What the fans expect from FOTA

Reviving popular venues like Montreal must be a FOTA priority

Reviving popular venues like Montreal must be a FOTA priority

Max Mosley may have seized his first opportunity to resume hostilities with FOTA but it’s clear the teams’ association intends to play a major role in shaping the future of Formula 1.

FOTA embraced the support of the majority of F1 fans and broadened its campaign against Mosley to include many supports? grievances. But how is it going to act on those complaints?

At the beginning of March FOTA published the results of a survey of fans. The conclusions were something of a mixed bag, including some salient points but also a few strange ideas that seemed at odds with the central finding of the research that: ??F1 isn?t broken – so beware ??over-fixing? it.??

I examined the findings in details at the time. Of the points I (and many of you) were most dubious about – points for pit stops and reducing race length – we have heard little from FOTA since.

Hopefully it will stay that way – but these words from Luca di Montezemolo yesterday give me cause for concern:

Flavio [Briatore] will also be working with the commercial rights holder to improve the show and the interest in the sport.

Briatore has in the past advocated some fairly radical ideas for F1, including reducing race distances to GP2 lengths. Whatever his plans are for “improving the show”, he must acknowledge that dumbing down F1 in this manner is, by FOTA’s own admission, not what fans want.

Here’s what I think should be top of FOTA’s priorities:

Location of races

The loss of several historic venues which often boasted far superior audiences to new venues is a major source of frustration for fans.

In the last two years we have lost Indianapolis (United States), Montreal (Canada) and Magny-Cours (France). The British round, which boasted a crowd of 310,000 last weekend, has been in doubt for much of this year (although it seems Ecclestone is finally admitting the race may remain at Silverstone next year if Donington Park isn’t ready). And the high costs of holding a race has forced one of the two German venues – the Hockenheimring – to relinquish its race.

Bernie Ecclestone might like to compare F1 to top sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics, but holding races in front of sparse stands at Istanbul and Shanghai hardly reinforces that point.

European governments are never going to pay the kind of exorbitant prices Ecclestone can get for his races in far-flung nations. But there needs to be recognition that historic rounds are a fundamental part of F1?s appeal, and the cost to them of holding a race should be reduced in line with their value to the sport.

Such a demand, of course, would risk bringing them into conflict with Bernie Ecclestone and F1 owners CVC.

Extent and quality of coverage

Here in Britain we are extremely fortunate to get BBC F1 coverage that is both free (licence fee notwithstanding) and ad-free. That is not the case for fans in many other countries.

Ad-free coverage is the exception, when it should be the rule. Having watched ITV?s coverage for 12 years with adverts I can how frustrating it is for fans who have to watch F1 knowing they will often miss significant moments of the action.

Worse, many fans have no access to F1 coverage at all, because there is no broadcaster in the area that offers it. In the age of the internet, this is preposterous. Offering an internet stream for those fans (at a modest cost) should be a no-brainer.

As has been discussed here several times before, F1 is badly lagging behind on broadcast technology. Here in Britain cricket, football, rugby, golf and even darts and NASCAR are all broadcast in high definition – and most have been for several years. F1 isn’t, as FOM are not supplying a high definition feed.

Again, the ball is in Ecclestone’s court on this one. If FOTA ever get finished with Mosley, perhaps he is the next of the F1 old guard FOTA will face down?

Consistent rules

Formula 1?s rules have never been entirely consistent, but since 2003 the rules have been tinkered with time and again, often with little reward.

The classic example of this is qualifying ?ǣ after eight different systems in six years one of the most popular variants among fans is the one that was being used in the first place.

The technical rules have been changed year-on-year and although there have been some notable improvements (banning traction control, bringing back slick tyres) these were often reversals of unpopular changes brought in by Mosley in earlier seasons.

Happily, FOTA have reiterated their commitment to making F1’s rules more stable.

What do you want from FOTA?

What do you think FOTA’s priorities should be? Have your say below…

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82 comments on What the fans expect from FOTA

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  1. Ivz said on 26th June 2009, 7:23

    FOTA needs to listen to what the fans want. If people start switching off and are not happy with what F1 provides, then F1 will just suffer. It would be interesting to know how many huge F1 fans from say the 80’s & 90’s now hardly watch F1, or are very unhappy with it? Or how the attendances at the tracks have changed over the years?

    • i really do agree with the coverage part i can easily name countries who have to pay a lot so they can watch F1. An example is me in kuwait you have to pay and to get jazeera sports to watch it, and it is they only channel that shows it.

  2. David said on 26th June 2009, 7:29

    I would like to come back to classical venues, of course. Or at least select new tracks that are really attractive (say Portimao) and avoide Tilkodromes.
    Then I think the major interest should be in competition: Formula 1 is lacking of overtakes and competitiveness (just two teams won this year, and it has happened many times before), while in ’80’s you could see winning a team that was not qualified the race before, just to say. Standardization was the key of that status (many teams had same engine and same gearbox, set up skills made the difference from time to time), and it is exactly what FOTA doesn’t aim to.
    Wait and see, I don’t feel so confident.

  3. IDR said on 26th June 2009, 7:44

    1) Re-balance revenues sharing:

    Less hosting fees for historical circuits for making possible their permanence (on re-entrance)

    Team revenues distribution with a fixed amount for every accepted team and other part depending of team results (ie: 40% Fixed and 60% depending on results)

    2) More technical freedom:

    Freedom to choose the tyres each team decide from a fixed set of: Supersoft, Soft, Medium, Hard.

    Freedom to choose mechanical options: KERS, V8, V10, revs, diesel, hybrid, whatever each team could consider could give them an advantage.

    3) Limits should be established just for:

    Security: (Cars and Circuits)


    Mechanical durability (This year rule seems to me ok)

    Non existance of driving aids controlled on-line by the teams, (or autocontrolled by software)

    4) Aeropackage:

    Allow movable wings but not self-controlled by software, the driver will have to manage that parts during the race.

    5) Weight:

    Stablish a maximum weight (just for security reasons) allowing teams could choose a 400Kg cars with “less engine” in front of 800Kg cars with “more engine”. (But all of them covering security rules)

    6) Set again low performance rule:

    All those cars not being able to clasified at 110% (previously it was 107% I think) of best time will not be allowed to start the race.

    7) Recover driving tests as was formerly established

    All manufacturers competing with their own team, will have to offer independent teams standar engines at a fixed and controlled price for all the season.

    8) Mantain refuelling pits-stops

    Sorry for my “rudimentary” English, but I hope it could be understood what I mean.

    • Ronman said on 26th June 2009, 8:46

      I think your suggestions are good, but need a bit more tinkering.

      F1 is the Pinnacle of Motor sport, and as such should be the Pinnacle of technology in the motor world.

      but i think the basic steps should be:

      -reintroduce 1 hour qualifying with a 12 flying lap limit.

      -tires should last longer, with the possibility of the whole race. all team should have ONE and only ONE tire type. F1 should always ride on slicks.

      -pit stops should be optional, however, i am a fan of fuel economy as much as show. a set quantity of fuel should be introduced in the car at the beginning of the race to last the whole distance.

      -race distance should not be changed…some things have got to stay the same.

      -in terms of technology, forced induction whether turbos or Sc’s should be allowed with whatever number of cylinders in order to prioritise fuel efficiency vs power. with a set limit of cylinders and displacement and other details.

      – Since wind tunnels are some of the most expensive things to run, aerodynamics should be limited, and never allowed to reach the complexity they did last year. i feel that this is where costs can be brought down the most.

      -Testing should be reinstated, with aero development frozen at the first race, engine development should be limited to reliability issues.

      I agree i dint cover everything, and some idea can still be developed. but as much as i’m loving this season, i can say that F1 is not at the best of its abilities.

      • symmetry said on 26th June 2009, 9:23

        with aero development frozen at the first race,

        Then Brawn would definitely win this year and it would be extremely dull.

        • Ronman said on 26th June 2009, 12:33

          Well they will have enough testing pre-season to develop with respect to the competition. banning testing was one of the most idiotic moves i think. it is the reason why this season is so unbalanced especially after the DD debacle. which is a clear problem in how regulations are vague…

          i think testing costs can be brought down by keeping everyone testing in the same country he is at. most at silverstone or any other qualified track in the UK.
          Toyota in germany, ferrari italy etc….

          • Not quite true: a team could discover a breakthrough, sandbag their way through the pre-season testing, and start the season with, say, a 1-second advantage over the rest of the field.

            With frozen aerodynamic and engine, it’s hard to imagine unlimited testing making up the difference.

  4. Hakki said on 26th June 2009, 8:05

    Next, Bernie need to be expelled !

  5. I’ve maintained that either the FIA or FOTA — or anybody with authority for that matter — should insist on the ‘Grandes Épreuves’ being on the calender at all times. These are, in order of age, France (1906), Italy (’21), Spain (’23), Belgium (’25), Great Britain (’26), Germany (’26), Monaco (’29), and Switzerland (’34; although that disappeared in ’55).

  6. Aerodynamics must be banned said on 26th June 2009, 8:07

    OMG i’m in shock!
    RIP Max Mosley
    You were a political genius and a legend

  7. Just some stability to the rules and specification would be nice!

    Oh, and bring back some classic tracks and venture further into the Americas!

  8. symmetry said on 26th June 2009, 9:29

    I say keep qualifying the way it is now. In the old days, you had the fastest car+driver on poll, and more often then not they would then just walk away with the race.

    The current qualifying rules mean that a lot of the time the quickest car+driver aren’t on poll. What this means is that we get some actual racing and overtaking, something that I think everyone will agree is severely lacking in F1.

    • DanThorn said on 26th June 2009, 10:59

      I disagree. Under the current system we often have drivers with the fastest car under race conditions on pole. With low fuel qulifying we ghet the fastest car with the fastest driver over a single lap on pole, but not necessarily the race – Montoya had 7 poles in 2002 but no wins, while in 1984 Niki Lauda had no pole positions but won the championship.

      In the early part of the season the Brawns appeared to struggle on low fuel, but were fastest with fuel on board. The races this year would surely have been much more exciting if Button had only been starting from 5th or 6th from low fuel qualifying an had to come up through the field…

    • Oliver said on 26th June 2009, 19:00

      On some race tracks, the current system punishes some drivers who make it into the top 10.

      • But the simple change (that hopefully will be kept) of banning refuelling would fix this problem: Q3 will be done with as little fuel as possible, and all the cars will then be refuelled.

        • scunnyman said on 1st July 2009, 0:00

          Yes Michel S if refuelling be banned (i hope) then Q3 can be run with low fuel then after qualifying has finished then the tanks filled to the brim before being placed in parc ferme.
          And then we’d get away from this silly idea of not knowing who is the fastest on low fuel runs or waiting to find out how much fuel each driver had used.
          We’d all know everyone was low fuelled and the start of the race everyone would have full tanks. It would be down to the skill of the drivers to get away from the loine and make up places. JUST LIKE THE OLD DAYS.

  9. Dr Jones said on 26th June 2009, 9:31

    1. More night races in Asia.
    2. Revive classic/great circuits like Indianapolis or Suzuka, etc.
    3. Pit-stops allowed for tire changes only. Refuelling?
    4. Increase weight limit of the cars.
    5. Introduction of hybrid cars or other engines as long as they meet the standard bhp & rev limit (Since F1 is the one who sets the technological advancement of commercial cars).
    6. Standard KERS system
    7. 4WD or AWD?
    8. 12-lap qualifying is good.
    9. Body work regulations this season is okay, except for the wide front-wings.
    10. Change the points system to 12,9,7,5,4,3,2,1 as long the champion has more points to the runner-ups.

  10. Clare msj said on 26th June 2009, 10:10

    The tracks are the thing I would like to see FOTA address the most. It is absurd that we dont visit North America this year – I would like to see both Indy and Montreal put back on the calendar – and France should definitely have a Grand Prix. I think certain country’s races should be safeguarded (Italy, Britain, Belgium, Monaco, Germany, France) so we will always see them on the calendar, even if the others are chopped and changed around.

    Bernie may like to compare F1 to the Olympics and the World Cup – the big difference though is that the other two actually cover all continents – rather than just allowing teams or countries which are willing to spend money like it is water on the sport. Can you imagine the whole of North America being left out of the Olympics?? It is unlikely that F1 will ever be as big as those events – and certainly not whilst the sport doesnt listen to the participants and the fans, or whilst it cant make a decision on a race result until four weeks after an event, when its teams and governing body are arguing like children, or when it insists on going to, and adding, venues which can only fill a small fraction of their stands. I doubt there are many World Cup matches which struggle to even part fill the stadium!

    Qualifying. My favourite is still the twelve lap low fuel business – and to prevent all the cars ignoring the first half hour, which i beleive was the problem in the first place – say that they have to do one run in each of the fifteen minutes or summat, or at least 1 run in each 20 min section maybe. That said, the knockout one we have now would be my second choice of all the different styles we have had over recent years – the rest of them were all awful ideas!

    Points – should be 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1, that way it rewards the winner a little more than now, but also doesint ignore consistency.

    Car weight limit should definitely be increased, although I think i heard a rumour that it was going to happen next year anyways, or did that get dropped with the new agreement? Either way, all those stories of weight loss for all the drivers this year wasnt good reading, so the car weights should be raised if KERS or any other heavy item is going to remain.

    Testing should be allowed during the season – it was a great way for young drivers to get experience and if anyone has to be replaced for one reason or another, the test driver wont have driven the car for ages – I dont think that is a good thing.

    I think thats all for now – i am sure there is more but i cant think of owt else off the top of my head.

  11. D Winn said on 26th June 2009, 10:54

    If Flavio is going to do the ‘entertainment’ planning we might see –
    Cars fitted with headlights and musical horns, so that a driver can flash and honk when coming up behind a slower car.
    All round bumpers (fenders) so they can nudge each other off.
    Qualifying using reverse gear.
    Max as the chief steward.
    Bernie to award a McDonalds happy meal toy to the winner.
    Drivers to pick the car they drive from a lucky dip barrel.

    • Terrence said on 26th June 2009, 15:48

      Why not just ask the man at the end of the section? That way we’ll all know what time they mean…

      • Terrence said on 26th June 2009, 15:50

        Relatively speaking, of course. If not then the chances of the employees ever coming to the event itself are slim!

  12. PJA said on 26th June 2009, 10:59

    Some of the things I would like to see are

    – Although I would like F1 to have races all over the world I think some countries and circuits should be guaranteed a place on the calendar.

    – I don’t want race length to be shortened, although I am open to ideas for sprint races or test driver races, as long as these are a complete separate championship.

    – Keep F1 as a points based championship, but increase the reward for the winner, and do not award points for anything like pit stops or pole position.

    – Change qualifying so that they don’t qualify with race fuel, so we get to see who really is the quickest driver/car combination on the day. Of the multiple changes to qualifying the only one which I think has worked is the knockout part so I would keep that.

    – I think there still needs to be work done to may overtaking easier as we are still having some processional races this season.

    – Just to improve the looks of the car I would like to get rid of those airflow conditioners in front of the sidepods, the shark fin engine covers and resize the front and back wing so they look more in proportion, as long as these changes don’t make overtaking harder.

    – Although I value the historic teams in F1, the contracts that each team sign to should be the same for everyone, so no special veto or extra payments.

    – Regarding improving the show, although I have never been to a race, judging from comments I have read F1 does not cater for fans anywhere near as well as Nascar so I think this should be addressed, including lowering ticket prices, but then Bernie would have to reduce the fees he charges the circuits and as CVC need all the money they can get just to service their debt I don’t see that happening.

    – While Bernie has done a lot to improve the coverage side of F1, I don’t think he gets modern technology, such as F1 not being broadcast in HD. Also if FOM don’t like F1 footage on YouTube they should start releasing old season highlight DVDs with plenty of extras, and on their website they give people the chance to download either the full qualifying and race coverage or just highlights of the weekend for all the seasons they can get the footage of, while they would charge for this they could still put up free highlights of recent years as they do now.

  13. Kovy said on 26th June 2009, 11:08

    -Ad-free broadcasts over the internet (Channel 10 in Australia is terrible.)

    -Race length is fine. Any shorter is too short.

    -Don’t make F1 a spec series.

    -Drop circuits like Shanghai and bring back ones like Montreal.

    -Cut downforce without resorting to ugly designs (the IRL can do it.)

    -Stop removing videos from Youtube.

    -More points for a win (12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1).

    -Low fuel qualifying.

    -If KERS is used, it should be free to developed. Only then will is push forward the technology and develop it and make it road relevant.

    • Ferrari1607 said on 26th June 2009, 19:56

      you think the constant commercials are bad the in Australia.
      Watch a race here in the U.S.
      ” oh they go three-wide for the lead into tu….” boom” a commercial in the middlle of that.

  14. Bigbadderboom said on 26th June 2009, 11:10

    I have a few ideas but I am a firm believer in evolving sport as apposed to whole sale changes. However I would like the following
    1) CVC/FOM to reconsider calender and tracks.
    2) Reinstate 2 tyre manufacturers with full choice of compounds.
    3) Assess points scoring maybe 15,12,9,7,5,3,2,1
    4) Quali 12 flying laps
    5) In season testing returned, now this i think can be exploited by FOM. Why not have 2 Scheduled tests, at 2 different tracks, BBC could run a BBC3 or Red Buton feature (maybe internet coverage)
    6)More interaction with fan sites. There should be a concerted effort from F1 to stay in touch with fans, Brawn seem to be doing a great job with their web-site but more teams and f1 could do more, personally I would like to feel valued as a fan and not a target for exploitation, F1 seems to be a marketing device to sell merchandise.

  15. I would like to see the following:

    – A significant reduction in costs and a corresponding relaxation of the technical regulations. The teams should be allowed to innovate within a reasonable budget.
    – Multiple (4,5,6 maybe) tyre suppliers, allowing teams to develop tyres alongside their cars to suit them optimally, rather than the unfair “one-size-fits-all” policy that has dominated in the last few years.
    – Low-fuel qualifying, but refuelling permitted (perhaps with technical regulations relaxed to the point where it is possible, but not necessarily preferable, to run the whole race without refuelling).
    – Maintain the current race length, dropping 50km off each race will mean that some circuits (e.g. Monza) will have races lasting less than an hour, which is far too short.
    – Review the calendar, but don’t drop venues in the Middle East or Southeast Asia just for the sake of it. F1 should be a global event, just because emerging markets aren’t popular with a Eurocentric fan base right now doesn’t mean that F1 should withdraw from its expanding frontiers.

    • Achilles said on 26th June 2009, 13:50

      I agree with most of what you say Andy, the tyre bit is a problem though as it appears no other tyre manufacturer wants to take part, and yes, it is a global sport, it would be selfish to think otherwise.

    • Will we really see multiple successful tyre suppliers, though? In the past, the most innovative tyre designs (Tyrell’s 6-wheeled car) ended up being discarded because the development cost is being born just by one team; and more recently, tyre wars sometimes result in an effective 2-tier series (the worst case being Indianapolis 2005).

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