Last week F1’s Strategy Working Group came together to put in place the regulations that will govern the future of the sport, with a particular focus placed on improving the spectacle of the sport to attract and retain fans.
The proposed changes for the 2016 and 2017 seasons elicited a considerable response on social media, with some fans backing the new regulations and others questioning their impact on the show or the additional cost implications for teams.
For me, the biggest frustration is that F1 has again prescribed to fans what they think they want rather than actively listening to the supporters that fund and follow the sport. While I understand that a consensus is not easily achieved, it is a growing sign that the sport (and the brand) is increasingly becoming detached from its consumers.
With this in mind, I want to hear how you would improve the show. Please share your ideas for improve F1’s spectacle in the comment section below.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
More cars equals more entertainment – almost any motorsport fan will tell you this, and F1 has suffered too much from shrinking grid sizes in recent years.
I propose that five new slots are made available to new teams, bringing the total number of cars to 30 once Haas F1 enters in 2016 – providing every team from the current season survives.
To achieve this, I suggest a parachute payment (as in English football) for teams in GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 who wish to enter. Those that wish to enter are given financial support (say £10 million) by the FIA and F1 to develop their own F1 cars and must enter within three seasons of registering – this would make those categories true feeder series to F1.
The money can be repaid from the team’s fifth season gradually. However, I propose this money is reinvested in grassroots motorsport or at least make available to other GP2 teams that wish to climb the ranks.
Implementing such an approach would also provide new seats for the growing number of drivers coming through the ranks, who are currently forced to move into other racing categories like WEC or IndyCar.
Alternatively, with the narrowing gap between the back of the F1 grid and the front of GP2, perhaps there is something to be said for combined grids as we used to see in the 70s…
This could be a controversial one.
In order to reduce costs and attract new teams, chassis could be sold at a limited price to smaller squads for use in no more than two consecutive seasons – from the third season teams would have to develop their own chassis. This would provide them with a solid and competitive base to compete and earn access to TV rights and championship standings rewards.
Customer cars were once a staple of F1 and we would not have teams like Williams on the grid today if it were not for them.
TV and prize money
The current system is more than skewed. Prize money should be awarded based on the performance of teams, but the TV money should be distributed to teams equally. They all participate, so they should all share from the same pot.
Like football, I would like to see a system where the money trickles down (actually I’d like to see a bottom-up approach but frankly I feel that would not be achievable) so that teams lower categories have the funds to rise through the ranks to the pinnacle of motorsport.
F1 as a brand is currently taking too much of the profits and not sharing this with teams – they are the lifeblood of the sport and without them on the grid there won’t be any fans or future profits. Invest in them and the show will come.
Rules reliability and openness
F1 has always been a great innovator, attracting the best engineers as well as the best drivers.
While recent rules changes have dramatically improved the fuel efficiency of F1 engines, the constant restriction on innovations such as blown diffusers is unlikely to lead to technologies that will translate to road cars. In the past F1 has given us seat belts, windscreen wipers and ABS breaking, and it needs to be known for still having relevance in the modern world.
I suggest opening up the regulations around aero, fuel efficiency, energy recovery and braking, and keeping them open for a minimum of five seasons.
This will inevitably lead to a new status quo and one team leading the way – but this always happens (McLaren in the 80s, Williams in the early 90s, Ferrari in the early 00s and Red Bull in recent years), and the field always balances out in the end.
Keeping the rules stable allows other teams to catch up and those with the greatest talent in their ranks to find new innovations that will take them to the front – think of Sauber’s dramatic rise in form following its revolutionary nose/front wing approach in 2001 or McLaren’s return to dominance in 1999.
I would like to see a cost cap placed alongside this, so that teams must invest wisely and costs do not spiral out of control, but with the current system of all teams needing to agree on a budget it is highly unlikely that such a control could be put in place (unless the FIA made it a regulation). However, having set rules over a longer period of time would at least reduce engine costs.
But what do you think?
I’ll be sure to share your suggestions on Twitter.