Chase Carey, Bahrain International Circuit, 2017

Changing F1 for the better: 14 smart moves Liberty have made already

2017 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media have been watched closely since the beginning of the year.

How would they change F1? What would their priorities be?

These 14 changes they’ve had a hand in show why they’ve won praise for their leadership of the sport so far.

Relaxing social media rules

Teams had previously been barred from sharing any footage from official Formula One sessions, including tests. That changed at the first official session after Liberty Media took charge.

New teams can share videos from the paddock on social media, though they are still forbidden from putting up footage of the cars on track, to protect the investment broadcasters have put into the television rights.

Putting more on social media

While giving the teams more freedom to promote the sport on social media, F1 has ramped up its own social media activities even further.

The result has been a rise in the number of people interacting with Formula One on social media. At the Spanish Grand Prix F1 claimed its activities generated 137 million individual impressions plus a combined total of 11.9 million video views on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Fan Festival

The Spanish Grand Prix marked a new beginning for how F1 engages with its fans during race weekends. The new Fan Festival offered spectators the chance to enjoy racing simulators, a zip line, pit stop challenges and more.

F1’s new owners also launched a dedicated fan television channel available to those attending the race, featuring live interviews, expert discussions and appearances from past drivers.

Marketing

There was little to no evidence of any marketing activity by F1 under the old regime. That has already begun to change, and every race weekend is accompanied by a series of announcements and press releases from FOM to help promote its efforts.

It’s a small but significant and powerful change.

Formula Two

Charles Leclerc, Prema, Formula Two, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Goodbye GP2, hello F2

An immediate ‘no-brainer’ change Liberty Media took care of was renaming feeder series GP2 as ‘Formula Two’ to make the connection between both as explicit as possible.

The question of what to do with GP3 is more complicated as Formula Three has existed for decades and runs to a different set of technical regulations.

Paddock passes

Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
F1 is beginning to open up

By his own admission, Ecclestone believed that the more people he kept out of the F1 paddock the more exclusive and elite it would appear. Liberty Media’s philosophy is different.

The teams are now finding it easier to bring people into the paddock, which in turn creates better opportunities to attract sponsors and supporters.

Opening up the Strategy Group

The Strategy Group, initiated by Bernie Ecclestone in 2012, was a controversial addition to F1’s governance as it excluded several teams from having any say in proposed changes to the sport. Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and McLaren, plus whichever of the other teams scored the most points in the previous season.

As a result while the sport is crying out for changes to prevent more of the smaller teams from collapsing, nothing has been done. But Liberty Media has shown a desire to change this.

While giving the other teams an active role in the Strategy Group would require changes to contracts, Brawn has now allowed representatives of the other teams to attend the meetings, shattering the secrecy which previously surrounded them.

Brawn’s technical team

For too long Formula One’s technical regulations have been shaped by knee-jerk changes with no overall strategy in mind. One rules change contradicts another: Cars were altered in 2009 to promote overtaking, yet the new generation of designs for this season has reversed most of those changes and harmed the on-track action as a result.

New F1 sporting director Ross Brawn plans to change that be investing time and expertise into designing F1’s future regulations. Several ex-F1 engineers he has previously worked with have already been appointed to get the job done.

Australian GP changes

Jamie Whincup, Holden, Melbourne, Australian V8 Supercars, 2014
Support races are getting an upgrade

Ecclestone was reluctant to allow popular local series onto the F1 support race bill. The British Touring Car Championship disappeared from the Silverstone support race card in the mid-nineties after it was forced to run as a non-championship event.

The spectacular Australian V8 Supercars championship had been running as a non-championship round at Melbourne. However from next year that is set to change – an innovation which will hopefully soon spread to other grands prix.

New Canadian GP deal

Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2016
One of F1’s best races has a future

Consistency one of the most well-attended and entertaining races on the calendar, the future of the Canadian Grand Prix was in doubt as Ecclestone was pressing them to upgrade their paddock facilities.

In March a new deal was announced which will keep one of F1’s most popular races going until at least 2029.

Two-seater

Two-seaters, Circuit de Catalunta, 2017
The two-seaters in action in Spain

McLaren were the first team to offer runs in a two-seater Formula One car 20 years ago. Other teams followed suit and IndyCar has made it a regular part of their fan engagement activities.

From the Spanish Grand Prix F1 now has a two-seater experience of its own, giving a handful of fans a chance to experience a very special ride.

Bigger car numbers

Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Monaco, 2017
Clearer numbers arrived in Spain

Another change which has been long overdue is the use of larger car numbers to make it easier to identify the drivers.

This was one of a range of fan-friendly improvements which arrived at the Spanish Grand Prix.

TV tweaks

Camera angles, 2016 vs 2017
Lower camera angles give a greater sense of speed

There have been clear signs of a shift towards using lower camera angles in television broadcasts this year. This is something many fans have wanted to see in order to better illustrate the speed of the cars.

As a result we’re not seeing quite as many of those ultra-wide shots where the cars are tiny specks but the sponsor’s logos are framed to perfection. Since the beginning of the year there have also been experiments with picture-in-picture and other long-overdue additions to F1 broadcasts.

Making fans happy – one at a time

Thomas Danel, Circuit de Catalunya, 2017
Thomas Danel got to meet his hero

Young French fan Thomas Danel came to symbolise F1’s new, more open era when he was invited to meet Kimi Raikkonen after being distraught at his hero’s early retirement from the Spanish Grand Prix.

Liberty Media CEO Chase Carey said the decision to invite Thomas and his family to meet Ferrari was an example of the kind of fan interaction which would never have happened before 2017.

Over to you

Have Liberty changed F1 for the better so far? What do you think should be their top priority

Have your say in the comments.

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57 comments on “Changing F1 for the better: 14 smart moves Liberty have made already”

  1. Great stuff so far! I can’t wait for further real improvements!

    1. Nearly 30 years of dumb moves to correct, go liberty !

  2. We wait for the end of the second kind of Concorde… from then, the F1 world is OUR oyster!

  3. I remember a time not so long ago when the suggestion that F1 allow lapped cars unlap themselves during a pace car period similarly to Indy Cars was met with derision. Well, it is here now and not a day too soon.

    1. It’s been the case for years now, though.

      1. And it has been years too soon !

  4. One thing:
    T-cams for pole laps or overtaking manoeuvres are better because we’d like to see the steering inputs.
    Use the shoulder cam only when there’s some chasing going on (to show the vibrations) or during crashes.

    1. I must say I loved seeing Kimi’s fast laps in Monaco largely from the nose camera. A view that really is hard to beat!

  5. Duncan Snowden
    1st June 2017, 12:03

    “The question of what to do with GP3 is more complicated as Formula Three has existed for decades and runs to a different set of technical regulations.”

    And Formula e is already taken, too. (Bonus points for anyone who gets that one.)

    “From the Spanish Grand Prix F1 now has a two-seater experience of its own, giving a handful of fans a chance to experience a very special ride.”

    Even if Liberty do nothing else, they’ve brought a Minardi back into the pitlane. :)

    1. Formula 2.71828182845904523536028747135266249775724709369995…?

      1. Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula √9.

  6. As an addition to the lower camera angles i’d LOVE to see helmet cams, to actually get a feel for what the driver can see and experiences. The current onboard cams look so smooth, it looks easy, while on helmet cams you can see the extreme forces a driver has to cope with.

  7. From the Spanish Grand Prix F1 now has a two-seater experience of its own, giving a handful of fans a chance to experience a very special ride

    I’ve attended the Australian GP in 2015 and one lucky fan had a chance to sit in a 2-seater Minardi. It’s not something new

    1. The key difference is that in Melbourne, the 2-seater car (and speed comparison with V8 supercars, etc) was arranged by the race promoter; this is being organised by Liberty, so it provides a consistent experience across the season for all fans who are lucky enough to attend a race.

    2. It’s was previously run by Albert Park – this is the first time FOM have got involved to take it around the world.

      1. Albert Park and Melbourne really should get a lot more credit in the media for having had many of the ‘new’ fan friendly initiatives FOM are now adopting, which were no doubt a heavy, heavy influence on Liberty when they attended.

        1. And it’s now vitally important that Silverstone is sorted and guaranteed for
          the foreseeable future. Personally, I would also like to see the Donington
          circuit re-established as an F1 venue…..such a superb and very testy track !

          But the essentials are being very well sorted by Liberty. When they finally
          kill off the totally unfair team payment structure currently blighting F1 I will
          be really, really impressed.

  8. Sean N (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    1st June 2017, 12:40

    “Lower camera angles give a greater sense of speed”

    Er no!

    This is just plain wrong in every sense, scientifically, contextually and perceptively.

    The impression of speed, for a static observer, is to see known objects (of a scale one understands), move in relation to one another at unexpectedly high velocities.

    The low angle head on shots don’t show the cars speed relative to the surrounding static objects so its hard to gauge their speed. The wider higher shots show the cars speed much more clearly.

    The only good thing about the head on shots is the camera pans less.

    When the camera pans static objects appear to move and make it more difficult for the human eye to ascertain relative speed. The more zoomed in the panned camera the worse it becomes.

    The best way to show the speed of the cars is to have static cameras that don’t pan and are not zoomed in too much.

    The low camera angle seeming to heighten the sense of speed is mistaken, confused by the fact actually sitting low in a car improves the sense of speed. Also that Indy 500, low static camera at the exit of the corner does show the speed of the cars, but it’s not because its low, its because the VERY static wall is in the foreground and there is a sense of danger that the car might hit you vicariously through the camera lens!

    Without doubt, high static wide cameras are best for the perception of speed.

    1. Agree, I don’t like the zoomed in version. The 2016 angle is better in the comparison above.

    2. Agreed. No idea why the perception came that lower cameras give more sense of speed, especially from the front/back, as the car would be perceived to be moving less in relation to the road or background.

    3. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk you’re right and that’s why shooting the cars from dead ahead is clearly wrong, because you have no way to see their speed. They can lower the camera as much as they want but if they keep showing the huge straight at Mexico from turn 1, the cars will always appear like they are not moving at all.

    4. Was going to make a similar comment. Thank you for talking sense. I never felt like the low angles did much.

      The move to tighter shots heroes the individual driver/car at the expense of some really important aspects of the racing—everything going on around the car. You have little to no context when you get in so tight and low. I don’t care how much detail I can see on the car. That info is useless if I can’t see the track and the racing.

      The helicopter shots where they follow the cars is great for telling the story over a lap or section of track. Also, the stationary camera they used at Azerbaijan last year was great. You really got a sense of speed and how close to the barrier the cars are being pushed.

    5. I agree, I don’t get the reasoning that Keith wrote. Watching car racing isn’t exactly about getting a sense of speed, but much rather seeing how the drivers are doing their jobs, where they put the cars on track, how quick they go through a corner, and with these low but panning angles you can’t sense those things at all.

    6. I think lower angles do help to give a sense of speed but only in specific circumstances like when the car is changing direction in Silverstone, since you can see more clearly the body roll and how the car reacts.

      But overall I think if people like it it’s not specifically because it looks faster, rather because is something different than what we’ve seen for the past 10-20 years.

  9. 15. on track interviews after quali.

  10. 16. allowing* and supporting Alonso to do Indy 500

    * BE would have found a way to stop it.

  11. An immediate ‘no-brainer’ change Liberty Media took care of was renaming feeder series GP2 as ‘Formula Two’ to make the connection between both as explicit as possible.

    I thought the whole point of GP2 (and GP3) being called so was because it was purposely a one-make series to keep costs to a minimum whereas Formula 2 (and Formula 3) is not supposed to be a one-make series. To rename GP2 to Formula 2 and to keep it purposely as a one-make series does not make a whole lot of sense to me.

    Also regarding car numbers, they are right to make them more visible but they should make the location of the numbers a standard position on the cars (maybe a standard font and typeface too) to make it easier to spot who is who. It is already the case in many other series of motor racing and it should be in Formula 1 also.

    1. I think you’re right regarding GP2 and F2, but I think that is also a subtelty most people aren’t paying attention to. I think simplicity and ease of understanding the tiering structure is more important and having F3, GP2, and GP3 just confuses the matter. The F2 formula is a spec formula, while F1 and F3 are not, solved. Just as easy to understand.

  12. Rick DeNatale
    1st June 2017, 13:06

    Ah, paddock passes! That brings back fond memories of the U.S.G.P. at the Glen back in the ’70s and ’80s. Paddock passes were an inexpensive addition to the ticket.

    Unlike today, the garages were separate from the pits, and were in a large building, in the infield with a center aisle between the team spaces along two sides. It was great for photography. I recall one year when there was a slot car track in one corner which was used by fans, drivers, and mechanics, albeit not at the same time.

    The setup was like Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis, or NASCAR venues.

    You could also meet drivers outside the garage. One year I met the very young Michael Andretti, who was driving a kart in a supporting race, and his father Mario who was driving in the GP.

  13. They are doing well, but they still have not moved the subtitles from their position obscuring the top three on the leaderboard It just needs moving 3 chars to the right please. I’ve been asking for five years now, nobody listens, and I cant because I’m deaf!

    1. +1, such an easy and obvious change. Clearly no one at FOM has user-tested the subtitles.

      1. And please change the yellow and green led lights for all the colour-blind fans ;)

    2. Years ago they had the race positions and gaps between the cars in a column down the left hand side of the screen, more or less permanently. Can we have that back, please.

      1. Like MotoGP does. And it’s great.

  14. I remember the day, when I was still covering sports, that showed me how detached F1 was from reality. I was covering the IndyCart GP in Rio de Janeiro, in Jacarepaguá (now completely obliterated). I was standing outside the paddock with a photographer, when the mechanics indicated that Bobby Rahal´s car will be coming out. Rahal advanced maybe one meter out of the box when he saw all the photographers waiting on the other side. He stopped the car and made a signal with his hand to the photographers to wait for a sec. And the the lifted the cover of his helmet (so the photos could show not the helmet but the driver inside it). It lasted maybe four, five seconds, and then he closed the helmet and went to do his business. On practice day there were fans everywhere (excepting from inside the boxes), drivers talking to fans, teams giving away and distributing caps, t-shirts and posters.
    I never, ever, saw anything like that in F1. I remember covering F1 at Interlagos during a Friday practice and hearing people from the stands shouting insults to the fat rich businessmen and skinny models invited to walk along the paddock by the companies doing business there. From these guys, of course, the real fans were the dudes who paid the tickets and were sitting under the sun, while those guys and models were unable to identify one driver from another and anyway were walking among the cars. It was a sad spectacle.

  15. Still way too early to make any opinions on whether changes are for the better or worse. Also a lot of correlation not really tied to causation here. Glad for the positivity though.

  16. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan)
    1st June 2017, 15:38

    Make the moustache great again!

  17. Luminous numbers .. a la Indy car and Le Mans

  18. Welll done Liberty, future looks great with your ownership

  19. Next step: Stop F1 from disappearing behind pay-tv walls.

    1. Yes, that would be good.

  20. This is all micro ball.

  21. Ray C. Norris
    1st June 2017, 21:37

    I would like to see more or longer ‘rides’ with NO comments, this is much more enjoyable than the constant switching of shots all over the track and from leaders to middle pack. Thanks, Racer Norriski

  22. The only thing I didn’t like this year is how the Monaco GP used a new podium and the same anthem recordings as the other GPs. I miss how Monaco still had the royal box with the French Garde Republicaine / Republican Guard recordings of the anthems from 1998-2016.

  23. Ross Braun, check.
    Canadian GP extension, check.
    Better t.v. production, check.
    I am generally much happier with the state of the sport compared to last year at this time. Good job so far, and hoping for more, of course.

  24. More “Senna-style camera shots“. People who have seen the documentary know what I’m talking about.

  25. There are alot of room for improvement.
    Maybe Liberty can introduce a couple of things such as:
    – involve fans into live feed by adding a pop up Twitter or Facebook feed for any action going on (eg. Overtaking, put error, crashes)
    – small advertising box at the corner of the screen (maybe controversial but it can be a good side income for Liberty)
    – picture in picture actions.
    – live feed of 360 cam available on F1.com website (pay to view)
    – Free race day Live streaming only available on F1.com with advertisement with no time sheet, no driver position available on the screen and only available in 1 languages. Pay to remove advertisement and add more features.
    – F1 TV on F1.com. Netflix like streaming service. Can view all F1 races archive from 1960s, F1 based movies such as Senna, Rush, McLaren, F1 based shows by ex-f1 drivers (talk show, paddock tour, engineering walk through), Liberty media funded F1 based movies/documentary/original series.

    1. The sooner Liberty offer PPV in some form the better. I’d pay good money to be unshackled from the dreadful Foxtel (Australia). And when I’m overseas it’s a crapshoot as to whether the hotel has the F1 on their in-house TV. Online PPV, just name your price Liberty, I’m in.

  26. Give us a paid, ultra hd streaming service for all sessions. Please tell me this isn’t going to take waiting for every tv deal to expire.

    1. Give us options.

      Paid Ultra HD streaming of all sessions.
      AND packages through cable providers.
      AND broadcasts on ad-supported local FTA stations.

      Then I’ll pay for the streaming, but I’ll still be able to chat about F1 with my mates who aren’t as into F1 but watch it when it’s on.

  27. INDIVIDUAL PODIUMS! The generic digital flag podium going from circuit to circuit is boring, dull and removes yet more of every track’s individuality. Each track needs it’s own character, not a vanilla brush where everything is the same every time. Added to that are REAL FLAGS. The digital flags look cheap and tacky, and a case of real flags for each driver won’t cost that much anyway.

    1. Completely agree on this one.

  28. I’m not that enthusiastic about some of the changes. The canadian gp deal has little to do with liberty. The australian gp changes are negative for the health of national championships. And finally some of the tv changes are for the worse, incredible to think how that could be achieved, at some of tracks we seen jerky over zoomed out action, you cant appreciate the cars and speed if the camera only shows the car not the corner nor the track let alone 2 cars in the same shot.

  29. It is a low bar for Liberty to rise above. They are doing the right things and the sport will grow significantly. As a long time fan I am very happy to see the change- the old guard was so painfully out of touch chasing pennies at the expense of dollars. Look at the value of the top 10 NFL franchises vs the value of the 10 F1 teams… There is SO much potential…

  30. Is it Indycar that has the little “cartoon speech bubble” graphic that has car/driver info? I love that.

  31. Liberty’s top priority is providing viewing options for today’s age. We’re IN the world of the TV cable being cut in favor of ultra high-speed internet and steaming. F1 must come up with an option for viewing practice, qualifying, and all Grand Prix races without having to rely on an archaic television provider.

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