It’s really quiet as the F1 teams finish up the last few days before the summer break, which basically runs for two weeks from tomorrow (Friday). I will be shutting down the blog in that period because the F1 world is basically going to go quiet and most of the stories will be manufactured tosh. There may be deals done in the period, but most sensible F1 people are going off to find some sunshine and some rest.
Bernie Ecclestone continues to be reported saying negative things about the sport, which remains an odd thing for the championship promoter to be doing. The truth is that he cannot now say it’s boring after the rip-roaring race in Budapest, so now it is “too clinical”. Sigh.
Renault is in the process of deciding on its future path. The only route that makes sense given the company’s investment in the sport is to get its own works team going and chase after Mercedes. Pulling out would not be good for company boss Carlos Ghosn, nor for the company. It needs to sell cars… This creates a big problem for Red Bull which is now paying for being too mouthy about Renault engines. The company needs to find new engines from somewhere – and there aren’t any. The word is that the team was talking to Porsche about a customer deal (similar to the TAG engine deal that McLaren did back in the 1980s) but that seems to be stuck at the moment over who would own what IP. This, by the way, was exclusively reported in my Business of Motorsport newsletter (click here to learn more).
News is thin on the ground beyond that. Jenson Button is supposed to be talking of as a possible TV host job on the revamped Top Gear. Max Verstappen is having driving lessons, Lewis Hamilton is being linked romantically with someone else… and so it goes. The one story that I think is interesting and significant is the the world’s largest advertising agency WPP is bidding to buy Chime, a rival organisation. If you trace down the various subsidiaries this means that two of the sport’s most important marketing agencies – JMI and Prism – will end up with the same ownership and that will inevitably mean that there will be consolidation.
F1 is too negative – but that comes from the top and it seems to me that the best thing is to ignore all this because the sport itself is fine. Yes, it would benefit from a limit on engine prices. I think a switch to pay-TV is inevitable given the way the TV markets operate and that is bound to drive away sponsors and new viewers, so it is absolutely essential that the sport gets a grip on social media as an advertising medium, rather than trying to earn money from it. We need to find future viewers before the current generation of fans pop their clogs. It would be smart for teams to have a budget cap to keep costs down and bring in more competitors but asking the teams to agree to this really is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.
The FIA continues to be invisible and, in my opinion, failing in its role to build and protect the sport. Still, if it wants to be an irrelevant organisation in relation to the sport (which I think is its primary activity), then so be it. A robust FIA is a better idea but if the clubs want to be powerless then who are we to stop them?
Beyond that, silence is golden…