Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015

How do you explain F1’s falling popularity since 2008?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Formula One’s popularity has been slipping for years and among those in charge there is little agreement what the causes are.

What do you think is driving people away from F1? Which are the most and least important factors?

F1’s popularity slump

Much attention has been focused on Formula One’s television audience figures, which have been in almost constant decline since 2008.

Do these figures give us a reliable indication of F1’s popularity problems? With more people watching F1 online it may be that more viewers are not showing up here and the decline is much less or perhaps not even real.

UK pay-TV F1 broadcaster Sky claimed that while 1.7 million viewers watched last year’s final race, “online video views surpassed 12 million, and on-demand downloads were over 700,000”.

However not all measures of Formula One’s online performance are as positive. The Google Trends graph below which shows the relative popularity of the search term ‘Formula 1’ shows a steady increase in its popularity until around 2010, followed by a more swift reversal:

Television audience

Search volumes (Google)

What’s the cause?

If we accept there is an underlying decline in F1’s popularity, how do we explain it? The following suggestions were generated based on F1 Fanatic readers’ responses to past articles:

Pay-TV switch

Formula One Management has increasingly moved away from free-to-air television broadcasts for F1, including in several markets where the sport has always been popular, including Britain and Italy. The increased cost of following the sport, and the loss of promotion on channels which can be watched for free, has been blamed for declining viewing figures in those countries.

However the effect of this change is limited only to countries which had free-to-air broadcasts in the first place. In the USA, a market Formula One has struggled to break into, television figures are on the rise following its switch to the NBCSN channel.

Weak competition

Car manufacturers Honda, Toyota, BMW and Renault scrapped their well-backed and heavily-promoted factory squads (though some have since returned). Meanwhile and the high cost of competition and poor remuneration for all but a chosen few teams has made for an uncompetitive midfield.

In four of the last five seasons there was little doubt over the outcome of the drivers’ championship. While Red Bull dominated the early 2010s, Mercedes have crushed the competition to an even greater degree over the last two years. However the sight of one team dominating is nothing new in F1.

Calendar changes

The loss of heritage races and threats to events such as those in Germany and Italy has undermined F1’s popularity in countries which were once its heartlands. New events in venues such Abu Dhabi, Russia, India and South Korea have failed to capture the imagination – and some lasted only a few years before being dropped.

An ever-longer calendar – which will reach a record 21 events in 2016 – has diluted interest and created a sense of fatigue around the championship, and increased the probability that the championship won’t be decided at the last race. Although some additions to the calendar have been more successful – notably Singapore, USA and Mexico.

Ticket prices

Taking a family to a Formula One race for a weekend can run to thousands of pounds in ticket prices alone before accommodation, travel, food and everything else have been paid for. It’s a common cause for complaint among fans.

However that doesn’t stop many races on the calendar from boasting capacity crowds. And as many fans can’t get to races or only watch them on television, this may be a problem which only affects a limited number of people.

Dumbed down circuits

New Formula One tracks increasingly seem to have come from the same template with many slow turns and few opportunities for Formula One cars to demonstrate their formidable cornering capabilities.

Classic circuits are an increasingly rare breed as they are toned down to meet modern safety standards. That means fast corners are bypassed or slowed by chicanes and gravel beds replaced with forgiving asphalt run-offs.

Lack of technological variety

Formula One car designers have been straitjacketed by rules which prevent them from exploring radical new solutions. The days of revolutionary breakthroughs such as active suspension are long behind us.

What innovations do appear tend to be quickly snuffed out by the rule-writers. The introduction of V6 hybrid turbo engines in 2014 moved F1 back to the cutting edge of engine development, albeit within tightly prescribed parameters – and with some undesirable side-effects.

Quieter engines

The latest generation of engines are somewhat less raucous than their predecessors, which to some is the gravest problem facing F1 at the moment. The spectacle of a live F1 race has certainly been affected by the quieter engines, but some fans have welcomed the reduction in volume, saying it makes it easier to hear the track commentary.

Alterations to the engine designs for this year are expected to boost the volume once more. But is it likely to affect any more than the small percentage of F1 fans who actually make it to races?

Unattractive cars

Formula One ushered in a new generation of car design in 2009 which produced an unusual new crop of cars with narrow, high rear wings and low, wide front wings. These strange creations became truly weird when the FIA tried to place new limits on front nose design, resulting in the ‘stepped’ look of 2012 and the ‘proboscis’ (to put it politely) cars of 2014.

Plans are afoot for a shake-up of car design next year which may address some of these problems. However it is unlikely to address another common complaint – the gradually converging designs of the cars.

Artificiality

Desperate to “improve the show”, Formula One has introduced more gimmicks to the racing in recent years. These include the Drag Reduction System – a quantity-over-quality ‘solution’ to the difficulties of overtaking – plus designed-to-degrade tyres.

F1’s flirtation with double points for the last race in 2014 was a sign of utter desperation when it came to putting entertainment before sport in the name of increasing viewing figures. It may be that only the most committed fans care whether the action is authentic or not, but F1’s continuing decline in popularity suggests if gimmicks aren’t the cause they may not be the solution either.

Slower cars

Formula One lap times have tended to increase since around 2005 as engine sizes have been reduced, aerodynamics cut back and tyre war rubber replaced with ‘designed to degrade’ compounds. The banning of in-race refuelling has further slowed the cars in the early stages of races.

The result is cars which are visibly not being driving to the limit during grands prix – which is often the case due to the need to conserve fuel or look after the car. Again, perhaps only dedicated fans can tell the difference – or perhaps the fact drivers are operating so far within themselves is why races tend to be undramatic.

Ferrari’s struggles

There’s no question who’s number one in Formula One when it comes to popularity. Ferrari have been around the longest and won the most – but not recently. Their last championship victory was eight years ago and none of their drivers have taken the title since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.

There may be ten other teams on the grid this year but for some fans there’s only one that matters and if Ferrari isn’t winning, F1 may be much less appealing.

Rise of alternative championships

The level of interest in Nico Hulkenberg’s Le Mans triumph last year showed a growing popular awareness of the motor racing world beyond Formula One.

The FIA has given its new Formula E championship a big push and Juan Pablo Montoya’s return to single-seaters has been great news for America’s IndyCar championship. Put all three together and you won’t get as big an audience as F1 has, but those searching for high-tech motorsport or quality racing action may find more appealing alternatives.

Over-regulation

From the mystifying new tyre rules to bans on drivers changing their helmet designs the F1 rulebook is awash with dense, arbitrary restrictions. The sport’s capacity to surprise has been erased by a swathe of rules governing everything drivers can and can’t do.

Last year the high number of penalties issued for power unit component changes prompted much criticism and led to a mid-season easing of the rules. But complex new superlicence restrictions provided another example of regulations being used as the ‘solution’ for everything.

Lack of interest in drivers

In the words of Lewis Hamilton: “It’s like as a driver you have to be a square to fit in to the sport. That’s what I was led to believe, that you have to be a square to fit in to the sport.” Conservative, corporate and media-trained to within an inch of their lives, F1 drivers are often accused of lacking personality.

Complaints about pay drivers is another sign of how fans find some drivers unworthy of their support or interest – and that’s not good for the wider sport.

New media

While Formula One Management has begun to embrace social media in the last 12 months it has lagged years behind other sports and is still very limited in its activities. This has kept a new generation of young sports fans at a distance from F1.

And many who do follow F1 through new media may be difficult to trace, especially due to the rise in people using illegal pirate streams to watch races.

Business and politics

F1 is an expensive business and where money goes politics follows. But perhaps now more than ever this is clearly to the detriment of the racing spectacle.

The awarding of huge financial bonuses to certain teams irrespective of their performance has made it increasingly difficult for their less well-favoured rivals to compete. Two teams are even alleging anti-competitive practices in the writing of F1’s rules and the awarding of prize monies. Who would want to watch a rigged game?

Which of the following do you think are the most significant factors in F1’s declining popularity? And which ones do you think are not that important but perhaps receive too much attention?

Vote for as many as you wish, explain your choices and suggest further explanations in the comments.

What are the most significant causes of F1's popularity slump?

  • Pay-TV switch (13%)
  • Weak competition (8%)
  • Calendar changes (2%)
  • Ticket prices (7%)
  • Dumbed down circuits (10%)
  • Lack of technological variety (7%)
  • Quieter engines (5%)
  • Unattractive cars (4%)
  • Artificiality (11%)
  • Slower cars (5%)
  • Ferrari’s struggles (1%)
  • Rise of alternative championships (2%)
  • Over-regulation (11%)
  • Lack of interest in drivers (4%)
  • New media (5%)
  • Business and politics (8%)

Total Voters: 447

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174 comments on “How do you explain F1’s falling popularity since 2008?”

  1. Mostly fuelled by Bernie’s greed for more money.

    1. +1, and + another 1

    2. Apex Assassin
      17th January 2016, 17:39

      If by Bernie you are also blaming the hedgefund owners that he answers to!

      And bad regulations that stifle creativity and development followed by worse regulations that removed everything that made F1 great. (drs, hybrid road car technology being forced onto F1, fuel flow, Pirelli, low revs, weak engines, no testing, silly aero regs, improper weight regs, daft and inconsistent marshalling, terrible engine regs that only confuse the sport and keep manufacturers away, ad infinitum)

    3. Apart from advertising motor oils & tires, all the other products advertised in F1 target rich people. The F1 of today targets a very narrow population that spend their money on very expensive products.

      Even if you want to maximize your experience as a TV viewer with apps that give you a better view in what is going on on the track, you have to pay for it. A better show that you get with the additional data is something that will attract more people, but Bernie is not interested in attracting more people. He wants that those who watch pay more. Just remember his recent comments about young F1 supporters that can’t afford products advertised in F1. He does not want them!

    4. It’s down to four words: “Poor rules, poorly enforced.” That simple.

  2. Also for me it was actually quite hard to watch F1 after 2008, as a young Massa fan I was distraught. I have only got properly back into F1 about two years ago. It is emotionally painful for me watching highlights from the Brazil 08 race.

    Oh what could have been….

    1. No offence but how is that even relevant to declining figures?

      Given the year before Massa moved over to allow KR to win by 1 point in what was really a complete fix (Kimi did OK – but let’s be honest – the FIA and some truly crap pit decisions gave that away) plus what was a frankly lacklustre year in 2008 given a substantial car advantage, somewhat wasted at times plus a lucky and frankly offensive to all racers Spa to boot, I am uncertain how Ferrari (who got the WCC) with Massa somehow ‘deserved’ both titles and that the lack of such led to a downturn in viewings?

      Particularly when we saw those utterly awful 2009 creations run out the garages for which we have been paying for since!

      1. Given the year before Massa moved over to allow KR to win by 1 point in what was really a complete fix (Kimi did OK – but let’s be honest – the FIA and some truly crap pit decisions gave that away)

        Raikkonen being “gifted” the 2007 WDC, or even being remotely lucky to win the 2007 WDC, should really go down as one of the biggest myths of all time. I guess that most people just watched China and Brazil, but never bothered watching Spain and Germany.

        Both Hamilton and Alonso were very lucky to even have a sniff at the WDC going into the final race of the season.

        1. @kingshark What about France where Alonso was forced to start 10th in a track where it is tough to overtake? Or Germany where Hamilton also was forced to start 10th then received a puncture on the first lap? Or when Hamilton fell to the back in Brazil? Raikkonen deserved the championship points-wise but I believe that the Ferrari, on balance, was the better of the two cars, especially from the middle to the end of the season. But at the end of the day, the championship is awarded to the driver with the most points, and without Massa’s help, Raikkonen wouldn’t have achieved that.

          1. @mashiat Alonso was only “forced” to start 10th in France because McLaren-Mercedes fitted that car with a gearbox that failed. Hamilton crashed in Germany because one of the wheels on his car was improperly secured. If McLaren-Mercedes had been a better team, these things would not have happened. Hamilton’s problems in Brazil were similarly the result of the team, collectively, not being on top of things. If the battle is close those kind of missteps can lose you the championship, as indeed eventually happened. That’s all part of the game.

          2. @mashiat

            What about France where Alonso was forced to start 10th in a track where it is tough to overtake? Or Germany where Hamilton also was forced to start 10th then received a puncture on the first lap?

            Raikkonen lost at least 12 points in Spain and Germany alone. By no stretch did either Hamilton or Alonso lose more than 10 points because or reliability.

            Massa was by far the least lucky driver out of the four, and lost at least 20 points in Australia, Silverstone, Hungary, and Monza alone. If you want to account for reliability, the Ferrari drivers would have finished the WDC 1-2, not the McLaren drivers.

        2. @kingshark I do think that McLaren had all the chance in the world to win the championships. But it certainly was not “just luck” or some kind of conspiracy that helped Kimi win the championship. McLaren threw their own chances away with the in fighting.

    2. If you keep torturing yourself like that there may something you need to attend to. ;-) Sports can be incredibly cruel. Was Lewis really that much better than Felipe because he won the championship by one point? I suppose, technically, you can say he was one point better. That’s like winning the Tour de France by six seconds!!

  3. Not been able to follow car in front because of idiotic front wings and making joke tyres even worse joke while trying to do close follow=no overtaking no real racing and again since tyres are joke no real driving on limit.Tyres that go AFTER 1 LAP of REAL PUSHING? So we get another joke=DRS so many drivers are not even trying to overtake anywhere else.Should i mention “frozen” engines lately so if u dont do it correct from start you can pull back from F1 until next rule change since there is no way to reduce gap to be really competitive.

    1. +1 (in fact how may am I allowed to “plus”; can I +2?)

    2. +1 I fully agree with you.
      Most fans want to see close racing among the best drivers in the world’s fastest racing cars. So we need less differences between cars in total and less turbulent air. We don’t need token system. We need more mechanical grip/aero downforce rate so better tyres and same or less aero. Decrease money/revenue allocation differences. We are curious about the best drivers skills. So drivers should push more on the limit during races (or ‘sailing’ less). Drivers should manage ERS instead of a program (as they used KERS earlier) and we need less radio data from pit to drivers (maybe only safety reasons).

      1. F1 has always been a constructors’ championship, awarding prizes to constructors for constructing the quickest cars. It has lost popularity as increased regulation has made the cars more and more similar. The current engine rules legislate specifically against development so any inequality is perpetuated from season to season until the new contracts come in from 2021.

        There have always been other series for people who want to see drivers competing in identical equipment. F1 was never like that when it was growing, and audiences are shrinking as it becomes more like a one-spec series.

  4. RaceProUK (@)
    17th January 2016, 12:16

    The biggest problem from my point of view is the fact that the people who run the sport are also among the most vocal critics. After all, how can you expect people to like something you yourself are constantly bashing?

    1. Good point @raceprouk
      And adding to that @andae23 comments on the next page: “F1 just lacks vision.”

      For me the vision should be about bringing the awe back to F1. And I do not want to discuss the DNA of Formula 1 here, but I became a fan because F1 was special: The cars were the fastest; could drive upside down in a tunnel; an average person could not drive it without stalling it; and TBH, a bit of glamour.
      Many things might still be there, but it’s no longer solely defining F1!

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        17th January 2016, 16:44

        DNA of Formula 1

        The DNA of F1 is like the DNA of anything that has DNA: it changes for each successive generation, evolving over a period of time into something new.

    2. No One Better (@)
      17th January 2016, 18:07

      Tell that to Keith. Every sport has its problems and challenges. Does that mean we have to dwell on them 24/7? F1 is a niche racing series. Yes it has a global presence, but only fools think it can be as popular as ball sports or other racing series where the cars and the engines resemble road going vehicles.

      We get it Keith, you’re not enthused about F1. You’d rather watch or highlight what other series like WEC are doing right and never inform these readers about its problems. Stop undermining F1. Stop with the negativity.

      Season is about to start

      1. Well @noonebetter, you shouldn’t blame @keithcollantine for any negativity in this article.
        In the article (after showing declining TV/Internet popularity graphs) he clearly states: “If we accept there is an underlying decline in F1’s popularity, how do we explain it? The following suggestions were generated based on F1 Fanatic readers’ responses to past articles:”

        You should blame your fellow F1F commenters, and come up with some arguments why they are wrong in your opinion!

      2. I don’t think that’s Keith’s intent at all!

        Previous polls have been well used to try and put the spotlight on what we, the fans, think. It’s gone out to teams and the governing bodies via twitter to help try and make a difference.

        Nothing to do with him Whinging about the state of F1.
        Take a second look and think about it…

      3. @noonebetter, Ha ! what an ironic pen-name, at least as far as logic is concerned, @keithcollantine is dependent on the popularity of F1 to follow his chosen career and make a living, he cares about F1 enough to look for answers. If everybody in F1 takes your attitude and pretends there are no problems F1 is doomed. Say, that’s not you is it Bernie, have you finally mastered email, it would certainly explain the pen-name ?

      4. RaceProUK (@)
        17th January 2016, 22:25

        or other racing series where the cars and the engines resemble road going vehicles

        The only motorsport with higher viewing figures than F1 is NASCAR, and those are similar to road cars in the same way that cheese is similar to broccoli.

        But then I’m not surprised you’re in that much denial, based on your comments both here and in the last round-up.

  5. Several reasons why F1’s popularity has decreased over the last few years:

    F1 has almost become pretty much an elitist sport where the fans have become alienated, TV coverage around the world has gone behind paywalls and a large percentage of audience gets locked out of watching the sport. Artificial gimmicks that have failed to bring in new audiences and largely insults the traditional fan’s intelligence. Apart from Lewis Hamilton most of the drivers don’t have a personality and we look at them like bland people, we don’t have any battles to look forward to watching like a Senna vs Prost or a Hakkinen vs Schumacher. Nothing really controversial has happened lately and high ticket prices making crowds at GPs look small.

    F1 has mostly got itself to blame for why its popularity is falling.

    1. +10
      I completely agree that F1 and its participants have become elitist. I think the recent comment about accessibility to the paddock and drivers was spot on. The idea that one might actually get close to a driver seems foreign to those involved in F1. There just isn’t the interaction with the participants that there needs to be to engender a human connection and interest. It doesn’t help the image that the teams now travel with their own small armies.
      And the rules and penalties…
      At one point this year, I was hoping we would see the ultimate absurdity of every car suffering some sort of grid penalty for a mechanical or driving infraction – LOL

    2. I too agree. I personally know of 5 people (and then anyone who might watch with them) who stopped watching when it wen behind a paywall. I, myself, used to only watch the race as I would have to walk for 1 hour to a friend’s house to watch, which made them not be able to watch what they wanted to (my guilt at that showing?). I have to get the full service to watch F1. This year I can finally afford it for myself.

      Then there is someone who stopped watching when Schumacher retired (the first time). – not that F1 can help them…

      How does one explain the rules to a casual viewer? They don’t understand and that isn’t helping in getting new viewers.

  6. There are several reasons I feel for this. Some blatantly more obvious than others:

    Pay-TV Switch: Pretty obvious this. If it isn’t live on the TV, people cannot watch it. It’s as simple as that.

    Ticket Prices: I’d much rather spend my money watching standing by the track which is far, far better value for money. I’m off to the World Endurance Championship for the second year in a row in 2016, yet I have zero interest in going to watch F1 right now. MotoGP and Formula E are also high on my to-do list.

    Dumbed-down Circuits: Compare the variety and challenge of the circuits in F1 in 2016 and the IMSA series in 2016. As Kimi Raikkonen has said already, the modern F1 tracks are pretty much the same. It’s quite off-putting and we get the same result pretty much all of the time as a consequence.

    Lack of Technological variety: You just need to compare the number of engine/power unit manufacturers in FE, F1 and WEC right now and you can form your conclusion from there.

    Artificiality: Death by DRS. *Shudders*

    Rise of Alternative Championships: WEC, IndyCar and MotoGP were simply significantly more exciting to watch in 2015. I’ve even started watching them religiously where possible (all practice sessions) whilst shunning F1 at times.

    Lack of Interest in Drivers: Whilst I’m not a huge fan of everything Lewis Hamilton does off the track, he is arguably the only active driver who does a lot for his fan base. Daniel Ricciardo is also pretty good too. The rest of the drivers seem to be nothing more than PR-machines and they are not at all interesting once the helmet comes off.

    Business and Politics: I don’t think that we are in an era of ‘any publicity is good publicity’ any more. All of the negativity surrounding F1 (whether it is self-inflicted or not) does not do the sport any good. When you have a double World Champion going around saying that a rival series is more fun, of course that will start to sway the views of the fans.

    1. @craig-o, I’m not sure that it is necessarily easy to cite a number of those factors, given that we would ideally want to have information for the period prior to 2008 as well. In some markets, they had already begun recording a decline in interest that started long before 2008, often pre-dating a number of the factors cited here by several years.

      Research in Italy from the period to 1997 shows that, in that market, interest in F1 peaked back in the year 2000 and has been in persistent decline ever since whilst, in Germany, the decline in viewing figures dates back to around 2005. Whilst the figures in Italy are not necessarily clear cut, the figures in Germany seem to have been strongly influenced by Schumacher’s success and the fact that none of the more recent German drivers, such as Vettel or Rosberg, have been that popular with the German public (they’re generally seen as out of touch with the average German on the street).

      The UK is often referenced, given that it is a fairly large market for the sport, but there the viewing figures have been very volatile over the past 15 years. In the UK, viewing figures persistently fell from the period from 2000 to 2006 and only began rising again after 2007 – even with recent falls that have been attributed to the switch to partial pay-TV coverage, the average figure for 2015 (3.74 million) is still above what the sport typically achieved in the period from 2002-2006 and a long way from its lowest point (2006, when the average viewing figures were around 2.5 million).

      Really, out of the factors cited in this article, the only one where an actual causal link with viewing figures has been proven in recent years is the shift from free to air to pay TV.

      Certainly, it is the case that, whilst people reported a strong fall between 2012 and 2013, the fall of 50 million was concentrated in only two markets: France and China, where the combined fall in numbers (16 million in France and 30 million in China) was 46 million, or 92% of the overall total. In both of those markets, the overwhelming reason cited by respondents in surveys was the loss of free to air services that year.

      Similarly, the subsequent fall from 2013 to 2014 seems to have been predominantly due to an increased number of international markets moving towards a mixture of pay TV and free to air – Australia, I understand, is one such market that has made the move to a similar system.

      At the moment, I would therefore argue that the only factor which has been demonstrably proven to have a significant long term impact is the switch from free to air to pay TV.

      1. Agree fully.

        One could argue pay TV lowers sponsorship money comming in to F1, and net benefit is surtenly negative for F1 teams, maybe positive for Sky and other pay per view providers… And for sure more expensive for fans to follow.

        Look atncompetitive series. Many have straight up Youtube channels, and most try not to limit content.

        Now FOM argues limiting content is good for selling said content… But it does hurt Viewership figures.

        Maybe that it is not a problem for Mercedes and Ferrari, people who get a high end car, can afford pay-TV.
        But it is a problem for Red Bull and Renault, also was a problem for Toyota, Honda, BMW,…

        So crowdsourced answer on F1fanatic is spot on.

      2. Well ANON, as an Australian I have to agree about pay-Tv, but I have been disenchanted for years, going right back to 91 when Bernie Ecclesgimmick decided that F1 needed re-fueling to improve “the show”, apparently the racing was not good enough even then. I was tempted to vote “all of the above” but confined myself to 5 main points, which the results show as the same 5 points most voters chose.

        1. @hohum, I think that you’ve misremembered that – refuelling didn’t come in until 1994.

          Furthermore, there is a suggestion that it wasn’t so much down to Bernie as political pressure from teams who used engines with higher fuel consumption. By reintroducing refuelling, the intention was to reduce the advantage that came from using Ford’s V8, which was slightly less powerful but also consumed less fuel – refuelling ensured that the fuel weight penalty was lessened.

          1. Absolutely right @Anon my memory for details is atrocious, and thanks for putting me straight on titanium con-rods.

    2. Didn’t switch to pay tv seriously started with 2009? Seems like the answer is obvious.

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        17th January 2016, 22:28

        It’s less pay TV showing F1, more the loss of coverage on free-to-air.

  7. If you watch some F1 from the mid-2000’s, it just looks so much faster! Nowadays, wide angle shots are used as much as possible, in order to get sponsors’ advertising in the frame. Those shots also make the cars look much slower to me. I think something as basic as camerawork is partly responsible for F1 not looking as fast or exciting as it did a few years ago.

    1. Hear hear!
      If the shots were better, and the director would show all action and the sound engineers did their job, F1 would be better instantly.

      Add hearing the drivers heartbeat and breathing at onboard shots and you have a better experience, also showing that F1 is not easy.

    2. Thankfully someone has said what i’ve been thinking and saying for a while. Those front-on camera angles completely sap the speed from these cars, they look like they arn’t moving as they are pounding 200mph down a straight and then when it comes to slowing for a chicane, they switch to another view. Plus they are useless when it comes to trying to judge whose in front of who at the start of a race, i fume when they switch to that straight-down-the-line shot.

    3. Quite right, saloon cars racing around Mt. Panorama appear to be going much faster than F1 cars ever do.

    4. I very much agree, and have felt this way for some time.

      This video is a perfect example. It seems like F1 hasn’t looked this thrilling in years.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2cNqaPSHv0

      A stationary camera looking towards Maggotts & Becketts as the cars change direction on their way towards the camera is breathtaking.

  8. For a moment I set myself in the shoes of the occasional f1 viewer.

    If I watch a sport where just one team racks it all, I will eventually not follow it (Brawn, RB 2011 and 2013, Mercedes).

    If, in addition to that, I have to hire a premium TV service, I will lose track of it.

    This occasional follower tries to watch F1 online, but finds out there aren’t high quality / legal streams. Downloading a race is not worth it when you already know the outcome. Better to watch others racing categories already included on my cable service or on free-aired TV.

    And if, even after all those problems, this person manages to watch a race, let’s say in a friend’s house, and it happens to be Sochi, Abu Dhabi or Barcelona, the guy is going to take the remote and look for something much better.

    1. If I watch a sport where just one team racks it all, I will eventually not follow it (Brawn, RB 2011 and 2013, Mercedes).

      Exactly. Seems to me, Keith deliberately left out this category for fear it would get all the votes. Should I check “business and politics” or “weak competition”?Right.

      Mercedes lack of a real challenger is (and looks to be again this year) the real reason F1 is lacking.

  9. I think the pay TV switch is more influential in the viewership decline than most realise. It’s pretty huge really, considering that most countries in the world don’t have as strong middle-classes as the best Western democracies – worldwide, them switching off due to increasing TV costs makes more of a difference than we can imagine.

    1. @atticus-2
      Indeed. Also don’t forget that although most casual F1 fans that I used to talk with at school ten years ago enjoy the sport, they would not be willing to pay so much additional money to buy it. If it isn’t on free-air TV, then they just won’t watch and will eventually lose interest. Hardcore fans like ourselves who are willing to pay large sums of money just to watch F1 are the minority.

      1. Kingshark not all hardcore fans can afford to pay the large sums of money to watch f1 anymore and i’ve followed it for 50yrs.

  10. I think there is a great amount of factors playing a role (more or less all of the ones you mentioned in the article). I see the approach to TV (getting more expensive, less available and lets not forget lower quality as TV companies look to balance spending) or maybe we should say “channels one can experience F1” as a key issue here.

    With less available TV viewers the sport needs other sources to get people into F1 in the first place. One just cannot start playing motorracing in the street/local playground to get interested in the stars of our sports, like with Football, NFL, Ice Hockey, basketball, tennis, etc, so the sport needs to do something to get attention.

    And then, when the stories making most headlines are the promotor and former winning teams complaining about the cars, drivers, or track deals going bust overburdended by cost despite high ticket prices, what positive stories and motivation do people have to even try out F1? Especially in a world that offers so many kinds of things to do in our free time.

    The sport needs someone with a positive outlook and a view how to bring the sport to fans, and to creat new fans. And based on that strategy, it needs to rethink where/how and for what prices to make stories, footage and live material available, where to race, what tickets should cost and work with the tracks and teams to get behind making it known that the circus is coming to town.

    I mean, just look at it. Red Bull now go to great lengths to try and get people to visit “their” race. But its just them doing it, and focussed on just that one race. I think its a lovely idea. But we need far more of that and in a more structured approach.

    1. Not 1 single factor but a perfect storm of lots of factors with different things annoying to different people. On the whole there is so much tv choice available that people that are not big F1 fans have lots of other things to look at in this day and age.

    2. @bascb I agree that it is all of the factors above, but if I had to single out one thing, it is something that you mentioned which isn’t covered on the poll list:

      the stories making most headlines are the promotor and former winning teams complaining about the cars, drivers, or track deals going bust overburdended by cost despite high ticket prices, what positive stories and motivation do people have to even try out F1

      I think the negative press generated by the rights holder, teams and drivers really puts people off. This in turn pushes down the value of the TV rights (which compared to other sports are actually very cheap) which leads to low quality and behind paywall coverage, reduced value of sponsorship space etc. The infighting, squables, gimmicks etc are then all symptoms trying to solve the problem of low demand for the product but they simply add to the spiral by focusing on what’s wrong with F1. All of the F1 stakeholders need to get together to push the product with a unified voice which will only benefit them all in the long term.

  11. For new viewer entrants:
    1. Make it accessible (no pay TV)
    2. Make drivers more visible (give the audience an opportunity to bond with the drivers)
    3. Spectacle: more overtakes not by artificial tricks (drs) but by front wing change so real drag leading to speed advantage and close racing

    That is the basis in my opinion. Underneath all of that we can lengthy discuss engine development costs and what have you. But lets start with the essential

  12. Formula One’s biggest problems are akin to a giant pink elephant in the living room whilst those trying to resolve such problems are adopting the ostrich approach. A select few have their heads buried in places too graphic to mention.

  13. There are many reasons why F1 viewing figures are in decline. Firstly, there are the constant rule changes where the cars now look ugly, sound terrible, and have silly gimmicks on them like DRS. Yes, the 2008 cars were aero monstrosities but at least they also looked really cool, and sounded much better. The 2015 cars look ugly and boring. These stupid changes have driven big names such as BMW and Toyota away. Also, F1 is not on free to air in a lot of countries, and because of that greedy little midget Bernie Ecclestone. I’m having to go on a website to watch F1 races that the BBC and now Channel 4 won’t show, which is illegal, but I don’t care. I hate Sky, their F1 coverage is poor and Sky are a greedy company. Another reason is new dull Tilkedromes being introduced and even the ruination of classic tracks. Three examples are Monaco, Monza and Brazil. What the hell did they do to the last sector? It’s been drastically changed since 2003, and they’ve also messed up the Tabac corner. The first chicane at Monza has been ruined and they have removed the gravel trap on the exit of the Parabolica. In Brazil, they’ve been adding 50m runoffs on the outside of every single corner! They are taking away the challenge!

  14. I have been an avid F1 fan since Mansell started winning, so much so, I had to buy an ONdigital box when ITV moved some races to ITV2. I don’t now have Sky TV and can’t afford the package that would give me F1. The coverage on BBC has been at best sad compared to the Sky team – IMHO, Kravitz, Brundle & Croft are the A-team. Suzi Perry grew on me, but Coulthard & Jordan are cringeworthy. Interesting to see what C4 will do, but still only half the races. Formula1.com have dumbed down their free timing app – I now get a coloured blob instead of a sector time – not nice or useful. We have had one dominant team & driver after another for years, apart from 2007/8 and silly ideas like double points, fuel saving, tyre saving, engine saving, & noise saving. At least we don’t have “fan boost”, yet!. The Goodwood FoS has zillions of amazing cars, but the F1 V12/V10/V8 wailing banshee was in a world of its own. The new F1 cars are “unremarkable”. I took my young son to Silverstone this year for the 1st time (only because it was £99 & free for 10 & under) & he covered his ears in the Porsche race & thought they were amazing, but not for the F1 cars. I think that the money men have been to greedy & the regulators have over-regulated so that we now have an overpriced sport that is no longer very spectacular and much of which is fake. They have shot themselves in the foot with pay TV – every penny they get from the few viewers on pay TV, they lose £££s from sponsors seeking viewers. Somehow, I remain motivated to watch what I am allowed to, but I am no longer devastated if I miss a race. I am not sure how much longer I will keep an interest. Sad & a bit upsetting, in a way.

    1. I watch the races that are not shown live on free TV on NowTV. Cheap enough for 24hrs Sky sports viewing. You can get a box to plug in to your TV or use a smart TV with no extra boxes.

      I wouldn’t pay the extra £30 a month I’d need for Sky TV if it went only pay to view. Not worth three hours of race.

  15. I think that the world has moved on and that F1 has failed to keep up with it.

    If you want to keep 600 million people excited, then it is not enough to keep showing them fast (?) cars that go round in circles. At some point, some of those people stop being interested. They want competition, entertainment and fun and F1 has not been very good at it, while the entertainment industry has kept developing.

    Why did Jurassic World invent “Indominus‍ Rex”, the hybrid dinosaur? Because the normal dinosaurs did not look scary enough anymore.

    So I believe that there are basically two ways out of the current decline. One is to invent “Indominus Rex” ie. turn F1 into a hybrid between a show and a sport by applying clever gimmicks that will make races more unpredictable. Hopefully we will not need to “evacuate the island” at some point in that case.

    The other option is to entertain fans off the track and encourage healthy competition on the track. A better use of the new media, more flexible and lower ticket prices and louder engines might attract more fans, while fairer business and politics should lead to a stronger competition.

    1. Good points.

  16. Pay-TV switch I might love the sport but I’m not taking an entire subscription package to watch it. If it were included in with a service like say Netflix or Amazon then that would be a deal breaker for me going with that service but Sky is such a stone age service I have no use for it. Quality of the build up show has also declined sine the switch. I used to religiously watch every minute of the build up but recently I’ve just been watching from the grid walk section.

    Ticket prices The price for a Sunday only general admission to Silverstone is about the same as I paid for my 4 day GA + Premium zone ticket to the Melbourne GP. Add to that Melbourne puts on a free tram service to Albert Park which is quick and efficient and I just have no interest in making the effort for my home Grand Prix. Watching the race live isn’t even a good way to enjoy the sport.

    Artificiality I understand why they have the gimmicks to try and make the show more gratifying for casual viewers but then they go and undo it all by constantly highlighting how artificial it is. Drivers and teams talk their own product down so much, could you imagine going to McDonalds and the staff there telling you constantly how awful what they sell is? Participants either need to get behind selling their own product or the people in control of the sport need to accept the teams hate the artificial elements so much and get rid of them.

    New media Get with the times F1, I watch almost every race on my computer, give me a good way to do that, partner with Netflix or something like that for a reasonable cost, just get with the times already! Why do old business time and time again make the same mistakes. Record companies with Napster, taxi companies with Uber. People are showing you how they want to consume your product so give them what they want.

  17. I think the switch to pay TV is the most important factor at the moment : I know many French F1 fans who don’t watch F1 anymore since it moved to Canal+, a channel with a mandatory subscription. And those who watch it with illegal streaming don’t watch every race.

    Another big factor imo is the struggles of big old teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Williams : many fans of these teams are getting tired of not seeing these win championships, and are also getting tired of seeing “new” teams like Red Bull or Mercedes dominating the field. Because of this, they feel less passionate about F1, and are less likely to watch every race of a season. I myself belong to this category : 5 years ago, I would have never missed a race live. Now, I watch 1 race out of 4 on replay. Why? Because McLaren struggles, and I know they can’t compete for victories, so I feel less excited about who is going win the race. The same logic applies to Schumacher and Raikkönen fans I think : they are (or were?) a lot of fans for these drivers. But Michael has retired, and Kimi is struggling : that could pull some fans off.

    Finally, I think people are watching less TV generally (I might be wrong), and prefer to spend time with computers, smartphones and tablets instead. And nowadays, F1 is a bit lacking on these. In the UK, you have the BBC iPlayer, but here in Belgium, there is no legal way to watch F1 on a computer or tablet. In France, there is a streaming service with Canal +, but you need a subscription : so that brings us back to the first factor.

    All the other factors are more marginal imo.

  18. There are a lot of issues here, but the underlying problem is the cost for fans.

    It costs so much to watch the races live at the track, it costs so much to watch the races on television (there’s not even an online service to do this), and it simply isn’t value for money for what you are getting.

  19. Dumbed down circuits. The circuits aren’t really dumbed down, they’re safer and that’s great. Unfortunately the track limits are policed very badly, and the circuits seem to make the run-offs as ugly as possible. It’s just another case where Whiting is behind the times.

    Quieter engines. Absolutely! Even onboards shots feel boring; F1 should never be boring.

    Unattractive cars. No question. The 2008 cars look like monsters designed to race. The 2009> cars look silly, with goofy rear- and front-wings and a lack of bodywork that makes the rear wings stick out like a sore thumb.

    Artificiality. I can deal with a large degree of artificiality; that’s what the regulations are for. F1 cars are not the fastest way to drive 300kms. What I do despise though is DRS. It’s a cruel joke. Watching Schumacher stalk Alesi at Monza in 1996 – which ended in a pitstop battle – is still endlessly more exciting to me than seeing cars fly past each other in 2015. And then there’s the tyres. Oh my. I won’t even go into how terrible these are. I’ll simply say that whenever there is only one supplier, the tyres should never be important.

    Lack of interest in drivers. To some degree. I just can’t get excited about Rosberg vs. Hamilton. They’re both competent drivers but I just don’t care either way.

  20. The worst problem, at least in my opinion, is the fanbase itself, and the misconception that it can be pleased as a whole by “listening” to its varied and self-contradictory demands.
    The most obvious example of that is the ever-increasing transparency. Fans want to know more, but the more they know, the more dissatisfied they are, because it turns out that nothing kills off the myth more efficiently than knowing almost exactly who did what when and why.
    A significant part of the fanbase consists of petrol heads, whose primordial interest can be summarized as noise, crashes, and simple tales of good vs. evil. That’s a problem in itself, because this kind of thing start to fade as soon as a certain level of refinement is reached. The appeal that F1 had in the 70s was mostly due to the fact that it was an amateurs’ sport, where, from a modern perspective, even the most competitive teams and drivers didn’t really understand what they were doing. Nowadays, they do. And this kind of information is more easily accessible to fans all over the world than ever, but hardly anyone is more satisfied by this kind of knowledge, that breaks the mystery down into ingredients with which relative performance can be explained almost beyond doubt.
    What’s hurting F1 is more of a societal problem than a problem that concerns F1 itself.

    1. @nase

      The worst problem, at least in my opinion, is the fanbase itself, and the misconception that it can be pleased as a whole by “listening” to its varied and self-contradictory demands.

      There are several demands from the fan base that are almost universally supported by everyone. Make it easier for the cars to follow each other would be one of them. What does F1 do? They tried to implement new regulations for 2017 that would have made it even harder to follow than it is now.

      1. True, but that’s because the ‘vroom vroom, I want a car that’s 10 seconds per lap faster’ faction was the one that complained the loudest.
        I wish the FIA had the cojones to politely tell its fans to accept whatever they decided based on non-myopic goals or to go somewhere else. But that’s not how it’s done anymore. Instead, they’re trying to brown-nose their fanbase as a whole, that tends to behave like a dictator’s spoiled brat in their teens, desperately running after their whims, driven by their fear of losing a single fan. This is never going to work well if they don’t man (or lady) up at last.

  21. Casual viewers no longer can watch the sport as it is on pay tv. Same for kids, they turn the tv on and cannot fall in love with f1. Then we have the general perception that f1 is now boring, artificial, fake and this leads people to get uninterested.

  22. I think there are many causes for people leaving the sport for what it is. A hardcore fan, or an F1Fanatic cares for DRS, the rules making, the budget distribution but we are sadly a very small part of the F1 audience. Therefore it cannot be anything else than FOM making it increasingly difficult to follow the sport despite all that is wrong with the sport itself. IN several countries free to air is no longer a thing, and the prices for the packs that include F1 are often expensive and has terrible commentators. The amount of people who have a strong opinion on the rulesmaking is very slim in comparison to those who just watch F1 because it is ‘good’ racing.

  23. Rules, rules and rules, worth to mention the costs cap leading to limited testing and also a set of dump directives aiming to reduce grip and finally speed, the FIA takes nearly every single bad decision in order to improve the sport but they are not, finally Max Mosley should have been kept, that man knew how to handle the situation.

  24. Many of the reasons listed are true I think, but I would put it in fewer, starker words: simply put seeing and hearing even one Formula 1 car come down a straight jittering, sparks flying, wailing like a banshee rocket was very simply a dramatic thing to witness and it is no longer that. This has become a niche sport for technology buffs and therefore has a niche audience.

  25. I agree that a lot of these points are reasons why Formula 1’s popularity is in decline. And to be honest, I am convinced that the big guys in Formula 1 are perfectly aware that these problems exist. The main problem, in my opinion, is the way the problems are addressed.

    One thing that always annoys me is when someone says “it’s good for the fans” or “it’s not what the fans want”. Whenever I read that, my brain just reads it in the most annoying, whiny voice possible: “It is good for the faaaans to be able to attend more events.”, “I think if we reintroduce mid-race refuelling, it won’t do anything for the faaaaaans“. I find it annoying because in most contexts it is not used as ‘the collection of Formula 1 viewers’, but as ‘the most common thinking of Formula 1 viewers’. Whenever people use such an argument, it completely stops any discussion dead in its tracks, you just can’t argue that because it implies that your opinion goes against what the collection of Formula 1 viewers wants.

    Anyway, that’s one annoyance out of the way. Rule-making in F1 is based very much on what the faaaans want: the faaaans want faster cars – OK, yeah, that makes sense, I can’t argue that, let’s do it! Oh but then the overtaking will probably decrease because of the increase in downforce levels, which is not what the faaaaans want to see – oh, crikey, hadn’t thought of that, yeah, if the faaaans want to see overtaking, we should probably make DRS a bit stronger or shave another layer off those Pirellis.

    This has gone on since Todt replaced Mosley as president of the FIA. What Formula 1 lacks is a vision, or more specifically an individual with a vision. The decisions in F1 that are being made are just so random, and often the people making those decision are completely clueless on what those decisions actually mean. Take the F1 Strategy Working Group, a group that has a lot of power, yet they agreed on things like Abu Double and partially banning team radio, before criticising their own decision just a few months later.

    I truly believe that the proposed regulation changes for 2017 could have worked, I really do. It was the strongest bit of governance F1 has seen in years. But then came the concessions. Refuelling? A well, it doesn’t go down well with the faaaaans, let’s just not do that. Pirelli say they can’t make tyres that can handle the cornering loads AND be as degradable as they currently are. What do we do, should we just get rid of that designed-to-degrade aspect? Nah, let’s just throw some more cold water on the rules. And what you end up with is set of rules that nobody likes, because there is no one who wants it.

    In my opinion, F1 needs to be restructured in a way that the people who write the rules are not the same people who determine what the rules should try to enforce. So there are people who have a vision about what the ideal racing formula should be, and another set of people who try their hardest to make it happen. And what if the resulting regulations are watered down so much that it results in an ocean of compromises? Scrap it and come up with a new vision, but this time take on board the things we’ve learned from the previous failure.

    So yeah, short summary: F1 just lacks vision.

    1. You’re 100% spot on @andae23 there.

  26. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    17th January 2016, 14:58

    It’s become god awful to watch and we’re the ones too stubborn to stop watching.

  27. @girts above says that F1 has not moved with the times, I think that’s correct for for even wider reasons.
    We all have a finite amount of time in which we can do what we want instead of working, studying, redecorating the spare bedroom – whatever. As entertainment opportunities widen through improving technology and superior marketing, so there is going to be increased competition for the audience’s attention.
    In the past ten years, we have seen the meteoric rise of social media and the abilities of smart phones. Now, I can see videos of what my friends were up to last night, and I can have scores and goals sent directly to my phone. I can even watch videos of my favourite teams in action on my phone.
    Has F1 taken advantage of that massive increase in audience attention? No. F1 is increasingly restricted to pay-to-view, it ignores social media (as a whole), and even removes clips of itself from You Tube.
    F1 has un-marketed itself by making it more costly, difficult and elusive to watch. Please compare the marketing efforts behind Premiership football, IPL cricket – even the Olympics – with those of F1.
    “So what?” says Bernie, “The audience might be 70 years old, but they have all got Rolex’s and investment accounts!” That may be true Bernie, but that audience has a limited time to live. Young people are being actively prevented from catching the F1 bug by F1’s deliberate policy of obscuring itself.

  28. I remember being one of just two kids who watched F1 in a school of 200 pupils. So a lot of the “decline” is rather being F1´s popularity getting back to normal after a bubble in the 90ies and 2000s, I think. Viewers who are into drivers rather than teams will always be lost with a generation change, and thus can hardly be reckonned as F1-fans. If a driver, or 2-3 drivers within a generation pull more of those temporary viewers than the next generation does, that will always mean a decline in viewer-numbers, yet no real f1-fans are lost.

    However, of course a lot of the factors enumerated above of course play a role. Not opening up to new media but instead switching to pay-tv on a lot of markets obviously isn´t a move to bring new fans in (when there will always be old viewers lost). I tend to believe the low amount of freedom for designers and the resulting leck of technical variety also has more of an “failure to bring new viewers in to replace the old”-effect rather than driving away old fans. And of course all the changes that caused drivers not to die as often as they once did (track changes, unattractive slower cars) makes F1 less exciting and thus losing viewers, though hardly any of those who call for old-style tracks and cannonball-riding-like-cars will admit (even to themselves) that the thrill ain´t coming back with no inherent death involved.
    One thing that probably didn´t lose F1 any viewers is the politics-aspect of it, as that has always been involved and was more apparent than now in most of the former eras.

  29. For me you’ve missed a fundamental reason – too many dull, predictable races. This isn’t just about the lack of competition you mention (although that’s a key factor), it’s also due to the tremendous advances in technology and simulations which mean that unreliability is no longer a factor and teams are less likely to go the wrong direction on setup.

    Even in previous years where teams dominated, there was always the possibility of engine failure, or the driver beaching it in the gravel (another thing we all miss) – now those wild cards have been done away with. When you know who’s going to win after the first corner (and can have a pretty good guess even just after qualifying), what’s the point of spending two hours watching a race?

  30. Picked the following:
    Pay-TV switchand lack of New media – if you don’t reach new fans they won’t come to you!
    Artificiality and Over-regulation: fans want to see a sport where the strongest team/driver combination wins the championship. Not something where you need a PhD to understand what’s going on.
    Business and politics: F1 is constantly in the news for the wrong reasons, like stories about Bernie Ecclestone admiring Hitler, disparaging women and evading taxes.
    Quieter engines: People who know me might be surprised to see this here; I prefer exciting hybrid PU’s over pure noise. But it is totally beyond me why on TV they have made the sound even weaker; whereas it should be simple to keep them sound ‘loud’ on TV!

    And I do not think the other are a major reason:
    Weak competition: it’s not that weak.
    Calendar changes, Dumbed down circuits, Unattractive cars: new fans don’t care; won’t even recognise it. And new countries should increase potential fan base.
    Ticket prices: only for the few who contemplate visiting a race; and they will still be fan enough to watch the races on TV.
    Lack of technological variety: not different from the past. And IMO this is a strength of F1 as opposed to WEC (LMP1 vs LMP2 etc.)
    Slower cars, Unattractive cars: most (new) fans won’t even notice
    Ferrari’s struggles: they have struggled before, and last year was hardly a ‘struggle’
    Rise of alternative championships: competition typically helps the overall interest (for motorsports). But you need to be special enough within the field to defend your space.
    Lack of interest in drivers: Interestingly we currently have one of the best known drivers to the outside, and it does hardly anything for the sport

  31. Daniel (@mechanicalgrip22)
    17th January 2016, 15:33

    Bernie and his unwillingness to embrace the future generation. A sport that should be pushing the boundaries or what driver and car can accomplish together is choked by greed, favoritism, self depreciation, and politics. It would be as simple as making an app where you could live stream racing without having to pay. I live in the states and I watch whatever version of a race I can find online for free, usually poor quality, but I still love Motorsport. It speaks a lot to F1 fans that we will put up with just about anything to see some stellar overtaking and some thrilling racing, but those in charge of our dear sport have lost their way. If you owned a business, and had an 86 year old man calling the shots, and you were steadily seeing declining sales over such a lengthy period, a management change would have already taken place. No more cloak and dagger strategy group meetings, no more political promises in exchange for boring race venues, it is time to come back to the racing. Free streaming racing worldwide!

  32. I recently reviewed the championships I watched in 2015 on my blog – link to all of those -, and I made a note about F1 which I used to watch, don’t anymore, but I do keep track of here. I’m in France, and TV is pay-to-view, so I’d need a reason to fork out however many euros to get Canal+, but from what I see from a slight distance, I can only conclude that it’s not worth it. My outstanding reasons are:
    weak competition, which is a tragic thing to say given the talent that is present in F1. I mean, it’s not the WRC where you sense that Ogier’s the only proper contender, and I did watch F1 through the Schumacher era. F1 has big issues with spec-locking and the convoluted token system which stop teams from developing to catch up. Which brings us to,
    over-regulation (I mean, the new tyre rules and the bureaucratic superlicence system speak for themselves), and I’d add regulation for wrong reasons. Why does F1 need career numbers? Because MotoGP has ’em. Why does F1 need 1000 bhp engines? Because LM P1 has ’em. Alternative championships aren’t a problem, they shouldn’t be a problem, and they wouldn’t be a problem if F1 didn’t constantly try to copy them, unwittingly shedding light on them. Which brings us to all this
    -bad publicity and bad governance: business and politics. Who, in F1, is currently talking F1 up? The fandom is negative, the drivers are negative, the bosses are negative, the commercial rights holders are negative… The FIA isn’t so negative, with Jean Todt saying today that engineers in F1 shouldn’t complain about having 21 races a year because, in essence, “it’s such a privilege to be working in F1”. But I guess being positive is easier when you’ve opted out of running the sport altogether. And finally, a mix of other factors which I will sum up under the word:
    costs. Everything is expensive in F1. It’s expensive to get in as a fan, it’s expensive to get in as a driver, it’s expensive to get in as a team, it’s expensive to get in as a circuit. And what do we get? Half a bag of popcorn, unlikeable characters, disproportioned cars and interchangeable tracks. All this for the thick of the action to be provided by expensive sub-par tyres. If F1 is still the pinnacle of motorsport, it is in terms of money only. In terms of value for money, it comes behind everything else – yes, even the DTM.

    1. Why does F1 need career numbers? Because MotoGP has ’em.

      I like the career numbers and I don’t think their implementation was specifically to do with Moto GP. There are other sports including forms of motor sport where competitors are identified with a particular number. To me this has been one of few positive (albeit minor) rules changes of recent seasons.

      1. FlyingLobster27
        17th January 2016, 16:40

        Actually, I remember Todt mentioning NASCAR when the idea for career numbers popped up. The flaw in the statement was that NASCAR doesn’t work that way: it’s the teams that pick the numbers. But the idea is still to play catch up, in this case catch up with the number-competitor association culture, which IMO is most prominent in motorbike racing and MotoGP. Positive or negative (personally I don’t like it), it’s of course a minor, cosmetic issue in comparison with the rest.

    2. RaceProUK (@)
      17th January 2016, 16:45

      Why does F1 need career numbers? Because MotoGP has ’em.

      So does NASCAR, the BTCC, and many other championships.

      1. FlyingLobster27
        17th January 2016, 17:15

        Wow, is that the part everyone’s catching on?! XD
        Career number in NASCAR is a misconception. Like IndyCar, in NASCAR, teams book the numbers. For example, Jeff Gordon is only #24 because he spent virtually all of his career at Hendrick. He’s retired now, so someone else is going to get that number straight away (and his name is John Ce..er, Chase Elliott). In F1, the number would be reserved for a few years, until the superlicence runs out I believe. Likewise, Tony Stewart was #20 for a long time, but that number wasn’t his, it “belonged” to Joe Gibbs Racing, and #20 has since been used by Joey Logano (now #22 at Penske) and Matt Kenseth (previously #17 at Roush).
        I don’t know how long the BTCC has been using the system, the DTM and WTCC have since jumped on the bandwagon, but the biggest championship that has had permanent driver/rider numbers the longest is MotoGP.

  33. I think I have written about this but I also noticed a significant decrease in ‘Formula 1’ searches on Wikipedia since mid-2013. Correlates nicely with ever-higher artificility, one-team dominance and general doom and gloom in F1.

    However Pay TV deals have a big impact on television viewers, no doubt. The internet connections are getting better and better so some people can also watch them online rather than in front of TV set even if they have this option.

  34. It’s overhyped and over-regulated. Cars are too slow, too easy to drive.

    1. overhyped? nope, predictible? yes. cars to slow? not to slow but not to fast either,

      1. Fernando Alonso specifically said in 2014 that the cars were ‘too heavy, too slow’, in Russia to SKY.

        He knows what the powerhouses of 2004 felt like so I’m inclined to take his word for it.

  35. In sweden the Tv coverage is to damn expensive and now Viasat bought more Football to the network and it cost us 17£ more a month now. for us to get motorsport we need to take a sport package and it sucks but it cost us now around 40£ each month to see Motorsport.

  36. so many people voting for the pay-tv switch… but they don’t realise the fans WOULD pay if the sport was still good, which it isn’t. I have watched f1 since 1994, and feel no reason to by the pay-tv coverage. in Australia last year we got 10 free races, and the other ones I felt no inclination to pay to watch, whereas in past years, I would gladly have paid. I have tryied getting a few friends to watch some f1 races over the years, the latest attempt they stopped watching after 10 laps, and asked where is the overtaking and racing? and also tellingly said, this doesn’t “sound” like F1

  37. The cars sound dull, the first thing I notice when watching old f1 footage (particularly from the v10) era is the sound, the cars scream around the track, and 22 of them absolute roar, the excitement that the sound alone brings is what current f1 is hugely missing. If I was 4 years old now and watched f1 for the first time I wouldn’t have the same awe as I did back then.

  38. The main problem is that fans of F1 are treated as disposable cash dispensers. The increase in moves towards pay TV… ticket prices… that ridiculous app they actually expect people to pay for. And the teams are at it as well (ever seen how much F1 merchandise costs?).

    I think the increased competition from elsewhere has had an impact too. Not just other motorsport, or even other sport… people have so many more options of where to direct their attention these days, a TV-based racing series would be expected to lose viewers. I’d have thought most TV-based things would, unless they’re great at marketing themselves.

    But it’s mostly pay TV. It’s always been the case that old fans leave and new ones arrive, but these days fewer new ones are arriving because they’re unable to just ‘stumble upon’ F1 like they used to. Doesn’t matter how good the racing is, or who’s competitive… potential fans don’t decide ‘I’m going to find F1 and start to like it’. They just wander into it and end up hooked. If it’s hidden away behind a paywall on Channel 408, how the hell are they ever going to do that?

  39. The cost of tickets and switch to pay TV are my biggest criticisms. F1 seems to have created a vicious, demanding culture among fans. “We’re paying a lot for this, we are owed a good race” or something like that. Whether it’s right or wrong to feel like that, it can’t do the credibility of the sport any good when the biggest talking point of any race is whether or not it was worth watching.

    Certainly the fact that we have only had 6 different winners since 2013 (compared to 8 in 2012 alone) obviously doesn’t help, but I think people would be more accepting of the fact that F1, like any sport, has some exciting seasons and some one-sided seasons if they didn’t have to pay so darn much for it.

    There are other factors at play, too — the artificiality is testing the faith of the older fans, while over-regulation makes it too inaccessible to newer fans.

    The other points I don’t think are much of an issue. The noise of the engines is something that has upset many, but I can’t imagine it’s driven away fans in their droves. The same goes for slower and ugly cars. Nobody would care about these if we had a competitive championship. The rise of alternative championships is, I think, more of a symptom of the Formula 1 viewership decline rather than a cause.

    Still, the pay TV switch is by far the biggest problem for me. Formula 1 could solve every single other problem, it could become the most exciting show on Earth — but that won’t matter if nobody can afford to watch it.

  40. F1 interest dropped down with Red Bull 4 straight wins, because Vettel has ZERO charisma and Red Bull team is a clearly a marketing enterprise, without any root or perspective in motor sport.

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      17th January 2016, 22:38

      Vettel has ZERO charisma

      Did you see any press conferences this year? Vettel was the only thing making them interesting most of the time, especially when he was in there with the wooden carvings in Mercedes overalls.

  41. I think it’s really hard to clearly identify the root of the problem and the clumsy compounding errors just have followed. One of the challenges of action sports is the need to grow the ‘spectacle’ of the whole thing. It always needs to be astounding. We crossed a threshold sometime in the early 90’s where engineers could easily build a car so fast & violent that the human driver became an unacceptable liability while inside. There is a sense that the whole sport running at 8/10 and it seems less alive and amazing. Maybe it’s time to pilot the cars remotely (or even autonomously) and make them REALLY fast. Nix almost all tech regs. Crazy? Perhaps. The human is the weak link. Let’s push the sport truly into the future. I’m dubious of everything else I’ve read.

    1. Back to the main question, however….fanatics rarely know why casual fans do or do not like something. Enthusiasts cannot speak for non enthusiasts. We are outliers.

  42. also a major question is AVAILABILITY of F1 for fans, for example whole eastern Europe has no reliable and comfortable source for watching F1 races and pay-tv`s are only starting to enter the market there, so to watch F1 race you need to hack your way through some torrent tv sites, or to put a whole dish with tons of useles and pricey channels…
    F1 MUST create it`s own LIVE channel for f1 races…yes we are willing to pay, for a good translation….

  43. Pay TV.
    Boring races dominated by tyre management, fuel saving and DRS.
    Too many pay drivers and too few talented drivers.
    Boring Tilke circuits.
    Too many rules limiting testing and technical development.

  44. Formula One when it is great is about an all-consuming passion for greatness – a dream of flying as close as you can to the sun without getting burned. This meant fatalism, yes, but having a darn good time doing it.
    Today, as with everything in modern life, F1 is a corporate exercise in making money.
    Did Enzo Ferrari care about making money? No. Even his incredible legacy of road cars existed solely to fund his passion: racing.
    He expected drivers to die for the greater glory of Ferrari, and many did.
    This is not a demand to once again throw away concern for driver safety, but rather an explanation. People used to live for passion; today they live for money.
    The rest of it – the boring tracks in weird countries, the pay-TV fiascos – all stem from turning F1 into a corporation.
    Modern F1, like modern life, is boring.

  45. I only have to see Ecclestone wandering around the pit lane waiting for the TV reporters to see why I no longer have an interest in this sham of a sport. When children can drive F1 cars it shows that the sport is no longer the pinnacle of motor racing. It took skill and years of experience to drive proper F1 cars in days gone by not hundreds of people telling the driver what to do and how to do it.
    Shame on you F1

    1. @kjr1959

      When children can drive F1 cars it shows that the sport is no longer the pinnacle of motor racing.

      There are some good arguments being made here, but this one is terrible and doesn’t make any sense.

      Messi debuted for Barcelona at the age of 17. If footballers can play at such a young age, why can’t F1 drivers? What if the F1 driver is truly exceptional?

    2. RaceProUK (@)
      17th January 2016, 22:44

      That ‘child’ finished 3rd overall in his first season of European F3, one of the most demanding championships in the world for young drivers. He also won the Zandvoort Masters in the same year.

      I think it’s safe to say he can drive a car.

  46. Weak Competition: It’s no coincidence that F1’s most popular period (2006-2010) also happened to be the most competitive.

    Pay-TV switch: This one is fairly obvious. No one will pay more than Cable for F1, this sport is not football.

    New Media: Most kids these days would rather watch Tiametmarduk on YouTube instead of actual F1. Guilty as charge.

  47. The cost of following f1 ! I’m actually getting excited for formula e Paris Grand prix. I ve been watching it recently. It s slow as f.. But there s some racing and… It s free ! I m actully ok with the gimmicks even if I’d rather see them go. (in f1 as well as fe).

    I ve been through the expense of going to Monaco once and paid two years of admittedly quality canal plus cable tv… And it has to stop. I m the only one at work watching f1. Colleagues who used to enjoy the odd race have left the sport. Once you’re not free (tv or web) you’re not mainstrem anymore. And being niche AND expensive demand quality entertainment which sometimes is lacking.

    I mean I m only ok with F1F donation. The rest doesn’t seem worth it anymore.

  48. There’s one factor that’s not been mentioned and that’s the limit on people’s available attention time and the rise in alternative entertainment sources.
    A person only has a limited amount of time per day/week/month/year and the number of differing attractions for that time are rising each year and have been since the widening availability of web based entertainment.
    The amount of attention people give to ‘entertainment’ is probably the same but it’s just spread over a wider variety of sources.

    1. I agree, @ceevee. But see my post on Page 2.

      1. Thanks, I’ve read your post and we’re saying similar things but when I wrote my post there was only a single page of comments showing!! I guess the ‘vetting’ process means its a few hours between posting and public availability.

  49. Less controversy. People like reading and watching absolute crap. But crap needs to be managed carefully. The difference between 0 and 9 is just couple of pixels in different places. But people understand that 9 is not a 0. If you need to explain the difference to them they don’t care. But more of that later.

    A positive peak of this “crap” is the mclaren 100 million spygate. This drew in lots of attention. Some of it positive and some of it negative but it was still controversial and vague enough to not be seen as a specific fault of anyone. It was patently absurd technical property of F1 – it literally could not happen in any other sport.

    On the other end you have the crashgate. This drew in lots of negative attention which was poorly handled and despite it being clearly wrong alonso kept his points, renault kept its win and the main culprits kept their jobs. Sure there was some slap on the wrists behind the scenes and the fall guys took their falls but in the end it really highlighted what F1 really is. A corporate venture to sell watches to old men.

    After that F1 was seen just as reality tv and just like all reality tv it needs to adapt. F1 has not been able to adapt in 10 years. It has evolved though. Through forced absurd technical innovations like the green engines or the overtaking committeed which have managed to kill overtaking in F1 and have moved the power from colorful characters to faceless corporations.

    You can’t make people watch football if you change the rules so much that the ball is a 2d square chased by anime robots. Does that appeal to the same audience you want to see adult males tackle each other and get angry while both of the fake injury soon after? No, of course not. But that is F1 today compared to what it was just 10 years ago. Robots chasing pixels.

    Today’s F1 is easy, its controversies are uninteresting and bland, its technical innovations are forced and uninteresting, its sporting aspects are faked and unrealistic and the people running it are out of date.

    The main problem is that F1 needs to be explained. None of it makes sense on face value. If you never knew the F1 of today existed you would never imagine it would work. And it doesn’t. It is failing because it is boring, uninteresting, bland and predictable.

  50. It’s a gathering of all those factors like Craigh Woollard or Philip suggested. I’m with them. Certainly the ticketprices and artificially. The WEC is cheap. I for instance, needed to pay only 35€ to watch the 24 hours of spa. Now that race may be less famous, but it’s certainly more enjoyable due to having full circuit access for the full weekend. Same goes for a more famous race, Le Mans. I believe it’s only 120€ that you need to pay, and I believe these are also 1 of the most expensive ones too for that race. But think about it, full circuit access with an enjoyable mother nature and an enjoyable paddock. I would gladly pay for that.

    Now for the artificial part, it’s indeed DRS and KERS or ERS or what the hell ever they call it. Ban this from F1 and (re)introduce the push to pass button. It’s far more effective. Only 1 button to push instead of 2-3-4-5 buttons. Some goes for refueling. They want to re-introduce it. They all think it’s going to be easy. Only 1 problem, they don’t have the V8’s anymore. Instead they’ve gone to a far worse idea, fuelsaving. It’s totally diffrent from the 90’s…

    But, in the end, it doesn’t matter anymore. We can only discuss what should, could,… But we can’t change a thing. F1 is just a tv-show nowadays. It reminds me alot of the hunger games. All propaganda for the tv-show… But then again, has it always been this way? I think so, myself.

  51. It reminds me when Nascar became a fairly big, mainstream sport around the turn of the century. It quickly lost these casual fans and has been using gimmicks and constant rule changes to try to keep them interested. All at the expense of the long term committed fan. I was just watching the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks play. When the Panthers running back scored he ran up to the stands and handed an obviously delighted little girl the football. F1 needs to have a look at the way the NFL does things. Especially the “communistic” way of money distribution.

  52. I love racing not lift and coast hybrids. I love the visceral sound of 18,000 RPM engines. I’ll never forget the goose bumps I got from driving to the track and hearing the cars underway in FP 1 shrieking from 2 miles away. F1 racing should be a show of the best on the planet not a prius parade. I could be a caveman but I don’t care what a racing car’s fuel mileage is. I watch the best driver’s control the best machines available being driven to the limits. I am still an F1 enthusiast and still watch the prius parade (darn loyalty) but we don’t go to F1 races anymore. I know if I had to pay to view a race on US tv, I would not.

  53. Since 2008, media and our expectations of access have changed, though F1 continues to assume it’s 1998.

    Formula One, to a contemporary person, is too closed and too archaic. It reeks of FIFA or the IOC when it should feel like MotoGP.

    It’s too hard to watch (and no, I don’t think scarcity is a virtue here). I don’t own a television but I’d love to watch the races on my computer, whenever I please. Right now I search high and low for clips. Not one service offers me a streamed race for a small fee. Why?

    It’s too secretive. I search high and low for technical details on the cars. Ridiculous. This is the sport’s major asset and fans, who want to share in it, are treated with suspicion by the sport they fund. Ridiculous.

    Bernie is no longer that funny older guy who runs F1. He’s deep into his 80s and like anyone, out of touch with the generation who keeps him wealthy. Unacceptable.

    Solution: 1) Play up the heritage: The younger fans don’t have a connection with the pre- and post-War history of Grand Prix racing, but would love that nostalgia built in. Explain why the champagne is used. Explain all of the anachronisms that make up a Grand Prix for a person who doesn’t understand their link with history.
    2) Open up the paddock, make sharing technical information part of the show and those teams who aren’t willing to participate should be penalized until they are (for instance, why can’t we dyno the cars?). MotoGP has technical briefings on the web and their wonderful. This is the idea to emulate.
    3) Directly link with Formula E: Why this hasn’t happened is beyond me. Find ICE parity and allow the teams unlimited scope to develop electrical power. Bring in the likes of Tesla and others to give the sport the social legitimacy it needs.

  54. Considering the metric that Keith used to prove declined popularity is TV figures and Google search trends, then obviously we should expand the perspective into more casual fans (i.e. fans that not “fanatic” enough to spends most of the year in F1 site like us ;)

    Hence, for me there are only 3 important factor:
    Pay-TV switch: Pay TV is getting less value these days because there’s so much alternative in the internet and it’s becoming much easier to get even for the tech-illiterate. Why pay hefty sum of money (and sports channel usually requires you to pay extra from the basic package) when you can get video on demand on the internet (and with better quality too). As a result, since the cable subscriber is also on decline, naturally it’ll impact F1 where we got no other alternative to watch, which correlates directly into:

    New media: Practically it’s already 3 generations of people who use internet as their main media. People who not using internet as main entertainment source most likely already have several grandchildren (and this includes Bernie Ecclestone). Without an easy way to enjoy the races itself on internet (outside illegal methods, stream that requires you to subscribe to the pay-TV first), most of young generations will never think F1 as their source entertainment. Why pay more and deal with usual pay-tv problems when with $10 you can get thousand of hours of quality entertainment with Netflix, or watch random YouTube videos for free?

    Unattractive cars: People love beautiful cars that look fast. The V10 era have cars that looks beautiful and fast. Wider front wider and narrower rear wing makes the cars off balance a bit, but it’s easy to getting used to. nose however, will always looks ugly and doesn’t make the cars look fast. Making it small like Williams not going to make people say its thumb nose, but rather a shriveled . Even Mercedes is way more ugly than 2012 cars. It’s hard to impress potential new fans when its easier to make joke with the cars looks rather than admire them.

    The rest for me is not significant factor on declining figures, even though it’s frustrating aspect for more hardcore fans.

  55. For me it is that F1 used to be a sport that happend to also be entertainment, now days it is treated as entertainment that happens to be a sport.

    There used to be racing and one planned the commerce and show around it. Now days it is all about the show and commerce and if it get boring one changes the sport in hope to make it more exciting. So they got suck with stuff like DRS, KERS, tight rules so all cars basically look the same (ugly and without any innovation), human robot drivers (we need characters like Eddy Irvine!), and (engine) rules so that when you are ahead it is near impossible to get challenged until there are new major rule changes.

  56. I agree with several of the listed reasons for the decline of F1, but I think the largest reason is it’s become predictable. F1 has seen dominant teams many times before but due to the fact that the engineers and drivers were always pushing to the limit we had cars failing and drivers making significant mistakes. F1 has become more about managing the cars and the risks, which results in bullet proof cars and drivers who are well within the limits of themselves and the cars.
    I also think that awarding points to tenth place results in the top 10 often sitting on the points they have so there is very little action toward the end of the race.

  57. stephen thompson
    17th January 2016, 18:48

    Ecclestone and corrupt Middle Eastern dictators….end of.

  58. 1. Stupid teams with stupid me, me, me attitudes, not willing to solve a problem as it would impact their own little worlds.
    2. Stupid aero on cars that have destroyed overtaking (read: too large a front wing, too little use of the underside of the car). Due to this cars cannot get close to each other with out the drivers complaining that their cars are loosing downforce. The addition of DRS has not solved the issue, instead it bandaged the patient with out giving them the much needed stitches to close the gaping wound in his/her chest.
    3. Ticket prices are unreal and way too high for what you get these days.
    4. Tire regulations, just make the tires that go the fastest. The tire saving has gone too far. Tore saving has always been part of any type of racing, but this has gone too far.
    5. Bring back refueling as this fuel saving is getting out of hand. However I do agree that making the cars greener is important. So how about a bonus for the cars that use the least amount of fuel during the season. Bringing back re-fueling will allow the teams differ in strategy.
    6. Teams with veto rights.
    7. Dull drivers that are not allowed to speak their minds or even curse. Have the children of today become so sensitive that they cannot stand a swear word now or than. Or is it because Uncle Bernie has F1 racing in countries where we shouldn’t have been in the first place. Which brings me to point 8.
    8. Crappy new tracks replacing wonderful old tracks. Now ones wonderful track is another’s dull track. But racing in countries like China, Azerbaijan, Bahrain etc etc. why why why! Money Money Money that is why. However these tracks offer the true race fans nothing. When was the last time you thought, you know what lets go to Azerbaijan and watch a race or do anything else. Crickets I hear? And than there is the sterilization of the races due to crappy drivers, who keep going over the white line. The gravel pits that make way for more asphalt, why, well because the drivers keep going over the damnit white line. There used to be a penalty for that you know, well you would get stuck in the gravel pit. Game Over.
    9. Car appearance. They are just not very appealing to look at and I whole heartedly blame aerodynamics. Let loose and running rampant costing the teams tens of millions of dollars each year and spoiling the show.
    10. Better racing else where. Since 2013 I have been watching the WEC and I must say I am a fan, the cars look better, the racing is better. The teams less arrogant and the ticket pricing way better. The tracks they run on with the exception of maybe 1 are all great tracks. Yes I have too pay to watch but is something I am willing to do as I get tons of extra’s. Great App. better social media etc. etc. etc. Maybe F1 just has just run its course, but if I want to see super competitive and advanced race cars, with great and exciting racing I look to LMP1 and WEC not F1.

  59. I don’t have a good handle of the age and income demographic of F1 fans, but my instinctive guess is that it’s predominately wealthy, middle-age men (£50k+, 45yo+). They like the F1 that was around in their childhood-teenage years (70’s-90’s). Today’s F1 feels watered-down. It’s no match for the excitement, technical progress, danger, and personalities of the past.
    There is a very clear need to make watching F1 more accessible if it wants to broaden its demographic. I watch young adult’s teenage viewing habits, and it’s by far more online anywhere, anytime than in the restrictive nature of a room with a box at a set time. They spend hundreds on online subscriptions to NBA, NFL, AFL, Cricket which allow (to varying degrees) access to full games that were played decades ago, or yesterday, or live. Bernie’s a fool for not doing this years ago. He could’ve been even more wealthier!
    Which brings me to my final comment, Bernie, it’s time to move on, mate. Let someone who was your age when you started, with the same drive and passion in F1 as you did to take it forward. I know it’s hard to let that ring of power go, but it’s time Bernie, let it go.

  60. I voted for slow cars, pay-TV and weak competition.
    When I say slow cars I mostly refer to what was said in the article:

    or perhaps the fact drivers are operating so far within themselves is why races tend to be undramatic.

    In some races drivers don’t really push, so it’s difficult to see them making mistakes. If they were a bit more on the limit it would be different. Now, I know that it’s impossible to race at 100% from start to finish, but a bit less managing of tyres, fuel, engine, car etc. would make races more exciting, I think.

    As for the weak competition: as a F1 fan I know that every now and then one team is going to dominate and there’s nothing we can do about it. I thought that it wasn’t a big problem in the last couple of years: afterall with Red Bull we had a boring season and an exciting one. But Mercedes domination is much bigger and I feel that if next year Ferrari (or someone else, even if it is very unlikely) doesn’t challenge them, many more people will lose interest.

    And obviously the Pay-TV switch. It’s quite funny that Formula E recently switched from pay-TV to free-to-air here in Italy. I think that it’s the right direction and clearly the FIA thinks the same thing! I know that FE and F1 are very different, but still, I think that free-to-air is just better for everyone.

  61. I think the top voted reasons sum up the fact that F1 is leading itself into decline

  62. It is basically lack of excitement. Too complicated cars + too complicated engines + too complicated rules = Dull sport. Football is one of the most popular sports on TV because it is simple, because everyone can understand and because it is exciting, footballers are always on the media doing fancy things and that draws a lot of attention to the sport. I don’t like that behavior, but I can’t say it isn’t effective, if F1 had more drivers like Lewis on the grid things would start to change. But to really make F1 exciting again cars need to have less downforce, less complicated front wings, look better, sound better, and have better tires, basically what F1 was in 2005.

  63. One justification for shifting F1 from Free to Air TV to Pay TV has been to increase the prize money, but that isn’t really correct because the handouts aren’t fair, so some teams get far more than others do. I don’t know if any team actually gets nothing from the handouts. I don’t have a problem with prize money, but, as Keith said, some teams get far more than those that performed better.
    Advertising is a major source of income for teams and is much fairer than the handouts. It shouldn’t have to be that way, there isn’t any reason why handouts can’t be much fairer.
    One of Mr Ecclestone’s recent arguments against the BBC wanting to cancel their contract was the loss of Free to Air TV equated to a loss to teams in advertising income. This was the first time I’d heard anyone at that level in F1 management actually articulate such a comment, at least for a long time anyway. The problem with Mr Ecclestone’s comment is it seems to suggest that only advertising in the UK matters, which is arguably true simply because for a lot of the rest of the world F1 simply doesn’t exist. It is locked away where most people can’t see it. That isn’t the fault of Pay TV companies, it is the fault of F1 management. Major corporates want advertising to be seen around the world, so by locking away F1 lowers the value of advertising in F1.
    As I understand it, the revenue from advertising was falling, so if F1 had remained on Free To Air TV teams would probably have been forced to show more financial restraint than maybe they currently do, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you consider there have also been constant calls for some sort of financial capping system within F1, then remaining on Free to Air TV could have been an quasi-financial capping system.
    Also, when a race is on each team should be guaranteed some level of exposure, even if it is just one minute. Yet we have race after race where the only time you see a car is when it is accidentally in the picture. It is almost like F1 don’t want some teams to be on the race track. Each car on the track contributes to the spectacle, so each team should be given some exposure.

  64. I think that much of the problem can be shown when discussing the problem itself. On the one hand, you have F1 management denying that there has been a loss of interest, and on the other hand, you only have 212 total votes on a poll presented by one of the premier F1 websites.

    Based on these two facts alone, it could be argued that “the problem” has existed for too long and has too many components for any real solution to be achieved without a total overhaul of the sport. And that won’t happen in our lifetime.

    Sadly, F1 management – and yes, I mean Bernie – has been far too short-sighted when it comes to the actual growth of the sport and too focused on the immediate financial benefit for those involved.

    All the little things that made F1 great over the decades have slowly been degraded and homogenized to the point where the sport as a whole has become much more dull and predictable than ever before. Even back when the sport was dominated by one team it was more exciting than it is now. And the failure to understand that fact, or in some cases even to admit it, is a primary reason why F1 is on very thin ice.

  65. I voted new media as the principal catalyst for F1’s decline in popularity, but I feel I need to qualify that further.

    New media is enormously empowering. It has transformed the way we shop and the way in which we access information. 15 years ago, if you were lucky, you accessed the internet at work or waited until you got home to your PC. Today everything is accessible from anywhere. It can be argued that F1 hasn’t properly capitalised on the internet revolution but that’s only part of the story. Today the consumer is in control, and isn’t reliant upon being force-fed a limited number of sports or entertainments through a limited number of channels. Instead, they choose what they want to consume.

    That doesn’t just mean the event itself – a race, a match – it means all the surrounding chatter and information. And this is really where F1 has declined. Outside a race (and even within many), the commentary is overwhelmingly negative. The little analysis, that sites such as this provide, is drowned out by the change agenda and negativity. Imagine if football ripped up its rulebook every 3 or 4 years. There’d still be the talk about THAT tackle or THAT goal but there’d be huge amounts of discussion and debate about why the sport’s administrators wanted to start using 2 balls, or remove the off-side rule etc. Hugely off-putting and distracting to the casual viewer.

    The casual viewer. The viewer and fan that every sport wants, just like the swing voter in an election. How do you get their attention and time when they have so much choice today. And this is where F1 really loses out.

    F1 is largely inaccessible to the casual viewer. It has 2 hours (maybe 3 if people are bothered enough to watch qualifying) 20 times a year to grab their attention, and the remainder of the time is filled with negativity, change and replays that serve to remind you just how little action there was during the last 2 hours you watched. F1 does not have enough action time – a multi-billion pound sport with just 40 hours actual competition every year.

    That sounds negative, and it is. But there are some huge positives, especially if you’re the monetised owner of the sport. For a start, I doubt there are any other sports that command so much revenue per minute of broadcast action. Never mind the fact that fewer people are watching it, the ones that ARE watching it are paying more, and so are the sponsors.

    In monetary terms, F1 is increasingly hugely successful. But the old adage of getting 80% of revenue from 20% of the audience has never been more relevant to F1. It has already gone way behind 80:20 and is at real risk of concentrating its monetisation / revenue in too small an audience. Couple that with the over-reliance upon manufacturer dominance and the economics are increasingly fragile and increasingly prop themselves up.

    I’m offering no solutions here – they’ve been discussed and debated a thousand times over – just observations.

  66. Well, I would like to say all of them; each to a certain extent. Today I was watching slalom of the Alpine Skiing WC: a sport. Just men with helmets and skis, a slope with snow and some posts. The session wasn’t particularly great till the end, when the conditions got worse but the top spots came under threat. My fellow Italians did great, one after a huge mistake, but ulitmately the strongest man won with a super time. Why was it thrilling? For a combination of facts.
    There’s no denying I was happy to see my compatriots do well, but I couldn’t know it beforehand – as long as there’s one competing, however good he is, I’ll have a look.
    They were all pushing. Incredibly. Beyond their limits. As an amateur skier, who has the privilege to try the famous 3-Tre slope, I know just how hard it can be – and it looks so even on TV, despite the slope appearing less ripid.
    And it’s only them – men skiing, without team radios, push-to-pass, randomly-exploding skis… :P
    Transalted to F1: when F1 races are live on free-TV I watch the sessions with interest – at times even catch practice sessions. When I have to see them in low-res streaming, every time I’m bored I check Twitter, then Facebook, then things get out of hands and I lose many laps.
    I don’t really care about weak competition: while it certainly makes me less enthusiastic, I watch anyhow. I still watch to see how well drivers drive (sorry) – I simply subtract their car’s advantage to the results…
    Less races would make it easier not to lose any of them and keep track of everything, without it becoming annoying – and it would raise the importance of the even: something rare to look forward to and to prepare for carefully, not something rapidly forgotten.
    Ticket prices are definitely high, and I’ve never attended a race myself. Watching a football match is much simpler, cheaper, and however far from the pitch you can be you see the whole game, not just the corner your grandstand is at.
    Dumbed down circuits may be responsible for the weaker racing, but often it’s not true. Monza is meant for engines, but when the ranking is so clear the weaker ones have no chances.
    Lack of technological variety: well we had the double-nosed Lotus recently, before that I can only think of the walrus Williams – I think it’s normal cars tend to be similar, after all one layout will be better than the other.
    I like the sound of the new V6s, not sure about the volume watching at the track though.
    The last of my preferred cars came in 2008 – but even 2009 ones seem decent now! Prettier single-seaters would make me happier to watch F1.
    Artificiality is a serious matter. While tyres are the same for everyone, DRS is clearly there to make the leader less comfortable. Not something I like.
    Slower cars are fine. This year’s top speeds were close to the maxumum ever achieved, and a few seconds per lap aren’t easily seen. But cornering speeds, twitchiness of the cars are, and now cars look much more boring to drive.
    Ferrari’s struggles disappoint me, but I have second- and third-preferred teams so I can cheer for them instead. And Massa drives for Williams…
    Rise of alternative championships – haven’t watched either FE or WEC, and MotoGP is entirely on pay-TV, as is GP2, so rather I have less to watch, as football doesn’t interfere being at other hours (usually).
    Over-regulation: I wouldn’t notice if it wasn’t continuously being mentioned.
    Lack of interest in drivers: a personality wouldn’t be bad! Though it’s enough for me to dislike some drivers, I still have too many favourites and need to trim them down…
    New media: if F1 started posting old races on YouTube I wouldn’t be watching new ones!
    Business and politics: as before, if I wasn’t told I wouldn’t know. What happens in the FIA and FOM is none of my business, but when I hear what happens with the money prizes I’m not surprised to see the problems I see.

  67. ‘All of the above’ should have been a choice.

  68. This is, in some ways, quite complicated. Viewers per race would be useful, since clearly a lot of these are people tuning in every race, especially for 2008:

    2008 – 600 million viewers across 18 races – 33.333 million viewers per race
    2009 – 520 million viewers across 17 races – 30.588 million viewers per race
    2010 – 527 million viewers across 19 races – 27.737 million viewers per race
    2011 – 515 million viewers across 19 races – 27.105 million viewers per race
    2012 – 500 million viewers across 20 races – 26.316 million viewers per race
    2013 – 450 million viewers across 19 races – 23.684 million viewers per race
    2014 – 425 million viewers across 19 races – 22.368 million viewers per race

    Note that these averages can only be ballpark estimates as they assume everyone watches all races; this has never been the case and is increasingly less so due to “alternate” TV models in use.

    Nonetheless, it may look like 2010 was some sort of resurgence, but it turns out that due to it having 2 more races than 2009, it really represented almost as big a fall as the one between 2008 and 2009. The drops after that have been gentle glides downwards, but downwards is very much the trend.

    Pay-TV switch – The effect of this is significant, in more ways than the obvious:

    – It’s losing people directly, because they don’t access the pay TV avenues for various reasons, ranging from “not even available to me” (for example, my house can’t get Sky at the moment as I’m on a broadband contract whose optional TV component is with BT Sport and tied to it for many more months), via “too expensive” (whether that’s literally out of plausible budgetary boundaries or an expression of poor value for money) to “I would but I have ethical issues with the provider”. The reason given is immaterial to FOM as all of these result in not getting the direct TV company monies.

    – It’s making it more difficult for TV companies (pay and free-to-air) to justify a quality product. Competition is said to improve the breed, but that assumes companies have the funds to do actual improvement after making improved offers to Bernie. In turn this assumes an increased number of people are watching the product (and, in ad-supported offerings, buying enough product for show sponsors to keep spending). Otherwise all the pressure is on fundraising and the product is trimmed as a consequence (this was notable from both British broadcasters in 2015).

    – It means sponsors of teams, drivers and even F1 itself don’t get seen as much as may have been predicted. This makes them less likely to renew, and more likely to ask for cheaper contracts, often with less engagement (which in turn tends to spiral into cheaper and less-engaging contracts). Driver sponsors have been getting round this by picking people very early and getting more face-to-face activities, which has further led into a greater funding:skill ratio of incoming drivers… …which leads onto other forms of disengagement.

    Weak competition (44%) – I think this is a factor, with two caveats: it’s not applicable to the midfield (which has perhaps the hottest competition F1’s ever seen) and it’s not so much the weak competition that’s turning people off as three elements that derive from this continuing for several years consecutively. The lack of hope of improvement due to an increasing polarisation of funds towards those who least need them, the continued lack of attention on areas where competition is strong, and the feeling that the reasons for the weak competition are non-sporting in nature. In previous times when competition was weak in part of the field (it’s never happened in the whole field simultaneously), there was always hope that “next year will be different”, and it was almost invariably justified – if not by a new champion, then at least by the emergence of a credible alternate championship attempt. (2015 does not count; although Ferrari improved a lot over 2014, they never looked like they were going to take the fight to Mercedes for the full season). Usually, there was some good sporting reason for the problem in the past (badly-managed income, wrong route in the aero department, dodgy reliability…) but Ferrari and Williams have no blocks to success that are obvious to the casual fan. Serious fans know why – and that the main reason why is political and thus not helpful!

    Calendar changes (15%) – I don’t think this is a major reason why this is happening, as it is a long-term trend that also happened throughout F1’s two most recent “Golden Ages”, and hasn’t become noticeably more substantial in that time.

    Ticket prices (36%) – It closes a discovery route for F1, but I think that will be costing viewers in 10 years’ time (if F1 as we know it still exists then) rather than in the last 5.

    Dumbed down circuits (50%) – This is also a long-term trend since the 1980s. It almost certainly wouldn’t be a problem were it not for peculiar approaches to “track limits” rules and a current ruleset that already requires drivers to drive well within themselves.

    Lack of technological variety (40%) – This puts some people off, though I would argue the most important problem here is not strictly the lack of variety. It is more that it is patently obvious that only one solution was ever going to work. The moment the manufacturers’ front-loaded research expenses led to exactly one builder getting the “right” answer, that defused the technological interest for the rest of the decade. It was clear it was more a question of manufacturers incrementally trying to match Mercedes, rather than the probably-intended mutual pursuit of an equally-unattained golden zone. To get technological variety, there has to be more than one “right” answer to technology.

    Quieter engines (27%) – I still think the problem is more that the tone and timbre are wrong rather than the volume, but engine aesthetics are more “problem reducing engagement” than “problem causing people to leave”.

    Unattractive cars (21%) – Ditto.

    Artificiality (59%) – This is a big problem, and I know people who have turned off for exactly this reason. It’s contributing to the single “right” techonological solution and also a loss of direction in F1, as psuedopoliticians forget what they are trying to achieve. It seriously reduces engagement by producing the sort of racing people can reproduce on their computers. And they do. It’s the same mechanism that makes me play Sims 2 instead of watching Celebrity Big Brother – the fact I could never do any version of Big Brother is irrelevant, but I can role-play one on my PC that’s more interesting than the show. Similarly, there are people who gave up F1 to play the racing game of their choice with friends to recreate motorsport in a manner they find more exciting.

    At this point, it’s probably less of a turn-off than one might expect given the complaints about it, but I expect this to have increasing influence, even if modest steps are taken to reduce artificiality in F1.

    Slower cars (28%) – not so much because they are slower, but because the slowness makes things easier and means skill is much less obvious.

    Ferrari’s struggles (8%) – In 2009, this accounted for quite a bit of the drop (along with McLaren’s fall from grace). I think it is less of an effect now because most of the fair-weather Ferrari fans left before the midpoint of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari career.

    Rise of alternative championships (10%) – Not yet a factor. Most of the new fans of WEC seem to be watching both it and F1 when there are clashes. Most Formula E races avoid clashes with F1. Forcing many clashes with WEC is probably the stupidest thing the F1 organisers could have done, as this will test fans’ ability to track both, and I expect a lot of the ones who are doing both to choose WEC, thus making this more of a factor as the decade continues. However, the ones who consider themselves to have a dilemma at all are still a small amount of the fanbase.

    Over-regulation (59%) – I don’t think it is over-regulation so much as misguided, vague, randomly-changed and arbitarily-enforced regulation that’s the problem here. This affects nearly all the other elements to some degree, but I suspect has no direct effect on the viewing figure drop.

    Lack of interest in drivers (23%) – There are some very interesting drivers in there if one takes the effort to find out about them. However, the pay-TV issue means that non-headlining drivers get little airtime and rarely asked anything remotely interesting (headlining drivers, on the other hand, have to put up with the same three only-interesting-the-first-time-questions about 100 times!) Over-reliance on new media is only helpful to people who a) care enough about new media to follow on that platform (many do not!) and b) can see what handle to use in the first place – kind of hard if the viewer doesn’t have microscopic vision or the will to do some research (many do not!)

    New media (30%) – This certainly isn’t helping. There is haphazard presence on new media, but there’s also been a noticeable drop in quality of web sites since the mid-2000s (I’m not sure all drivers even have one any more), and a lack of realisation that social media are a precision media, not a broadcast media in the same sense that things like websites and TV are. There is also a lack of understanding of how to combine old and new media effectively. This applies to drivers, teams but most of all the series itself. (The latter can also add a total lack of understanding of what the segments of fans using each social media outlet want, and this isn’t much good at tailoring its offerings to what is available. Thinking about it, the powers-that-be made the same error with the fan surveys…)

    Business and politics (42%) – This is a small direct and huge indirect factor. I’ve known people stop watching when Marussia went under (only some of whom attempted to come back when it re-emerged as Manor, and at least one of those considered John Booth and Graeme Lowden leaving as the last straw). The huge disparities between team receipts from FOM are not only damaging to their performance, not only aggravated for fun and profit by FOM and the biggest teams, but also not even used to F1’s benefit.

    To take an example: imagine what a decent narrator could do with a narrative about a team that barely made the grid after being 5 days from going bust, who didn’t even qualify for the first race because its cars were missing vital parts, yet managed to qualify on merit for most of their races and even make up ground on rivals with 8-9 times their budget. Well, we know what FOM did with it on its season-ending DVD… …nothing. In fairness, I’m not sure how many of the broadcasters were willing to make lemonade out of the batch of lemons 2015 offered – but if no example is set from the top, the lack of inspiring narratives is bound to cause disengagement and eventual loss of viewers.

    I’d also like to offer something else, something I only thought of after watching Star Wars. The FOM TV product is so… …polished. There’s no sensation of speed and little of skill, as several other commentors have said. And it’s probably because the cameras are so high-tech that they take out the movement, the blurring, the jerkiness that convey these things. The Star Wars prequel trilogy suffered from the same problem. (The prequel trilogy also had various plot issues, another thing shared with FOM’s current broadcast offerings – FOM are apt to miss the significant in favour of blatantly insignificant things and random shots that don’t point anywhere, which break up a lot of the narrative that people have come to expect from sporting events). The latest Star Wars swapped out some (note to FOM: “some”) of the “cutting-edge” recording techniques used for the prequel trilogy for techniques more familiar to viewers of the original trilogy. Result? A film which regained its sense of pacing, that looked more realistic and less fake, that made things look “harder”.

    OK, that was a lot of time on an element that probably isn’t putting many people off watching. But it is something that could be done relatively quickly, with no need to get permission from any committee, that has no downside I can see other than some unexpected effort in combining new and “old” methods of doing things at Biggin Hill.

    My Dad also had some interesting comments on the matter of reduced F1 viewers. He asked me, “Apart from [i]you[/i], and your circle of close friends, when was the last time you saw someone in a F1 team hat?” Occasionally I see someone in a F1 shirt around town, but I had to admit the last time I saw a F1 hat on the head of someone who was not me, one of my friends, someone on social media or someone in/near a racing circuit boundary/racing team factory was a Williams hat I saw 2 years ago. (In fact, I have seen sportscar and Race of Champions hats being worn in town by strangers more recently than that, albeit only one of each and thus hardly a statistical justification of superior team/fan connection in those series compared to F1…)

    So then he said, “Well, that’s part of the answer. Teams and fans simply aren’t connecting as well to each other. At all. Not just on social media – though that’s a factor – but off-line as well. How many teams run a decent off-line fan club now?” I can’t think of any off the top of my head. “How many teams’ connections with F1 fans are reliant on social media who nobody looks for unless they’re already watching a series in which they compete and TV coverage that, even if someone has the right access, typically doesn’t show much about what is unique about the team other than its results?” (If anyone can come up with a decent current counter-example, please let me know).

    1. Michael Brown
      18th January 2016, 3:21

      Very insightful. One thing I never thought about was the cameras. They hardly even convey the bumps felt on Monaco and Singapore; they too make the racing look easier than it is.

  69. They have to introduce the electric engines. If the F1 has many fans, they can’t achieve it. They have to destroy this series with no sound, forceless cars, boring races, wrong covarages and rules, mindless technologies (for example DRS. One modify can help on this and it should be a good thing) and can build a new series with modern things, but we will not like it. Otherwise the new generation will love it… because they can vote reduction for their favourite drivers.

    1. Formula E, with electric engines have near to zero ratings, so why bother?

  70. – Ditch DRS and made to degrade tyres. Consider bringing back the tyre war.

    – Change technical regulations to make the cars faster, better looking, and more able to follow one another closely. Wider cars with more mechanical and less aerodynamic grip really isn’t a hard concept to grasp.

    – Completely overhaul the calendar to return Formula One to popular venues, and work with existing circuits to make them more challenging whilst retaining safety. This would probably amount to simply ridding the sport of Tilkedromes and reversing a lot of circuit sanitisation that has taken place in the last 10-15 years.

    Simple as. Obviously there are other problems, but none as pressing as these.

  71. I would like to see F1 get back to its original intention of being the peak of a competition by Top performers in the Auto industry.
    Yes by all means set wheel base, Track, Tyre Size, engine capacity, fuel type, aerodynamic wing area, weight and safety requirements etc.
    But all other engineering specs should be made by a team or manufacturer decision.
    The degree of ingenuity that this would generate and interest that this would create can only increase the interest in “Formula One”
    Reduce or eliminate radio contact for the driver, If he or she cant identify a fuel mixture or a tyre decision, tough!
    Its supposed to be a competition for drivers and their cars. Let it be just that.
    Ken E.

  72. From my point of view, it is the artificiality which has caused the most damage to the sport. Once we are aware that drivers are not pushing to the max. every lap (tyres) and overtaking is being made easier for “the spectacle” (drs), then where is the competition? F1 used to be amazing because you knew the drivers were fighting to within an inch of their lives to gain or retain places. The gladiators are still with us but they are bored with their plastic swords and magical powers.

  73. For me in the UK, before Sky was a thing, the move to soulless tracks, often in rich middle eastern countries with no concern for F1 other than maybe the King was a fan, was the first straw. Long, boring tracks, on largely flat dusty tracks in the middle of a desert, with innumerable corners that completely lack distinction from one another. F1 works better on shorter, snappier tracks, ones where you can instantly tell where you are just by looking. Tracks with gradients, that swoop and curve, rise and fall. To me it simply makes it more interesting to watch, way more appealing than watching drivers tackle 90 degree turn after 90 degree turn, flat all the way round.

    Secondly, yes, Sky. I was lucky enough to have Sky when it started their F1 channel, it was included in what we already had. We eventually ditched Sky cos the cost is simply ridiculous for what you get. I find it bizarre, that a sport which craves ad revenue from eyeballs seeing the sponsors logos, would cut off a huge amount of advertising “eyes-on” to go to a much smaller, committed paying audience. Far less chance of getting your costly sponsorship seen by the masses.

    Breaking up viewing across different channels just promotes people to disengage from the sport, as I have. I liked watching live, and even requested not working the Sundays the races were on to catch it live. Catching it after the fact, and having to disengage from modern life on social media/internet in general for fear of having the result spoiled, isn’t much fun. Watching race after race kept you engaged. Missing every other race live kind of begins to rob you of your ability to really care.

    I think overall the tv coverage offered by Sky and the BBC feels like it has converged anyway. It’s such a boring template repeated race after race, season after season. The same old comedic 5 minute segments where they get drivers to do something stupid, the same clips harkening back to the good old days where they pretend Lewis Hamilton really gives a f’ about some ancient Mercedes and Stirling Moss… its yawn inducing, and I’m getting sick of all that stuff. I used to watch all the pre race build up, now I find it quite dull or worse aggravating (JUST GET TO THE RACE!). I find it’s not as informative or enlightening as to the reality of the sport as it thinks it is. At no point do I get a real impression of what it’s like to be one of these drivers or to really see behind the scenes, it’s all just PR fluff.

    FOM plays a huge role in this, year after year they film the sport in the same way, they have barely innovated in years! I’m still aggravated they manage to use camera angles that absolutely remove any sense of speed from the sport. They incessantly use cameras looking down the straight as the car approaches. Traveling hundreds of meters in a few seconds looks like a pottle down the pavement on the way to the shops or something…. The warped wide angle lenses used in on board footage doesn’t give an accurate feeling of the speed and make cars that are really close look miles away (think the on board footage from the Senna film… raw, narrower field of view giving a more realistic sense of the drivers field of vision… it all made it feel absolutely terrifying). This stuff is rarely brought up by anybody, I think it’s a huge issue affecting how the sport comes across in TV footage. it really nullifies the risk and speed involved. They need to get new camera angles, a lot more stuff from the side of the track panning as cars go past, and not super zoomed in stabilised shots from ridiculously good camera operators focusing on a helmet and a little set of hands operating the wheel. I want to see the car, I want to see the track, and the car movement on the track. I want to see and hear the car roaring past and get the feeling for how fast it’s going. Sitting by the track at Luffield, low down, seeing the cars squirm as they accelerate out, seeing how different the drivers take their lines.. I rarely feel like I get a sense of any of that when watching on TV.

    Bernie Ecclestone and the way F1 has been turned into a cynical business opportunity is of course at the heart of many issues. The fact we go to tracks in countries where no one cares about F1 is one issue, the fact they discuss leaving classic tracks due to squabbles over money is another. I mean, what’s the point of F1 if we don’t have Monza for instance?

  74. Beats me, I watch it more now than I did when Ferrari and Schumacher were dominant. I found that era boring and hard to follow from the US. Internet coverage was almost non-existent then and is much better, if still inadequate, now…present site excepted.

  75. It doesn’t know what it is anymore, that’s why there are all these tweaks and uncertainties.
    It needs some firm leadership at the FiA. I’m not advocating a return to Mosley, but someone that actually doesn’t listen to all of us fans (as we all have different opinions), but instead stands up for something they believe in a let us come along for the ride.
    All this power the commercial rights holder has. What other ‘sport’ is like this exactly? It’s madness.

  76. Lack of (free) live TV coverage which makes it hard to follow from one race to the next.

    But then when races are shown they are a dull mix of car management and dominant cars.

  77. I think it’s because it’s been too long since we’ve seen true competition, particularly between what were traditionally the major teams (Ferrari, Mclaren, Williams and now Mercedes and RBR)

    Before Tracks were dumbed down like they are now, even in years where one team got the jump on the others in terms of development, invariably there would be occasions where the other teams would steal some wins because:-
    A) it was possible for them to catch up via in season development
    B) more importantly the tracks themselves had gravel traps that would end a drivers race if track limits were exceeded either because of driver error or because they were in a fight for position and overcooked it.

    Take away the dumbed down tracks, bring back consequence for exceeding track limits and maybe we’ll start seeing some competition.

  78. I am a diehard f1 fan the reason f1 is dying is because the cars and drivers. The cars look terrible. Up until 2008 the cars looked good low, wide, aggressive. Now they look ordinary. Narrow and high. Engines. Bring back the noise. Nothing beats the sounds of the start of an f1 races full of v10 the roar would tremble through your body, during the race the noise would make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. The current engines don’t do that.

    Drivers. Every era of f1 up until 2009 had rivalries. Schumi vs hill, schumi vs Jaques, Schumi vs Mika, Schumi vs Kimi/Alonso. There has been some close contest in 2010, and 2014 but other than Hamilton none of the drivers command super stardom in today era. Drivers use to be gods you could see there skill behind the wheel. You don’t have that anymore these are the issues with f1.

  79. I think one of the most important factor is that the car culture is losing importance within the younger generations. My son has no interest whatsoever in cars. His iPad/iPhone is much more important to him his father’s car. In Australia, the automotive industry has a date to die and, as far I can observe, most people don’t care too much about that.

  80. I feel like that the extreme costs involved and the economics of F1 make it challenging to follow. I think F1 could greatly benefit from embracing new distribution methods but it simply won’t/can’t due to how it makes money on TV rights. I have a pipe dream of being able to watch the races when I can on race day via a streaming option (ie No TV package) without commercials interrupting the race. I would pay good money to subscribe to the whole season. Hear on the East Coast of the US the vast majority of races are at times I’m not going to catch the live. In addition to having to have cable TV to watch the races which at what would be $120 a month for a close to 10 month season that would be $1200 to watch F1 and I have to suffer through the commercials interrupting the race. While I don’t want to pay $1000 to watch a whole season of F1 I would pay good money to be able to stream a season.

  81. I’d say Pay tv switch, as any product, F1 needs exposure, pay tv switch is one way to cut growth. Unattractive cars paired with slower cars don’t capture the imagination, especially that of newer fans, hence raising the avg age of f1 fans, which slows growth. Finally new media further adds to the competition for viewership. The rest is knit-picking, factors that either explain balance changes or just fan frustration. Overall it’s not that F1 is declining, f1 is not growing, it’s following the downward trend it should be accounted via the gigantic impact pay tv has on reducing audiences.

  82. I’d say it’s a little bit all of the above. I live in the U.S. and NBC’s broadcast is not too different from the old Speed TV coverage (3/4ths of the same commentators). Closer competition and more manufacturers would help a lot. If Rossi gets a seat for next year and Haas F1 does well that would help massively in America.

  83. There are all these things wrong with F1, but it used to be worse.

    It used to be so bad, it wasn’t worth worrying about trying to fix it. Ferrari vs McLaren then… Jordan. In fact it was McLaren vs (Ferrari+Spanky+Bridgestone). Bendy wings, bendy floors; Jonathan Legard; winglets. Traction control. Toxic fuel. Grooved tyres. Ad breaks in races. Teams betraying GPMA. It’s hard to count them.

    Whereas now the list is only maybe 12 items. Plus the coverage IMO. Yay :)

    I don’t think there’s a crisis, it’s just that the world moves on, and F1 needs to keep developing too.

    1. There’s a few that the list missed off too. The trouble is that the weaknesses now are costing viewers in a way they didn’t before 2009.

      1. True enough @alianora-la-canta but pay-TV was always going to cost viewers, that doesn’t mean there’s anything suddenly wrong with the cars, engines, dominance and the rest of it.

        Raise prices, demand drops. It’s a very old, very basic equation.

        Just as Bernie is a very old, very basic monetiser who’s supreme at pointing the finger elsewhere.

        1. Pay TV has certainly cost a lot of viewers. However, if pay TV was the only explanation, the descent in viewers would have been a bit lower (since the total lost to pay-TV doesn’t quite match the overall loss, at least for the post-2010 years), and it would only have got going in 2011 (when Bernie started seriously expanding the pay-TV realm outside the countries that had been that way for the previous decade or more).

          There is something wrong with the product, but pay TV is aggravating it a lot.

  84. F1 just isn’t the cultural phenomenon it used to be. Sanitized tracks, cars, drivers and teams. Safety concerns mean no risk taking is allowed by the organizers which totally eliminates opportunities for drama to materialize.

    I hate to say it, and people always get upset when I do but F1 needs to be a bit more dangerous. Cars need to be much faster. Front and rear wings need to become spec parts, the aero nonsense has gone far enough and has little road relevance. Finally the organizers need to back off a bit.

    F1 is competing for eyeballs and currency with the entire internet and many other much more popular sports. All they’re offering people right now is a corporate marketing exercise.

  85. can i click all of the above?

    in all seriousness, there are some issues highlighted here which have been “problems” for decades. i think the underlying problem is to do with media and how the sport is promoted in the internet/smart phone age.

    1. @frood19

      can i click all of the above?

      Yes, you can!

  86. As viewing figures show, the move to pay-tv can singelhandedly explain the decline, but that hasn’t stopped everyone and his dog to use this to push whatever agenda.

    And interesting to note that F1 Fanatic thought the most appropriate picture to go along with a story about F1’s ‘falling popularity’ is one of Rosberg winning. If anything it should be Vettel or Hamilton as they are the one always winning last years, but no.. Rosberg.

    1. Actually the thinly-populated race day pit straight grandstand is the reason that picture was chosen.

  87. I think the main issue with F1 is over-regulation.
    The FIA does not apply logic while taking most decisions. For example, in the last years they invented the DRS and stupid tyres. Coupled with enormous prices for tickets and new (stupid) engine regulations, all this kills willingness of people to come and to watch bad racing.
    Before, when you are behind another driver, you have to prepare your racing manoeuvre for a lap or even several laps in order to overtake. In most cases such overtake was purely great. Now, we do not see anything like that.
    Before, you were able to defend your position (do you recall Alonso fighting against Hamilton and Webber for the 4th position in Australia back in 2010? That was awesome defending, pure racing and great race craft). Now, if you are Rosberg in SPA-2011, you lose your first position in two laps, simply because the other guy presses the button. However, two laps before you have done a better job–a better start. You are bereft eventually of that advantage not because of your fault or because the other racer has done better, but because of a gimmick.
    Before, as an engineer, you were able to implement nearly anything you wanted. Now, you cannot even think “mass dampers” or “flexible wings”. Now, you are penalized for almost anything. If you let the F1 teams waste for engineering as much money as they want, they will not spend more than their budget. No one will let them use $500,000,000+, because the top brass knows how to count their money. So, explain me, what is the point of the meaningless hype about “restrictions of budgets”, created by the governing body? At the same time, they contradict themselves by presenting a new set of even more ridiculous rules each several years. More than that, if you need to amend something in the car, you cannot do that and you waste the entire year for occasional points, when the top team gets 500+ points.
    Before, you should have come to any F1 race for the sake of immense sound. Now, its so quiet, so I can here only commentators during races. You do not feel that F1 is crazy any more because there is no sound.
    Before, even the main F1 website was good. Now look at this piece of you-know-what. No functionality at all. Even the website is terrible. For comparison, visit the MotoGP website here – http://www.motogp.com/en/Results+Statistics
    And the best thing MotoGP offers is videopass. I cannot legally watch F1 in Ukraine. Compare with biathlon: They let anyone watch races on the official website free of charge. Why F1 cannot do that? Let people use your videos freely, let people watch any race when they want, and this will let the global auditory grow. Why it’s so difficult to realize a video pass? Let people watch 480p videos for free, and present a better solution with 1080p for money-and I will pay for that.
    To be honest, the current FIA should simply go away and new people with modern views should take their position.

  88. For me it’s lack of competition between drivers. I don’t want to see Rosberg beaten by Lewis again and again. I want to see the new guys, Verstappen, Sainz, and the unfairly ignored guys, Hulkenberg, Perez etc. given an equal shot against Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso etc. The most interest there’s been in recent years was Ricciardo against Vettel, and Grosjean against Kimi, and neither of those battles was at the front to the field. For that reason alone I’ve always favoured three car teams, more internal battles and more opportunities for a top drive. And harder to issue team orders among three competing interests.

  89. I voted Pay-TV switch and Over-regulation, which at the time of my vote are first (71%) and third (56%) most popular choices respectively. You could make an argument for all the options but I chose these two for the following reasons.

    Pay-TV switch:
    When F1 TV coverage moves away from a free-to-air channel and onto a subscription channel, it obviously costs more money for people to follow the events on TV and this leads to declining viewing figures since not everybody will be able to afford such a service.

    Over-regulation:
    F1 being over-regulated makes it more complicated to understand what is happening and why. One example being when drivers receive grid penalties just because parts of the power units in their car need to be changed, it makes qualifying less meaningful because all too often the result on Saturday is no longer the starting order on Sunday. I think it is true to say that the more complicated the sport is the less likely it is that the public will understand it and engage with it, therefore people will be less inclined to watch.

  90. I’d suggest that the drop off is likely to be predominantly the causal viewer. In a sense, the casual “fan” isn’t really a fan at all and shouldn’t be identified as one. These causal F1 fans probably also watched free-to-air sports like rugby, tennis, cricket, golf, snooker and bits of football over the years. These “fans” choose what to watch almost entirely based on their budget constraints. If a show/sport is not free, they will simply watch other things or (if they feel strongly) find another way of watching it for nothing. The same goes for the younger folks who say “I want to watch it on my computer.” This is presented as their uncompromising desire for content on their terms. Sadly many of the older generation have fallen for this, and think of it quite literally. However, this can easily be translated to “I don’t have enough money for Sky.” This is no different to what most of my friends were like as kids. I wanted every-damn-thing on my terms.

    Looking into this also helps us understand the futility of focusing on new media. People have to be interested in something in the first place to even bother to seek it out. So the idea that F1 will create fans through a Youtube account and a few tweets is way wide of the mark. Forget any of the nonsense chatter about “engaging new audiences.” The internet is now like air and water to most people. The reason kids don’t watch F1 (or anything else) for that long is because they are doing what kids do. When I was younger the second a race was over, I was long gone. I could barely make it to the end of lunch let alone a 2 hour F1 race. I’d regularly leave a football game at half time and not come back. If football followed F1’s path they’d be experimenting with two 20 minute halves on that basis. When these kids have jobs and money they too will own a whopping massive flatscreen like everyone else. And they’ll probably watch F1 on that while they make quinoa risotto for lunch. To give a sense of the desperation around this topic, a prominent F1 journalist recently wrote that “sports that have embraced the platform [social media] well know of the opportunities for targeted content.” Firstly, these are just nonsensical, meaningless buzzwords. And saying there are “opportunities for targeted content” is like saying “there are 900 million people who have a toilet. How should we engage with this new demographic of toilet owners?” People use Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook to talk to their friends, not to Formula One.

    As I’ve mentioned before, the powers that be can probably make a small improvement to the existing TV production by getting rid of unnecessary detail from the coverage. Detail that may be of use to the anoraks in the audience, but has no bearing on the drama of the race (or “the show” as we’re contractually obliged to call it.) @alianora-la-canta has commented with insight on this topic before, and their earlier comment is no exception. The casual fan couldn’t care less if the race was won in Strat Mode 17 or if the wing settings were different. The reason old races are viewed with such rose tinted glasses is because there was always an air of mystery during an event. When Murray Walker was shouting “well what’s happening over there, OH DEAR GOD NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING” wasn’t that brilliant? Not knowing is absolute dynamite for a story. I’m fairly sure you could take the sheen off a classic race by playing back some of Mansell’s or Senna’s banal team radio messages. “Wind direction is blah blah Nigel…” NOBODY CARES! In FOM’s eyes, their job is to make the product seem as perfect and efficient as it can be, which suits them and the hardcore fan. Overall, I’d suggest it actually harms the spectacle.

    Apart from Pay-TV switch and weak competition, all the other items in the list are (in my view) issues that are of no concern to the casual fan. So the answer is quite simple (but not simple to do.) To restore the causal fans to watching F1, it absolutely has to be exclusively on free-to-air TV. The viewing figures would rocket instantly just from that alone. Instead of a watered down offering, you’d have the best presenters, and all the budgets poured into a single channel. As we’ve seen with Sky in 2015, even a bigger budget, more resources and “being pushed” by the BBC has actually resulted in both becoming watered down over time. Add to this a simpler world feed and things would kick up a notch. Lastly, if the racing is closer then a few more million will suddenly start watching. In 2009 the cars were simpler, and in tandem with the lack of refueling and DRS, the racing was close and memorable for a good few years. It’s no co-incidence that the TV figures in the UK were doing pretty well around this point. People used to watch boring races in the 90’s in their millions too, because it was free. They will watch whatever is on, as long as it’s free. They don’t care so much about being fans of particular forms of entertainment. As for improving “the show” then F1 needs to be less perfect. Unpredictability, imperfections and drama is what makes people tune in, and perfection makes them tune out.

  91. Speaking as a long-time fan in the US, the number of commercial breaks and the repetition of the same few commercials makes NBCSN’s coverage of F1 almost unbearable to watch. The worst is after the checkered flag. It’s like watching a commercial broadcast with the odd 30-second F1 clip inserted every now and then. F1 and MotoGP are really the only reason I pay for cable/satellite at all and that’s a hard fact to stomach when 40% of your time watching is spent memorizing Lotus Evora commercials.

    I would gladly, gladly pay for some sort of standalone commercial-free viewing service like what WEC offersr. You can watch every session without commercial breaks on any mobile device. The ap is a pleasure to use. Live timing and live track positions along with the ability to watch the entire race from at least 5 cars. If F1 were to offer that in the US for $100 a season (compared to $30 for WEC) I don’t think I’m alone when I say I would buy it in a heartbeat.

  92. The powers that be have taken F1 fans for granted. The massive hype is simply not matched by the on-track “spectacle”. All those blue flags. Do any of you remember Ronnie Peterson coming into the old Woodcote waving both fists at “Black” Jack Brabham?

    For a truly memorable engine sound has there ever been anything to match the BRM V-16 on the (all too rare) occasions when it was on full song?

  93. There are many factors involved in Formula One’s lowering popularity…I personally found the cars more ‘beautiful’ in 2008 and prior to that than after the technical revolution of 2009, so I listed that one. I think that a lot of F1’s drop in popularity is also down to a lack of consistency at the FIA in making rules, or even in the way they penalize drivers, and a general incompetence in making the sport interesting for their millions of fans. DRS, lower quality tires and other artificial attempts at making the sport exciting are taking away from the driver’s ability and causing fans to lose interest. Testing and development restrictions and or freezes are causing an even bigger gap between the competitors. Nobody can really expect to catch their rivals if they are a certain distance behind them at the start of the season, and the team who got it right at the start of the season (or the era) will romp away with the title(s) because nobody can innovate or develop in certain areas in the hopes of catching them. Such attempts at ‘cost-cutting’ have failed, and in fact have done quite the opposite of what they were supposedly intended to do. F1 has become arguably too limited.
    Fans would also like to see more competition by allowing multiple tire suppliers to enter the sport. And then of course, there is the issue that the cars are slower than they were before, and certain fans will argue that it should be as fast or faster than before, and even that it has become too sanitized (as with the racetracks). There are potentially more than the issues on this list, but I think this would already describe quite a few as it is…

  94. The have been too many daft rule changes especially those concerning tyres. That’s just for starters. The latest engines have taken away so much of the “buzz” at races and, on TV. Yes, F1 has to be at the forefront of engineering and technology but this one was poorly thought through.
    The drop in the TV audience has been affected by the above but the switch from terrestrial Tv to pay is a massive factor in the drop in audience figures. Just look at the audience when the race is on Sky and terrestrial then compare it to Sky only. Bernie’s constant demand for yet more and more money not only results in a falling TV audience but a falling reputation of the sport because of his manner. He’s a very greedy man and it puts people off.
    There is no point in Sky saying we should look at the internet viewing because that would also happen on Terrestrial. The basic TV audience sitting on the sofa with a couple of mates or the family is what makes it. Also,there are people watching F1 on the internet who do not have a Sky subscription.
    Taking everything into consideration there have over the past say, 10 to 20 years been far more negative changes than positive. Probably by a factor of 10. Get the true fans more involved at races with escorted walkabouts. Find a way to get TV audiences more interested. Stop the everlasting negative rule changes.
    I have been addicted to motor waking and especially, F1 since the mid 1950’s and it’s not my age that making me bored with F1. It’s FOM and FIA.

  95. Sergey Martyn
    20th January 2016, 9:25

    Absolutely perfect analysis!
    I became F1 fan back in 1978 but you folks can’t imagine how it was done.
    There were the times of Iron Curtain there in Soviet Union and the only source of information about F1 were the Czech and Yugoslavian weekly magazines I subscribed to. I bought dictionaries and in a couple of months my Czech and Yugo were quite fluent!
    Me and my friends gathered couple of weeks (that was the time of delivery back then) after each race and were reading the results and it was so exciting – we almost heard the scream of Ferrari V12 and inhaled high octane.
    Jacques Villeneuve was (and still is!) my hero though the only source of information were the couple of lines in a magazine.
    And to my amazement I experienced the same level of excitement seeing the Dijon battle and other epics of F1 in about 20 years after it happened.
    Then, back in 1992 we got F1 on TV and need I say that I was plastered to the screen of my 14″ TV.
    Mansell, Hill, Kimi, Montoya etc.!
    What about now?
    Nothing.
    No strong personalities, tyre and fuel management, processionals races, though F1 coverage in Russia is free I missed some races in 2014 and 2015 – which was impossible 5 or so years ago.
    F1 is clearly on decline.
    Last 2 years I’ve been visiting DTM racing at Moscow Raceway and IMO that’s an epitome of pure racing spirit – deafing howl of gridfull of 4-liter V8 cars, close raciong, sparks flying, pit walks with tyre changing shows, racers (and grid girls hehe) are available for selfies and autograph sessions.

  96. For me, the lack of actual ‘racing’ is what has put me off. The drivers are too busy saving fuel or tyres and are only at maximum attack for maybe 5% of the race.get rid of the artificial degradation on the tyres and change the aero regs, make the excitement come from on track action rather than try and guess the pit strategy.

  97. I think it’s polls like these that add to the feeling of dissatisfaction. Media of all kinds, including social media, have raised and are now perpetuating topics like “what’s wrong with F1”, “how to fix F1” etc. Of course fans, or potential fans, are then going to start questioning the sport and start contributing to the debate. Sure, everyone wants to be an amateur doctor and try to understand the symptoms and come up with a cure, but was there a real problem in the first place, back when all this started? Did this sense of dissatisfaction coincide with the rise of twitter, ie did social media fan the flames, because people much prefer to complain than to praise? Did it arise from more and more F1 fans setting themselves up as “journalists”, because it’s easy to create a website but harder to get ‘hits’, so they’ll raise negative topics that attract the wrong kind of attention? I’m not including you in this Keith. You provide a well-rounded analysis of the sport and, as your original article shows, many of the things people are complaining about have existed for a very long time without people predicting the death of the sport.

    If F1 does die, it will have been killed by the very people who feed off it. That’s not just the big players like CVC – that’s everyone who does the sport down, for their own ends (or just for fun), when it doesn’t deserve it.

    Personally, I love F1. I don’t like paying to watch it, in any form, but the quality of TV coverage is pretty good and it’s an exciting sport to watch live. Perhaps it’s time to have a poll about what people appreciate about F1 and its coverage. And as a one-off, ban any negative comments. Because whinging is easy – it’s much harder to write good things about anything, not just F1.

    1. p.s. I voted for pay TV, because it’s the only thing that’s ever made me question my allegiance to F1. I don’t approve of Sky in particular. If Sky ended up with a monopoly in the UK I would have to seriously question whether my love of the sport would overcome my hatred of Murdoch and his empire.

    2. @f1antics Thanks for the kind remark – and I definitely like that last suggestion. One for the ideas list…

      1. @f1antics @keithcollantine

        I’d like to add one other thing to my earlier comment. There is an underlying sense that F1 appears to be inadvertently perfect. The trajectory of previous years is for more data, more engineers, more driver coaching and so on. The image of Senna, Prost and former greats is not masked by knowledge of how much they were engineered. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it before, but I think the phrase I’m thinking of (to describe “the show”) is over engineered. The great Murray Walker used to say that F1 is “IF” spelled backwards, along with “anything can happen in Formula One, and it usually does.” The problem is, that aside from a weekend with no practice running or a wet race, because F1 is more highly engineered; this becomes less and less likely with each passing year.

        An F1 driver today is like a footballer running round on the pitch with and iPad strapped to his head telling him where to run, pass the ball and when to shoot. Telling him when to conserve energy and when to exert more energy. Or what side to place a penalty on based on historic data for that keeper. For sport to entertain, it has to maintain the “what if” as far as possible, and that comes from humans basically doing what they instinctively want to do. People want to watch F1 drivers driving, not being aggressively micro-managed from the pit wall. F1 teams have transferred the amount of input from the driver to the engineers to the extent that it comes across to the layman as less interesting. As a result, I think the cars, the circuits and the rest of it could be changed any infinite number of ways and it won’t make a jot of difference. On the flip-side, I’d be pretty confident that the current crop of cars and drivers would probably produce great racing if a lot of the engineered aspects of the racing were banned. For example, let’s just get rid of ever more complex steering wheels full of tools to “manage” the race. This makes superstars look like they are driving an Excel spreadsheet, not a car. That, and the FIA should genuinely enforce the driver coaching rule, which is pathetically easy to get around. Essentially the narrative of an F1 race has to appear to the public that each driver has shaped his own destiny, even if that isn’t entirely the case.

        All of this makes it possible to heavily criticise the sport online, via Twitter or wherever. And let’s be honest, people know Twitter as much as a customer service channel as a social network. And like most other online commenting, it is folks who are negative and pithy that gain traction rather than those who suggest everything is about to come up roses. I think at times it’s just the way we are wired. As always it’s good to see a healthy debate going on. It probably doesn’t help if it looks like everyone is bashing the sport, but then historically that is what people write.

  98. Pay TV
    I used to watch every race religiously no matter what time of the night it was in Australia. Pay TV has wrecked that for me now as I can only see every second one.

    Mid season development bans.
    The token system on engine development is too restrictive. If your team starts the season low on power they are virtually testing for next year from the first round.

    Grid position penalties for excess component usage. What other sport does this?. Just dumb.

    Too many rule changes. Closer racing comes when rules are stable as it gives the slower teams time to catch up. Fixed terms for rules of 5 years unless safety related

  99. Whilst the list above is super relevant, I feel there is one significant movement which is not included and that is the rise of computer gaming, gaming exhibitions and world championships. Namely e-sports. These attract millions if not billions of people. This video gives an indication of it’s impact. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of1k5AwiNxI

    There was also a BBC3 documentary recently which was making the case for e-sport attracting more people than some of the major sporting events around the world.

    Would be interested to hear what others think about this.

    1. My take is that they are a natural progression from online gaming. Events like this have happened for a long time, but in a less appealing format. You only have to look at something like Gamescom to see that gaming has a hugely involved fans going to expensive exhibitions. Now the famous players get to play in front of an audience. These bigger and better events in stadiums like in your clip certainly bring an element of glamour to entering and potentially winning one of these competitions. But it’s important to recognise that because it is growing, perhaps at a fast rate, doesn’t mean that it will have any impact on other pursuits.

      It is always tempting to suggest that the new and exciting thing might decimate everything that came before it. But more often than not, it doesn’t work like that, but it does make things more fragmented. To give an example of this, people often talk about how Netflix is “taking over” and “changing the way we watch TV.” However, despite this rise in convenience, the likes of Sky and Virgin in the UK have seen no drop off in customers. not only that, most people watch Netflix on their TV. So it’s not like everyone has cut the cord. In fact, the numbers show that live TV is by far and away the most popular way to watch things. We could look at the effect of Netflix on F1, and probably find very little correlation. People probably have both. If eSports was on in a prime time slot on TV, then it would become interesting as it would have transcending the niche that is gaming. I suppose if people watch other people watching TV, then why not?

      So the question is does the number of gamers, and those prepared to game to the level of an eSports competitor make it more or less likely that they will watch or be interested in F1? I’d say that is obviously possible, but fairly unlikely.

      1. @schteeeeve I think it absolutely has an effect on the popularity of sports as a whole, simply because the numbers of people following e-sports are so big. How much of that then effects F1 is of course hard to assess. What is appearing to be happening is that the younger generation are not only more digitally ‘wired’, they are also losing interest in cars perse -http://www.fastcoexist.com/3027876/millennials-dont-care-about-owning-cars-and-car-makers-cant-figure-out-why
        All that said, my younger brother who has never really been into cars, does follow F1 and although the domination of Mercedes has tested his loyalty to watching every race, he’s yet to throw in the towel.
        Time will tell.

    2. @mccosmic I would say that’s another facet of new media.

      1. @keithcollantine I actually posted my vote under ‘Rise of alternative championships’. So there we go, two different interpretations.

  100. rules controls the cars, not the drivers. {rules are: political, technical, safe, comercial, etc} (simple like that)

  101. These are all contributing factors you could rank them 1 through 16 and see what results it gives.

  102. I am sure some more erudite f1 fan than I will be able to say why I am wrong but I think that the decline in viewing figures is mainly due to the disdain shown by the ‘powers that be’ to the fans who do not have vip status. I am disgusted by the money grubbing sycophantic attitude of Bernie and do feel disenfranchised by his sneering, condescending attitude. I am not convinced that the owner of a Rolex is a better person than me, nor that my views are less worthy. For what it’s worth here are some of my views :).
    I love watching f1 due to the skill and talent of the drivers. I love the sound of the cars too – though I accept it was more exhilarating previously. I don’t want gimmicks, I want the best drivers, in the best cars with the support of the best teams winning. But I do want a proper competition and a level playing field. Rules should not be changed to improve the show, they should be changed if they are detrimental to a fair race. I don’t have a problem with setting a budget, but the present rules don’t reduce costs, the big teams spend money like water unseen by the public. Set a sensible budget, police it rigorously and within that allow teams to test and upgrade to their hearts content, this would probably reduce reliability and thereby mix up the grid a bit and improve the show, if that were an aim for some. While we’re at it we could also set a carbon footprint budget so that f1 could reward real innovation in cleaner technology and feel a bit more righteous, for those who have that as an aim. While I don’t like how hard it is to overtake I don’t like DRS rewarding the car behind. If we have it at all – as well as kers/ers – then allow it to be used whenever the driver is brave enough, perhaps banning use on specific corners due to safety concerns, again this would mix up the field a bit as braver drivers would use it on trickier sections than the less brave, risking spinning off etc. While I like overtaking, it is exciting, I don’t think overtaking for overtaking’s sake hooks me at all. The fastest driver in the fastest car with the best team on any given day should win. If they have to overtake to do that – all the better. Having uncertainty because the 2nd fastest car might have a new upgrade in the next race is great too, so unlimited engine improvements and aero improvements throughout the year please, sticking within the agreed budget of course.

  103. Artificial Drag Reduction System DRS should not be allowed for leading 5 cars during the race. So that drivers have to earn the podium by driving and overtaking, not just using superior cars in straight lines artificially. Good car guy can reach upto position 6 just by using DRS, but he should not be allowed to advance beyond that freely. This DRS means good cars always reach podium, and hence no excitement in fight for the season title.

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