Regular readers will know that I am one of the most positive observers of Formula 1. Yes, there are problems that need unravelling, but it really galls me to see all these pseudo-experts talking at the moment about the crisis and questioning whether the sport can survive. Of course it will survive. It is a supertanker in the world of global sport and it takes a while to turn, but it will turn. It is too valuable to fail. If you want to deliver a message to the world then there is no better way to do it, if you can afford to use F1. The return on investment is huge and global. The stars are stars in places where they cannot name a single NFL team and don’t have a clue what NASCAR even is. Only the Olympic Games and the football World Cup are bigger and they happen once every four years, not every 10 days.
No, this doesn’t mean the sport is healthy. Too much money goes out to people who do nothing for the business. And the top teams hide behind the idea that they are out and out racers and so refuse to compromise on cost-cutting or budget capping. In reality they argue that case because they have money and it is a weapon that helps them to be competitive. It would be so much wiser, so much cleverer, to find a way to make the sport cost-effective, as the automobile industry is. If teams won in a fair fight then it would be better for the sport and equitable distribution of money would reduce the need for jobs to be lost because the excess people from the top teams could join the expanding smaller teams. More stable teams and limits on spending would give the teams huge valuations and car companies would not hold back, frightened to appear profligate when they need to remain lean and efficient. Formula 1 by nature should be lean and hungry but it isn’t any more. It throws money at problems rather than solving them with ingenuity and inventiveness. The big players, let us not forget, have a tendency to depart when they have achieved their goals. Why would one put the future of the sport in their hands? And they do not care the mess they leave behind them. This is why we need the independent teams, to be there when the Mercedes and Red Bulls have gone. I don’t advocate socialism at all but I think that teams should not be given bonuses on the basis that someone bought their votes. Their advantage should come in sponsorship revenues if they are good enough to find sponsors.
And the sport needs cheaper engines, a restriction on the price that can be charged. The manufacturers are going to spend whatever they want to spend on development, even if they are restricted in the speed of innovation. Bleeding the teams is not smart.
There needs to be cost-control and while it might be easier to introduce piecemeal price limits on parts, it is actually better to have a set budget for the PR value it would bring. And it is all policeable if people who know accountancy are listened too. If bidget was a regulation it would be self-policing as well because big companies are not allowed to cheat by their own compliance people first of all. The sport needs to be transparent as well to attract big money. The biggest companies in the world shy away from corruption trials and people who dance with dictators and despots. Transparency is a good thing and arguing that things cannot be policed is just plain silly.
It’s time truthfully for the sport to shrug off its adolescent ways and grow up. That does not mean things have to be dull and corporate, it just means that things are properly organized and properly developed. If CVC wants to make money that is fine, but let them do by investing to develop the business and generating bigger revenues. There’s tons of potential out there in many different areas and what is required is a few big picture men or women who know how to do this stuff…