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.

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

  1. Chalky said on 5th March 2009, 13:00

    Point for fastest pit stop! No!!!!
    How can they state this and have:
    F1 does not need “tricking up”.
    and,
    “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. Jonesracing82 said on 5th March 2009, 13:05

    they are trying to overdo it with the “spice up the show” buisness, and have been fior many years, just find a simple format we all understand and is cost effective and stick to it.
    imo =
    quali = keep as is but get rid of q3 fuel or 12 lap/1 hour format, either change will cost nothing!
    races = get rid of refueling (already doing this), as was said b4, have 2 compounds and let the teams use both or one of them as they see fit! once again, this change costs nothing as they still have the same # sets of tyres.
    pts change i agree with.
    basically thiuer “findings” from the “survey” are correct as i see them so hopefully the FOTA and FIA can get together and take a sensible pill each and work something out along the lines of these findings

  3. Sgt.Basecamper said on 5th March 2009, 13:08

    I can’t even watch F1 on TV here in Sweden, so they could start by actually making the sport available to the worldwide audience…

  4. PJA said on 5th March 2009, 13:15

    Initial thoughts on reading the statement are that I broadly agree with the proposals except for a couple of points that stand out.
    Reducing the Grand Prix length is a big no no in my book, there is nothing wrong with the current duration.
    Points for quickest pit stop is ‘tricking up’ I have reguarly heard people call for points for pole or fastest lap but never points for pit stops, why did they decide to suggest that stupid idea and not the others, which while I may not agree with they have a much better arguement for.

    • SamS said on 5th March 2009, 13:26

      totally agree with that!

    • Clare msj said on 5th March 2009, 13:31

      I agree with that too – dont have a problem with the length of races and im not sure where the point for fastest pit stop idea even came from – pole and fastest lap i could understand but fastest pit stop????

    • I can actually see a valid reason to go for “point for fastest pit-stop”. It’s nothing to do with the design of the car. A team could be lagging at the back of the grid with no hopes of winning a race and only lucking into the odd point here and there, but they could work really hard to ensure that their pit-stops were the slickest and fastest on the grid and gain some points that way.

      Not saying I’m a fan of it, but I can see the reasoning that could support it.

  5. Fer no. 65 said on 5th March 2009, 13:23

    What will be in FOTA’s ‘future of F1’ plan?

    most likely to be just 1 word. Starting with “S”… and continues with “hit”

    i don’t see why FOTA could announce those great ideas you write about… Those things we all want… It will be a massive dissapointment!

  6. Clare msj said on 5th March 2009, 13:29

    The idea for the new points system looks good – i never was, and am still not, in favour of the medals idea. i think consistency should be rewarded, as well as wins, the points idea seems to cover that quite nicely.

    These radical other points scoring opportunities on the other hand….points for fastest pit stop???? It means you could have a back of the grid team banging out stupidly fast pit stops every race, and not finishing anywhere near the points yet gaining 17/18 points each year more than they would have done ordinarily, putting them above a team who has worked really hard to get in the points but had only managed say 16 points over the whole year. No way is a fast pit stop equal to eighth place in a Grand Prix.

    I would be all for the reinstating of France, Canada and USA as well – some races should be guaranteed a spot on the calendar, although I know it would be very difficult to decide the criteria for earning that right. France is most definitely one of these – its not very good that the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ doesnt even include a race from the birthplace of the sport. Britain (ideally Silverstone, although I have nothing against Donington) and Italy for being there from the start. Germany for its motorsport heritage also? Spa and Monaco also for their classic status. Plus there should be a race on all continents, given that it is a WORLD championship. Sadly next year unless things change dramatically there will be no France, possibly no Germany or Britain, and no race in North America. That is a significant chunk missing. History doesnt seem to count for much in F1 at all anymore, and I find that very sad. The disappearing classic circuits bothers me more than qualifying formats, points systems and the majority of the other changes being proposed. All those things are important, but what good are they if the races tracks are all flat clones with no character, empty grandstands, and boring to watch. Of the new tracks which have come about in recent years, the only one I would miss would be Turkey. Of those which have been around for ages, i would miss almost all of them – Hungary included! I apologise for the rant, but losing key tracks really gets me irritated – the 2009 calendar is particularly bad for it!

    They dont appear to have discussed any circuit issues though – tis a shame, its one of the things that F1 fans seem very passionate about, and generally of a similar opinion about. I’m guessing it was a topic avoided in the survey.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th March 2009, 13:36

    My initial thoughts in brief – there’s a mix of good and (very) bad in here:

    Cheap engines & gearboxes, standard KERS – all good moves.

    Points: 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1 still doesn’t put a big enough gap between winning and finishing second, but it’s an improvement.

    “Radical new points-scoring opportunities (eg, one constructors’ championship point to be awarded for the fastest race pit stop)” (for 2010) – terrible idea, utterly unnecessary, full of potential problems for the future. Just awful.

    “Reduction of grand prix duration (250km or a maximum of one hour 40 minutes) pending the approval of the commercial rights holder” – Another bad idea, see the reaction to Massa’s suggestion yesterday for why. Given that one of the key findings of the audience survey was “F1 isn’t broken, so beware ‘over-fixing’ it”, why are they proposing nonsense like this and the points for pit stops plan?

    “Commitment to enhance consumer experience via team and FOTA websites… Mandatory driver autograph sessions during grand prix weekends” – Excellent, more of this please.

    “Race strategies were not highly ranked as a determinant of interest in Formula One.” Hear, hear.

    • Sasquatsch said on 6th March 2009, 9:01

      I agree with everything you say except the standard KERS.

      In my opinion there should be as least as possible standard components on a F1 car. I don’t mind a customer KERS, but constructors should be able to use their own KERS. I would like to see for example the flywheel system which Williams is going to use competing with the battery KERS other teams are using. Will it be an advantage or not?

      About the points system, I would like to see the 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 or even the 10-6-4-3-2-1 system which is my favourite.

  8. The_Pope said on 5th March 2009, 13:38

    Re: Points System

    I don’t really see the benefit in moving to 12-points-for-a-win. I think 10 makes calculating the championship fight easier.

    Why not simply return to 10,6,4,3,2,1? Why bother with 12,8,6,5,4,3,2,1?

    Incidentally, here’s an angle that appears to have escaped almost everyone, everywhere who has discussed this issue. Consider this quote “F1’s points system has been widely criticised for giving too little incentive for drivers to push to win races.” Certainly true, but the change in 2003 was introduced in response to Schumacher’s dominance where the 4-point gap allowed him to stitch up the championship with loads of races left in the season.

    I’m not saying this change is bad, but I can smell yet further changes to the proposed 12,8,6 rule in a few years if Lewis (or Kimi or whoever) renders the final third of the season redundant on a regular basis :(

    • Clare msj said on 5th March 2009, 14:19

      I can see your point about that, whatever points system they choose (I personally think the new one they have just proposed is a good one -it is like a middle ground, gives an extra point advantage for win, without a huge gap that was the reason they changed them in the first place) needs to be stuck with. You cant keep changing a points system just because of a certain outcome. Schumacher wins it early, so they made the points closer, Hamilton wins it with less wins than Massa so they want to make the gap big again. You either want to reward wins, or reward consistency (i think the new idea kind of combines both – well as best you can), they cant keep changing which they want to reward – it will begin to manipulate championships – look like it is being changed because of one driver’s results (ie Schumacher last time, Hamilton this)not to improve the sport

    • patrickl said on 5th March 2009, 19:37

      Probably the teams all had to agree and the smaller teams want points too. If only the top 6 get points it becomes less likely for small teams to get a point. So they would vote against it.

  9. Nik said on 5th March 2009, 13:57

    Interesting. My take is that by backing their findings with a thorough market survey, FOTA are lining up their arguments for greater leverage over the FOM and FIA in finance negotiations. They probably don’t want to break away, but by being methodical about their arguments they are taking the right first steps towards ending the Bernie era.

    In an unrelated area, engineers at MIT have discovered a solution to a big known problem in fluid dynamics that has implications for F1 engineering:

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/fluid-flow-0924.html

  10. Way off-topic, but with 12-9-7 one F. Massa would be 2008 WDC over L.C. Hamilton.

  11. scunnyman said on 5th March 2009, 14:53

    well i think that in the main the proposals from FOTA are ok, but………

    My biggest problem is the shortening of race lengths.

    It’s like playing a video game on arcade instead of the better simulation full race scenario.

    I think it is totally dumbing down formula one.

    I have said in other posts that the races should last at least 2 hrs and i haven’t seen the reasoning behind FOTA’s idea of shorter races. Maybe it is for financial reasons. But that doesn’t wash. I’m betting most fans don’t want to see shorter races.

    I mean some races would end up only 1 hour long (pathetic)….

    Maybe if they were to have 2 races per sunday afternoon then it might work.

    Please please please, somebody talk sense to FOTA and stop this nonsense.

  12. If they shorten the races then they should start calling them (not quite so) grand (as they used to be) prix…

  13. Chris said on 5th March 2009, 15:52

    This is what happens when all the teams work together? Ouch. And I thought Max and Bernie were losing it.

    Was this the ING survey or something else?

    Some of these proposals seem “out of the blue”, like shorter races. Is this to “package” 2-hour time slots? I’m a bit of a traditionalist in thinking that GPs should be significantly longer that supporting formula. If there’s no passing or excitement, then 1 hour is too much. If there’s lots of action, then make the races 250 miles, whatever.

    Why make the points more complicated? I like “The_Pope’s” idea — 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1. Give a point for pole if you want.

    Most of their ideas seem like crappy window-dressing, and vague at that.

  14. Damon said on 5th March 2009, 16:40

    Awarding the fastest pit-stop sounds quite desperate, doesn’t it?
    I imagine Force India attempting 20 pit-stops in a race just to nail the award. :) (if there was no limit to the number of pit-stops)

    Anyway, how are the pit-stops measured as of now?
    I’ve always thought they were hand measured, which means the results are not only not very credible, but can also easily be subject to manipulation.
    They’d have to introduce some electronical system then.

    It’d be possible that one team specializes in doing pit-stops and scores all points during the season.

  15. Striay said on 5th March 2009, 16:58

    I find the points system really stupid, i liked the system we had last year, and i think they should give the point to the fastest lap notthe fastest pitstop as this sounds a bit unfair, i mean it could decide a championship couldnt it?

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