2017

Logos, the future and the blame game

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Motorsport

In light of the new logo for Formula 1 presented to the world after the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi, the backlash has been quite swift and critical of the new commercial owners in Liberty Media for replacing the old logo which had been in place since 1994. While their first season in F1 can be a relative success, their true challenges are only getting underway and with it will come wars of words and the blame game from fans and its inner sanctum.

The bigger issues

“Why focus on a logo instead of the bigger issues?” is the argument I’m hearing most from the fan base and while I can see their side of the story, it really doesn’t hold up as a talking point against Liberty’s actions. The new commercial owners have been fully aware of the problems at hand and are working hard in the background to resolve them.

Ross Brawn and Martin Brundle laid down some very harsh truths in a piece for Sky Sports F1 which I urge you to check out if you haven’t seen it already, both were very critical of the current situation F1 is finding itself in and rightly so.

Outrageous spending, vast performance and financial gaps with little in return for those at the back of the grid and the fans watching in the stands and at home, it is a sad and sorry image for what is supposed to be the ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport, something which F1 claims to be but must admit it’s not delivering on that statement.

MotoGP in recent years has led the way in showing the world what a motorsport should be, something that is gripping, edge of your seat action, with possibilities up and down the grid to succeed regardless of whether it’s a factory or satellite team.

One of the standout markers from their teams is the willingness to do what is in the best interest of the sport. They wish to make sure there is competition, parity while maintaining their own identities and put on a show with the best riders from around the world, something which F1 has failed to do for numerous years and it’s a constantly degrading problem which is so blatantly evident.

A necessary culture change

A completely new mindset is required to move the sport into a more sustainable future. In the past, it may have worked for some to adopt the selfish strategy, but in the modern age we live in where hegemony is despised, it is now time for a change in how F1 operates in order to literally save itself from burning itself out entirely.

Liberty Media wants to see the sport become cheaper, fairer and most of all sustainable. Right now teams are burning through their purses quicker than ever before just to find those precious tenths or even hundredths of a second just to get that competitive edge over their opponents, while those who have to reign in their spending are languishing behind unable to catch up.

Despite the recent criticisms of Chase Carey and his team regarding the move to a new logo, it must be understood changes are afoot to shift away from the completely unfair prize money structure former commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone had arranged in this current Concorde Agreement which was created back in 2013.

On top of that, Ferrari recently made threats to quit the sport and the narrative coming out from the management is they are prepared to work with Ferrari… to a point. However I suspect in the background, they would be ready to allow the Scuderia to walk away.

Why? You may ask. Ferrari is part of the DNA of F1 and would suffer greatly from their departure is the common argument against it, however, while they have been integral to the sport, sometimes a great loss is needed to make the necessary changes needed to move forward.

I suspect when the time comes to sign on the dotted line for 2021 and beyond Chase Carey will hand Ferrari the contract and a pen to say, “These are the rules and regulations, up to you if you want to sign it and continue to be a part of the sport.”

The future is bright despite the criticisms

While we are a long way away from seeing any part their vision come to life, everything they have laid down thus far appears to be on the right track. I fully understand why fans are unhappy with the way the sport has performed in recent years for one reason or another.

However, despite this, I am almost certain of a much brighter future for F1 as the years roll on through.

Once we can get teams onboard with a much fairer financial structure, a better aerodynamic package as well as more exciting engines to race with and listen too, then we all soon have a series we can enjoy once more, but it must be remembered this is no overnight fix. We have years of hard work, drama and even potential walkouts to come before our current problems are made better.

I urge as many fans as possible to stay along for the ride because I have no doubt we will all be rewarded when the time comes.

SC

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Ferrari must prepare to have its bluff called

Photo Credit: Ferrari Media

Ferrari has yet again threatened to leave Formula 1 if Liberty Media’s future plans do not fit with the Italian manufacturer’s plans then they will not ‘play’ according to president Sergio Marchionne, but the time has come for Ferrari to stop trying to call the sports bluff.

It feels like a Ross & Rachel will they won’t they won’t they story but in complete reverse. Ferrari does have a unique history with F1 having competed every year since the inception of the championship in 1950. However I can’t help feel despite the historic success of the Scuderia, it’s behaving like a petulant child demanding sweets from a shop despite a parent saying no.

Threats to leave are nothing new from Ferrari and some would be quick to suggest it’s nothing more than that, as the old saying claims ‘F1 can’t live without Ferrari and vice versa. But I would argue this time is different and Ferrari must prepare to have its bluff called by Liberty Media.

No more security

Bernie Ecclestone is no longer in charge of the commercial aspects of the sport having sold Liberty Media almost a year ago and while most of 2017 has been awash with glossy smiles and token gestures, the time has come for the owners to lay their cards on the table as the future of F1 is uncertain beyond 2020.

With the 87-year old no longer part of the power structure they could once rely on, Ferrari now finds itself in a position where its position within the status quo no longer exists.

Liberty’s CEO Chase Carey has been abundantly clear from the outset he wants to see the sport more competitive and made more fair in as many ways as possible. He and his fellow executives Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches wish to see a far more even keel for all the teams to allow for those ‘Leicester City’ moments we would all love to witness, everyone loves an underdog right?

A loss of potentially $100m a year could be taken away from them in bonus payments just for being a ‘Long-standing team’ within the sport, budget caps are planned to be set in place and run by external auditors as well as many other issues on the table are set to leave Ferrari in a position just like the rest in position where they no longer have the power and influence to maintain its status as they see it.

The perspective has changed

With a new ownership of F1 comes a new mantra not just from those in power, but it runs right down to the fans are arguably the ones that make F1 what it is. As they say, no one driver or team is bigger than the sport they participate in, certainly, an argument can be made for that here.

A tremendous amount of the fan-base I have spoken to are fed-up with the dogmatic view Ferrari have been holding onto for years when it comes to their participation in F1 and it appears Liberty Media won’t put up with it either to a certain degree, while it can be argued Ferrari do deserve some perks, it should not be anywhere near to the tune of what they get currently.

For too long F1 has been dominated by money and power and with new commercial owners, the slate has effectively been wiped clean putting all the teams in the same position and rightly so.

Former professional race driver Tiff Needell setup a poll on his Twitter account asking fans whether Ferrari’s bluff should be called or be made happy and the poll results have certainly given a clear answer with nearly 5000 people voting a 91% in favour of having their bluff called.

Prove heritage means something

Having won 15 drivers titles and 16 constructors titles, Ferrari has a history in F1 whose success can only be rivalled currently by Williams and McLaren, but moving forward into the future the Scuderia must prove now more than ever their heritage means something and prove it has not been won just by holding onto a position of power.

Should Ferrari take a new perspective going into the 2021 regulations and commercial agreements set by the FIA and Liberty Media, there is a chance can the prancing horse can win back the respect of the fans who have felt disillusioned in recent years by the erratic behaviour shown by their predecessors.

A future where we no longer could see those scarlet cars roaring past at 200mph chasing down yet another victory against their rivals would certainly be a true sombre moment in the sport’s history.

Ferrari’s success in the echelons of motorsport history is untouchable, but the time has now come for those in Maranello to understand that clawing onto the money and power is no longer the answer.

Ferrari needs F1 and F1 needs Ferrari. but the latter can survive without them if it has to. Let us hope that it does not come to that and we can continue to witness the prancing battle for glory in years to come.

A new dawn approaches…

It appears with breaking news this evening that Bernie Ecclestone, the FOM chairman and CEO of Formula One has been removed from his post effective immediately.

With the aquisition of the Liberty Media group in it’s final stages, it was clear that a shift in the heirarchy of the paddock walls was going to change.

Liberty Media are a company well versed in sports management and broadcasting, making them a great fit into the fold of F1 despite not having any prior experience of the sport to begin with.

Many are quick to point that fact out and hold, what almost feels like resentment towards the new owners despite not really knowing anything about them.

Some even think that the buyout of F1 is nothing more than another investment to create a cashcow.

This is not the case, because of what Liberty are as a company, their investment now rests on the sport to be successful, in all areas. Only then will they see return on their $8bn purchase of F1.

Rumours have been rife for months about the potential plans Liberty are plotting, yet none have been proven to be truthful thus far.

However, it has been pointed out in the last week that CEO Greg Maffei has made comments about how Ferrari recieve too much prize money for their participation in F1, this will no doubt cause feathers to be ruffled in Maranello. 

But, this is a signal of intent by the new owners, Bernie is now no longer the go to guy to help get deals through in their favour. 

This postering by Liberty is a power play that is clearly showing they have intentions and are willing to put them into action, however this could well yet take a while as the current concorde agreement which binds the teams to F1 still has until 2020 to expire.

However, when the time comes, radical changes will no doubt be in the pipeline to be made part of the championship in the future. 

Whatever the future may hold for the F1 world championship, It is now in a pair of hands that will do what’s best for the sport. 

I certainly look forward to what they’ll bring to the table.