Let us come to a question, which has been forgotten by FIA, FOTA, FOM and all others who claim that that they are the saviors of Formula One. It is the question of what F1 means for a common man.
F1 is a medium, a source, an option, which helps them to get relieved from their daily routine of life.
It is something different for people who are employed either with the federations or those with the participants/who make a living out of them, who are a very small percentage, maximum one or two percent of the whole base and for their benefit the industry is run currently.
Who has built F1: Is it the common people like us who have fancied the super fast cars, the teams, the tracks, the glamour,and the great racing drivers?
Have we championed and stood behind the great names of Lotus, Brabham, Ferrari etc. and turned them into their present iconic status? It is one very high end show business and we hold the keys for their fortunes.
The various groups who claim that they are acting in the goodwill of saving F1 should understand the sacrifices that we make to watch when it on (either on the track or on television).
We make sacrifices to see the sport. How many of us would have lied to their girlfriends for watching F1, how many would have fought with their wives, parents, siblings, saved money religiously to watch the sport in person or on television?
We need to have participants from the fans, who need to be present across these federations to make the sport livelier and make it worth for the money that we pay.
We people, the common people across the globe, have helped built the massive empires of Bernie, Dietrich Mateschitz, Flavio Briatore, CVC, Michael Schumacher, the legacy of teams etc.
We are the ones who buy their sports cars, road cars, buy products of their sponsors, pay the ticket fee, the fee on television and probably all tangible and intangible monetary components associated with the F1 showbiz.
Does it really matter to us in our day to day life whether a V12, V10, or V8 runs in the car, the tires are grooved or have slicks, whether any particular personality sits on the pit wall or not?
All we need is the spectacle, a worthy spectacle, which is worthy for the hard-earned money that we pay for this wonderful F1 circus.
But the sport has been very successful over the last few years in providing a wonderful off-track action, which even any scriptwriter/soap opera could not beat. Championships being argued in the court, teams having to spend a massive budget for lawyers and off-track events, millions of dollars thrown in flop technologies like KERS etc, the list goes endless without creating anything to improve the spectacle.
Even the new rules of the 2009 and the countless man hours of OWG haven’t provided us any improvement in the spectacle, all we have is a former Scuderia man running a Ferrari kind of show albeit a white car and a British driver with one similarity, poor o Rubens in he usual No. 2 spot.
In this kind of tough global economic scenario, it is said that “Cash is King”. We still pay the same money for the F1 circus and our returns in the form of the spectacle haven’t increased.
Although we find Ferrari championing the FOTA alliance this year, let us not forget that how an alliance called GPMA (Grand Prix Manufacturers Association) was crucified by the Italian Marquee in 2005. I am not trying to blame Ferrari, but pointing the fact that they are partly responsible for the recent and huge blow up among FIA, FOTA and FOM.
Had Ferrari not altered their status quo with Bernie and Max in 2005, we would not have seen such a large blow up of events like the mad and autocratic rules of Max and the loss of iconic tracks from the calendar, which have currently put the sport in this kind of a scenario.
I am not advocating that GPMA should have started their independent series, but should have done what FOTA is currently doing. They should have stayed in F1, but similar to what was achieved recently a better bargaining power for the teams in the whole stake.
It would have definitely taken the sport to a much better shape than what it is currently today.
GPMA could have still been a powerful alliance, which could have obtained a better bargain for the sport (I mean prevailing of common sense by protecting the race promoters from such an exorbitant fee, spiraling ticket prices, better presence in Americas, empty tracks like Turkey, China and proposed new venues, which have no relevance to motorsports).
Although F1 stands as the second most viewed sporting event after football, it is ranked way below in the recent list of top 200 sporting properties across the world.
It is the shame for the sport that Ferrari is values higher as a global sporting property than F1 and F1 stands way down in valuations with NASCAR albeit having such a large fan base globally.
The benefits, which could have been claimed if GPMA had stood together, are as follows.
- FIA would have remained as a pure facilitator and not a enforcer of technological and commercial regulations, probably Mad Max wouldn’t be president now at all.
- Bernie’s greed of overcharging for all versions of cash inflows would have seen a little sanity.
- We would not be facing such a scenario at all today.
- Probably the value returns for the common man would have increased.
- Ticket prices would not have skyrocketed.
- Race promoters would have been shielded from the ever increasing hosting fees, with a justifiable percentage.
- We wouldn’t have seen this much mad rule changes in the last three years.
- Apart from this, the crown jewel of FIA, i.e. F1 need not have undergone such a complex rule change every year for qualifying, yielding little or no improvement in spectacle.
- We would not have lost Michelin, the scrap between Michael and Fernando during 2006 was further spiced up by the Bridgestone vs. Michelin battle. Now post the exit of Michelin, even Bridgestone would accept the lack of competition and a driving force for their staff. Of course, we would have missed viewing the green painted earth conserving tires of Bridgestone last year, which was such a big joke.
The list goes endless, but I’ve just highlighted based on my understanding of the sport over the last decade.
F1 as a sport and its various stakeholders have built their own individual multi-billion empire by depriving the man in the pub by refusing him to provide the due spectacle for which he had paid. We are not concerned about with whom Max settles in Chelsea or whether Luca runs for Italian Presidency or even Bernie gets divorced.
We need simple things like a better show at an affordable price across all commercial mediums, more overtaking, better battles on track, new talent, new innovations, which keeps on helping teams to find tenths of seconds here and there producing a better show.
These are aspects, which will take the sport in the path of growth and in the absence of these events, the sport will die slowly.
It is time for the various factions, who claim as demigods to protect F1 to consider fan representatives for the welfare and betterment of the sport.
Unless and until this happens, the entry of large and new sponsors, enhancement of valuation of F1 as a brand and potential growth to the next levels will be withheld and the man in the pub will get cheated once again, which is not a very good scenario.