Why the peasants ought to be revolting…

People seem to think that the automobile is becoming less and less popular and that “the kids these days” don’t like cars. I don’t think that is true at all, not least because the movie franchise Cars has been wildly successful, pulling in around $12 billion in the 10 years since it first arrived. OK, that’s not Star Wars, but it is mighty big number and there will be a boost next year when the Cars 3 movie hits the screens. Kids do love cars, so much so that they have managed to extract this kind of money from the grown-ups…

The last couple of days have delivered two significant indications that the car is not a fading commodity: in the US, it was revealed that auto makers sold 17.5 million cars and light trucks in 2015, a 5.7 percent rise compared to 2014. Car sales totalled an impressive $570 billion. In the even bigger Chinese market growth slowed, but the market grew nonetheless. In the UK the latest figures follow that trend with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reporting the best year ever for the country with 2.63 million new vehicles registered in 2015, up around six percent on 2014 and the fourth consecutive year of growth. This beats the previous best year ever, which was 2003.

It is a bit early for global totals, but the prediction is that this will be another year of growth globally, with annual sales moving up to 72.41 million cars.

In other words, despite all the talk, people still love cars… So what does that tell us? If more cars are being sold each year, logically, there should be more people interested in racing them. No doubt there is an average percentage of car users who will go to motor racing events and while people say that racing cars is a niche sport, it is nonetheless a mighty big niche…

So, with all this growth going on, what is it that the sport is doing that makes it contract? Or rather, what is it not doing?

One can argue that F1 cars were faster 10 years ago, that they made more noise and blah-di-blah, but those are all comparative explanations and they are irrelevant to people who have never been to a motor race. They are, in reality, gripes of the “it’s not like it used to be” school of motoring. Yes, no doubt, some fans are dying of old age, others are turning away with a hrrmph, but where are the new fans?

Could it be that, despite the growing car markets, the sport is simply not responding sufficiently in a leisure market that is more competitive and cluttered than ever before? There are more choices, but does that imply that motorsport should be the loser? I don’t think so. If the sport is not getting better numbers, it must be because it is not sufficiently competitive. One must thus ask what is it doing wrong? And one might conclude that the primary reasons for this phenomenon are that tickets cost too much, venues are not appealing or in the wrong places, and that the sport is not up to speed in its interactions and engagement with fans and potential fans.

How to fix this problem is another question, but the first step in that process is to accept that things are not being done well and to be willing change. There are, of course, horse-choking wedges of cash that mean admitting such things is not so easy for the money types, who do not much care for noisy smelly cars and prefer to stay at home, sniffing their piles of bank notes and arranging their Krugerrand in neat stacks… They might consider that they could make even more if they invested, but why take the risk? It is just numbers. It is easier to go and asset-strip another industry than to actually build something…

The solution lies, surely, in those who are passionate about the sport driving out those who are involved only in the pursuit of wealth, power, fame, sex or whatever else it is that these people crave.

130 thoughts on “Why the peasants ought to be revolting…

  1. Well said, it is after all the fans that generate the money, fewer fans smaller piles of bank notes to rearrange. One day the message will get through, let’s hope it’s not too late.

    1. Seems to me pretty simple, If Bernie put the energy into understanding the market that Disney and Pixar do it would be as successful with the youth market. They spend hours and hours making sure that the “cars” or characters appeal to the key market, kids, and not turn off the adults that take them to watch the movie. F1 has to do the same thing. Make the cars so damn cool that kids want to see one in the flesh, but when the parents take them to a race they want to stay. Bernie has ZERO interest in that, because he does not make money from people at the track unless they paid for the paddock. If the tracks paid FOM a % of take at the track he would damn sure fix the issue quickly. UNTIL FOM more directly and quickly stands to loose money then the current leadership will do nothing. BUT their are gifted people out there, like at Pixar, that know how to recreate passion. Pixar reinvented cartoons and made them cool again. F1 can be fundamentally rebuilt. McLaren and Ferrari concept cars are a really good start, but how about making the Formula produce radical designs and not variants of what has been the basic design for years? Which cars are people passionate about? The radical designs… from McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes etc. So why not follow suit? The manufacturers are better at this than Bernie. He should have gone a longtime ago. If exciting does not fill his pockets with cash he care not one bit about it.

  2. Modern cars are so easy to drive, the driver is thoroughly detached from the outside road. Modern racing cars – appear – the same. They look too smooth and easy to drive. The joy of historic racing is seeing the struggle the driver has with his car. No idea how we ‘solve’ this.

    1. I agree.

      And – worse -: if modern cars are bland, undifferentiated appliances, kids won’t care much more about them than they care about washing machines. And even if in fact modern racing cars are as good as ever (& as difficult to drive), the series will struggle to connect with younger fans.

      Joe, (if you’d care to share this with us, your choice of course): what’s the average age of your subscribers? And the average annual change in that figure over time?

      I think there are some pretty fundamental social changes going on globally in the level of emotional attachment people have with modern cars. I think that’s partly also why classic cars are becoming so mainstream.

      1. With a few exceptions (performance cars et cetera and where the hell can you drive them properly now) you’re absolutely right about the washing machine comment.

        Most cars are now extremely competent (boring as well – but reliability is pretty important when you think back 30 years ago).

        However as far as future generations are concerned (10 years hence plus) people probably won’t own cars other than sentimental classics any more and you will just whistle up your self driven Googlemobile. How the classics then drive in (or are allowed to) the same space as the googles will be a big question

  3. I think you forget adolescents. At that age, me and my friends could identify every car and model in the blink of an eye.

    I also note how fast things become ‘childish’ these days – Six year olds now play with toys we used when twelve, so no twelve year old wants to be seen with them.

    I think at my son’s school, Cars is outdated from max 8 years old.

    So the gap is big and the only solution is fixing the content, by fixing on track action, by fixing ‘regie/editing/commentary’, by fixing overtaking, by fixing aero wake, by fixing distribution of money.

    So, I agree, but with nuance on “kids” and what they like.

  4. Mr. Saward, With respect, you have to be careful not to confuse sales volume as passion for the car. It is likely buying a car is more about necessity and/or convenience rather than passion.

    1. If you read the post carefully you will see that I do not equate the two. I equate percentages. Completely different.

      1. Happy New Year Joe. To Paul’s point and again, with respect but is that not splitting hairs? It would be interesting to see the percentage growth of corporate and fleet sales (necessity) compared to private new car sales (convenience and possibly passion).

          1. No it is not. There is no direct correlation between general car volume sales , percentage or raw numbers, and this idea that people love cars.

            it is a logical fallacy. You need a statement that because cars are bought, people love cars and that is blatantly false.

            It is entirely possible that the global car market could increase in volume of sales (or percentages lol) and that the percentage of people who bought cars cos they love them or driving them has decreased, no?

            The lovely irony I find is your total argument (2/3rds of your article) is nonsense and designed to hold up the idea that F1 must improve by the real fans getting involved. You could have just said that but you felt you had to deceive to do it… remind you of Bernie?

            I realise your network is full of car enthusiasts … mine is not , it is full of lawyers and ad execs and models and agents etc … clearly that is not a ‘typical average’ I work in PR and advertising …. and likewise, your network is not either. You work in motorsport. The only thing that matters in my network is image No one is going to buy an mr2 or a caterham … 7 or 5 or maybe 3 series ( for the aids) et al all the way. Bentley continentals and Maybachs are our company cars.

            You appear to be talking to the completely stupid with this thinly veiled excuse to suggest F1 needs better management. Does not everyone who comes to your site not know that? It is not as if you are big media. You are a niche F1 site. I looked up the numbers. The only people who come to Joe Saward are already knowledgeable about F1, no?

            1. You have missed the point about percentages. Only a percentage of car buyers are interested in racing. But if car sales go up do do the number of racing fans…

              1. Does that not assume the percentages stay constant? It is possible the percentage of car buyers interested in racing can decrease in light of increase car sales. What is the proof that this would not be a likely scenario?

  5. TV is the problem. F1 is now exclusive and to many, too expensive. Why anyone would be surprised that viewing figures are falling is beyond me. After 2015 I had a long think about whether I would pay again and I consider myself a hardcore fan.

    1. I agree Hannah. I had a good long think too and decided to cancel my TV subscription. The sport is not competitive enough and is being run by the team bosses who only have their own interests at heart. Therefore they will never all agree to improve things.

    2. Absolutely. The future fans are hidden behind a paywall before they can even watch and maybe become fans. They don’t have the exposure from playing the ‘sport’ in the park, jumpers for wheels etc like football, rugby and cricket.. so their only exposure to it is from watching it on TV or like I did with my dad 20-30 years ago, from watching motorsport trackside in the UK and elsewhere. Even if you spend a fortune to watch it at an actual grand prix, you get ninety minutes of often relatively dull racing (relative to the extortionate amount of money you spend just to be there..), stuck behind a huge fence, 200 + yards from the track. They need to create genuine overtaking, it used to happen years ago, so they just need to look at the cars from those eras and sort it out, fast.

      It’s not shown in the pub as rugby, cricket and football are and it lacks an affordable way to watch it at home. There is bugger all online about it apart from a small amount on youtube and the official website.
      It needs either it’s own you tube or netflix or amazon prime channel where you pay a fiver to access the whole weekend, some of my mates barely watch conventional telly anymore and we’re mostly in our late twenties and thirties. God knows what teenagers and other ‘twentiers’ do. More you tube and netflix, I guess. I fear formula ones next generation of fans is mostly already lost, so action needs to be taken quickly to slow the decline, if not reverse it.

    3. The answers to the problems are obvious. The problem is… no one with influence gives a toss, or will listen.

  6. As the father of a two year old that is absolutely obsessed with Cars, I totally concur. It’s a good example of how F1 is massively behind the times (probably owing to being run by an 85 year old who won’t listen to others) – in Cars 2, there is a ‘World Formula’ car that is suppose to represent F1, and a street race that looks an awful lot like Monaco, but isn’t. When my 2 year old watches races with we, he looks for ‘Francesco’ (either Ferrari), and it gets him interested…

    Why isn’t Francesco an F1 car, rather than a ‘World Formula’? Why isn’t Monaco in the film? Almost certainly rights issues. Imagine the exposure. Unfortunately, F1 is inward facing, and seems to think it’s about the rest of the world, which is a very sad state of affairs indeed…

    Lewis Hamilton is also in Cars 2, along with Jeff Gordon, but you wouldn’t know it unless you’re already a fan.

  7. In terms of ‘the paying public’, in the 80s you could access the paddock freely, and drivers would make an effort to be friendly and thank you for your interest with an autograph or photo. Sometime in the early 90s, everything disappeared behind high fences and heavy security, and the entry prices skyrocketed around the same time (the Mansell effect?). I haven’t been to the GP since ’92 as I simply can’t afford it.

    1. I remember going to Silverstone on a Friday for GP practice early in the first turbo era and paying a low amount for a paddock transfer and was able to walk across the still-old-airfield down to the inside of (the old) Stowe corner. Happy days! Also remember in about 72 at Mallory Park at a club meet when Ken Tyrell bought his F1 car and Francois Cevert did some Demo laps. They were happy to talk to the fans in the paddock. Happy days!

  8. Contemporary F1 isn’t exciting enough for a lot of the fanatics, Not the die hard old school type that long for yesterday, but passionate long standing Grand Prix followers. So on that basis, it is optimistic, to say the least, that the attention of a young casual passer-by could be enticed to become a fan.

    It is without doubt that F1 has been standing on its laurels for too long and the arrogance that has been fed down from the top is now oh too evident, but unfortunately until F1 is “under new management” then this will continue.

          1. I am simply commenting on how I see the problem F1 has in attracting new and younger fans. I only speak for myself Joe.

      1. Even though I am in the “old school” regarding F1 (noise), I could not agree more with Joe.

        At the Spanish GP this year a father turned up on the grandstand with two kids, about 5 or 6 years of age. They missed the start, but the young boy’s jaw dropped and he drooled with excitement (honestly, all down his t-shirt), when the Porsche Supercup went by for the first time – under safety car ! The poor kid had missed GP3 and GP2 earlier on !

        Under the grandstand later on I saw him again and soon as he heard the first F1 car come out of the pits heading to the grid he grabbed his dad and sister in pure excitement and desperation and they ran all the way up the flights of stairs back to their seats !

        It reminded me so much of how I felt when my father many years ago took my brother and I to Oulton Park for club meeting. I have been hooked on motorsport ever since.

    1. I respectfully disagree. The sport is still exciting for the traditional fan base, although it may have lost a few. The real question is why it isn’t growing its fan-base at the rates of other leading sports. That, to me at least, is the lack of competitiveness alluded to by Joe.

  9. “If more cars are being sold each year, logically, there should be more people interested in racing them”

    Alternatively it could mean that :
    a) The same number of people own more cars than they used to
    b) That cars don’t last like they used to and people are replacing them more quickly – which seems more likely to me.

    1. Yes I agree with both your points, In fact legislation has shortened (on grounds of mechanical safety) the life of many cars now which would otherwise have had another 10 years on the road, an ecological disaster. Yet 20 years ago we started marking plastic parts with industry codes to enable recycling of the various resins.

    2. Alternative b is actually two separate points, the first point is incorrect, at least in the UK, they are lasting longer, no idea about the 2nd

    3. c) Cars have become a commodity, like a fridge or a cooker.

      The roots of motorsports were laid at a time when cars were a luxury for the elite, with competition between rich gentlemen drivers.

      The correlation between no of cars sold and peoples interest in racing is ever reducing as cars become commoditized. Its not like owning a horse, where the owner is highly likely to be interested in some form of equine competition.

    4. With the advent of leasing as an acquisition model people are turning over new cars every 3-5 years as opposed to 5-10 years, which also supports your item b. theory.

      1. Sorry Joe, I simply cannot agree that more sales equates to more racing interest. Did it ever occur that as the economy (slowly) improves, it will naturally drive sales of all kinds of goods, autos included. And as the profits of large corporations improve, they also are more likely to lease more vehicles for their executive and sales personnel, which brings me to my point…

        The number of leased simply cannot be discounted when speaking about “gross sales”. The ONLY reason the Ford Taurus was the top-selling car in the US during the 90’s was solely due to lease “sales” and not just individual folks leasing them but of large corporations leasing them. Some years as much as 50% of the Taurus sales were to GE, which in turn leased them to the large corporations mainly for use by their sales forces.

        As a side-note, the same years the Taurus was ‘top seller’ the Toyota Camry had the highest RETAIL sales. Folks who scrimped and saved to BUY a car wanted something with quality that lasted, whereas lease companies didn’t care because they dumped the ‘end-lease’ cars within a few years.

        As far as the Cars movies… I believe it is stretching the thread quite thin to draw a link between the cartoon car caricatures so interesting to the youth and auto racing… tenuous at best.

        1. +1 – spot on Mark, strong points made that are hard to refute. One has to break down such numbers by corporate and fleet sales versus private new car sales before attempting to make any correlation as originally suggested. With regard to the Cars films, one could argue the success was driven by the fact that it was a Pixar film production who have a track record of success with previous franchises such as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc, Brave, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Cars was almost certain to make money as Pixar know how to make films that kids want to see (irrespective of whether they involve four-wheeled characters, aquatic one or even a johnny five rip-off).

              1. Quite true Bob. Joe, while I respect your insight , it is due to your privileged position in getting access to the f1 paddock. It doesn’t mean you can not research other facts and go defensive when someone calls you on ridiculous reasoning. Are you trying to compete with Bernie on ego?

    5. It is assumed in the US industry that much of the sales boom is due to pent-up demand, as we have gone several years with people not feeling comfortable making that kind of financial commitment. Now, the economy’s not great, but many, many people aren’t as scared as they have been in recent years.

      While people do indeed keep buying cars, I don’t think that means they love them. For most, they are transportation appliances. And for those younger folks who do love them, I observe that they love different things about them. They love having their phone automatically connected via bluetooth as they get in. They love having the key fob unlock the car as they approach. They like leather seats. They like the video screen in the middle of the dash.

      They don’t seem to care much about going fast, as traffic is more congested and the cars are all so good that you can go 80mph without having any subjective sense of speed. One thing that was great about old British sports cars was that they were “low-velocity high-speed cars”. You were low to the ground and felt every bump in the road. Going 80 was an adventure. Now, it’s a snooze. And when testosterone-poisoned young males no longer have the subjective experience of being thrilled by going fast, I expect passion for racing to suffer.

      But I could be wrong…

  10. Joe,
    I agree with the point in your article about the sport not doing enough, because it seems to me that there is a gentle explosion currently in the UK in static car shows, which shows there is increasing interest in the public.

    A few years ago we just had Goodwood, but now we have other big events like Choldomley Pageant of Power, the Carfests etc all attracting huge crowds. I would also add that attendance at Santa Pod these days seems stronger than at almost any time in the 30 years I’ve been going.

    I think a large part of the problem is simply the spectating available. More and more fences are going up (often in ridiculous places) and crowds are being moved back. I almost refuse to go to Silverstone now… being sat 140yds from the track behind 2x 15ft high fences peering through at tiny specks is not my idea of excitement, and you can’t get any useful photos at all.

    None of that crap at Santa Pod, and crowds don’t get hurt there…

  11. One thing I would say about the Cars franchise is that although Motorsport is the backdrop for the stories, the narrative is driven (especially in film 2) by a battered old tow truck with a personality best defined as annoying white trash with limited mental capacity, and the principle racing character is a whiny voiced monomaniac with an overweening sense of entitlement (sound familiar?).

    It’s interesting (for me at least) to reflect that from ages 3 – 6, the Cars was my son’s favourite film franchise, – I’ve seen these films so many times they now represent a particularly purgatorial activity to me. The attendant merchandise were my son’s favourite toys.

    During this time he also developed an ability to identify the make and model most road cars. He also watched a few F1 races on TV with me, and seemed to enjoy them. He appeared to have a passion for all things motoring-related.

    Now aged 9 he is an obsessive Premier League football fan (specifically THFC), knows most of the players in most of the teams, all the stats, everything in breathtaking detail. He wouldn’t watch an F1 if I bribed him.

    Not sure what went wrong, but I doubt Bernie gives a toss, as he’s 60 years too young, and isn’t in the market for a Rolex and a Russian Trophy wife.

    1. I know the feeling, Andrew. I managed to get one of my ex-partner’s boys into F1, from when he was about 8 until 10 (2008-2010), but then lost him to, of all things, WWE. I suppose the fact that his Mum and older sister were massively into it helped, but I wish I knew why he couldn’t just have liked both…

    2. Forgot to say though… both he and his younger (by 21 months) brother adored Cars. Funnily enough, the younger one (who had no interest in F1) loved it more than the elder one did…

    3. What went wrong is the massive marketing campaigns that the Premiership/Sky continually run. Children are not sophisticated and are drawn to the biggest and brightest lights they see. Compared to the non-existent promotion FOM does, it is very small wonder children are watching other better promoted sports.

  12. A few weeks ago there was some discussion about making F1 pay per view. I scared myself when I asked which races I would pay $10 to watch: My answer was, ‘it had better be wet conditions.’ I cannot understand why viewers would sit to watch cars spaced out and counting down laps to the undercut. But I will pay to watch Le Mans.

  13. But look at the car’s that are actually selling well and there is your answer. Here in Australia (I know, only 1.2 million out of the world’s total sales of 72 million odd) and the best sellers are Corolla, Mazda3, Camry, Hilux, i30, Mazda Cx5 and hoards of other dreary front wheel drive econoboxes and fake 4×4’s (SUV’s) and some pretty cheaply made in Thailand utilitarian “utes” (Aussie for pickup truck). There is no passion in car buying anymore. They are simply appliances to most people.

    One of the main problems in the car market is that nearly all the manufacturers that produce exciting cars are not very good at screwing them together. Conversely, the Japanese are great at making very boring, but reliable cars. Most people have absolutely no interest in cars at all, so they go Japanese (and now increasingly Korean). I was shocked to read the other day that Hyundai/Kia is the fourth largest car company in the world!

    Combine all that with the free to air coverage being pretty abysmal, and there’s your result. Here in Australia with only 30 pc of homes with pay TV (and who knows how many of them get FOX Sports) and plenty of sport on Free TV, F1 is on the way down.

      1. Daniel, in Australia we have several free to air channels broadcasting a mix of sport and other shows. Up until 2015 all F1 races, and all of our local V8 Supercar races were broadcast free to air. In 2015 we lost half our free to air F1 races to Foxtel, and a significant proportion (may have been half, may have been slightly less/more?) of the V8 Supercar races to Foxtel.

        In 2015 both the Australian F1 GP, and V8 Supercar Mt Panorama Endurance race were free to air. I believe I also watched the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour race free to air, although perhaps I’m getting confused with a previous year. I honestly don’t know what motor racing is available free to air in 2016 – I had thought I had read last year that all F1 was going from free to air to Foxtel, same with V8 Supercars (I’m not sure if they can get away with doing that to Mt Panorama – for some of us it represents Australia Day), but hopefully I am wrong about this and we will still get some free to air F1 and V8s.

        That is a long answer as I wasn’t sure if you just meant free to air or free to air F1. There are some other forms of Motorsport being broadcast free to air in some of the gaps left by V8 Supercars, but I’m not sure what they will be in 2016. Please note that some of us have pointed out in the past that free to air simply means we aren’t paying a monthly subscription. It isn’t entirely free due to other factors such as advertising costs being passed onto the consumer, and some govt support in the form of tax breaks or incentives at different times in the history of free to air.

      2. Yes there are three free to air commercial networks – Channel 7, 9 and 10, as well as two government ones, ABC and SBS. Each network has about 3 stations so all up there are about 15 free to air stations. F1 is on Channel 10, which used to call themselves “the home of motorsport”, but in recent years they have been in very deep financial trouble so have sold off a lot of their sports rights. Now we get a mixture of highlights and some live racing (no qualifying at all) on free TV and the rest is on Pay TV.

        Pay TV was introduced in Aus in 1996 but has never really taken off. People complain about too many ads, to many repeats and too expensive. Its market penetration has never exceeded 30 pc of homes. Foxtel recently halved their monthly subscription fees in an effort to boost the number of subscribers but it hasnt worked. Most young people are getting Netflix instead of paying for hundreds of channels of pay tv you’ll never watch.

  14. I have to agree with Hannah. F1, and sport in general, is becoming the sport of the rich. There is no way I can justify, to myself, the cost of a Sky Sport subscription just to watch F1. Believe me there is nothing and I mean nothing on Sky, other than F1, that I would want to watch especially the endless advertisements. That is what makes the subscription so expensive.
    On top of all that we, in the UK, are forced, by law, to pay £145 per year to support the BBC. Recently tuned in to watch the BDO World darts, only to find that dear old auntie BBC has given up the rights, to all the important games, to BT Sport, another greedy pay per view channel.
    A message to Billionaire Bernie and his CVC mates. If you make it too expensive for me to see I WILL WATCH SOMETHING ELSE!!!

      1. The problem Joe, is that whilst the core enthusiasts ARE revolting, there are plenty of casual spectators that may watch a race or two on TV, or turn up to a circuit with free corporate tickets. When they disappear, they are replaced with another casual. This skews the numbers. I bet Bernie can show figures that F1 is increasingly popular in terms of numbers, but that doesn’t tell the story. The significant statistic is how much retention is there? I’d bet that a lot fewer fans follow the sport systematically / consistently than in the past.

      2. It is a revolt, and one we wish you would support. But when you continually write pieces about the “inevitability” of pay TV for F1, it serves to marginalise the revolvers not support them.

    1. We shall have to wait and see how good Channel4 is going to be and who they have in the team. But its still only half!

      1. I think it a interesting move by FOM to go to Channel 4. Channel 4 seems to have a younger demographic compared to other channels, and perhaps that will help bring in some youth into F1.

    2. The UK isn’t the only country that has a television licence. Don’t believe what you’re told by the Daily Heil, they are required in many other countries. As Joe won’t allow weblinks here, I suggest you look up the info in Wikipedia,

      Whilst I’m here, I think distance from the cars needs mentioning. I went to Brands Hatch recently. Spectators are kept much further away from the track and behind a 12 foot high chain link fence. I was like visiting a zoo. I certainly wouldn’t want to pay any extra £xxx to sit in a stand for a clear view of the track – and be even further away from the action.

      Perhaps Joe can enlighten us about spectating F1 on foreign tracks.

    3. I don’t know why everyone is making such a fuss about F1 being on pay tv. I haven’t had a pay tv subscription in over two years now,but I’ve still managed to catch every race, either live (albeit in fairly low resolution), or delayed a few hours on a particular website that collates almost every form of motorsport I can think of. If you don’t want to support CVC by paying extortionate subsciption costs, then just use the internet. Simple.

    4. The trouble with you ‘Lotus49’ is you don’t want to pay for anything it seems. A license fee pays for many public service broadcasts apart from the usual stuff and could be called an ‘anti-Murdoch fee’ if you like. I guarantee you’d pay a license fee, BBC or not (in France it’s collected as part of your yearly ‘rates’ and you have to suffer ads on public TV as well). By the way, the Beeb didn’t ‘give up’ the rights, it’s always out bid. Perhaps you should complain to BT how it manages to pay for these rights – from our telephone/internet bills perhaps?

      One other thing, I suppose you never listen to BBC radio by any chance?

      Finally – hello Joe, Happy New Year and all the best for this season.

  15. When the person whose job it is to promote the sport has stated a) that it is shxt; b) that it is aimed at old men who can afford to buy a Rolex; c) spends most of his time working against bringing it to audiences who are interested; d) does not want car manufacturers involved in the sport, then the situation you have outlined is the result.

    1. I think Joe should provide a primer essay on how fans should disbelieve or analyse Bernie Ecclestone’s outrageous comments.

      Ecclestone is a strange man. Bernie does not value history but he owns one of the best collections of racing cars. He has historic cars of modest investment value for which he has sentiment. He’ll fight to get the best financial deal for himself, but gives money to friends in need or to the church roof fund in his home town. He has withdrawn from the sport temporarily after friends died.

      In the 1980s, Ecclestone recognised that he didn’t know much about TV broadcasting but that coverage was rubbish. So he assembled a bunch of professionals to advise him. Sadly, he has not been well advised on how to promote F1 on the internet.

        1. A Connaught ain’t worth much relatively and other cars have been better investments. Ecclestone owns a Connaught to remember his own F1 career and that of his mate Stuart Lewis-Evans.

  16. I still remember the first time I saw an F1 event. It was the 1989 British GP qualifying and my dad and god father (his best mate from high school) sat at Becketts and the sound and visceral sensations from those cars whizzing through that 80 degree right hander was really impressive. A year later, we sat there again for the race but in the grandstand. I can recall hearing the engines from the start line at Becketts and then 25 seconds later they all came flying past and the electric atmosphere, that in your face noise and fast cars packed tightly together, jostling for position.
    Reading the comments above is so depressing, as I remember how exciting it was as an eleven and twelve year old boy.

    1. I was there too Daniel and I can vividly remember it. Unfortunately I think that our generation are becoming surplus to requirements as we are constantly being told not to harp on about ‘the good old days’. I don’t know whether they were good or not but I do know that it was a lot more exciting and it certainly got me hooked.

  17. What really needs to happen is a rethink on the race weekend. We need 30 race weekends of 2 days which include a sprint race and a longer race. You could even split the weekends up and have premier weekends with one long race at the traditional venues. Fact is less is not more nowadays!

      1. Which is why I would suggest following the Nascar route and having 2 crews or 1.5 crews based on flexi-time working. Then also create a sensible calendar with races in one Continent at a time and you could easily do 30 races. I would also abandon the 3 weeks of wasted testing and introduce a sensible cost cap so the increased workforce could easily be afforded.

        1. I think it is daft idea, it will add to the costs enormously and will wear out the people who would have to do it. NASCAR does it, but in one relatively small market. It’s not the same out here in the big world.

          1. While 30 seems excessive, all the fans (and drivers) miss all those races in Europe…why not replace all those pre-season tests with a further 3-4 races in Feb/Mar across European venues (so no extra travel or freight costs)? It would certainly spice up ‘the show’ seeing reliability becoming an issue as it used to be in previous era as opposed to now where the top teams are fairly bullet proof.

            1. Exactly Bob. You could create a mini pre season championship. Instead of the 8 wasted days testing this year have 3 or 4 mini 3/4 distance races and get a sponsor to put in a huge cheque for the winner. Think of how much hype this would create prior to the real season?

              1. Bartosz, evidentally, weather conditions are generally considered good enough for pre-season testing! Whether they’re warm enough for crowds to be prepared to sit around in is another matter.

                And for “Europe”, read “Iberia”. Circuits currently licensed for F1 would be Catalunya, Estoril, and Jerez; possibly also Alcaniz and Navarra if they have now upgraded since their former “F1T” grade counts for nothing extra.

                1. A-P – to your point about the crowds. Its worth noting that other sports such as football and rugby union pull in huge crowds despite the cold weather during even harsher winter months. Given the location of the races would in all likelihood be held in Iberia or possibly other parts of the Mediterranean, the weather should be milder compared to what other major sports spectators have to put up with at that time of the year (and earlier).

        2. jimbo, I agree with the spirit of your remarks if not the fine details… but you must realize that Joe has to put up with the massive traveling, he knows the people who do the dirty work of F1 racing, and he also seems to think we’re supposed to have sympathy for those who make F1 racing happen.

          Now, of course NASCAR knows better than to think that way. They try to give fans what fans want, but F1 doesn’t work that way. As best I can tell, NOBODY in F1 seems to care what the fans want, they care about what’s good for those on the inside of the sport. Bernie cares about what’s good for Bernie, and it trickles down from there. Now, perhaps F1 folk do care what fans want; if so, they do an excellent job of keeping it a secret.

          Which is one of a few reasons why it won’t ever be more than a very fringe enterprise in America. Our baseball players do their jobs 6 days per week for more than half the year, with half of 2 days per week (including their so-called day off) generally devoted to airplane travel. Over the course of a very long 162-game season, they might have a total of dozen days at home, single-days-only, with no work and no air travel. Plus, unless they are good enough to be on the All-Star teams, they also get a 3-day break soon after mid-season (the best players don’t even get that). By the end of the season they’re completely toast. They are banged-up, nursing chronic injuries, physically about 70%, and totally exhausted. But they don’t ever complain about it, at least not where anyone can hear. Ask them about it, and they’ll be eager to tell you how lucky they are to be doing what they do for a living.

  18. What are audience figures both TV and trackside like for BTCC? Used to be an avid fan, it was shown on main TV channels so you knew it was on, huge crowds at the circuits, coverage in the print media. Where’s it gone now ITV4 and only see it when I remember which is not often. Same with WRC although no idea what channel that’s on now.

      1. And here in the southeast U.S. I’ll watch every bit of it, excepting the adverts, if I can find someone streaming it over the web.

    1. Put it this way, at the moment, there are more teams wanting to be in the BTCC than there are grid slots available. I don’t know the viewing figures but when I go to the local races the crowds are very healthy. After all its £35 for a full day of motorsport. My 10 yr old loves the championship but gets easily bored during F1 races. The championship is always close and races with not much action/overtaking are very rare. For me its a great championship, always unpredictable and the fact that ITV4 commit to showing the full days racing is fantastic.

      However, there a few times over the course of the year where F1 and the BTCC schedules clash and on these days I still always go for F1 because I still believe its the pinnacle of racing and where the best drivers are. It could be a hell of a lot better, the fact that Bernie, CVC and the FIA are wasting so many opportunities to make it great frustrates the hell out of me, but it’s still my favourite motorsport.

      For those touting the WEC. I have tried watching a few races this year and although I can follow the nuances of the races I did find them largely dull affairs even though it was classed by many as a ‘classic’ season. Foe me it has a lot of the same issues as F1, but stretched out over an even longer period of time.

      I’m sure there’ll be an app or some way of setting reminders on your phone so you don’t miss the BTCC races because its certainly worth it.

      1. The BTTC finale had about 400k viewers for the final race of the day. Not bad for a domestic series but not an all time high.

  19. “The solution lies, surely, in …………. driving out those who are involved only in the pursuit of wealth, power, fame, sex or whatever …………………….”

    Wouldn’t that include “driving out” most of the fans? 😉

  20. I concur with what you say.

    Furthermore, for the price of a Grand Prix weekend family pass a car-obsessed child can be treated to an Xbox/PS4 console and a good racing-simulation game.
    No, obviously it’s ‘not the same thing’ . . .
    BUT
    It can provide many hours of challenging, involving, interactive experience – for the parent as well as the child! Better than ‘. . . being sat 140yds from the track behind 2x15ft high fences peering through at tiny specks . . .’, if John M’s assessment is reasonable?

  21. I tend to think F1 is a generational thing. In as much as I am a baby boomer and to me having spent my child hood and early youth frigging with wireless and listening to the Goons, (Home service 9pm Mondays) on my crystal set in bed.
    Television was a wonder to my generation and I am still an addict 60 years later.
    To my kids the tv was already there, just part of the room, nothing special. F1 was great excitement, it was Ramond Baxter then Murray Walker then JA. It was the domain of the rich even back then, but we could watch them on tv. Not for another twenty-five years did I get the chance of an affordable visit to Silverstone though it was a still stretch. Later I managed to work on site at the Brands Hatch GP We had no disposable income, and every penny was committed before I earned it so in our generation we went without if we couldn’t afford it.
    But when the Trimoco BTCC was a support race to the GP at Silverstone it was for me the best era.
    To my kids, the astronomical costs of going to the British GP effectively ruled out any predisposition to follow F1, though they would occasionally watch a race on tv with me.
    Maybe if we had been better off financially my boys would have been engaged more with F1, but they just see it as a very expensive interest of mine which now none of us can afford.
    In my day everyone took their own cars to pieces and serviced them, because A) We could not afford to pay anyone else to do it. and B) They usually needed mending or modifying to last another week. That we relied upon such machines to travel 50 miles to work and 50 back each day now seems incredible but really the only option. (I had given up motorcycling after two people “had not seen me”) Thus, coming finally to the point, cars were in our blood at a basic necessary level. Now people are in general, distant from their cars, which get plugged into analysers to determine faults, they are in fact not allowed to do their own servicing. Mine were fixed with hammers, gasket cement, dumdum, tin cans, U bolts and wire, oh and an egg.
    There will be some who were well off enough to have cars to play with and have retained interest down the generations, but that was in the other world, the one on tv.

  22. The reality of the situation is, as far as investors in the sport go, is that no one in their right mind would invest in a facility to hold a Grand Prix, which costs around $400M, then the GP itself which runs between $25M and $35M per race. There is no return. In essence, they get to throw their money into the wind. Some may say “Well, it brings $230M into area businesses”. This may very well be true, however if you are a city such as say, Austin, and let’s say they put out $27M for the race. Yes, that $230M does come to local businesses, but none of that $230M finds its way back into the city’s cash register drawer. That $27M is gone, never to be seen again. This is the #1 problem with F1 today and it needs a fix.

    1. We have to go back to circuits owning the rights and charging the tv companies, and advertisers, the all know about block advertising by now so don’t nee Bernie to teach them any more. They would all need an extra accountant but be far better off.

  23. 2015 was a record breaking year for refrigerator sales, I guess the world’s super enthusiastic about refrigerators.

    The number of people who apparently would happily let Google drive them around, so they can concentrate or more interesting things, like their phone, suggests a lack of enthusiasm for driving. Plus the increasing difficultly I have buying manual transmission cars…

    1. At 25mph they would be welcome in Nutbush!

      I used to love driving but when on the A34 at Biscester at 6pm on my way home from customers in the midlands (I lived in mid Hampshire) seeing the traffic queued all the way to Oxford I often wished for a teleporter. A google car would drive me mad, it reminds me of the “Johnny cab” in the Arnie version of Total Recall. I too would be inclined to rip it’s joystick out.

    2. When Chrysler started up in the UK as a Concessionaire/Importer at Dover, they were having to pay the factory extra for manual transmission. I urged them to be the first car supplier to say “Automatic is standard, manual is extra” but they were not convinced. (remember that Jeff?) I still think think that could have had a big effect on the market. I last saw them at Milton Keynes as part of Merc still struggling. As it is, in my old git’s arthritic condition I am saving up for an automatic. (Venga not Chrysler)

  24. UK car sales are up largely because the finance companies have tailored a very desirable range of packages. You can have the new car you want for not very much per month without the fuss or worry associated with second hand cars.

    If you want more people to be interested in F1, make it more interesting to watch.

  25. I can’t keep my kid entertained with F1 when nothing interesting happens on track. He is very interested in F1 cars, thanks to a Red Bull demonstration run with Max Verstappen. But after the start and 5 laps of nothing happening, he wants me to switch channels or go and play with him. And frankly, playing with him is a better use of my time as well than watching the current Formula DRS. And I can’t take him to races because I am not ready to hand over so much cash for tickets.

  26. As for myself;
    I have the opportunity to regularly use the 2wd and 4wd (700+ bhp) Tesla Model S. After driving those cars, I kind of lost interest in V8’s, V6’s, and about any other petrol car. At the moment I’d rather go to Formula E than Formula 1. IMHO F1 should be full electric after a decade. The small kids now, will likely never drive petrol cars anyway.

    1. They will drive petrol driven cars, they’ll be plug in hybrids but still have a petrol engine. Plug-in electric cars will always be a niche no matter what Mr Musk tries to say. Plug in hybrids will be mainstream until Hydrogen fuel cells are perfected.

      Yes the Tesla is an awesome piece of kit, but despite its headline catching “insane mode” it’s still bloody boring. It was about the only car that went up the hill in the Supercar section of the Goodwood FOS that didn’t turn my sons head despite us being at the start line and me telling him how quickly it could get to 60.

      As for Formula E, I don’t really understand how it’s helping to promote the electric car? Every big deal that Agag announced would be happening has been delayed by several years, so the powertrains and battery tech is lagging behind what you can find in road cars. Meaning the cars are dog slow and you will need 2 of them to finish a race for at least another 5 years.

  27. I think most people who don’t care about cars and don’t work in the industry would think young people not wanting to drive is a good thing. Cars are pretty bad things for your health and the health of other people. Ask Jean Todt! They make you fat, they pollute, they kill and hurt people in accidents. I don’t expect you to agree with me just like I wouldn’t expect an American gun nut to agree that guns are bad.
    I own two racing cars but I do not have a road car because I have no need for one or interest in them. For me I see no connection between motorsport and road cars. My experience of driving on the road bares no resemblance to driving race cars or cars on a track. My car friends like to think they like motorsport but they don’t really. They don’t know racing. They think motorsport is just legal speeding. Motorsport can quite happily exist without road cars. Car fans aren’t good race fans.
    Your average car fan is no sportsman.

  28. I have three kids, 24, 17 and 14 who are car crazy. Most of their passion stems from GTA and other car games. Their knowledge of cars is amazing yet I cannot make them sit down and watch an F1 race.
    I have always followed F1 but the total disconnect that my kids have to F1 makes me wonder what kind of future the sport has.
    I don’t wear a Rolex and have no desire to do so…as a life long fan I don’t feel a part of what BE considers to be his ideal F1 customer and if free to air racing disappears from German TV I won’t be following it behind any paywalls…But even when its free I wonder why the young find it all so uninviting?

    1. Interesting . . .
      Whilst I don’t have kids of my own, your experience lends credence to my thoughts above on the relevance of computer games to supporting a passion for cars. Something to do with the focus on interactivity allowing one’s role to be more ‘producer’ rather than merely ‘consumer’ oriented perhaps?

  29. I would add to -” one might conclude that the primary reasons for this phenomenon are that tickets cost too much, venues are not appealing or in the wrong places, and that the sport is not up to speed in its interactions and engagement with fans and potential fans” – AND THE RACING IS BORING, AND THE CARS ARE NOT VISCERALLY EXITING, AND THE MAJORITY OF THE PROTAGONISTS ARE BLAND CORPORATE AUTOMATONS.

    1. The question of whether the racing is boring is entirely subjective. You find it so, I do not. Perhaps you should ask how and why I find interest in races and you do not. I am in no way a PR man for F1, but I don’t think the racing is that bad. Perhaps you need to go a race from time to tine to rediscover the thrill?

      1. you are right, there are some good races. I went to austin last year and it was a yawn fest from my POV. even seated on the main straight grandstand. the last time i went to a race prior to that was canada 2010 and that was a lot better experience. sat a first corner grandstand and walked to the fence at the exit of turn 1 to get super close to the cars. before that was indianapolis 2000 and that was an ok race but the cars were so visceral that it left quite an impression anyways.

      2. If they lowered the prices and allowed the fans to get anywhere close to the participants and action I’d be tempted but as it stands, the only way one will find such races interesting is if they have inside access through working in the industry.

  30. Joe, Very good article as usual. I also have to agree with Hannah. I have a 6-yr old son. Love of cars, and love of Cars (1 and 2) come naturally to him. He can identify car brands very easily and tie them up with drivers (he’ll refer to any Mercedes car as Lewis Hamilton’s and to any Ford as Ken Block’s). These past couple of years being the first ones in which we lived in a country with live TV feed of the races, I introduced him to F1 and we watched many races on TV together, which saw him become fan of quite a few racers. When the race was not available for free on TV, it was often for free on the BBC so we watched the live feed from the UK on the BBC’s website.
    Now with the BBC out, and only a few races free on TV in our country of residence, I don’t see myself subscribe to a high-price cable package just for a few races. We won’t watch the night races, and I get all the content I need from your blog and GP+. So this paywall might actually end up turning my son away from the sport completely; I can easily see this happening in many families around the world. I fully agree with you that the system needs to change if we want it to be sustainable and attract a new generation of fans…

  31. Personally I think the root problem lies with TV coverage. Whilst the coverage is excellent, it is often the ‘die-hard’ or ‘seasoned’ fan who will pay the TV subscription cost. (Also the costly race admission ticket prices).

    A casual observer, or someone who isn’t (yet) interested in the racing, isn’t going to fork out a lot of money for something they’re not sure they’re going to enjoy.

    If these people can’t easily / cheaply watch a race, then it doesn’t matter if it’s the most dramatic / exciting race of the decade, or a dull as dishwater procession, they’re not watching it, and F1 is losing the opportunity of converting these people into ‘die-hard’ fans who will pay to attend a race weekend.

  32. It has been reported for years now that the percentage of people coming to the age of being eligible for a drivers license and getting one immediately is falling steadily. And the conclusion has been that increasing number of kids (or young adults) aren’t that interested in cars. Looking at my kids, 17 and 15, they could not care less about F1. Or any form of racing. Sadly.

    There’s so much entertainment around us, every minute of the day. It’s hard for F1 to compete for the available minutes in a day. Let alone 2 hours in a day. That has majorly changed in the last 10 years.

  33. For what it’s worth I was an avid F1 and any form of Motorsport fan and still am, but sadly not F1 any longer. I have been very fortunate to attend a number of Grand Prix once as a guest of Tyrell to spa and the experience then for myself and my 8 year old son was amazing. Also worked for a company that sponsored Jaguar so went to many tests and also Jerez when Schumacher tangled with JV seeing him in paddock throwing his helmet into ferrari motorhome was fantastic and showed the passion. We raced in karting for years JB dad used to build our engine and LH dad did our carbs and F1 race weekend when racing we would all watch the race between heats.
    So fair to say been enthusiast for many years, for now though I don’t even watch the highlights as the top 2 teams vanish and you have to watch the midfield teams racing which is great for sponsors but not fans who want to see hotly contested wins. The noise for me isn’t a factor as I truly appreciate the incredible minds it takes to produce the power train and to actually make the whole thing work. Also the race weekend is just that the whole experience not just the race and to say fans fund F1 is a bit like saying fans fund the premiere league, ok they do push some revenue but a full stadium for 20 weekends doesn’t fund 5 of the players wages. So for me drop the prices and make it an experience like indycar or nascar, take away limited access to drivers re engage fans. Get social media right, weekend insights from teams live webinars from garages, basically stop being in 1980 and wake up Mr E

    1. I could not agree more, $20.00 get you into the pits for an entire weekend at an InyCar race and can talk to most drivers and owners. It is not just the race at Indy or NASCAR, it is the whole weekend experience. I however disagree that F1 is not exciting to watch. In Austin this year when they allowed the fans to interact with the drivers (due to the terrentail rains) you could see the excitement in the fans, F1 should have learned a valuable lesson from this experience.
      On another note, the price has to come down drastically if F1 is to retain or increase its fans. I have convinced quite a few of my friends to come to a F1 race and they all enjoyed it immensely, but refused to go a second time based solely on cost, but they all attend Indy and NASCAR with me on a regular base.

      1. Its not just US forms of motorsport that offer such experiences. Superbike events regularly allow spectators to meet riders, teams and gain paddock access, all for a fraction of the price of an F1 ticket.

  34. Engage with social media, make the whole shebang available online via an app, charge per race. Sit back and watch the cash roll in. The solution is quite easy, executing it maybe less so.

  35. Joe,

    Nail. Head. Squarely-hit.

    Ignore the it’s-not-how-it-used-to-be crowd. They see history like most of us, through nostalgically rose-coloured glasses. Years from now, people will recall Hamilton-Rosberg like some people today recall Senna-Prost. Sure, there are tweaks that can and should be done to make the show better. But it’s not all that different than it used to be.

    Simple fact: people have less disposable income and less available leisure time than they used to. Blame dual income families, which started as a competitive advantage for the early adopters of this lifestyle, but became a necessity as society and the economic realities adjusted accordingly. But assigning blame doesn’t help, it simply identifies the realities. F1, and motorsport in general, faces increasing competition for leisure time against less available leisure time. And faces increasing competition for disposable income against less available disposable income.

    Simply put, it’s expensive to be an F1 fan. Gate fees have increased dramatically. Now there’s pay-to-view on TV being implemented. This model is not sustainable. FOM and the commercial rights holders need to lower track fees and lower broadcast fees to keep the public engaged.

    Plus, as you have mentioned, they need to take advantage of the significant opportunity to keep fans engaged via new media technologies. By this I mean multiple information streams that are live during race weekends and can also be replayed for those who don’t watch live. Plus there can be significant engagement that happens in-between races and during the off season to keep F1 top-of-mind and keep fans excited for the next race/season.

  36. Basically all the problems and downward spiral stem from the sport being owned by venture capitalists who are only interested in profit, you can see similar problems being faced by one particular English Premier League team that plays in red.

    I used to laugh during all Mr Es courtroom shenanighans were going, when people said oh surely now CVC will have to pension him off…why would they when he takes all the blame for the ills they cause!

  37. Joe, things have fundamentally changed in the last 15- 20 years – 20 years ago if you loved Motor Sport then you watched it or if you were rich or really enthusiastic then get a cheap something- Now I can remember going out with a friend 15 years ago 4WD’ing over some massive 80ft dunes in a remote and we were the only ones there for a whole Bank Holiday W/E. Now today, the place is like Piccadilly Circus with 4WD’s, Speciality fast off road 2 seaters, Quad bikes, loads of Off road bikes.. which goes to show that – Disposable income has increased dramatically for all – and these toys have come down in price therefore F1 is now competing against the likes of actually DOING IT as opposed to WATCHING IT and people prefer to do it more than to watch it. and with the dramatic rise in actually DOING IT in all areas of sport then to watching has taken a big hit. Also F1 has priced itself out of the market and hardly value for money when for the same money you can get a decent track day which is far more “do it” and less “watch it” Oldies like me still enjoy watching but I think F1 viewers have actually proved incredibly faithful compared to how little action one is really exposed to during the 2hrs.

  38. I think that the two subjects are quite separate. People buy cars for mobility. Later on they buy new cars as some form of external persona. Why do people buy SUVs, or Renault Clios? It can only be down to the finance package and ” it will do the job, mentality.

    People buy trainers as footwear, but the vey great majority have no interest in taking up Athletics.

    Now that the BBC has quit F1, I think it could invest some small resources into building up something like the European Karting Chmpionship. They could show just how competitive Motorsport can be. Gladiators racing chariots in its simplest form. F1 has forgotten that basic principle we now have “can 650 well paid engineers beat 450 medium pay engineers?” but with zero effort put into wanting to understand, or explaining, the engineering.

  39. I have been thinking seriously about the points Joe has made above.

    I don’t want to focus on the car sales = motorsports passion discussion. Plenty have, my views aren’t going to add anything meaningful.

    I have been thinking more about peasants revolting and then the final paragraph/statement regarding those passionate kicking out those only in it for wealth/power/sex/fame.

    I’d like to know more about the demographics of F1 fans, the socio-economic backgrounds. I’m probably atypical, on the lower end of the demographic although when I first started following in earnest I was further up the field.

    The point re demographics is that I don’t know if the average fan has the access or clout to revolt. If these are the peasants (I understand it is a turn of phrase, not a serious classification) we have limited options in terms of a revolt.

    We can stop watching. Given the move to PayTv (not looking to discuss the inevitability or otherwise) I think viewer numbers are decreasing (don’t have figures to back that up so I could be wrong), which is one sign that F1 should be paying attention to. We could stop attending races, which is happening in some places and the end result is tracks aren’t renewing contracts in some countries. Another sign that F1 should be paying attention to. We could stop buying merch, I assume people still buy merch (out of my range, as I say I’m probably atypical these days), maybe these figures are failing? Does any of this affect F1 in such a way to cause anyone to do anything different?

    One of the problems is that I don’t know who F1 is anymore. Is it the teams, and if so is it manufacturers, or the remaining garagistes? Is it the FIA, or FOM, or CVC, or just Bernie?

    The FIA has received a bucket of cash for F1 from Bernie and co. So do declining attendees/viewers affect the FIA bottom line – doesn’t look like it. The fees that Bernie charges a location to host a race aren’t based on any mathematical economic foundation, just whatever the maximum amount Bernie thinks he can get out of those who want the prestige, so declining attendances don’t affect the Bernie/CVC bottom line – why care if Hockenheim can’t afford a GP if Upper Yourassizstan is prepared to pay $30 million. The bigger teams get a healthy bonus just for being there, plus prize money for screwing the little guys over, and this doesn’t seem to be based on attendance/viewing figures – maybe it is, maybe the figures are big enough so far to not matter. The little guys, well, they don’t really get a say do they. If the plan to bring more manufacturers in re-badging existing manufacturer engines, there won’t be a need for little guys to make up the numbers anymore anyway (not my wish – I cherish the non manufacturers, whilst also accepting/enjoying manufacturers).

    There doesn’t seem to be a way for fans to express the need for F1 to change, irrespective of how we interpret increasing car sales, without turning away and switching off. When we do turn away/switch off the impact on the F1 bubble which appears to be based on some financial wizardry is negligible. True, declining tv figures will eventually impact on CVC revenues but it will take time for these impacts to come through in future contract negotiations and time therefore to potentially reach a critical mass.

    Last year there was a petition, I called on people to sign it. It was vague, people rightly questioned the intent, and perhaps rightly said we couldn’t make a difference anyway. I haven’t seen any response or acknowledgment of it, which again probably indicates they were right to not bother.

    I understand that ultimately Joe may have meant movers and shakers within the F1 paddock having to kick out the stockbrokers and non sports loving financiers. I’m jaded enough now that when I hear of peasants revolting I look at the team owners and see them as the ones that need to be doing something, as the ones who should have been doing something all along – recognising that some have and lost, or moved on. I’m at a loss as to what I or any of the other fans I know can do. I’m sorry for not being more positive, I am apologetic if it sounds like I am just shrugging my shoulders and passing the responsibility to someone else. I don’t live in England, I can’t storm the gates of Baggins Hill, we all know I would be arrested and locked up if I did and nothing would change anyway.

    If anyone has a constructive and practical way fans can impact on the decision makers please put it out there. I know Joe fights this battle for all of us, but as highly regarded as he must be how much influence can his voice alone make. No disrespect intended Joe, I am confident that if you had a magic wand to wave you would have done it by now, and whenever I see a post like the one above I am reminded that your passion is undiminished, and you are still doing what you can for the sport that you, we, love.

    Can we collectively force change?
    Can we at least influence the teams and their owners/managers?
    If the people that matter in F1 can’t organise well enough to fight for growth or at least sustainability of the sport should the rest of us continue to be concerned?

  40. I accept the point re: CARS, but a simple look around a motor show or motorsport events outside the F1 paddock (even at Grands Prix), there are loads of kids around – some being dragged around by parents, many doing their best to be interested. This manifests itself more with the timewasting demos and displays behind the grandstands but the truth is they are, or can be made interested.

    Kids will have sat with their parents and watched Top Gear etc and many will have a well developed idea of what is their favourite supercar etc. They will all play racing games on consoles, while F1 restricts where it can be used in this world also, making money out of people who are…already F1 fans. This kind of youngster is ready to find F1, but F1 is actively avoiding attracting their interest.

    F1 is (through its general strategy), removing itself from free TV (less chance kids will be put in front of it while sunday dinner is cooked), and ticket prices are such that only the committed F1 fan with plenty of dosh will bring their children – if the kids are indeed interested or not.

    The Youtube strategy is still far too autocratic. Any upload that was originally free to air and after the event is over should be encouraged to get F1 into the faces as as many people as possible. Why restrict something you have already made money out of, and will not get the opportunity to do so again? F1 is officially trying to get a presence, the hilarious aspect is that the community will do it for them for free if they just pack it in with the reporting to YouTube!!

    And they wonder why new fans are so hard to come by…

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