The FOTA Fans Forum needs to ask the questions that matter

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2011 FOTA Fans Forum Monza

2011 FOTA Fans Forum Monza

The latest FOTA Fans Forum will take place this Wednesday in Barcelona.

Norbert Haug, Eric Boullier and Pastor Maldonado will be among those answering questions from fans at the fifth of these forums.

It’s encouraging to see that, despite its internal problems, FOTA is carrying on its work to let fans have their say on how the sport is run.

FOTA has taken some contentious decisions in recent years which have a had a major effect on the sport. Not least of which the push to implement the controversial Drag Reduction Systems.

This serves to underline why fans should use the forums for their ideal purpose – giving feedback on how F1 is run – and not let the discussion drift off into less productive areas.

Asking the questions that matter

I was impressed by the standard of debate at the last FOTA Fans Forum I attended at the McLaren Technology Centre.

The discussion covered such topics as which countries and tracks F1 should visit, how to make more information available during races such as team radio, and balancing the conflicting demands of cost reduction, entertainment and safety.

But reading the transcript of the most recent forum in Milan, it seems too much time was given over to questions on team and driver performance, turning the event into just another press conference.

Instead of addressing the subject at hand, panellists were asked questions like, “Can you tell us more about the miracle that is Toro Rosso?”, “Nico, how will you get on at Monza this weekend?” and “Will Ferrari win on Sunday?”

Surely the point of the FOTA Fans Forum is for those who watch F1 to explain what they want from the sport to those who can influence it? Not treat it as a ‘fans press conference’ where a select few get to quiz their favourite team on why they’re not winning.

It’s supposed to be a fans forum – not a fanboys forum.

The FOTA panel

The selection of panel members should reflect the point of the forum. For example, an FIA representative should be invited, such as a race steward member or even Jean Todt himself. After all, it is their championship.

At the same time, we should ask whether it serves the purpose of the forum to have drivers attend. Are they likely to be able to effect change in how F1 is run? Not really.

The original FOTA Fans Forum did not rely on driver attendance to attract interest. Paul di Resta was the only driver on the panel, and at the time he was yet to start a Grand Prix.

This video from that forum two years ago gives a good example of how the format should work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qrzt_mXsaE

It’s easy to dismiss the FOTA Fans Forum as merely a talking shop – but talking is important when you’re speaking to the people who matter.

If you’ve got an opinion on DRS, team orders, F1′s move away from free-to-air television or any of the other major developments in the sport, this is your chance to quiz the people who make the decisions.

That is a more productive use of the FOTA Fans Forum than having drivers answer exactly the same questions journalists put to them every race weekend.

FOTA Fans Forum: your view

Are you going to the FOTA Fans Forum on Wednesday? Have you been to one before? What subjects do you think they should tackle? Have your say in the comments.

For more information on the forthcoming forum see the FOTA website.

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77 comments on The FOTA Fans Forum needs to ask the questions that matter

  1. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th February 2012, 11:04

    Surely the point of the FOTA Fans Forum is for those who watch F1 to explain what they want from the sport to those who can influence it? Not treat it as a ‘fans press conference’ where a select few get to quiz their favourite team on why they’re not winning.

    Perhaps that is the underlying problem with the forums. It’s all well and good to get the sport’s power-brokers together and set the event up as a serious discussion about the direction the sport is heading, but if the fans in attendance only ask questions about team and driver performance, it’s not going to do a lot of good.

  2. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 27th February 2012, 11:04

    Something I’ve always wanted to learn more about is the coverage. It’s probably a bit sad, but I’m more interested in how FOM operates than how F1 cars work!

    Anyway, for years I’ve been asking around about FOM and attempting to research how everything works, but as you can imagine, there’s absolutely no information on the internet. In particular, onboard cameras interest me. How good are they? Do they actually record in HD but can only stream in low quality thanks to bandwidth restrictions? What resolution is the output footage? Why can we only have certain cars sending images to the TV truck at any given time rather than all 24 cars? What do they look like outside of their little protective ‘T’-shaped case?

    Finally, just the other day, I had one of my questions answered by someone that posts under the name of ‘GT_Racer’ (you may have seen him/her around here at times) over at James Allen’s blog. Here’s the article I posted under (scroll down to comment 9 as I can’t figure out how to customise URLs for that particular site) and the response I received. If anyone is half as interested as I am when it comes to how FOM operate, you should find this absolutely fascinating.

    What I’d propose as a solution to the problem is having onboard storage devices (just a little SD card or something wouldn’t affect the weight of the car) which can be used to hold the footage until after the race, where it can then be accessed and used in FOM’s brilliant race edits and of course in the season review DVD/Blu-Ray. At least then we’d be able to have video evidence from all cars on track if it’s ever needed to help with stewarding decisions, plus it would be amazing if we could watch a race back online from the perspective of our favourite driver… (I’m dreaming now, I know)

    The funny thing is that for all I know, FOM might already be doing this!

    • Enigma (@enigma) said on 27th February 2012, 16:04

      @damonsmedley Is that why there’s no footage of Heikki’s Barcelona crash from last year? I guess it was one of the cameras that doesn’t send footage in real time, and the storage system was broken in the crash?

      • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 27th February 2012, 16:18

        @Enigma It’s because at the time of the crash, the onboard camera (if there was one fitted to his car) wasn’t broadcasting back to the TV truck. And when I was talking about a storage system, I didn’t mean FOM already did this (it would be cool if they did!) but I was suggesting it as a workaround.

    • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 27th February 2012, 23:57

      @damonsmedley Here’s your comment in question.

      I don’t know if James Allen’s site redirects you straight to your comment after posting like F1 Fanatic does (I’ve never commented on JA on F1), but if it does, the link that shows in your address bar will take anyone to your comment.

  3. scribbler (@scribbler) said on 27th February 2012, 11:16

    First question they should be asking is does FOTA now hold any weight in the light of the departure of Redbull and Ferrari. I think the body could survive without the likes of HRT and Marussia but not without the top teams. Also why did they fail to apply enough pressure to prevent the concord agreement being bent to suit Ecclestones requirements and the fans and teams loose out to the full coverage going to sky? Teams will down on advertising revenue once the drop in views of the 2012 season is established. Im guessing 6-10 million regular viewers down to about 2-3 million. Surely Vodaphone for example wont be interested in such poltry figures anymore.

    • @scribbler What % does UK viewers hold in the total number of F1 viewers? I’ve heard the total viewership as being punted at around 500m..

      a drop from 10m to 2m therefore negligible, the UK isnt really a growing market for F1, they probably dont care (as bad as that sounds) – Bernie is more interested in the billions of potential viewers in India and China, where he knows there is more money. If he can tap even a small % of those markets it will eclipse the UK total market.

      Here in the UK we all seem to believe our Empire still exists, it doesn’t, every year we matter less and less on the world map. The time of us having real bearing on events has gone, I think the sooner we realise that the better off we will become.

      • scribbler (@scribbler) said on 27th February 2012, 12:55

        I disagree being an engineer i think we still lead the world in design. I would say its more important now than ever. If you look at the structure of the teams in question they are predominantly English based. Even the likes of merc, Redbull although have German / Austrian backers are largely an English team. China and India are very good at copying things but as far as the actual design i think we have the lions share still. Once The manufactures in the UK lose revenue from drop in UK advertisers they will sell up and the teams will move to the countries you just mentioned. This is bad for the sport IMHO. and rather short sighted. Everyone talks about Ferrari but without the Likes of Chapman(Lotus) Brabham & McLaren i don’t think F1 would be the same if at all. Ferrari just as important and Italians were also renowned for there design prowess but not as much anymore. Can you imagine a new F1 with the manufacturers from China and India i fear development would stagnate and cars would all be electric and would lose all of its appeal for me personally.

        • vjanik said on 27th February 2012, 13:06

          Sponsors care about potential customers, not where the car is made. If 99% of their customers are outside the UK, then they will mostly care about the viewership in those countries. That was Tom’s point.

          • scribbler (@scribbler) said on 27th February 2012, 13:14

            Thats also my point. For practicality teams will be established where the market is & we will lose silverstone, Mclaren and the teams who are non British but based here will be the first to go. I can see a Formula one in the not so distant future with No English involvement and i think the Italians could leave also. All because the viewing figures on the BBC drop. We don’t have a culture of Pay-per-view in this country for such established Sports that have been broadcast free to air for so long I just think the switch to sky from a British point of view was short sighted and i think FOTA of which Martin Whitmarsh is president should have challenged it.

          • I dont think teams will leave just because UK viewing figures drop.

            The teams arent established where the market is now, 10m viewers in the UK is 2% of the overall viewership. They are based in the UK for the reasons you hinted of, engineering and infrastructure. If other countries build up that and its cheaper, teams will move. They wont take viewers into account unfortunatly.

            Mclaren have started car production as a side project and I would bet the majority of those cars are shipped to USA or Abu Dhabi yet they have spent a lot of money making them in UK. They will take a lot of pushing to jump ship, I guess only insolvency would make them.

        • sumedhvidwans (@sumedhvidwans) said on 27th February 2012, 14:31

          @Scribbler

          Moving away from UK also makes cost sense. Teams with British, Austrain or German money can hire 6-10 Indians or Chinese engineers for the same amount that would be used to hire one UK engineer.

          India or China are definitely the future for F1. There was a report regarding the sales of Ferrari. They declined in whole of Europe but increased 30% in China alone and that 30% turned the whole of Ferrari sales from red to green.

          A drop in UK viewing figures doesn’t matter much to the teams. Teams know this and hence didn’t fight too hard to keep F1 on BBC.

          • scribbler (@scribbler) said on 27th February 2012, 14:49

            I agree and top UK cars have had a big sales increase in China and India such as Aston Martin and Rolls Royce. However they will buy them for a while but are also starting to copy them and buy all the tooling and machinery to mass produce these cars and they are so close to the UK cars that in any other country they would be done for Copy right infringement but in these countries the Companies are protected by the governments and they don’t care about intellectual copyright infringement or patents so its not a fair playing field. We have a long history of innovative engineering in the UK and most engineers get into the profession because they aspire to work in motorsport or Aerospace etc. These cutting edge fields. If the UK stops being at the forefront of motorsport we will have a big drop in the number of future Engineering graduates / courses and i don’t think we will be able to then work our way out of this recession. Just because you can get cheap labour in China and India doesn’t mean they are automatically able to invent things. You can show them the basics but inventing is as much a cultural thing as it is academic.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th February 2012, 15:11

            @scribbler, I think that view of finding China and India for cheap labour and copying things is only the current state, not the future.

            On the one hand, already labour cost in China is riing with rising demand and demographical changes in the coming years. On the other hand, It would be a mistake to think that anyone in China will want to produce products by copying or doing cheap labour long term.

            Years back, I had an interesting conversation (it went for several months in short bits) with a chinese man working at Skoda – before he went on to Germany and then back to China. He told me, that the chinese were already making high quality products for themselves and that, in time, we should expect them to start building their own product lines that would trump what western companies do.

            An example of that are the latest products made by Huawei, that are starting to offer genuine competition for more well known companies.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 27th February 2012, 20:12

            Just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s better in China. The industry in the UK is established and of renowned quality. that isn’t something that will disappear quickly.

          • But it would be folly to think China couldn’t catch up or surpass.

            Having said that, they won’t. UK has many car manufacturers and has supplied F1 for a long time.

            To get all the necessarily suppliers in place just to make it viable for an F1 team to be based in China is, well… It would take a long and sustained effort, And I don’t think F1 holds that much weight in China.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 27th February 2012, 23:09

            @scribbler, “they can copy but not invent” exactly what we said about the Japanese 50 years ago, we know how that turned out, and don’t forget BMW built Austins (used to be a major UK. car manufacturer) under licence before WW2.

          • Outsider said on 28th February 2012, 1:43

            Agree with HoHum..we said the Japanese were rubbish at building stuff back in the day..just look at them now..the best of everything comes out of Japan and has been for the last 20 years. What many people dont realize is, the stuff that Japan manufactures for its local market is streets ahead of its export goods.

            iIf an F1 team want to move countries for financial benefits, it really is up to them. A team is a business, and decisions have to be made with respect to what is best for the business. But having said this, I wouldnt think it would make too much operational sense to move a team outside of Europe. There is no racing infrastructure in Asia, and I dont there will be one for the next 20 or 30 years.

            Racing is not in the culture of Asians in General. The masses dont particularly enjoy, its a very niche sect of the mass just now. I suspect it will stay that way.

  4. Kiril Varbanov (@kiril-varbanov) said on 27th February 2012, 11:17

    No, I’m not going to attend, sadly.

    - I’d love to talk about the possibility of getting closer and closer to a spec series (the limitations on the tech front are counting up). While I understand that cost reduction is trending buzzword all over the world, I don’t understand why Formula 1 has to become yet-another car series. I’d like it to retain the so-much-hyped “Pinnacle of the motor sport”.
    Instead, more and more stuff are being prohibited.

    - When the tracks’ layout will become more competitive? That’s one of the underlying problems, whose solutions is DRS, for example.

    - What is the future of the engines? V6 turbo for a long time, or 1 liter 4 pot twin turbo? What’s the roadmap there?

    * There are thousands small other issues, but these are the main three that personally bother me most.

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 27th February 2012, 11:34

      F1 becoming a spec series would be terrible for the sport in my opinion. Having separate manufacturers developing their own chassis is what sets it apart from categories like GP2, IndyCar and Formula 3. In theory, the racing would be closer, but it’s not as exciting. Development is being curbed more than ever, but there still is room for very clever innovations amongst the tightly controlled regulations. We’ve seen the F-duct and the EBD in the last two seasons and we nearly saw reactive ride height this year. The consequences wouldn’t stop at boring car launches – people like Adrian Newey would become useless.

      • vjanik said on 27th February 2012, 13:29

        All the three innovations that you mentioned are now banned. That is what is scary. Any attempt at thinking outside the box is quickly stopped.

        Eventually we will end up in a situation where the rules are so strictly defined, that we will have manufacturers building their own chassis, but they will be almost identical. Is this what we want from F1?

        I think the Forum should bring up the idea of the budget cap again. Free up the technical regulations, but give teams a fixed budget cap (including driver salaries). We can have a discussion about what the amount should be. But i think in principle this would benefit the sport. It would give a fair chance to all teams to be competitive. Smart people would become the biggest asset. We would see much more innovative ideas that would be relevant to everyday road users 9as was the case in the early days of F1 – antilock brakes, traction control, automatic gearbox, etc)

        Under these rules, we might see different philosophies. Like for example a team spending most of their budget developing a better engine, whereas other teams spending it on the chasis and aero. There would be more diversity and unpredictability.

        Unfortunately the big teams dont want to give up their advantage, and would therefore not approve such a move. (as we saw during the 2008 season where F1 almost broke up over this argument)

      • bearforce1 said on 27th February 2012, 13:33

        Absolutley. Please no spec series. Try as I might I just can’t get into Indy Car etc. Kind of like V8 super cars in OZ ( two different cars), just super boring for me.

      • -.- Banned not equals epc series guys.

        Simply put, if things don’t get banned year on year, the speeds will rise dramatically.

        This year we have lost the EBD, which was reportedly bringing in a hell of a lot of down force. Will the cars be slower this year? Probably not by much, just because the engineers will make it up in other areas.

        The problem with a budget cap yet freer regulations, is that it will result in bigger gaps in performance. Which in this day and age of reliability could end up causing seriously one sided championships.

  5. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 27th February 2012, 11:21

    Get all races back on Terrestrial / Freeview TV in the UK.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th February 2012, 11:32

      That’s not something FOTA has any power over.

      • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 27th February 2012, 11:39

        But unlike us, they have access to people with lots of power over it.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th February 2012, 11:54

          They’re not messenger-boys. FOTA serves the interests of the member teams, not the fans. They will only oppose the Sky-BBC broadcast deal if they feel that it is not in their best interests. They have not opposed it, so they evidently feel that there is nothing wrong with it. Running to FOTA isn’t going to get anything changed.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 27th February 2012, 23:19

            @PM (please go back to being Jason) The teams ability to gain sponsors is directly related to the size of the viewing public “exposure”, therefore they should be doing all they can to have races broadcast free to air, as an aside did you watch the Bathurst 12 hour race? I wanted to but it was Foxtel only so apparently it did not exist for the general public.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 28th February 2012, 0:01

            @hohum

            The teams ability to gain sponsors is directly related to the size of the viewing public “exposure”, therefore they should be doing all they can to have races broadcast free to air

            The Sky-BBC arrangement was announced at the Hungarian Grand Prix – seven months ago. If the teams really are as badly off under the arrangement, don’t you think they would have said something by now? And how do you reasonably expect them to change things three weeks out from the first race of the year?

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th February 2012, 12:30

          In this case I agree with PM. While its surely better to ask about this than to ask about the next race it just takes away from the purpose of the forum to discuss TV deals that are already made.

          It would be far more interesting to ask about how Teams would want to present their sport (using that new FOM capacity as well as their own plans). And how will they go about building better ties with the fan base. Including conquering the US market a bit.

          • Bigbadderboom (@bigbadderboom) said on 27th February 2012, 14:18

            @BasCB Agree with FOTA’s wishes for the sports presentation, and now accepting the SKY F1 channel is here and done, what access will the teams be giving the new dedicated channel. Documentaries such as the Mega factories Williams programme last week provide great insight into the car design and manufacturing process. That is what I would want an answer to!

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th February 2012, 14:23

            @bigbadderboom, that is exactly the kind of things they should be looking at.

            And as discussed during testing last week, it would be great if teams took the sparse opportunities offered to show interested fans more of the technology they work with.

          • I think it’s very important that they are questioned about the Sky deal. Because unless you are in the fortunate position to have it you will not be able to watch F1 in the UK.

            That is rather disastrous I feel. And PM, I assume you can afford it, so just buck up a little and think about it as if you couldn’t.

            As for them not having any control. That’s stupid talk, If you don’t go and voice your concerns now, to these guys, no one else will even listen to you. This is exactly what the forum is for.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th February 2012, 23:58

            And PM, I assume you can afford it, so just buck up a little and think about it as if you couldn’t.

            But that’s not the issue here. People seem to be misunderstanding the purpose of FOTA. FOTA is the Formula One Teams Association, and is effectively a union for the teams when it comes to dealing with the FIA and Bernie. It is not a regulatory body. It has no power of its own, except for the power to unite the teams and put them in a stronger position to deal with the Powers That Be. FOTA’s first, last and only purpose is to represent the interests of the teams, to make sure they get the best deal for them. They do not serve the fans. They do not have the power to effect change at the request of the fans. They have no ability to influence the Sky-BBC deal simply because the fans want it changed.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 29th February 2012, 1:55

            I did not mention any specific deal in any market, it is the principle of “free to air” that the teams should be pushing for in order for the smaller teams to attract sponsors due to the exposure they can offer. The big teams get their sponsors and a cut of the TV revenue, the smaller teams need to be able to offer maximum exposure.

  6. John H (@john-h) said on 27th February 2012, 11:35

    Live questions from twitter (et al) during the forum would be one way to get fans such as myself more involved, a little more like the BBC forums in fact.

    With a good chair perhaps this would filter out the trivial ‘fanboy’ questions to which Keith alludes.

  7. The questions asked need to be questions the FOTA can actually answer. Asking them stupid things about bahrain and so on is really just going to get a wishy washy answer.

    I’m hoping they have the ability to at least answer these:

    I’d like to hear about their plans to release live, selectable radio transmissions between driver and team. I think everyone will agree that is something fans want as a matter of urgency.

    We would also like to find out their plans to stream on the net (I’d be willing to pay premium for this) all the drivers cockpit camera’s live. So we can select which driver we want to follow. Please keep in mind that this needs to be a global service, and no just another British exclusive. I’m not willing to move to england just to watch F1 online.

    Ask them what their stance is on bringing back in season testing so teams can improve their drivers and test new ones.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th February 2012, 11:57

      @infy

      another British exclusive

      I’m trying to think of comparable things British TV audiences get that aren’t available elsewhere and coming up with nothing – what are you referring to?

      • For instance the forum after each race where they go behind the scenes and mess around with the teams. To watch that you need to practically pirate it.

        I know that was a BBC initiative, but I think the teams should go out of their way to make sure that an alternative solution is found where if the teams buy into helping a broadcaster (such as the BBC/Sky) by taking part in such post race events, then said broadcasters must at least allow the global audiences to watch it.

        As fans, we don’t mind paying to watch that stuff. The issue I have, is I am forced to actually pirate it simply due to having no legal way of acquiring the show live.

        Personally I would prefer it if FOM had its own post race show which we could just watch live on their website for a free or a premium subscription.

        All fans should be given legal opportunities.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th February 2012, 12:29

          @infy You’re right, that was a BBC initiative – there’s nothing stopping the host broadcasters in other countries doing something similar. It’s not as if FOM are saying “let’s just give this to British viewers”.

          If your local broadcaster’s coverage isn’t up to scratch, complain to them.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th February 2012, 12:33

            I would say the BBC innovation is what will make Sky have to push the content even further now to gain a steady viewership in the UK.
            And we can only hope German RTL and Italian TV and the Murdoch stations in the rest of the world and the others improve their act as well when they see what is possible @infy!

          • And also, everyone in the UK with a TV has technically paid for that show, thats why you cant get it anywhere else than the UK.

            If they sell it on I want some of my monies back haha

          • complain to them.

            How?

            It’s virtually impossible to get someone to listen.

            I mean, just with the Australian coverage, just getting the Australian commentators into F1, and talking about F1 would do it good. They often look, no, they often are just reading their lines and when something unexpected happens have no idea what to do.

            But how do you communicate that to them??

        • John H (@john-h) said on 27th February 2012, 12:36

          Personally I would prefer it if FOM had its own post race show

          A post-race show where we can’t say anything bad about Bernie? Nope, wouldn’t be much fun.

  8. Now that F1 has become so safe that it’s impossible for the driver to get even a scratch, I would say it’s time to increase the speeds. How can F1 call itself the” pinnacle of motor sport” when it’s not even the fastest open wheel racing? Let’s bring the top speed from 220 up to around 255 miles per hour. That should give enough clearance to Indycar who’s top speed is 240.

    • Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 27th February 2012, 12:21

      Why is ultimate top speed your definition of the pinnacle of motorsport? Would a one make series of Bugatti Veyron’s be the pinnacle of motorsport?

      I don’t see how increasing the speed of the cars will do anything for the sport, other than increasing costs, spreading the field further and, most importantly, jeopardise safety.

      Where would the cars even go 250mph? Monza? You’d be lucky. Most tracks have a high speed of around 200mph because the requirement for the rest of the track is for cornering, and to me that cornering ability is what sets F1 apart for other open wheel series. Any fool can build something that goes fast in a straight line, but it takes something special to build something that can do it in the corners as well.

    • F1 is not and never will be safe. Massa was very fortunate in Hungary ’09, Perez had a big one at Monaco last year where he wasn’t right for a few weeks afterwards.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th February 2012, 13:53

      F1 straight line speed is not the highest in motorsport, like you say, IndyCar is higher. However, it’s the lap time where the speed really shows.

      F1 cars generate tremendous amounts of downforce hence the massive emphasis on aero this and aero that.

      Invariably there are more corners than straights on a race track so it makes sense to pump your resources into improving your performance there.

    • vjanik said on 27th February 2012, 14:30

      F1 teams build the fastest cars for the tracks that they race on. top speed is just not as important on F1 circuits as cornering speed (in terms of lap time gain) so logically team spend more time and resources on downforce. But if you took the F1 teams and gave them an oval calendar you would see how fast they can go in a straight line. remember these are prototypes that are tailored to their environment. change that, and the cars will change too.

      If you took Formula 1 rules and applied them to the oval, you would get much faster lap times than by using the IndyCar rules. Thats what makes F1 the highest form of motorsport.

      Dont forget that the easiest part of the track for an F1 driver is the straight. Thats where they take a break from the g-forces, talk to their enegeneers, etc. Its also where they achieve the top speed, but if that speed was 20 or 30kph faster it wouldnt change much. they wouldnt probably even notice.

      But if you can go through eu rouge 10kph faster, trust me, you notice. And thats where true skill and car development is. Not on the straights.

      I think we should have more variability of tracks on the calendar. Not necessarily ovals, but more tracks like Monza or the old Hockenheim, so that aero is not always king.

    • cjpdk (@cjpdk) said on 27th February 2012, 21:25

      F1 is not “the pinnacle of motorsport” because of the car’s straight line speed. Le Mans Prototypes have reached nearly 400km/h.

      F1 cars travel super-fast in the corners.

  9. Maciek (@maciek) said on 27th February 2012, 12:20

    You raise some important points in an important discussion Keith. Insofar as fan input definitely has its potential benefits – I think though that asking fans what they think is not necessarily the best way of improving any sport, all depending of course on which fans we’re talking about. One problem about the direction of F1 I think is that the sports governing bodies (FIA, FOM) are overwhelmingly composed of people with all kinds of backroom financial and political interests and not by people who really know the sport inside out from experience (i.e. former drivers, team personnel), never mind having the sport’s best interests at heart. One way to at least increase the probability of ensuring the sport’s health over the long term would be to increase the input of people who really know what makes the sport – rather than just the business and the show – work really well.

  10. Paul Taylor said on 27th February 2012, 12:47

    The forum needs to be more of a discussion. I was at the event at MTC and asked a question about DRS & overtaking. It wasn’t answered satisfactorily but there was no opportunity to follow-up to get my point across or debate the merits of such technology.

    I think there needs to be less fans attending, maybe get F1 fans to apply for the position of “Fans Spokesperson” at these events, who can further question & challenge the answers from FOTA members. Instead, they just give stock answers, knowing they aren’t going to be challenged as to the merits of their answer.

    While the fans forum is a great way for fans to get closer and actively question team personnel and others, I don’t feel it impacts and improves the sport. There needs to be a louder fans voice on a more organised platform, committed to driving through change.

    • follow-up to get my point across

      You I’m sure would be fine. But the problem with giving people a chance to do this is that, some, are not quite restrained enough to be able to deal with this. They might try to overly push an issue. And also, at the end of the day, they have to get through quite a few questions, and it seems detailed responses aren’t the popular thing.

      I’m going to be honest, and say sometimes, this feels like a publicity stunt.

  11. James vB said on 27th February 2012, 13:20

    Having attended two UK Fan Forums (or ‘Fora’), I’ve been impressed at the quality of fans’ questions and suggestions put to the panels, though James Allen was the common denominator. Unless questions are vetted by the Chair in advance, an ‘open mic’ session is always going to be hit and miss.

    Aside from the on-track aspects of F1, I am interested in (and very concerned about) the commercial state of the sport/business. As such, I would like to see the teams and FOTA to start to address the sponsorship aspect of the sport collectively, either within FOTA or in a parallel body that focuses only on commercial matters in the round.

    While teams obviously compete with each other for sponsors, there appears to be no unified effort in improving the value of F1 to sponsors and advertisers generally. For example, reading previous comments regarding the BBC’s post-race ‘backstage’ initiative and teams’ willingness to participate, who is there to ensure that other broadcasters’ cameras are in there too? No one, that’s who.

    The disconnect between FOM’s commercial interest and that of the teams means there is no unified approach to making the pool of sponsorship bigger, which has to be to the benefit of everyone. Perhaps my view is overly simplistic, but I see little initiative in increasing the number of eyeballs on F1 — the Sky deal in the UK is catastrophic, in that sense — and little discussion on improving the value to sponsors F1-wide.

    • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 27th February 2012, 14:54

      For example, reading previous comments regarding the BBC’s post-race ‘backstage’ initiative and teams’ willingness to participate, who is there to ensure that other broadcasters’ cameras are in there too? No one, that’s who.

      It isn’t up to FOM or the BBC to let other companies film the programme that BBC have organised and paid for – if other broadcasters want to make their equivalent to the Forum show they can and will. The fact they haven’t suggests they don’t want to spend the money or viewers haven’t been vocal enough about how much they would like it.

      • James vB said on 27th February 2012, 17:32

        @Dobin1000

        Not sure that’s the point I was making, but your suggestion that “if other broadcasters want to make their equivalent to the Forum show they can…” is typical of the issue with FOM vs. the teams currently, as I see it.

        FOM sells broadcasting rights, within which broadcasters can do what they like on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. What I don’t see is any initiative to maximise broadcasters’ take-up of ‘the show’ of F1 generally. Had the BBC been able to share the cost of their (post-race show) with other non-competing broadcasters, they will have made savings and a large ABC1 audience could still be watching. The upshot now is that the BBC has cut back its coverage to 50% of races, which is a loss to ‘the show’ that sponsors need to justify their involvement.

        FOM, in my view, should be working to prevent broadcasters from giving up their expensive rights by ensuring a better return for sponsors and advertisers who ultimately pay for it.

        I’m not hung up on the UK and BBC/Sky, etc, but if FOM works simply to maximise its ‘take’ from the show and neglects he who pays the piper, they will eventually kill the golden goose.

        • Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 28th February 2012, 10:31

          I suspect that FOM doesn’t really see any need to ‘add value’ to the rights, because it isn’t as if with BBC cutting back they have lost out significantly, because Sky are giving them money as well and bringin their advertisers and sponsors.

          You said,

          Had the BBC been able to share the cost of their (post-race show) with other non-competing broadcasters, they will have made savings and a large ABC1 audience could still be watching.

          Was anyone stopping them or anyone else doing that anyway? I didn’t hear anything from the BBC or another broadcaster saying that they wanted to do this but FOM said it wasn’t allowed (I am not sure that FOM can tell the BBC what to do with their programming, like FIFA can’t tell broadcasters what programmes they are allowed to make about football). Either no english language broadcasters from other countries wanted to do a deal like that with the BBC, or BBC didn’t want to share what they spent money making, or nobody really considered it as an option. Personally I don’t think FOM can be held up as responsible for that.

          The only way I can see FOM doing anything to improve ‘the show’ is if all the broadcasters try and reduce the price when they renew contracts because they say it isn’t worth the money, but on the evidence of the last few seasons, especially compared to ‘The Schumacher Years’, I doubt it will happen.

          • James vB said on 28th February 2012, 11:35

            Don’t disagree with you. Though while FOM’s interest (ie. CVC’s interest) is short term, the teams should work collectively, through FOTA or other, to ensure that broadcasters don’t leave en masse and that sponsors stick around.

            Joe Saward has written extensively (and more eloquently than I ever could) on the lack of centralised promotion of F1. There are models out there that show how things could be done better, to improve value for the sport/business for everyone involved. We currently have a hotch-potch of the FIA, FOM, promoters/circuits, broadcasters, teams and sponsors all doing their own bits. The Tata deal may lead eventually to more proactive marketing by FOM directly to viewers and advertisers, though I would like to see all interested parties working more closely on important commercial issues.

            I believe that at least one or two teams will fail to turn to races up at some point in 2012. They’ll be the thin end of the wedge, but the current model will start hitting the bigger names too from next year.

            Forget hybrid power in F1; some of the teams are running on fresh air already.

  12. Randy (@randy) said on 27th February 2012, 13:28

    Reading the Wiki article about fanboys i’m affraid i am Formula one fanboy, but even i wouldn’t waste this opportunity just to hear how drivers say “for sure” and “aggresive design philosophy” yet again.

    There is a great opportunity to vastly improve the F1 show, sadly it’s not in FOTA’s power to move the European GP from Valencia to Turkey.

    What about KERS? It was introduced with the promise of doubling it’s power output in a few years. Was this concept dropped or is it due in 2014? My wild idea would be allowing the teams to choose between shorter and more powerful bursts and longer but less powerful (to make them second guess other team’s solutions for our entertainment).

    Make KERS more powerful, and in my opinion DRS can be dropped altogether. That way the teams could develop the technology applicable to road cars instead of the one not applicable, half of the fans won’t be annoyed anymore and we won’t have a headache come next year’s Abu Dhabi GP.

  13. Tristan Baker said on 27th February 2012, 13:32

    I believe this has as much to do with the quality of the event moderator as it does with the questions submitted.

    I attended the FOTA Fans Forum in Montreal last summer, which was moderated by James Allen. We were required to submit potential questions in advance of the event, and from those James picked the questions which would be asked. I’m not sure what criteria he used, but I’m certain he threw out a bunch of “fanboy” questions that wouldn’t contribute to great discussion. From my recollection, most of the questions were quite intelligent and stimulated productive discussion.

    I’m not sure who moderated the Milan event, but I’d guess he could have done a better job of pre-screening the potential questions prior.

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th February 2012, 13:51

    I think the BBC/Sky deal has been done to death now.

    I was tempted to go to the one in Milan last year just before the Italian GP but I really couldn’t see the benefit personally. I have no major gripes (I’m unaffected by the Sky deal) and I didn’t want to turn up and waste valuable questioning time when I didn’t have anything worth asking. Sounds like it wouldn’t have made much difference, but there you go!

    The impression I get is that receiving an answer to your question then poses another question. Perhaps this needs to be more discussion orientated, rather than just Q&A.

  15. Roald (@roald) said on 27th February 2012, 17:42

    The one thing I would very much like to ask questions about is the appearance of the cars these days. Not particularly talking about 2012′s broken noses, but the car as a whole since 2009. Just making the front wing smaller and bringing down the nosetip in 2014 will not cut it in my opinion, the car as a whole needs to look better. Sure it’s about racing and all, but to be honest, I really wouldn’t want to wear a shirt with last year’s ferrari on it.

    The appearance of the cars is overlooked much too often. With the new engine regulations coming up in a few year’s time and everyone talking about the sound they’re going to bring forth, I’d like the teams to step up and demand regulations that allow for a more eyepleasing look. The cars look so nimble too, mostly because they’ve become so very thin.

    I mean, we can all have our opinions on what looks better… but don’t the 2008-spec cars look much more impressive, much more Formula 1 than 2009/2012-spec cars? They dont have to go back to those regulations, but there’s plenty of stuff to be brought up in this aspect.

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