The new era of Formula 1 has started with some controversy since Liberty Media, FIA and even the teams do not seem to get along on some points. Put the seat belt on, this is about to get quite bumpy.
The first point of disagreement, and probably the most important, is the technical one. Liberty Media has expressed its wish to introduce changes in the engines. However, FIA president Jean Todt has been quick to deny the return of V8 engines. Hybrid power units will remain in the competition as it is exactly what the car industry is developing at the moment.
Furthermore, the Frenchman pointed out his worries regarding overtaking after almost all the drivers complained of how difficult is to pass a car with similar speed. Todt promised to follow it carefully in a bid to introduce new elements, if required, that may enhance overtaking. And considering the situation, the idea of removing the DRS, encouraged by Ross Brawn, seems to be out of the question for now.
Brawn made his stance clear by saying the goal is to “get faster cars without sacrificing overtaking”. Jean Todt repeated vehemently the regulatory body is in charge of creating and controlling the rules, leaving no room for the new owners to have control under the regulations. The question is, will FIA and Liberty Media be able to share the same vision? Don’t bet on it just yet.
Content rights and partnerships
Decades ago Formula 1 strove to get television channels to show races for free. Now the situation is inverted to such extend that the cost of television rights is so heavy that only private operators can handle it. Consequently, two Formula 1 stakeholders are affected: the teams themselves and the public. Viewing numbers have dropped enormously since the competition is mainly offered by pay-per-view systems.
People literally cannot follow the season, which means Formula 1 loses supporters around the globe. But not only are audiences affected, also are the teams. Basically, only the most known manufactures have many sponsors, quite the opposite for teams as Sauber that have to struggle to find funding. Hence, offering part of the Formula 1 season without any cost would help small teams to get new forms of financial support and new sponsorships. The brands want to impact an audience as large as possible, and the Formula 1 circus wasn’t really helping with that during recent years.
The new captains of the Formula 1 ship have repeated their desire to bring the show to the fans so they can enjoy it from the inside, literally. The problem: teams are not willing to open their boxes and hospitalities to the general public.
Nevertheless, that is easier said than done, and to change the television rights model, Liberty Media has to take into account that every single country works differently. And what it seems profitable for a European country may not be the case for the Asian ones. Having said that, a revision of the pay-per-view system must be checked, being willing to introduce “hybrid models” that combine both free and premium content. If the sport gets more accessible for the public and brands, Liberty Media may reconsider the amount of money the teams received, although for the moment such item will remain the same.
Regarding other channels, teams have embraced the green light to publish content in their social networks during a Grand Prix. It is believed the measure will help the outfits to engage their supporters at the time that they offer special content.
Formula 1 is a fine venue
The new captains of the Formula 1 ship have repeated their desire to bring the show to the fans so they can enjoy it from the inside, literally. The problem: teams are not willing to open their boxes and hospitalities to the general public. Not because they do not appreciate their support, but simply because paddock access is a key aspect of many Formula 1 deals. Therefore, if everybody can get one, they have the feeling it may be devaluate then competition. And even though an ex-driver Jenson Button has suggested a model similar to NASCAR, it does not seem all the teams would support the idea.
The 2017 season is set to be a crucial one for the future of the sport. A transition year in which we will see if the new regulations can achieve what they promised to, and if the new ideas of Liberty Media are going to be backed up by the teams and the regulatory body.