the right technology but the wrong image, while ironically Formula E is the opposite. F1 has an image of profligacy that the car industry definitely does not want. The whole industry is geared towards financial efficiency and F1 does not fit. That is easily changed with a properly presented FIA cost cap regulation. That would benefit everyone in more than one way. The problem is that this requires political backbone and good presentation skills, neither of which the FIA has at the moment.

Some say the the man who is trying to solve F1’s problems is in fact part of the problem himself, but it is hard to judge if this is true. That could be found out if CVC Capital Partners – the owners of the commercial side of the sport – asked the car manufacturers about their reticence to join in, despite the fact that F1 is what they want.

If I were Frank Williams, Peter Sauber, Vijay Mallya or Dietrich Mateschitz I would be touring the world, talking to car companies. Catching up with the technology is not so hard if one can hire a couple of people who know how to do it. And if the level of competition on F1 is balanced more, as will happen as the formula matures, it is quite possible for six or seven car companies to enjoy success and the halo effect of the sport.
Closing down the development potential makes F1 less valuable for the industry and less attractive to the individual car companies looking for ways to sell their wares.

90 thoughts on “Why an engine unfreeze is good for F1

  1. The disconnect for me Joe is that I believe the old adage of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ is absolutely broken in F1. With the exception of Mercedes, which is doing a nice job reinventing their road cars and leveraging F1 in Marketing, there is now such a gulf between the cars we see on Sunday to the one’s available on Monday. F1 does not help sell Renaults, or Infiniti’s, and Williams will not help sell Mercs. Possibly, if I was in the market for a Ferrari or a McClaren I’d welcome the F1 technology. But the idea – for example – that badging a Ferrari engine as Chrysler would help sell cars feels very distant these days.

    1. people are not that dumb ( not even americans) that they can’t tell a difference between ferrari and chrysler…and why would you want your car to be named chrysler anyway, it has such a bad reputation and has no racing history associated with it!

      1. I repeat most people don’t know that fiat Ferrari and Chrysler are part of the same car group. It has nothing to with whether they can tell the difference. They don’t know. Bentley, Lamborghini, Skoda and Seat are part of the same group.

        1. People really aren’t that stupid. Anyone with half an interest in cars knows Bentley, Lamborghini, Skoda and Seat are linked. If there were ‘multi-branded’ engines in F1 and the audience grew they would become aware of the links through comentators telling them so.

          Hyundai race what they sell in the WRC. They don’t have a long histor in motorsport so I’m sure this serves them well for now.

          And don’t forget LMP which has Audi and Toyota and much more open rules on hybrid energy.

        2. In regard to those comments, I think you’d find that most younger people do know which marques are linked in ownership. My two lads of 22 & 25, can tell you this, and often make comments such as why is Porsche in the WEC, battling Audi, since they are the same company ownership, what have they to gain from one beating the other? Similarly, they know that Merc engines are not German but British built in Northampton. You often talk of engaging younger audiences, and motorsport should do so, but don’t think they can be hoodwinked by PR, they are more savvy than that in most respects.

  2. I have always assumed the big car makers were against a budget cap,
    as they would then lose their ability to out spend each other? Of course it back fires when they do and still achieve very little – Toyota being the most obvious example.

  3. Great post Joe as always,
    Just a thought what if the lack of manufacturer presence in F1 because they are looking at other arenas ?The WEC is growing in popularity every season and the average joe can relate to a LMP car more than say a F1 prototype machine.

    And people like you should be running F1 . is there a chance of that happening?
    wishful thinking?

    1. what do you mean with “WEC is growing in popularity”? at least, in latin america (a huge market for renault an fiat) it isn’t even on tv! besides, 6 hour races hardly get any casual fan engaged, that’s why F1 with shorter races, is a better showcase for technology. And as far as i know, the LMP are as prototypes as an F1, with the exception of the roof or covered wheels…

    2. I think this is it. There are ways of using motor sport to boost sales and image without the massive expense of F1. I sometimes wonder how much F1 matters in the world of motor show rooms. VW have enjoyed great success with out going anywhere near F1. Nissan have developed a very advanced car without involvement in F1 or even recent high level involvement in Le Mans. Audi find Le Mans to be a very good showcase for their technology. Chevvy have done well in WTC – would they have got more kudos from F1? F1 fans buy Ferrari caps or McLaren shirts then drive Golfs and Corollas

  4. the way i see it. if you left the engines unfrozen we might see some incredible efficiencies reached. the technology is still in its relative infancy and there’s obviously a long way to go still. F1 can drive this, and be seen to be doing so. yes, unfrozen engine regs are good for both F1 and the industry as a whole

  5. A small flaw in your argument:

    Renault (mass market, consumer pricing) -> Infiniti (small market, luxury). This only adds to Renault’s brand. That works.

    Ferrari (small market, exclusive, luxury) -> Chrysler (mass market, consumer pricing). This devalues Ferrari’s brand. This does not work.

      1. They’ll have no idea until Coulthard or Brundle points out that it’s actually a rebadged Ferrari engine, or the engine is deficient and the head of Chrysler Racing starts defending himself by saying he has to go racing with whatever Ferrari let him have.

    1. Not sure about how successful rebadging a Ferrari engine as a Chrysler would be. However rebadging a Ferrari engine as an Alfa Romeo? That works on a number of levels –

      1. The Alfa Romeo relaunch into a global brand will need big publicity due to its ambitiousness
      2. Was Enzo Ferrari not the former team manager at Alfa Romeo’s works team
      3. Ferrari are not so secretly involved in developing some of the top engines for Alfa Romeo’s new model range
      4. Given the US market will be very important for the new Alfa Romeo would a Haas F1 Team car not be ideal for marketing purposes

      1. Put a Chrysler engine badge on a Haas car and you’ll get American race enthusiasts very excited (including many NASCAR fans), especially if they cross-promote and especially if they have an American driver.

        Not saying Alpha wouldn’t work in the rest of the world, but for the US, Chrysler would be big.

        1. How about badging it Dodge rather than Chrysler? I like the sound of that – a Dodge F1 car, might help Chrysler sell more SRT Vipers…

  6. This week I read a throwaway line somewhere in the Dutch media that “F1 is about energy efficiency” so some of the message is trickling through despite the best efforts of Jean &co.

    There seems to be something of a juxtaposition (maybe even a paradox) in F1’s image: on the one hand there’s the glamour with all the celebrities and on the other there’s the technical side: pinnacle of motorsport, going very fast very efficiently. A good communicator would probably separate the two things, since they seem contradictory to an extent: the glamour as the public image, to draw people in and the efficiency as the corporate image, to draw manufacturers and (to an extent) sponsors. Manufacturers could then tout the efficiency in their own communication to the public, creating a nice whole package.

    The sporting side should take care of itself (and should not really be subject to endless blathering from the likes of Bernie and, formerly, Luca). As we have seen for the last couple of years, even with one team dominating, the sport produces interesting racing and off track action. And if the sport can draw in more manufacturers and healthier teams along the lines of what you suggest, things could get even more (picture a smiling Daniel Ricciardo – remember to put on your sunglasses first) tasty.

  7. “… quite possible for six or seven car companies to enjoy success…”

    Maybe. But it’s more likely that one or two will enjoy success and the others will have to put up with team bosses, drivers, media and fans bitching about lack of performance, reliability etc.

  8. A very pertinent question Joe. Why are only MB, Renault and Ferrari involved – and only Honda apparently committed for 2015?
    Another could be : Why do the current manufacturers not use their involvement more to advertise their products, or showcase their level of competence?
    My view is that F1 and motor sport in general is a participants sport. Not like football for instance where it’s easy to understand and relatively cheap to go and watch. Racing cars is only for people with deep pockets. The higher up the racing ladder you go, the more elitist it becomes. It cannot possibly connect the average person the way it seems to want to. As such I’m not convinced of the general influence our sport has on your average customer decision. I’m sure there is lots of marketing data you can use to show that isn’t the case but to me, it seems as if the main reason a lot of sponsors and manufacturers get involved is because the people making the decisions or paying for it get a thrill from being involved or are proper enthusiasts. And it’s only once they have got involved that there is an effort made to justify it – and quite often a quite plausible one too. The problem of involvement for a manufacturer to me seems to be that only the guy who wins gets any attention and if I think of F1 now, it’s really difficult to understand all the intricacies of the rules, the strategies, the tyre degradation etc etc. How can a manufacturer explain to the general public that he’s not winning in F1?
    I’m a major petrol head and I understand some of what is going on but I don’t believe there has to be an economic reason or justification for F1 to exist.

    1. About the tire degradation: of course it’s ridiculous. Mark Webber says it best, commenting he’s glad to be on “racer’s” tires, instead of “showman’s” tires, sorry I forget the exact quote about his current job. But what the degradation cliff does is highlight performance and skill in a way, I am inclined to agree with you here, Cede, in general, that provides enjoyment for aficionados or participants, more than it does for outside observers or casual fans. I for one, miss the long stint charges that could be made on the past rubber, for my interest was held longer, and I would be glued to the sector times. Whereas now, you assume that the driver is on a programmed cruise, until the undercut, and we don’t even have the hint of team radio now to better follow when fuel mix and other adjustments are made that permit a charge to be made. For some races, certainly, I am on tenterhooks, and watching timing for these events, but more often than not, I can’t maintain the concentrated interest, as I could, before.

      Ced’s point is one the best I’ve noted in a long time. It’s borne out even in the sponsorship. Rolex like to sponsor exclusive participant sports, it’s their primary communication, and their introduction to F1 is, I believe, in recognition of what Ced argues.

    2. “Why are only MB, Renault and Ferrari involved – and only Honda apparently committed for 2015?”

      Other car manufacturers favour rallying, sports/GTE, or endurance racing as being a lot more relevant to their production car market. Indeed one might make a case for Ferrari being a lot closer to LMS than F1. The LMS regulations now allow a version of an F1 engine to be used, thought the LMS regs cover a wide range of permitted engines with the emphasis heavily on hybrid and equalisation of total torque and power. A pseudo adiabatic cycle is a feature of one (which seems interesting from an F1 point of view) and diesels often win.

      It seems to me that should existing manufacturers exit F1, then we have to turn to the providers of LMS spec engines as our source and change the rules accordingly. (Just use the LMS engine rules) That would bring others in and widen the field of prospective engine suppliers. The variety of engine types would give huge opportunity for development and cross fertilisation.

    1. This fan would like to see constant development of the engines, sorry powertrains. I want to see engines turned up to 11 for qualifying, I want to see the envelope being pushed, I want to see failures, I want to see real innovation.

      Utterly reliable conservative engines are fine for Toyota Camrys, not so much F1.

      Innovate! Compete!

  9. I don’t think Formula E should ever have happened.

    Not if F1 had been on the ball. A Mercedes without electrical power? Behind a Caterham.

    Consumers don’t want electric vehicles, the demand is governed by too many practical factors such as lack of grating in cities. We might all love to have a Tesla roadster, but that’s another thing altogether. Since the beginning of motorsport, endurance and efficiency have been real attractors of the public to events. Because that’s something normal people care about. They dream of being able to tour their car in comfort, reliably, quickly, ideally through idyllic routes on holiday. Look at the resurgence of WEC. Formula E, just got the wrong E.

    Instead of Formula E, there should have been a real racing series made up for the Formula SAE design efforts. There, one could show off far more technology, and immediately bring the impact of education in technology to the forefront. You’d immediately have a supply of race experienced engineers and designers, filling out the corners of motorsport, and reinvigorate the whole scene. Vitally, the educational connections of big Universities participating, very much more so in the States, than elsewhere, would assist bringing sponsorship. Endowment funds are unusually influential in business and investment, particularly since the demise of equity analysis, as it traditionally was. Their boards are full of alumni in positions to help or become engaged. I’d most certainly pay to see top drivers negotiate real races with development cars like that. There’d be truly something interesting to say, to the press, for every drive.

        1. Even better, I think I meant to write “garaging”, for charging the cars.. but enough car parking n cities is grating, I guess…

        1. “Consumers don’t want stinking, loud, dangerous oil-burners. What do you do when you run out of fuel and there is nowhere to fuel nearby? Horses have served us well for thousands of years.”

          (said nobody in particular just over 100 years ago)

        2. Those order books have benefited from government subsidies for years.

          Tesla has only just started turning a profit the last year or two.

        1. If you are inclined to think I’m just playing devil’s advocate, the relevant quote is “48V is a nice voltage for arc welding”…

          just add your local “spark” coming to fix all this, to your garage… where you like to stash half empty paints and back issue magazines…

          You see, Tesla owners won’t have these problems, because if they’re not geeks, the car means you have bigger budget for installation, and I believe they ensure that is done right, for you.

          You have to multiply the chances to millions of households, and I don’t dare think of the safety of any domestic wiring, these days, from too much experience.

  10. The glaringly obvious question, to me, is if F1 is such a terrific vehicle for a company to advertise or to show their technological abilities, why are they not signing on? I believe the answer has to be that F1, to the outsider, would make no difference to their bottom line or perhaps even damage their image. The vast majority of the car buying public don’t care about F1. The number of people that feel F1 is wasteful pursuit of the rich probably exceeds the fan base.

    Better then a third of the teams are broke, the purse is rigged, most of the races lose money, other races are being held in questionable locations, the global audience is dropping, the cost to the fan is rising, the owners do no reinvesting in the “sport”, the owners representative has been involved with some very shady dealings, it’s unclear who makes the rules and the money being spent, by some teams, to field two cars is out of control. What’s the upside for interested parties?

    1. Brent you seem to have it all covered! I think that another reason why Marques are not queuing up maybe that MB are said to have spent $ Billions on their new PU….it is still hard economic times out in the real world. Germany’s economy is not brilliant, it is now sluggish. For the likes of VW-Audi-Porsche to look to F1 is simply not financially logical. There’s no major payback, all of those companies are getting good publicity and impressing hardcore fans in the WEC and WRC, and they probably don’t need the casual fan who may drop in on F1, for their marketing.
      If the VW Group spent $ Billions and it didn’t work out, much as with Renault & Ferrari now, the fall out at Board level would be catastrophic for their other motorsports activities. It’s too big a risk.
      Therefore one could accurately assume that F1 has become too expensive for a Marque to justify entering. The cost/benefit return isn’t big enough to make them want to enter. Also, it maybe that the Bling Factor of F1 that Bernie has promoted, is wearing thin, and does not engender much traction with young people, who are also in the real world, and struggling with the things that their parents had less trouble with, such as finding a decent job and buying somewhere to live. It might be the case that Bernie’s GlamRock Circus could even be a bit repellent to younger folk? Excess can be unattractive.
      If F1 wasn’t run by greed, then the promotor would seek to find out the views of the audience and fans, and take stock. That isn’t happening, the whole show moves grindingly along, with all the contestants bitching and moaning, but with no one exercising any leadership…..is it any wonder that the sensible folk here and elsewhere, despair at what is going on?
      In the distant past, teams entered 3 or more cars, to get more starting money and prize money, a 3 car team would be equally fine now if the field was 30+, but if the field is only 8 teams x 3 cars, that is a receipe for disaster…..a way forward might be to allow the small teams to run 1 car and sell one off to Privateers, but with such a complex formula and rulebook, it probably wouldn’t be viable I guess.

    2. Brent, when I was first exhorted how to sell advertising in magazines, I was told to always say which competitors were in. Presumably, it was that sort of place, and had a contract with Bernie also, at the time, you were expected to lie, also, if needed. For it was considered that important, and the seventeen year old me, did not realize the state of mind of who actually books advertising for a living, That’s a sink hole of debate, in real practical detail, but maybe you can see from there, why the Ferrari situation is so unusual. Or just brutal.

      1. Sorry Joj but I have no idea what your point is. Would “exhorted” not involve encouraging someone to take up a task, as opposed to teaching the technique of the task?

        1. Sorry Brent, I made a right hash of a few comments, lately, what can I say? Best to say I worked at a not very small publisher which absolutely nobody will admit to on their CVs, not publicly anyhow. I was seventeen, and told firmly by my boss (who had that morning my first morning, poached me away from where i’d been appointed, a section run by his flat mate, a good thing for me, it turned out, my boss was brilliant) “don’t bother with the company name, keep to the magazine subjects”… yeah, if you said where you called from, cue expletives and the phone slammed down by receptionists even… Wimbledon, PGA, F1, the contracts followed the ability to sell and bid on them, and were why I applied… I learned a lot, ahem.. actually I did learn a awful lot how a complicated publishing outfit can collapse, my pal at the rime was ex Anderson and a insolvency specialist and reversed books with me each night over beers and sweepstakes on how long we’d have a job… from which i built a model for brokering sales later on, that I still use to educate customers what to watch out for. Believe me, not much is different in any other publisher, if you understand the mechanics. The product never changed. Anything you can imagine, I will not prompt you further, but I won’t disillusion you, you’re probably right, and not thinking hard enough how many things can be broken… oh, no, I didn’t need to, though I would say that, but I didn’t at all, I had my incoming lines ring more often than I could get out calls, due to luck as much as work, my boss had carved a niche that set us apart form the mainstream, he went on much later, to float and sell a genuine technology outfit. But, as to your question, oh, what was dubious was so blatant and comically so, there was a kind of suspension of belief. Have you seen “The Wolf Of Wall Street”? DiCaprio’s first pitch for the Long Island shop… I almost could mouth the exact words when I first saw him, ahead of synch to him. Not a metaphor, I literally heard them in my head before he spoke. Thought “crikey, this IS a real story” That movie was almost tame. I think I learned a MBA worth of insights in my first six months. Good place to have left behind, as they say…

    3. i know that in an F1 forum, talk about football is kind of a heresy, but we should take a look at two fenomenons: La Liga (spain) and Bundesliga (germany). You see, in spain, the two top teams get almost the 60 percent of the TV Incomes, and the other teams have to share the other 40%. What do we have? a boring league where wether Real Madrid or Barcelona get the title (with some surprises as last season). As for the rest of the teams: no money, and farest from the top teams. That’s basically F1 nowadays! and then, we have the bundesliga: the difference between top teams and smaller teams aren’t that big, so it’s always an open end the championship. How come that Bernie’s getting so filthy rich, the teams are struggling, and the venues have to pay so much without getting anything in return?

          1. Not saying it should happen here, but side project of mine, writing a plugin to permit parallel discussions to main blog comments, fully hidden from search engines and the permanent record, but a kind of ad hoc forum to provide, my hope is, for freeflow off topic, for personal greetings, that sort of thing … deffo filtered for rude talk (in extremis, to cut the worst only but I’m working in spotting name calling for a “instaban”) and a few things that might spice it up, provide a scratchpad even for making the main comments more serious. It’s suffering feature creep, though, I tried to put on a little SVG chart maker, last week, for arguing quail time splits,.. I need to debug what I got already… /// anyhow… I’m glad this isn’t a forum. I dislike most forums. Standard ones are so terribly designed, no, I cannot press a tiny numeric label when there’s no next button offered, and that is sheer pre toddler stuff I see wrong everywhere.. and I don’t want a forum taking away and becoming a different thing to here… however I would very much like to add in much, a bit like this, as a side bar almost throwaway. It’s my Christmas holiday project, anyway. Personally I think it would add a lot of interest, but I’m stuck on how to build it so it encourages debate rather than becomes a speakeasy for loutish behavior. Keep thinking of making a simple lookup tool for race results off Wikipedia,e.g. .. things handy for adding and not drifting away too far. There is no such thing as a specification for wordpress, no reference by which to build something that won’t break things, hence so slow… heck just a plain install wiped one blog the other day, not done wrong at all, reasons still unknown.. studying up every which way to be sure to be safe is way harder than, e,g, automatically prompting wiki results from out of a live draft of a comment… OKay, okay, sorry Joe, very last comment on this one, I’ve done enough hinting.. just every time I’m here and the grey matter is jogged, I’ve come up with another thing to do on this project, not mentioning what I came with now, as just arcane, but nonetheless, always happens… I just realized the way your domains are set up makes it way easier to run one as a “beta”, if you ever were testing anything at all, irrespective of my fiddling. Which isn’t fiddling, now, a good while.. but deffo my last mention of this.

  11. Regarding Honda, it was brought to my attention that Honda will not be required to supply anyone but McLaren next year. Why is this? The other manufacturers are required to supply additional teams, why isn’t Honda?

    1. I don’t think Honda have an exemption to the rules. I think that all the other teams have engine deals in place already.

      1. I had the impression that a new manufacturer was somewhat off the hook for the first season as regards supplying multiple teams.

  12. It would make a whole lot up sense for Hyundai to enter F1 to up its street cred. adding further value to their brand. The Korean manufacturers have the most to gain as success in F1 would be an enhancement to their Brands which would boost sales and help maintain if not increase profit margins. (A higher value brand perception rather than a discount brand only)

    1. “It would make a whole lot up sense for Hyundai to enter F1 to up its street cred.”
      Actually it wouldn’t. Series such as WRC, WTCC, BTCC and other street-based car series would be more valuable to them.
      NOBODY in Korea thinks of Hyundai as a racing brand. I also don’t believe that Hyundai has the funds or expertise to go into a sport as expensive and technically advanced as F1.
      They’re doing pretty well in WRC and that will build into other series.

  13. Joe,
    Your observations concerning the manufacturers input into the technical formula and then their efforts to pass the costs of those rules onto the teams are very insightful and shine a light on one of the fundamental problems in Formula One today.

  14. There is an elephant in the room you are not mentioning Joe, namely that F1 is diminishing in public significance. From your own articles it is evident the sport is primarily reaching a core fan base and the wider public’s awareness and interest does not hold that much value to commercial enterprises any more, and you are not uninformed.

    Pay TV takes the sport out of the general public’s sphere of awareness. Simply put, BE and CVC are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Engine relevance or re-branding this or that may help, but really what the sport needs is greater popularity and this can only come through better publicity of and access to F1. Its about having and holding interest from vast numbers of people which always has commercial value. More cows and new bigger farms, not more ways to milk the existing cows on the existing farm and certainly not eating the existing cows… how hard is this to see?

    BE, CVC and The FIA are like a bunch of monkey stuck with a hand full of nuts in a small hole in a tree trunk! You would think that they could work out that letting go of the nuts is the answer and thus demonstrate more intelligence than a monkey! Let go of pay tv!

    Look at Google, lots of services that are free, Gmail, search engine, YouTube, etc etc. all for free. Money earnings? HUGE. They could buy F1 with their small change. Really when you think about it BE, CVC and the FIA are pathetic businesspeople.

      1. You don’t agree…
        That you are well informed on things F1?
        That F1 is becoming isolated the public at large?
        That pay tv is killing the sport?
        That Google makes money via providing free services?
        That my name is Freeman?

        1. I don’t agree with your judgement of “BE, CVC and the FIA being pathetic business people”
          I’m not sure what your criteria for “business people” is? BE certainly doesn’t seem to be “pathetic” to me in terms of business, I mean like anyone he’ll regret some things and kick himself for others, but at 80+ years old and sat on what he’s sat on it’s a fair return for a lifetimes work. I don’t know anything about CVC and I’m quite happy not to. Should the FIA be a business?
          I’m sure you are quite right about additional revenue from Google & Co but how do you deal with the existing TV contracts? Surely it would undermine them right now. I don’t want to watch F1 on a bloody computer when I can watch it on a big screen?!
          F1 is not football. The positioning is not general public in my view, so why bleat on about Internet as a revenue stream so that the whole world can be as confused as we are about F1 races?

    1. Freeman, I think there’s a lot of sense to what you’re saying. The critical mass of FREE TV has turned the tide and is now in reverse. PAYTV is just another layer of expense to consume F1.

      1. Moreover, with smart TV becoming increasingly useful, one to watch is LG’s purchase of WebOS, which was what was left of Palm, HP kept their use for office kit like printer interfaces… WebOS is potentially a real deal, along with Android flavors on televisions… this is getting much better. Some Panasonic sets have really good pucks and even pointers… it’s getting there …. a Intel Edison, basically an1998 workstation spec computer size of a SD card, can be had for fifty bucks…

        F1 should be bought by someone wanting to use all this to break into the broadcast game, not bought by a incumbent.

        Nobody wants subsidy, or bundled channels, we want the straight price of F1 in a better organized system.

        I think i’d pay quite a bit more than Sky charge, stripping away the bundled stuff. I’m thinking of getting a Sky branded TV Now box, to pocket for weekends away, so I can have at least 720p broadcast for, I think it’s a tenner for the week or weekend. For a dedicated F1 channel, by channel I mean the works, a channel to which bloggers have access, podcasts are shown, and so on, i’ll pay more, say three hundred or so, of which fifty to split to additional content providers, a royalty to extra providers, publishers, anyone who can come in. I want a budget of five million at least as a kitty that independent writers and commentators can take a slice of, with minimum formality and no fuss. If they waste their chances, they waste their chances. A couple hundred grand pays for a simple short documentary shoot, or could do. Let them bring it on, get costs covered, and get a split of the royalty kitty right by proportion to the attention they get. Yes, a good podcast should pay thousands, that’s just a professional rate.

        The tech to do this is there. Sadly I am not rich. This is why I thought Mark Cuban, a controversial man for sure, would be good, shake it all up. Someone who would see this as a huge flip, turning a sport around and gaining a vital technologies installed base, and eventually selling on, but deep pockets mean not immediately, and there would be revenue enough. Why oh why is there no billionaire with the love and the swinging ones? A billion would leverage into the twenty bullion required to rebuild everything. Ten to layoff the money grubbers, ten to put into the technologies and everything around the sport, tracks, filling the stadiums… and I am plain downright certain. You could double your money in five years. If you were a failure at it.

        Back to my Pinky and The Brain style endeavors… I cannot but half hope F1 will remain stagnant long enough for one of my fantastical plans to come to fruition …

  15. Meh. No manufacturer, bar Ferrari, actually cares about the sport. When they win they claim to care, but that’s it. Each participates at the board’s whim and will drop it like a hot rock the moment they feel like it. Catering to the interests of those who will back out on a moment’s notice (often for reasons having nothing to do with F1) is bad for the sport, because it makes life so much harder for the privateers who’ve long formed the backbone of the sport.

    So many people like to talk about how important manufacturers are to the sport, how much they bring. But if they don’t bring fans, it’s all for naught. And do they bring fans? Outside of the tifosi, I doubt they do much of that. A little anecdata: I know a rabid Mercedes customer, he owns $500k+ of their stuff at any given time, but he can’t be bothered to switch F1 on even once.

    If I ran F1, Ferrari is the only manufacturer I’d listen to. And if another manufacturer wants to come in? I’d say fine, sign an agreement that you’ll be in F1 for the next ten years straight, and then I’ll listen to you, too.

      1. @Eahorc: That may be true. But “manufacturers,” in this context, means a company that produces a large volume of road cars for the mass market, so Williams and McLaren (despite the latter’s small line of relatively recently introduced exotics) aren’t generally thought of as manufacturers. My comment was throwing stones at the likes of Renault, who insisted on this fantastically expensive engine formula and then promptly threatened to leave the sport after 2015. F1 doesn’t need a partner like that.

      2. Well the “care” is such a different thing, when it’s all you know, as opposed to being a legendary part of a key member of the most exclusive club of companies in the world… I never think the cares are not genuine, but the relationship is going to be different, and,e.g. FW and Daughter by necessity look with a much more grounded gaze of love at F1.

        I think I understand what you mean, Eahorc, because big company attitude does trickle down. Having a big brother makes you mire confident in the playground. But I would never argue the personal live and care is more so in one team or the other, I think it is the same kind of care when laid bare to its core emotion.

  16. Here is what I would do Give the team a choice of going with a mfg. or have them by an engine from an FIA engine supplier.

    But, allow them – to them to design the car with liberal aerodynamics. Such as ground effects.

  17. In a related ‘cost of racing’ story, I see Nascar are introducing rule changes to decrease aero downforce (to improve the amount of overtaking) and outlaw pretty much all but officially sanctioned tests and tyre tests. The rationale – to attempt to ‘control spiralling costs’. Sound familiar?

    Oh, BTW they are also looking to do ‘wet’ (road) races.

  18. “… quite possible for six or seven car companies to enjoy success…”

    I don’t agree. There’s only ever room for 2-3 to enjoy success. It’s not the village sack race. Some have to come last to make the event.

    Surely the main thing that stops Audi, VW, GM, Hyundai et al from joining is the memory of Toyota. Billions spent, over a hundred GPs and no wins. Add Bernie to the mix and it’s way too big a risk.

  19. But, doesn’t this just open up an arms race of engine development?

    I like your idea, but I think it sidesteps the whole reason there is a freeze in the first place.

  20. The problem, one of many, that still exists is that there is still a disconnect between CVC,the FIA, the teams and the fans. Until such time as “someome” decides if F1 is a technological exercise or an entertainment medium, then it cant be fixed, and please dont tell me it can be all things to everyone, because that is a further recipe for decline. F1 needs a clear, current day, message that the paying elements, sponsers/fans can agree on.
    The racing has been really good this year, so are we really talking about a self generated problem, or are the natives just looking to cause trouble for the sake of it?

  21. very interesting post Joe, but I think you might have forgotten 1 aspect : the over-importance of aerodynamics
    do you think BMW or Audi would want to link themselves with a team thinking they might produce the best engine package, but that people might not notice because they would be stranded in the second half of the grid ?
    look at the results of the renault engine in a Neweymobile compared to a mercedes engine in a force india or a McLaren
    a drastic reduction in aerodynamics ( limiting the total surface and number of airfoils for instance, which would still leave something for the engineers to play with ) would allow cars to follow each other in curves, lengthen the braking distances, and give back some chance to overtake without needing a DRS
    it would level the field, and give back more importance to the pilot and the mechanical part

  22. Some interesting comments – I do agree there are a vast number of businesses worldwide that have the budget to buy into F1. It’s a very big question as to why they aren’t flocking to the sport. One [part of the] answer has to be the uncertainty regarding Bernie’s future and therefore future plans for the sport. This is pure mismanagement at this stage and noone will thank him for it in a couple of years time. Another part of the problem is the FIA and the random rule changes, the radio messages mess last week being a case in point.

    With regard to four people mentioned in JS’s original article:

    Frank Williams, Peter Sauber, Vijay Mallya or Dietrich Mateschitz

    FW and PS have both had dreadful experience of OEMs – the same one as it happens. And both have survived in one shape or form and BMW walked away from the sport.

    VM and DM are in a compeltely different category. DM has clear objectives about what his business needs from the sport. He’s invested a lot of money and can easily decide that International Waveboarding is the next big thing to promote his brand. The Red Bull investment hit around the Billion point this year and that’s a sobering time to review what to do with another billion. An investment that large into WRC could transform that sport to rival F1. Mateschitz could end up “owning” the sport and that would be a far bigger platform to promote the RB brand.

    VM as a privateer doesn’t have much of a future in F1, the problems in India aren’t going away and his airline, one of the key branding opportunities for the F1 team, is gone. The team are punching above their weight in a Jordan-esque sort of way, so the “DNA” of the operation is really good, maybe this would be the best platform for an OEM to invest.

  23. I disagree..

    the current power-train rules are such that what’s the motivation for a car co to spend the thick end of a billion $ on making something that has zero relevance to anything else they do? (aside some vague marketing talk).

    if you want cheap engines for the teams to buy, DUMP THE PHENOMENALLY EXPENSIVE WHITE ELEPHANT TECH!

    Yes, it really is that simple.

    They are not even high tech engines, no Variable valve lift/timing (that 50+% of road cars now have), fixed engine geometry, fixed turbo geometry, the list goes on – where’s the innovation?

    I know your going to vehemently disagree with me (again!) but it’s hard to argue the point that these new power-trains have cost way too much and have lead to where we are now.

    Assuming Honda don’t make a hash of their new engine, just how long do you think Renault can keep going for?

    then we are back to 3 engine makers, once hiccup that could easily become 2, then what?

      1. Maybe because it has made the engine/gearbox side of the car, hugely expensive against other options that could have been used, and apart from a few treehuggers, no one I’ve talked to has ( A ) any idea of what the new technology is and ( B ) doesn’t give a fig about whether it uses big batteries or whatever. All I get told is that F1 is boring, and only one team ever wins the titles on a rotating basis. People remark that Ferrari used to win all the time, then RedBull and now Merc, no one seems to even remember Renault’s wins with Alonso, no one recalls Mac or Williams winning except for the occasional person who might recall Mansell driving for Williams.
        In general terms, if one asks around the Pub ( which isn’t a bad place to gather info on people’s likes and dislikes ), F1 doesn’t have anymore traction than boring….boring…boring. Now, I disagree with that view, but I can understand how people find it an easy one to adopt. Back in the 80’s/90’s F1 had a big pull on the casual viewer, and it needs to get that attraction back before it is too late.

  24. “FW and PS have both had dreadful experience of OEMs – the same one as it happens. And both have survived in one shape or form and BMW walked away from the sport.”

    I am not sure that your anecdote is true. Williams F1 had a strong relationship with Renault for years, getting involved with touring cars and co-branded road cars. The deal ended and Williams carried on.

    Peter Sauber established his reputation in long distance racing as partner for Mercedes. Peter Sauber had a team capable of building an F1 car, and the team got on with it using loads of different engines.

    Frank Williams and Peter Sauber are both astute businessmen. Sauber owns a wind tunnel/aerodynamics company; Williams has a less specific high value engineering sideline.

    BMW walked away from Sauber and Williams, so BMW does not win any favours from them. Decisions were being made by adults (mostly).

    OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer. If you need a battery for your mobile phone, you can buy a branded battery (expensive) or a clone (cheap). Or you can buy an OEM, identical to the branded battery but cheaper, made on the same production line.

    In the early days of motoring, few companies had the machinery to build a complete car but lots of companies had the ability to make bits. Consequently OEM chassis, gearboxes, engines and steering gear were assembled as branded cars. A bright lad at the local architect or body shop put a bright face on the OEM assembled vehicle.

    BMW is not an OEM. The cars that they make are branded BMW, designed by BMW. Cars will contain OEM components and generic nuts and bolts.

    BMW is a manufacturer. They make lots of cars.

    Williams is a constructor, cars counted in tens.

    1. How much of a BMW (to use your example) do you think is actually made by BMW?

      None of the electronics, none of the braking system, pretty much none of the steering, none of the air con system, not the lights, the wipers, the tyres, the wheels and so on….

      BMW, like virtually all manufacturers these days, are designers. They put their requirements out to tender, get them made by the lowest bidder and then assemble the result.

  25. Concerning Chrysler, Mauro Forghieris Lamborghini V12 engine was badged as “Chrysler powered by Lamborghini”, which didn´t help in any way. So, instead of Chrysler, which is a shopkeeper in motorsports it would be better to rebadge one of the customer engines as Alfa Romeo, as this trademark is underrepresented in current motorsports, furthermore as Alfa Romeo under Sergio Marchionne tries to re-conquer the US market. And with the 4C it looks good as many americans are hungrily looking forward to purchase one of the 4C. So why no Alfa for Team Haas?

    1. Absolutely, Alfa makes far more sense. Chrysler is a terrible brand, nobody who cars about cars buys a Chrysler, and people who care that little about cars aren’t going to be watching (or even aware of) F1 in the first place…

    2. “To create the ultra-lightweight architecture needed for maximum performance and dynamic efficiency, Alfa Romeo 4C engineers looked to Formula 1 and only the most advanced supercars for state-of-the-art materials.”

  26. There has never been a better time to appeal to more manufacturers to join the sport as engine suppliers.

    It’s very hard for a car company to maintain an investment in owning a team. Ferrari was basically a racing team before it started selling cars. McLaren will always be a racing team first, even if there is a side car and technology business to support it. Mercedes are probably here to stay now, but they are here to stay because they were attracted by the new V6 hybrid engine formula that their engineers have taken and produced magic with. And you can bet a lot of this engine technology will find itself into road cars at some point.

    Engine manufacturers know they will have to increase fuel efficiency and move more in the direction of hybrid technology. Consumers will not put up with rising gas prices forever. Honda, a big player in this market, has already jumped back in to F1, no doubt having been attracted by the technological possibilites of the new formula and how it can fit with their business model. Toyota and VW are also big players in the green car market, and both have the resources to get in as engine manufacturers. I could see, dare I say it, Ford being interested in the new formula. They have already started moving a lot of their lineup- trucks, Mustangs, etc- toward V6 power, and the idea of honing technology for powerful hybrid engines that they can sell to their very, shall I say, “American power” oriented lineup would be quite appealing.

    The ball is in F1’s court. I doubt they’ll do anything good with it.

    1. Fords EcoBoost policy including their V6 series would fit perfectly to Formula 1. What is the reason there obviously is no interest?

  27. Engines. Yes, engines. To me that has always been a major part of what F1 is about, and I’ve been following it for a LONG time. To the point where Jackie Stewart was up and coming!

    So, my contrary view. NO engine limitations at all except an upper capacity limit of, say, 3 litres. If you want a 3 litre supercharged V16 then off you go and build it. If you want a 1500cc 4 with all the electric motors you can add and recharge then go to it. All you have to do is comply with a limit on the amount of fuel you can use during a weekend, make it generous but of course if you need a lot of fuel per lap then there is a weight penalty because you have to carry it around for the early laps.

    Let the engine builders build engines and then the manufacturers can show off what they can do and, hopefully, it will encourage them to have a go. The man in the street can buy a car and (OK, kid himself) that it has an engine based on Fi technology. Distantly based maybe but still with some vague connection.

    1. Two problems : 1) it becomes a cost arms race as bizarre alloys get used to shave grammes off the weight and add tiny fractions of power; 2) performance differences between each manufacturer would explode.

      Even assuming that engine manufacturers were happy to provide a range of engines to suit all budgets, the result would be massive performance gaps between the 1500 bhp front runners and the 750 bhp backmarkers resulting in the latter going out of business.

      Given enough rope, F1 teams will hang themselves.

      In tandem with a budget cap it would probably be possible to avoid oblivion, but it would still result in worrying performance stratification which might shame the worse engine manufacturers out of the sport and leave teams in the proverbial lurch.

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