Customer cars

If it is true that the Strategy Group has decided to allow customer cars (they did not bother to actually communicate on the subject) then the sport is in deeper trouble than ever. It should change its name to the Bad Strategy Group. This would be a big team decision, backed – or at least not opposed – by a promoter who has no long term thinking and a governing body that has sold its right to govern.

If the F1 world was a brothel, one would explain it as follows: the girls are still busy, but the pimp has sold the place to the flashy customers. The police chief has been bought and paid for. The customers want free service because they own the place, so they tell the girls “Don’t you know who I am?” And in time these exploited folk will drift away and no  replacements will be found. The place will close down and a chic new boutique hotel will take its place. It will be called the Formula E Hotel.

The thing that the big teams miss (or worse, do not care about) is that this will destroy the manufacturing base of the sport – the one thing that makes it different. That will leave the big teams unbeatable and will mean that there is no point in an ambitious young team owner even dreaming of running a customer team, because they will never be able to make the jump up to becoming a constructor. The customer teams will never beat the factories (why would that be allowed?) but they will be better so the smaller manufacturers will be pushed down the order and will die out. In the end there will be no customers, unless the big teams own and fund secondary teams (a la Toro Rosso). This will be like Mercedes and AutoUnion entering more and more cars in the races at the end of the 1930s because the opposition died out.

Thus for real racers, the next generation of Ron Dennises and Frank Williamses, there is no hope and they will have to look elsewhere, as successful GP2 and IndyCar teams now do. Formula E will grow as a result, sports cars will be stronger. F1 will weaken.

In the end this would be the start of a slippery slope that we have seen others take, notably CART. The manufacturers and big sponsors will go when they have finished using the sport and who will replace them? No one will pay the price they will want, so factories will close down and choice of chassis will reduce.

In the end it will be a one-make formula, a la CART (if you see what I mean) there could be a breakaway, but with no constructors left they only choice will be another customer car series – and that won’t work, a la IRL.

What is required is simple. Cheap customer engines and restrictions on spending

The one hope is that if the customer cars idea goes ahead, there could be trouble with the EU as the small teams will have nothing to lose with a complaint. Which means, in effect, that the government will come and visit the whorehouse…

106 thoughts on “Customer cars

  1. I read coverage of this in a mainstream newspaper and was horrified, but thought “perhaps the journalist has missed something important out”. But now it’s confirmed by you Joe, I’m even more horrified. Short-term benefits for the big teams, but ultimately this is nothing short of suicide for F1, surely? F1 cuts of its nose to spite its face!

    We can wax lyrical about the loss of the romance of the underdog, and the loss of the spectacle of teams like Jordan, Stewart and so on putting it to the big guys, but in tangible terms (i.e. impact on livelihoods, jobs, the fabric of the sport), the effect on Sauber, Force India and even Williams will be appalling. Also, surely Renault, by many accounts done all but sign on the dotted line to take over again at Enstone, must now think “hang about….”?

  2. This is why I do believe, for better or worse, that sports car racing is becoming a more fun, exciting and relevant form of motor sport. F1 should be about ingenuity, ‘garagistes’ and innovative engineering. It should be about the new Colin Chapmans, Patrick Heads and Robin Herds – not buying a ‘package’ and racing it. Call me naïve but F1 is fast losing its appeal (And I’ve followed it for 35 years). WEC is now my main focus.

    1. pardon me but how do you have time to dedicate 6 hours of your day to one race? if wec was 2 hrs and broadcast in the U.S. I’d watch it

    2. @Andy Lloyd

      Umm. The new LMP3 is already an almost spec category. The proposals for LMP2 limiting the number of chassis manufacturers, and possibly a spec engine, are creating a bit of consternation. Yes LMP1 is very interesting, but expanding their grid size allocation might be limited by the introduction of LMP3 next year. GTs look very healthy.

      1. Iain, the regulations for the LMP2 class for 2017 intend to standardise much more than the engines (and it is worth noting that Nissan has indicated that, if that plan goes ahead, they will drop their support for the LMP2 class because they do not have the budget to spend on developing a new spec engine).

        The regulations would effectively turn the LMP2 class into a spec series in all but name, because the manufacturers would be locked into a single aero configuration for the next five years that would be performance balanced against the other permitted manufacturers.

        The ACO were also proposing having a single tyre manufacturer providing GTE specification tyres to the teams – and, to make matters worse, tyre development would be completely outlawed, which has left Michelin furious at the suggestions.

        As for the LMP1 class, development is actually much more restricted than most people realise. For example, engine development during the season is explicitly banned – once you have homologated your engine, you are locked into that configuration for the entire season.

        Equally, the balance of performance regulations that the ACO uses to level the field back out has sometimes disincentivised development work, rather than encouraged it. The head of Aston Martin’s racing division is on record as saying that there was no point in the ACO trying to limit testing – something the ACO nevertheless has done – because the Balance of Performance regulations actively constrained development work.

        Ferrari found that out to their cost in the GT class when they introduced the 458, which had a more efficient fuel injection system than their rivals – the ACO promptly penalised them by aggressively cutting their permitted fuel tank size to eliminate any performance advantage they could have gained.

  3. Although I agree that cost restrictions and cheaper engines are still needed I have never had a problem with customer cars and think it’s a good move. Of course we don’t know the details, if any, yet but a restriction on who could use them and how long for would be the best move forward.

  4. Jo, what you describe as being a possible eventuality in F1 is exactly what brought about the demise of Penske Cars (one of the great manufacturers in the 80s & 90s) after CART folded and Indycar series became established. The introduction of ‘cheap’ customer cars for the masses made the economics of design and build unacceptable and gradually year by year ‘pragmatism’ took over to the point where there is now one chassis, two engines and no identity. Hopefully there are enough sensible people in F1 to look at this example and ensure that it never happens in their series, which in so many respects remains unique to all other forms of motor sport.

  5. There is no ‘big’ team whose view of the big picture extends beyond their own set of financial accounts and vested interest. Deeply depressing.

  6. Spot on Joe. The combined greed and shortsightedness of CVC and the big four teams is killing the goose that layed the golden eggs. It’s heartbreaking.

  7. “The thing that the big teams miss (or worse, do not care about) is that this will destroy the manufacturing base of the sport”

    How many people in Europe employed in F1?

    As much as I am antipathetic about the EU, if the got involved with this and sorted it out I might have a change of heart.

  8. Too many vested interests to be able to step back and see the future. Or is that Bernie (and CVC)doesn’t care as F1 will still be around long after he’s finished lining his pockets.
    FIA don’t care are they have all that lovely money and it’s just too hard.
    The teams – well the big guys that get listened to are on a nice little earner and to do anything puts that at risk.
    F1 does need to change and stay relevant, it also needs to be spectacular and hard work for the drivers. Perhaps part of the problem is that the cars have outgrown the current generation of circuits.
    Customer cars won’t solve the problems they will just entrench them. Just like footballs FFP regulations ensure that nobody can compete with the teams that rake in the money. One sided competitions are doomed to fail as the importance of the win is diminished if it can only be shared between a few players and the others, well iof they can’t win they loose their support and will inevtitably fade away.

  9. If I’d heard it from anyone else I would have said ‘bulls**t’, but from you Jo…. yikes if this is true then behind closed doors things must be much worse than we’ve all thought. So I presume in the fullness of time it’ll be renamed ‘F1 by Ferrari’.

    I assume the Straturgid group will have one race a year where the little guys have a chance of scoring a point, that’ll be the F1 by Ferrari GP of Monaco in association with Evian, where there’s a reverse grid, and at the start of the race the Bernie designed sprinkler system soaks the course with seven million litres of antifreeze (for extra slipperyness).

    What do you believe the actual practical implications are? Does it mean that if Facebook decide F1 is a good idea for a couple of years they’ll just pay their gig zillions, Ferrari / Merc / whoever sticker up the B team and away they go? Are we heading for Palmer Audi series style F1? (no disrespect, great series, just using it as a business example).

    Also can you imagine the potential for wealthy well backed muppets in F1 cars? If you’ve scored a point in Belgian Historic F3 and your Dad owns Netflix, you’re in the car…. As Jo says – customer engines at great prices, terrific, spot on, but this?….

  10. Bloody hell Joe, things are worse than I expected. I sincerely believe the geriatrics at the top have lost the plot. Self interest protected above all reason and thoughts of the future. What a travesty.

  11. So, has this decision been made in time before Mr Haas has invested in his own chassis?
    I agree with you Joe, it’s the cost of the Power Units that’s the problem, get this regulated to a (much) more realistic price and the cost of competing wouldn’t be so ridiculous.

  12. Gosh the big teams, commercial rights holder and the “governing body” really are making a massive play to kill the sport in the medium-long term aren’t they. It’s very sad for the future of the sport if, as you say, this turns out to be the truth.

    Thanks for reporting this Joe.

  13. I am truly sadden by this as I’ve always loved the constructor side of the sport. I know we had customer cars in the 60’s and 70’s and liked it was it gave new teams a starting platform where teams like Tyrrell and Williams a chance and who both went on to win championships.
    In those days you could buy a Cosworth for pennies (compared to today), chuck in the the back of your year old March and go racing.
    But this is different.
    This is wrong as the sport is eating itself and and asking for seconds and I honestly don’t know if I can watch anymore.

    I’m going to Formula E at Battersea next month and it will cost me £30 a ticket and WEC seems light years more advanced in terms of technology, more road relevance and most importantly it’s about racing and not about the bullshit between races.

  14. I don’t know enough to know whether you’re right. However, I am 100% sure you are quite serious.

    One thing I don’t understand is how different this would be from today. What exactly do the small teams actually “construct” except for the carbon tub and some wings? Don’t they acquire from others all the parts that actually make the cars go? Isn’t that true right now?

    What I have a hard time seeing is any small team actually winning anything as it is. Who was the new constructor to show up and build itself into a winner? Brawn wasn’t really a new constructor, he bolted a Mercedes engine to Honda’s car, read the diffuser rule carefully, and existed for exactly 1 season. Has any actual new constructor done it since Frank Williams? And when did he start, 1969? That’s 45 years ago.

    Now, I do understand the problem of killing the supply chain of up-and-coming technical talent. That much makes sense to me. But constructors who matter? It seems to me they have to be multi-zillion dollar corporations to have a prayer… and those small teams who don’t have a prayer buy all their important go-fast bits already.

    1. Last brand new, ground up constructor to win a race? Stewart GP in 1999. Still racing as Red Bull of course. Jordan achieved the same feat in 98, albeit their successor teams have been less successful.

      That’s still 16 years or so.

        1. Well, it demonstrates that the non-mega teams don’t have a prayer of winning even a single dang race, much less of actually competing for a championship.

          Not only has it been 16 years since such a team won even one measly race, the only reason Stewart won its one-and-only race is because *most* of the cars broke or crashed in the rain. (A Minardi finished 6th.) Even with all the new unproven bits, cars don’t break enough anymore for something like that to happen again.

          I do understand the the risk that fewer constructors poses to the supply of technical talent. But the idea that small constructors are really competing to win even one measly race is ludicrous.

          The great stratification of teams means that F1 is the only form of racing where most of the teams’ greatest realistic aspiration is to get zero wins and a pitifully low number of loser’s points over the course of an entire season.

      1. They may have acquired the Tyrrell racing licence, but I’d argue that for practical (& racing) purposes BAR was a brand new, ground up constructor.

        Which brings you up to 2006 (as Honda).

        But, yes, it’s definitely been getting harder to move up the ranks. Personally, I’m not OK with that, and I’m not *remotely* OK with actively legislating to prevent that even being possible.

    2. While the teams buy in quite a lot of components, they design the tub, aerodynamics and suspension and may also set the parameters for components made by other companies (radiators, dampers etc). Most importantly of all they determine how the whole lot is plugged together.

      That’s a completely different kettle of fish to buying he whole car from a supplier.

      1. I’d the rules were to guarantee customer teams latitude about mounting aero and suspension bits, how different is it really?

        And would the small teams be worse off than they are now?

        (This is a real question, not a snarky question…)

            1. Toleman – Benetton – Renault – Lotus
              BAR – Honda – Brawn – Mercedes
              Stewart – Jaguar – Red Bull Racing

              That’s three examples…

              1. Beat me to it.

                What’s the point of watching, if it’s just a battle of who’s got the biggest wallet?

                What happens if Red Bull get a decent engine? Does Mercedes just offer Newey £100m pa to join them instead (and indemnify him against any breach of contract lawsuit)? Why should anyone care?

              2. Right, good answer.

                I forgot about Benetton.

                The main thing the other 2 have in common is that they didn’t climb the ladder until they were taken over by a mega-buck corporation.

                In terms of a non-megabuck teams, the penultimate winner is Benetton in ’95; they started in what, ’86? Williams started in ’69 and last won in ’97.

                Soon, it will have been 30 years since such a team was founded, and 20 years since one won…

                Do you really believe such a team has even half-a-prayer anymore?

  15. So Bernie does it again! Manipulator extraordinaire.

    Recommend everyone listen to the latest “Aside with Joe” on Sidepodcast, n which he mentions the possible long term loss of 4 teams.

    If only it was the sport and not Bernie’s secret agreements that was the main concern of the F1SG.

  16. I think if they dont take hold of this nettle properly – and pretty soon – then all the customers will have drifted away from the brothel anyway (not sure I’m happy calling F1 that but I understand your point) .

    I’ve just been offered the chance to go to Abu Dhabi relatively cheaply but I don’t know if I can be bothered partly because the title would probably have been wrapped up for ages by then but also because I’m not impressed with the new cars despite entirely accepting that they are fantastic technical achievements (but at what price).

    F1 doesn’t have to be formula E by another name it has to be the fastest loudest most exciting on the edge and closest formula and it is not that. As I’ve said before some of the stewards at Silverstone last year referred to the current generation of F1 cars as the Formula Fords

    1. Although of course the formula Fords I remember produced very close races! – apart from the formula Ford 2000 race I saw a very long time ago at Castle Combe where Ayrton Senna just ran away from the entire field

  17. wow just wow… oh well maybe it will decrease the value of F1 and someone sensible will be able to buy it in the future.. If we start a gofundme account now, maybe in 5 odd years we will have the money to take the sport over.

  18. Joe, whilst a drop in viewership may be bad for F1, I would have thought increased interest in things like WEC and Formula E would be better for motorsport as a whole. I do think that allowing manufacturers to use pretty much whatever engine technology they want (and then setting limits in terms of allowable energy, in terms of fuel and hybrid) is much more road relevant than having a very prescribed engine (ICU) with some freedom in the hybrid part. Although I do think that the general masses will not be that interested in watching a 6 hour race in it’s entirety. (Unless it’s the Bathurst 1000, which regularly gets and average of half a million watching it in it’s entirety, although one could argue a fair majority just use it as an excuse to drink and hurl abuse at the tv!))

    1. It’s only the length of the races that puts me off the WEC – I watched some of the Spa race and thought it excellent, whereas I found I really couldn’t be bothered with the Spanish GP. But I really can’t spare 6 hours on a weekend.

      That’s not a suggestion they should shorten the races, by the way, long races are core to the DNA of that branch of the sport.

  19. Up until the 1980s, customers cars were not that uncommon. Stirling Moss famously was a customer car driver for a large part of his career.
    Is there a difference between then and now that makes customer cars undesirable?

    1. Yes. The strength of the sport is in the constructors. At the tim there were customer cars the teams were not strong enough but then the investment needed to win was tiny in comparison to today. Today it is impossible. That is the difference

  20. Ah well. Maybe in the long run its best to let the house of cards fall down. F1 can learn so much from the world of motorbikes. The long boring races are no good. 3 short races over a race weekend would be better. Throw away the rule book! Give them a few simple rules. Cost. 150m budget. Vehicle dimensions. 100kg of fuel. Crash tests. That’s it.

    Look at the road racing. Its grown massively in the last few years. The noise, the danger! Oh the excitement!!!!! Racing has to be exciting!!!! Its a show, nothing more. Its just a bit of fun! They are selling fun and excitement!!! They seem to have forgotten that.

  21. ‘Cheap customer engines and restrictions on spending’ . . .
    Might ‘save’ F1 but it won’t save its self-assumed ‘pinnacle’ title.
    And it will simply drift into motorsport-world’s mid-water.

    What is required is more challenging . . .
    Convince international companies that it provides better value for ad-spend than its perceived ‘competitors’ so that it can sustain its technological arms-race and remain at the forefront of motorsport.

    That and many other factors which you have previously noted . . .
    A more equitable distribution of reward giving the smaller teams an incentive.
    No special side-deals for the ‘Famous Five’ –
    If ‘history’ demands a premium then we’d better hope that the current generation is heavily into nostalgia. Fat chance, I would guess.

    The list continues but we’re all familiar with it.
    Suffice to say I won’t be holding my breath . . .
    And will most likely shift focus to WEC LMP1.

  22. It seems to me that the current leadership in the sport are hell bent on squeezing every bit of money out of what they have now, rather than trying to build anything for the future.

    In addition to spending restrictions, I think new teams should be given a leg up into the sport, or at least equal opportunity in terms of money. For (a not entirely equal) comparison, in Australian football when a new team starts they are given a heap of support, mostly in terms of $$ but also in priority picks for young players etc. This is because the sport as a whole looks stupid if they fail, but also it expands the fan base of the sport in new areas etc. etc.. Why can’t F1 be more like this, instead of treating new or small teams as unwanted children?

  23. I agree 100%.

    But we have to remember the casual fans outnumber us traditionalists. They don’t care about customer cars, they just want to watch Ferrari Vs Mercedes.

    1. How much money will casual fans spend on the sport?

      The clue is in the name.

      (Yes, sure, a few will pay big money to check out the Paddock Club for the social cachet. And beyond that? Who’s going to buy grandstand seats? Merch? Pay TV subscriptions? Nah, not going to happen).

  24. “What is required is simple. Cheap customer engines and restrictions on spending”

    Hear hear. And as you mentioned before, let the teams do more or less what they want within the spending limit, which would give smaller teams a chance to design something truly innovative and make larger leaps forward.

    Part of me feels it would be better for all of us if F1 disappeared further and further up its own backside and ended up with three or four super-rich teams racing in Central Asia, the Middle East and other far flung places (not that I have anything against those places, I hasten to add, having barely been there).

    Then, we could have a less prestigious, less money-oriented, more competitive championship in Europe and other selected venues, safeguarding the future of particularly historical and exciting racetracks and giving people with small budgets a chance to compete on a level playing field.

    In the process we might lose a few big manufacturers, but you’d have a more exciting spectacle and (hopefully) cheaper access to races. I suppose the problem would be whether you could fill the grandstands.

    I know I would increase from one race a year to two or three probably, if they were cheaper and closer to home, but I wonder whether all F1 ‘fans’ would do the same, or whether they’d prefer the glitz and glamour to real racing…

  25. Like my dear departed Grand Mother would say; ” no good deed goes unpunished”.
    Customer cars would undermine the business plan of the remaining independents and small teams. Ecclestone could claim they are no longer constructors and stop paying them or is this a case of ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc?’

  26. Hi Joe
    What depressing reading your article makes, unfortunately what you have written is so true. I cannot believe successful business men can be so stupid and short sighted. What this will send out is totally the wrong message and will cause a further reduction in spectators and TV viewers. They will then have another meeting and come up with a similar stupid recommendation, watching their empires disappear like King Canute. I despair, and after the Barcelona race I suspect even the die-hard enthusiast will start looking at other formulas for some excitement and a positive feedback. So many opportunities and all squandered for short term gain.
    I too hope that the EU do a through investigation into this mess, and prosecute those held responsible.
    Thank you for still fighting Joe
    Best wishes
    Chris

  27. I’ve been saying, since I first came across your very insightful blog, that F1 was in big, big trouble. Many here, including you, disagreed with my view. But the way things are moving now, it is very easy to see that the situation is far worse than anyone could have imagined.
    Personally, I don’t have the view that you have, that F1 has to be about building ones own team cars. It didn’t have to be in the past, and it was very successful then, and brought such as Ronnie Peterson and James Hunt to F1, which would be nearly impossible these days.
    However, just selling the smaller teams a used car, wouldn’t work today, because the cars/engines are just far too expensive to buy/operate, and whilst in the past if one bought a year old M23 McLaren, one could get good results with an off the shelf Cossie, there would be no point in anyone buying a year old Mac today, one would only own an uncompetitive car…..no one would follow that road, unless they are rather mad.
    Ultimately, unless the FIA get a grip and the teams do too, F1 as it is must be doomed. On every level it is getting blasted now, by fans, media, sponsors,circuits, this can’t continue for long before there is a Boardroom revolt at the big manufacturers and the funding is closed off. I predict Renault first, and Honda needs to achieve pronto, or Japan may pull the boat back too. With no form of competition and having to supply all the engines, would MB find F1 of value at that point??

      1. Joe, as you are fond of pointing out to your readers, if you Uncle Bob was a woman he’d be your aunt.

  28. The only situation I’d see customer cars as being useful is for new entrants, say a new HRT, Virgin or Lotus come along. They will struggle massively with the current balance of power/money so giving them a customer chassis to use for their first year, and first year only would enable them to get a foothold and learn while they develop their own car.

    I just can’t see the point in entering F1 now as a new team, Haas look serious but in all honesty I don’t think they stand a chance other than playing around at the back of the grip with manor

  29. Love the brothel analogy. Very apt and enjoyable read.

    Its not just Formula E or WEC that offers an alternative to motorsport enthusiasts.

    I’ve spoken to many folk who have forsaken four wheels altogether and now follow MotoGP and Superbikes as their first choice series.

  30. Ah. At last. You see what Formula E might become. It was always going to challenge F1 and I’m kinda surprised you dismissed it so quickly.

    City centre racing. Different manufacturers (eventually). Genuine world series. Future car technology development (oh yes it is!). Smart people starting to move in. What’s not to like?

    You need to start attending and reporting on the races, M. Saward. There’s a role for you there…

    1. It has always been clear what Formula E might become. That has never been the question. The problem is how long will it take…

  31. Succinct and eloquently put. As a life long fan of the engineering and racing that makes Grand Prixs special I despair for the future, the true fans are not being considered.

    Joe for president.

  32. Is not this just another cynical reminder to the small teams of how they are easily replaceable … and to keep quiet.

    I doubt heavily that we’ll see a customer car team anytime soon.

  33. I like the whorehouse annalogy regarding customer cars, Joe. It hit home that the organization’s selection of Grands Prix fits the term quite well also. If customer cars turns out to be true, one could surmise that the whorehouse just built another wing on the facility.

  34. Yes, tumbleweed was blowing down the road while waiting for news of the meeting. It seems some are more concerned about Lewis’s new contract and the zillions, or not, it will cost Merc than the state of the sport itself.

  35. Very much appreciate your opinion on this matter Joe, as always, and well said. But the real question is IF this is true?? As you are right, and none of the so-called news portals have reported either on the outcome of the strategy meeting, yet. Dying to know…

  36. What about the refueling being introduced for 2017?
    It makes absolutely no sense if they keep the fuel flow restrictions in place.
    Any clue yet as to how they intend to make this work?

    1. If refueling means more fuel, I’m against it…

      But if it means the same amount of fuel and letting the teams manage time vs weight, then that seems OK to me…

      The main problem is that they’re keeping their heads in the sand re: what’s important…

      The Strategy Group should be renamed the Ostrich Strategy Group…

  37. Couldn’t agree more.

    Also, it appears they want to bring back refueling? I didn’t think this was ever going to see the light of day due to safety concerns. I see it as a backwards step in that direction.

    What the hell are these people smoking? I am not impressed with the “fix” that they have supposedly cooked up.

  38. “What is required is simple. Cheap customer engines and restrictions on spending”- why do they not get this? Don’t change regs so often- the changes are mega expensive, keep it relevant, make it more fan friendly. I’m not too certain of attendance trends, but Barcelona (and most races) seemed to have loads of empty seats. I looked into attending Austin but admission alone is so expensive I put an F1 race into the bucket list category; if I’m gonna hit an F1 race I’d prefer a European event if shelling out big travel, rental and admission $$$ anyway.

    CART was fantastic until the inmates running the asylum put it in a spiral. I hope Indycar is gaining traction- the racing is excellent and it’s reasonably priced, but the spec-car aspect is awful. My ideal scenario would be a better run and affordable F1, and Indy’s reemergence as something like CART, enough engine and chassis variation to make it more interesting from a techno-geek viewpoint.

    Otoh, maybe there is a finite life cycle to sporting endeavors run by a few power hungry and mega-rich folk. I don’t think F1 will totally go bust but I do think something might eclipse it if it continues down its current track. I’m convinced it all goes back to the quote I borrowed from your column. Seems simple enough, but will they listen?

    1. It’s awful.
      It seems there is a lot of illusionist ‘deception’ going on.
      Look at the ‘issues’ we are addressing in this hand and not the other one with the real problems.

  39. Terrible. Absolutely terrible. The end of F1 if put into practice. What a joke, where’s the innovation with which the sport was built?

    If the fizzy drinks jokers decide to leave do have a sport? Why should they make decisions?!

  40. I would not quibble with your analysis, having no real knowledge base to do so. But, I do know that, having been an F1 fan since the early ’60 s, I have been completely underwhelmed by the last couple of years. The cars are duds, the drivers either bland or snotty, and the races flaccid. Over the years, I cheered Williams and McLaren to beat Ferrari – a necessary black hat for a viable struggle. Somehow, that magic has evaporated.

      1. I have been to Montreal, Detroit, and Indianapolis – probably 6 to 8 races total. Live is a grand spectacle, but my fascination with F1 lies in the rise and fall of the dynasties as much as the individual races.

      2. Most followers of F1 consume the spectacle through the medium of TV, and sadly I have to agree with Paul – its rather mundane and boring from this perspective nowadays.

  41. If this is true, and it comes along with the frankly barking mad decision to reintroduce refuelling, I think in ten years time we will probably look on this meeting as having been F1’s IRL-CART-split moment.

  42. as a fellow french resident joe I love your formula E hotel analogy .. I fear it may pass by a lot ot your followers however !

  43. Adding in refuelling to the mix as well, it just gets more and more confusing. Isn’t the message supposed to talk about how much energy these amazing cars save?

    1. Agreed moohcowh. Its a smack in the face of fans who have been saying the racing is not transparent or easy to pick up. So what do they do – make it even more opaque! And they say they are listening to the fans…there’s more chance of Manor winning next year’s championship..

  44. Which means, in effect, that the government will come and visit the whorehouse…

    Christ our sport is frakked then, if gov’t regulation of sex work is the only remaining hope.

  45. Why is everyone so down on refueling? I’m not lobbying to bring it back or to keep it out. I liked F1 when they had it and liked it when they don’t. I guess it can be dangerous, but that’s mostly because of the way they were delivering the fuel under massive amounts of pressure. Many other forms of motor racing have refueling and they seem to manage.

    If you are going to ban anything maybe it should be tire changes. Make them run an entire race on one set of durable tires. The cornering speeds would be slower of course but the longer braking distances might make overtaking easier and lack of marbles would make it possible to move off the racing line to attack for position. We talk about F1 technology having some relevance to road cars and being for efficient and such but the typical life span for a set of F1 tires is about 50 miles.

  46. The refuelling, bigger tyres, more noise, it’s all a distraction from the intent to kill off the smaller teams and have a 2nd division of customer cars. Manufacturers can and do walk away from F1 when they think they can get a better bang for their marketing buck elsewhere. Red Bull is no better, they’ll take their cash elsewhere if they’re not winning. And if the smaller constructors have departed there will be no capacity to replace them and the sport of F1 will cease in the same way as CART folded. It’s deeply depressing.

  47. Well I am very disappointed. They totally ignored my cost saving suggestions of a return to four leading shoe drum brakes, spoked wheels, no seatbelts, and in particular my concept for expensive helmets and HANS to be scrapped in favour of a return to flat caps in the cockpit, with an exemption for smaller teams to turn thier drivers caps backwards to aid aerodynamics, a form of DRS. These measures combined would massively increase the chance of death at every corner, thus increasing the global TV audience. Short sighted.

  48. The proposed new rules are all about faster cars but will the racing be better? All I can see are increased costs for no real gain.
    It looks like the small teams are going to be in more serious trouble than ever before. They will have to spend next year designing new cars for these new regs, pay for more powerful (more expensive?) engines and then get blown into the dust by Mercedes and Ferrari’s customer teams.
    I think these proposed changes spell the end of the independant teams even the likes of Williams.

  49. I’ve been uncomfortable with the Strategy Group for quite some time, as I felt it made for the “haves” and the “have nots” amongst the teams. What I’m starting to realize is that the fans are included in the “have nots.”

    Williams is already involved with Formula E as the battery supplier. This new F1 formula might give them a reason to go all in with FE. I’m a big fan of FE – I see it as what motorsport was at the turn of the last century. I hope it never becomes the misguided political mess that F1 has become.

  50. You look back on the 80s into the 90s and remember a packed grid and cars being left in the cold because they didn’t qualify because there were only so many grid spots. Fast forward 2 decades and there’s barely enough teams let alone parity. Shame.

    My interest in the sport goes back to when I was 5 or 6 and l keep watching religiously thinking it could be like old times…but it seems it will never be the same. It just gets worse and worse.

  51. Following Bernie Eccelestone’s comments about customer cars in Monaco. As the current contracts between FOM and the teams run to about 2020 and the only money teams recieve from FOM is for constructors then where would that leave a customer car team?

    As I understand it if a customer car team was extremely lucky enough to win a few races they would not recieve a penny from FOM as they are not constructors.
    We have heard before how difficult it is to change contracts in F1 so I doubt anything is going to change on that front.

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