What will be in FOTA?s ??future of F1? plan? (Update: announcement in full)

The Formula One Teams Association

The Formula One Teams Association

The F1 teams’ association is holding a press conference in Geneva today to reveal its plans for the future of F1.

We?ve had a few glimpses of what they?ve got planned ?ǣ some good, some bad. Here?s what we know and what we expect from today?s announcement.

Update: See below for the announcement in full.

What will be announced

Several details about the announcement have leaked out already:

Changes to F1 points

F1?s points system has been widely criticised for giving too little incentive for drivers to push to win races. In 2003 the number of points scored for finishing second was increased from six to eight, while the winner?s points remained fixed at ten: halving the gap between the two positions.

There is a popular consensus among F1 fans that the sport should increase the number of points for a win to 12. But I think there?s a good chance FOTA will take it even further and mimic championships like Moto GP and Indy Car where points are extended far down the finishing order to reward most or all finishers.

I doubt they?ll offer support for Bernie Ecclestone?s unpopular medal system, unless it’s to win concessions in more important areas, such as teams? income.

Mandatory pit stops

In October I called this one of the four bad ideas F1 must avoid. Disappointingly, FOTA looks likely to push for it. This is a mistake.

F1 already has de facto mandatory pit stops because drivers are required to use two different compounds during Grands Prix (except in wet races).

Forcing drivers to make pit stops is artificial and unnecessary and only gives them an incentive to not risk real overtaking on the track. FOTA should take note of how mandatory pit stops spoil racing in DTM and A1 Grand Prix and steer clear of this pointless concept.

Read more: Four mistakes F1 must avoid

Revised qualifying format

The over-complicated qualifying scheme proposed by FOTA last year was a mess. We have had years of meddling with the qualifying system that has finally produced a system most people are happy with, apart from the irritation of ??race fuel qualifying? which will be gone in 2010.

A poll on this site showed that most fans either want the present system to remain, or a return to the far simpler pre-2003 system of each driver getting 12 laps in an open one-hour session to do a time. I see no need for yet another variation on qualifying beyond these two popular options.

Read more: Why is FOTA worrying about qualifying when F1 faces far greater problems?

Increased availability of team data for fans

This can only be a good thing. The more transparent F1 is, the better. They have already made steps towards this by ensuring that all teams (including McLaren and Ferrari) allow their pit-to-car communications to be broadcast on television in 2009.

What we can expect

FOTA will clash head-on with Bernie Ecclestone over revenues

FOTA will clash head-on with Bernie Ecclestone over revenues

These points seem likely to be a significant part of the announcement.

Distribution of revenue

Many of the team bosses have already said F1 teams should get more money from Bernie Ecclestone. At the Geneva Motor Show yesterday Renault threatened to leave F1 if the distribution of income is not revised.

Eccletone vehemently opposes an increase in revenue for the teams. It seems the teams’ best tactic is to push for far more than the 50% revenue share they receive at the moment, in an effort to strike a compromise with Ecclestone that’s closer to what they believe they are entitled to. Luca di Montezemolo has mentioned a figure of 80% in the past, and many sports return far more than that to their competitors.

Given how much fo the sport’s revenues flow to Ecclestone I agree the teams deserve a better share (and the circuits deserve a break too). But this could be the most explosive part of their proposal. It’s not difficult to imagine Ecclestone flatly refusing any increase.

Then we have a situation where several teams may leave, others are persuaded to stay, and some may even try to set up a rival championship as happened with Indy Car racing in the 1990s with disastrous consequences.

They also have to square the demands of some teams for reduced budgets (Flavio Briatore wants a 60% reduction by 2012) with the need to keep F1 as a technological pinnacle (a point regularly made by Ron Dennis).

The twin issue of raising revenues and cutting costs will put FOTA’s unity under severe pressure.

Read more: FOTA wants more money for F1 teams – it should get some for circuits too

Environmental technology

Many of the teams are unhappy with the costly introduction of KERS this year and want to switch to a standard system in 2010. This will put them into direct conflict with Max Mosley.

Many of the car manufacturers may wish to see other environmental technologies being adopted, such as bioethanol fuel. The words of Richard Branson, who turned down a chance to buy the Honda F1 team saying Formula 1′s environmental credentials were insufficient, will be ringing in their ears.

Fans and media

FOTA’s press announcement declared it would make the sport, “compellingly attractive for spectators, TV viewers and internet consumers alike for years to come.”

There are many ways this might be achieved: ensuring international viewers have access to internet broadcasts, high definition F1 coverage, allowing local and non-traditional media into Grands Prix weekends, giving fans greater access to drivers and teams at events, increasing the number of races on the calendar and restoring the French, Canadian and American races…

F1′s marketing efforts are woeful to the point of non-existent. FOTA can and must make giant strides in this area.

Greater representation for the teams

According to Dieter Rencken on Autosport (subscription required):

FOTA will insist upon representation on the board of Delta Topco, the company directly responsible for Formula One Management’s operations via the sort of byzantine structures typical of Ecclestone and CVC Partners, the latter being the vulture fund which controls approximately 60% of the lease on F1′s commercial rights. Demands for a greater say on the World Motor Sport Council ?ǣ well up from the present single voice vested in Ferrari ?ǣ cannot be excluded, either.

In short, the teams want more power. If Mosley chooses to oppose that, the teams will surely try to exert what influence they can in the forthcoming FIA presidential election.

What else?

According to the F1 teams’ association:

These FOTA proposals are aimed at increasing the stability, sustainability, substance and spectacle of the sport, and have been informed by the findings of a FOTA-commissioned survey of Formula One audiences across 17 countries. These findings will also be unveiled tomorrow.

I haven’t seen one of these surveys, and I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has, although there have been many such surveys floating around recently.

Whatever surprises FOTA have in store for us today, we’ll keep a close eye on them here.

What are you hoping for and expecting to see in the announcement? And how will Ecclestone and Mosley react to it? Leave a comment below.

Read more: Are FOTA a force for good in Formula 1?

Update: FOTA’s announcement in full

Here’s is the full text of the announcement from the teams:

Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) reveals initial plans and framework for the future of Formula One at landmark press conference

GENEVA, 5 MARCH 2009: The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) today outlined its roadmap for Formula One at a press conference at which senior management figures from all 10 current Formula One teams shared the stage together.

Setting out its proposed agenda for the evolution of the sport, FOTA unveiled a dynamic package of unanimously agreed proposals which, pending the approval of the FIA, will take effect in 2009 and/or 2010.

These proposals are aimed at increasing the stability, sustainability, substance and show of Formula One, and have all been developed as a result of rigorous interrogation of a FOTA global audience survey carried out in 17 countries earlier this year. The study canvassed views of existing fans but also, for the first time, drew on insights from a cross-section of general and infrequent followers of the sport, in line with FOTA’s stated ambition to broaden as well as to deepen the appeal of Formula One.

The proposals can be classified under three headings – technical, sporting and commercial – in line with the three working groups inaugurated when FOTA was formed in September 2008. These proposals will ensure the retention of Formula One’s unique and essential sporting ‘DNA’, improve the show for all audiences, reduce costs, and increase the value proposition to the major stakeholders.

Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman of FOTA, said: “This is an unprecedented moment in Formula One history. Above all else, for the first time the teams are unified and steadfast – with a clear, collective vision. Thanks to this unity, all the teams have already managed to make a significant reduction to their costs for 2009. And, while we will continue to compete vigorously on track, we all share one common goal: to work together to improve Formula One by ensuring its stability, sustainability, substance and show for the benefit of our most important stakeholder, namely the consumer. It is with this mindset that we now intend to work hard, with our partners at the FIA and FOM, our shared goal being to optimise the future of Formula One.”

KEY PROPOSALS

Technical

2009:

- More than 100% increase in mileage per engine (eight engines per driver per season)

- Reduction in wind tunnel and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) usage

- Engine available at ??8 million per team per season

2010:

- Engine available at ??5 million per team per season

- Gearbox available at ??1.5 million per team per season

- Standardised KERS (put out to tender, with a target price of ??1-2 million per team per season)

- Target a further 50% reduction of the 2009 aerodynamic development spend

- Specified number of chassis, bodywork and aerodynamic development iterations (homologations) during the season

- Prohibition of a wide range of exotic, metallic and composite materials

- Standardised telemetry and radio systems

Sporting

2009:

- Testing reduction (50%)

- New points-scoring system (12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1), to give greater differentiation/reward to grand prix winners

- Race starting fuel loads, tyre specifications and refuelling data to be made public

2010:

- Commitment to recommend new qualifying format

- Radical new points-scoring opportunities (eg, one constructors’ championship point to be awarded for the fastest race pit stop)

- Further testing reductions (four four-day single-car pre-season tests plus one single-car pre-season shakedown)

- Reduction of grand prix duration (250km or a maximum of one hour 40 minutes) pending the approval of the commercial rights holder

Commercial

2009:

- Increased data provision for media

- Explore means by which the presentation of Formula One action can be more informatively and dynamically presented, common to other sports such as tennis and cricket, to dramatically improve engagement with the public

- Nominated senior team spokesman available for TV during grand prix

- Commitment to enhance consumer experience via team and FOTA websites

- Mandatory driver autograph sessions during grand prix weekends

2010:

- Commitment to enhance consumer experience via TV coverage

KEY DEMOGRAPHICS OF GLOBAL AUDIENCE SURVEY

- 17 countries surveyed

- First ever poll of Formula One devotees alongside non-Formula One devotees (ie, marginal and/or low interest fans)

- Responses were weighted according to the size of viewing market in each country (to avoid small markets skewing the results)

- Results were segmented by interest level in Formula One, demographic profiles (age and gender), country and region

- Total audience is comprised of:

- Regular fans (25% by volume, predominantly male, cross section of ages)

- Moderate fans (44% by volume, female and male, cross section of ages)

- Infrequent fans (31% by volume, unlikely to watch grands prix, predominantly female, cross section of ages)

KEY FINDINGS OF GLOBAL AUDIENCE SURVEY

1. F1 isn’t broken, so beware ‘over-fixing’ it

The current race format is not viewed as fundamentally broken (across all levels of Formula One interest) and therefore doesn’t require radical alteration. There is a strong desire for Formula One to remain meritocratic, while consumer interest is driven most by appreciation of driver skill, overtaking and technology.

Implication: there is no evidence to suggest that grand prix formats need ‘tricking up’ via, for example, handicapping, sprint races, reversed grids or one-on-one pursuit races. Formula One audiences appreciate the traditional gladiatorial, high-tech nature of the sport and would not respond favourably to a perceived ‘dumbing down’ of the current format.

2. F1 needs to be more consumer-friendly

An individual’s view or understanding of Formula One is framed almost entirely by their local broadcaster. Unlike most global sports, the vast majority of ‘consumption’ of Formula One is via race-day TV coverage, supplemented in part by traditional, non-specialist newspaper coverage. Formula One fans are also mature consumers of new media channels (eg, on-line, mobile) and other touch points (eg, gaming, merchandise).

The global nature of Formula One, although an attractive characteristic in itself, impedes the uniformity of race schedules, and often results in consumption of a race being limited to locally broadcast TV highlights programmes. Only devotees (25% of the total potential viewing audience) are likely to watch a race live if it occurs outside peak viewing times.

Implication: significant opportunities exist to build audience via other channels such as internet and mobile.

3. Major changes to qualifying format are not urgent

When asked to consider alternative qualifying formats, all fan types expressed a modest preference for a meritocratically determined starting grid. There was some degree of interest in allowing luck to play a part in shaping the starting order, but the general sentiment was that the fastest driver should always start from pole.

Implication: there may be justification for minor modifications to the current qualifying format, following further trials; however, a major change to the format will not result in a significant increase in audience.

4. Revisions to the points-scoring system

As with qualifying, all audiences want a meritocratic points-scoring system. This means that they want winning grands prix to count for more than it does currently. There is an indication that all audiences would like to see a greater points reward for winning grands prix.

Implication: a minor adjustment to the existing points system is justified

5. Evolution of pit stops and refuelling

All audiences view pit stops as integral to their enjoyment of grand prix coverage; however, they rank the most important and compelling aspect of pit stops as tyre changing rather than refuelling. Race strategies were not highly ranked as a determinant of interest in Formula One.

Implication: audiences are unlikely to diminish if refuelling is discontinued. Tyre changing is an important driver of audience interest (in pit stops) and should not be further automated.

Advert | Go Ad-free

56 comments on What will be in FOTA?s ??future of F1? plan? (Update: announcement in full)

1 2 3
  1. Steve K said on 5th March 2009, 0:22

    Can someone explain to me the chain of command, or the different sides there are in F1. In NASCAR, you have the racing organization the teams, two parties that own the tracks (one the France family that own NASCAR)and IMS owned by Tony George. F1 seems complex as anything. The FIA? FOTA? Mosely? Eccelstone? F1 itself? How does it all fit together?

    • Ali said on 5th March 2009, 8:23

      FIA, responsible for organizing, ruling and scrutineering of all motor sports in the world. F1 is just another topic, albeit it’s (said to be) the pinnacle of all.

      FOM (which means Bernie), have exclusive mechandising rights in F1. TV show, track selection, revenue sharing are all of FOM’s responsibility. A Concord Agreement signed by and between teams and FOM in order to organize a viable and “profitable” F1 calender for both parties (Mind you, fans are the third party).

      FOTA is an organization consisting of current teams in F1. It has recently established in order to co-operate with FIA in terms of creating a sustainable F1 amid the current economic crisis. United teams under FOTA umbrella are advising, discussing and thus shaping F1 based on the survival of F1 teams and increasing the spectacle of F1 show. FOTA is as strong as the weekness of bonds between teams. Nothing more. When titans begin to clash, it will disappear.

      F1 = Formula 1 means only the rule. The rules (the formula) which should be followed while making and racing cars.

      Fans, we pay for those guys to decide what is good for us.

  2. Dan M said on 5th March 2009, 0:44

    Mosley wants power, Bernie wants money, and FOTA (the teams) want their fair share of both. All have their own views of what F1 should be, I hope the teams win out on all topics.

  3. F1Yankee said on 5th March 2009, 1:07

    a points system similar to american racing is only logical, imo.

    do we want to see an entire race on 1 set of tires? not mandated, as a few years ago, but normal. the 2 compound mandate is silly, as well – as long as there are 2 compounds, let the teams choose freely.

    qualifying should be the nice, simple 12 or so laps in 1 hour, maybe an hour and a half. after, pour in your race fuel and straight into parc firme.

    if motorsports wants to make progress in the development of environmental issues, the best way to do this is limiting the fuel supply, like group c did many years ago. forcing the efficiency issue will drive development of KERS and soon TERS, tech that will have an impact on real cars. currently in f1, KERS is a power booster, where lm cars can use it as either a booster or a fuel economizer. as a safety bonus, this could slow the cars every year – for free.

    it’s clear that the teams need a larger cut of the pie, as well as more control over the sport.

    from many years ago, i think it was frank williams, i could be wrong:
    “we don’t know what bernie pays us until the check (cheque) arrives.”

  4. Loki said on 5th March 2009, 2:30

    “There is a popular consensus among F1 fans that the sport should increase the number of points for a win to 12. But I think there’s a good chance FOTA will take it even further and mimic championships like Moto GP and Indy Car where points are extended far down the finishing order to reward most or all finishers.”

    No. No, no, no, no. Just no.

    Remember how much people can scrap for the last points paying positions. We don’t have as many cars on the grid, so I beg of them not to start rewarding half the grid for just making it to the finishing line by default.

    Whereas scoring points is the main thing, getting points handed out is just a cop-out in a sport that has long rewarded top positions, fought hard for. It may work well for other categories, that doesn’t mean F1 should take heed. I’ve said it before, there’s only so much bastardisation F1 can take before it stops becoming F1.

  5. Gman said on 5th March 2009, 3:46

    “allowing local and non-traditional media into Grands Prix weekends…..”

    Keith, you’ve just said a mouthful with that sentence!!! Allowing local media to cover a Grand Prix is one of the key methods to grow local interest and increase attendance, esp. when it comes to new events in new markets. There were many other factors invovled, but I know one of the key sticking points between Bernie and Tony George in 2007 WERE the restrictions placed on local media who wanted to cover the GP. Surely FOM can come up with a way for local media to get good stories without harming all their trademarks and contracts…

    I would also hope that among the many other important issues, FOTA dose push for a return of the three Grands Prix mentioned above. As for qualifying, I don’t think they should mess with the current system, unless it was to return to the one-hour block of time idea.

  6. manatcna said on 5th March 2009, 5:42

    The main drawback with the 12 laps in one hour is that nothing happens in the first 30 minutes

    • True, but that meant that most drivers did their 12 laps in the latter half of the session. All the more excitement.

      The only drawback then, was that local TV directors couldn’t always capture the top drivers’ laps, but with TV production now in one hand, IIRC, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

  7. Manatcna, that is the excuse they used in the first place to change the quali format. Umm, how hard would it be to rule that 3 laps (out lap, hot lap, in lap)have to be run every 15 minutes? Adds up to 12 laps. Lots of action for an hour. Four chances at pole. Low fuel. Too simple for the pointy heads at the FIA?

  8. Good luck to FOTA and their push for more power. I like the points being extended all the way down the finishers, that way no team can get zero by the end of the year (and so be counted in when the money is shared out?).
    And yes to more publicity and promotion by Bernie and FOM – at the moment its all left to the teams to do, and now they don’t have the spare cash, whereas FOM does!

  9. Chalky said on 5th March 2009, 8:52

    No to the mandatory pit stops, especially if they ban refuelling.

    • ajokay said on 5th March 2009, 9:16

      I don’t get that either. Why ban refuelling but then instate mandatory pit-stops? They would be pitting for tyres anyway, wouldn’t they.

      Just like back in ’93. The cars tear into the pitlane, aim at the pit crew (who are all standing there in shorts, t-shirts and sun glasses) have a 4 second tyre-change, and back out again for the rest of the race. Thats what it should be like.

      I still can’t see why all the teams don’t just stick up 2 fingers to FOM and the FIA, and go off to form their own championship with their own rules and access to all the power and money. If it’s what they want so, so badly, why don’t they just do it?

  10. Chaz said on 5th March 2009, 9:13

    I am completely against mandatory pit stops as it destroys the flow and tactics of the race amongst other things.

    I want FOTA to push Bernie into offering a more free all-round exclusive and unrivalled web content and features on F1.com for fans to watch and follow the race like several other series including A1GP, IndyCar, Nascar (e.g. dashboard, live streaming, etc) etc.

    FOTA must strongly encourage the teams to increase their accessibility so as to give fans better insight into the complexity and running’s of a F1 team.

    The green agenda needs to be serious and coordinated to be meaningful and sustainable and not superficial and insulting like the greenwash tyre stripe fiasco. I think biofuels sounds nice but more importantly this has already been proven to be a nonsense as it causes more environmental damage and destruction to just grow the crops to produce the fuel.

    FOTA need to develop a website to keep fans more fully informed and give fans an opportunity to contribute their ideas and suggestions.

  11. PJA said on 5th March 2009, 9:42

    I am in favour of changing the points system to give a bigger incentive to win races, as long as we don’t get medals.

    I fear that gimmicks such as mandatory pit stops may be introduced, but I think they should stick to the traditional race format.

    The changes to qualifying should be to scrap race fuel so we know who is the outright fastest, or go back to the old 1 hour system which worked fine for years. If they decided to limit the total laps in that hour they should say X laps should be completed be completed in each 15-20min period or they lose them, however personally I don’t see the problem with having 1 hour no lap number restriction qualifying to find the fastest driver. On most weekends drivers would limit their laps anyway to save tyres and the engine but some times they will have to be out on the track for quite a while to get a time in if they had setup problems or like at the Italian GP last year when it rained so most drivers stayed out all the time due to the conditions.

    The changes they should make to “improve the show”, as they would probably call it, should be to make more information available to fans and try to utilise modern technology like digital TV and the internet better. I have never attended a Grand Prix but from what I have read it seems Nascar beats F1 hands down in catering for race goers, so that should be looked at also.

    The distribution of revenue should be changed to not benefit the teams more, and also to benefit the circuits more.

    As for environmental technology I like the ideas I have read in some other articles on this site of limiting the energy available to teams so they can choose the most efficient fuel and power systems themselves, as this would use F1’s ability for technical innovation and development the best.

    Other changes I would like to see would be to bring back the US and Canadian GPs, while making sure classic GPs such as Spa are also safe guarded. With the introduction of the in season testing ban I would have thought it should be possible to increase the number of races in season.
    I would also like to see drivers competing in other series aswell.

    • ” I have never attended a Grand Prix but from what I have read it seems Nascar beats F1 hands down in catering for race goers, so that should be looked at also.”

      I attended the British GP at Silverstone in 2007 thanks to my Dad winning some tickets etc through Abbey (title sponsor). We had great grandstand seats opposite the pit garages (Red Bull I think – but can’t remember for sure). Thing is, I could just about follow who’d come 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but had no idea further down the field until we left our seats and were walking back to the car. There was no big screen that we could see and the noise of the engines drowned out the commentary over the PA so that was of no use either…

      Yes you could hire one of Bernie’s portable TV’s for the day but they were stupidly expensive. FOTA should state that every grandstand seat at a GP should have view of at least 1 big screen on which to follow the action…

      (FOTA should also do some work on their website – guys I’m available at a reasonable rates..!!)

  12. Paul said on 5th March 2009, 11:32

    FOTA’s roadmap is available on the McLaren website:

    http://www.mclaren.com/latestnews/mclaren-news.php?article=245

  13. Monty Brown said on 5th March 2009, 11:48

    Paul’s just beat me to it, gr8 idea for the new points system at least it isn’t medals. I was suprised that points wern’t awareded down to 10th position.

    I wonder if the new points system will be transfered to other FIA events like WRC. Although saying that the current system is fairer to other guys trying to catch Loeb, he’d win it regardless.

    Nice idea for the future for constructors to get bonus points for things like fastest pit-stop. I still think we should have a point for pole and fastest lap. Perhaps that’ll happen.

  14. ajokay said on 5th March 2009, 12:43

    Fastest.Bloody.Pitstop?

    Stupid stupid stupid.

  15. Ali said on 5th March 2009, 12:57

    We have a perfect proverb well suited for this situation. We say “A mountain gave birth to a mouse.”

1 2 3

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.