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16 Dec 2015

His Bernie-ness recently proclaimed that if it were up to him, he'd take the current rule book and contracts and rip them up, such is the state that Formula One finds itself in.  Meanwhile, it seems just about everyone is moaning but no-one has any clear answers with which to fix the issues.  So, as we have a little break until pre-season testing I thought why not procrastinate on such matters and perhaps I should have trademarked it, but for the sake of compartmentalising it from F1 let's call my take Formula Zero.  Starting from a blank page all sounds great but we learn from our mistakes, so, let's use F1 as the foundation and try to examine what is wrong.  I'm sure many of the things I'll talk about over the next few articles will polarise opinions but as I've already said these are my opinions and not driven by corporate agenda.

Let's start with the first snake on Medusa's head: Bernie and FOM.

The problem with dictatorships is that the ambivalent followers get restless after a while and want to overthrow their oppressors.  For decades Bernie and Max (Moseley) colluded to keep the sport relevant in their own eyes but, when Max was forced out and Jean replaced him the vultures began to circle.  For a long time Jean stood in the shadows and was criticised for being a voyeur rather than dealing with the issues the sport faced.  However, having tied a bow in his quest to right road safety campaigns he cast his eye back toward F1.  One of the mistakes Jean and Bernie made was selling the teams the right to influence the sport, through the strategy group and F1 commission, both of which are but vehicles for the teams and manufacturers to push their own agendas.  

They paid the FIA peanuts for this privilege but now have the right to influence the direction the sport is taken in, something I've not seen in any sport before and likely never will again.  The FIA should always write and enforce the rules, but the current format doesn't allow this, unless it is for safety, meaning proper changes that can actually have a bearing on the sport will not happen.  Whilst the teams and manufacturers should not have any final say over the actual shaping of the regulations, I agree they should be heard.  The strategy group / F1 commission should only put forward ideas not have the power to push them through and whilst I realize the WMSC has the final say in ratifying any changes, if the aforementioned groups have agreed that F1 become a tiddlywinks championship I doubt they'd oppose it either.

One of the fundamental issues that F1 faces is that characters, be it pundits, ex drivers etc, on its periphery are always keen to bad mouth aspects of the sport they don't like.
"It was always better in my day", "It's so expensive to operate in the sport these days" etc, etc it's like the whole paddock go around wearing rose tinted glasses.  

Whilst you can't please everyone I'd also argue that if you watched many of the races in what are often claimed as stellar seasons (which I have) it was simply punctuated by great individual performances, whilst, as is always the case, one team dominated another, until such point that a regulation set had reached a certain point in the gestation period.  As an aside I think we'll see that again next year, as Ferrari begin to challenge Mercedes superiority, just in time for the sport to make another knee jerk reaction and spend a fortune changing the regulations and therefore the cars again.
However, what I do agree with is that Formula One could be better and over these next few articles I'm going to delve deeper into some of the core issues the sport faces and make suggestions on how, if I were the new Bernie, I'd make changes to influence the direction of the sport.  You can check back here for all the links but here's an idea of what I'll be covering:

Top down, single seater ladder restructure.
Sporting Regulations
Technical Regulations


  1. Look forward to your next article.
    Not sure where it fits but please question the age old tradition of qualifying where the fastest package ends up on poll. It's plain daft it sets up a boring race. We all love a mixed grid when they occasionally occur due to freak weather in qualifing. Why do we have to wait for that occasional occurrence. I'm NOT talking reverse grids here but if we could make it worthwhile to start further back in terms of earning points it would be a huge step forward in entertainment.
    Graham Law

  2. Procrastinate is not the word you wanted to use in the third sentence. Read that part of the sentence this way: ... I thought why not delay on such matters ... . That doesn't make any sense. It appears as though the word you were reaching for was ruminate. You ought to take another pass through your copy.

  3. It would seem that all participants in the F1 saga, the FIA, The Bernie, The Teams, would like to have their cake and eat it. Completely! Neither side seems able of a honest compromise for the good of the Sport. If this is still a Sport, that is. And Matt, I think this is the crux of the matter. What is F1, Sport, highly technical in nature, always aiming for the skies, or merely an expensive, flashy, celebrity weighted entertainment? IMO, this is the question, which answer will drive the F1 in either direction. Without it it will not change sufficiently to survive in either form. As we all said, F1 kinda lost its identity, and what this protracted crisis is, is a crisis of identity. Who is the F1's audience? Young, folks, the Y and Z generations? If they are, then F1 is sorely missing out, by not embracing fully Social Media. Middle aged men like myself, who have seen it in all its form from the 70's onward? Well we are also, left lacking with this formula. So what F1 wants to be is the question? What FIA wants F1 to be? And in all honesty, why would FIA be more entitled to govern F1 than any other Governing body? FIA does not sticks its nose under American car racing too much, same if with FIBA, they do not have much say as to how NBA plays ball, so why FIA? Why not let F1 be governed, as any Sports Franchise is governed in the World, by itself, following general Laws of business and such....the rest is up to them....because I think it is already like that, only no one told FIA....the days of Government run automobile clubs and associations (FIA) are over....and people are tired of if there will be less of it...if F1 is self governed...then so be it.

  4. as you say " As an aside I think we'll see that again next year, as Ferrari begin to challenge Mercedes superiority, just in time for the sport to make another knee jerk reaction and spend a fortune changing the regulations and therefore the cars again"

    I am fully with you there, if they would just leave the teams to work on the same basis for a few more years, the field would get closer together and we could get less dominance


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