A tale of two letters, who’s interests?

12

A battle of letters, ideologies and interests is happening in Formula 1 and to add to that gravitas, we have a summit in April to determine the future regulations changes.

The Grand Prix Driver’s Association (GPDA) did their best Luther routine and posted 95 theses on the door of F1.

The Grand Prix Drivers Association released a letter:

“We drivers love our sport! Since childhood, we dreamed of racing the fastest race cars from the top teams on the coolest tracks against the best drivers in the world. We seek competition and love F1 almost unconditionally, which makes us most probably the people with the purest interest for Formula 1, beside our fans.

“Formula 1 is currently challenged by a difficult global economic environment, a swift change in fan and consumer behaviour, and a decisive shift in the TV and media landscape. This makes it fundamental that the sport’s leaders make smart and well considered adjustments.

“We feel that some recent rule changes – on both the sporting and technical side, and including some business directions – are disruptive, do not address the bigger issues our sport is facing and in some cases could jeopardise its future success. We know that among the leaders of the sport – be it the owners, their representatives, the governing body, the teams or other stakeholders – every individual acts with the very best intentions.

“Therefore, the drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill-structured and prevents progress being made. Indeed, it can sometimes lead to just the opposite, a gridlock. This reflects negatively on our sport, prevents it being fit for the next generation of fans and compromises further global growth.

“We would like to request and urge the owners and all stakeholders of Formula 1 to consider restructuring its own governance. The future directions and decisions of F1, be they short or long term, sporting, technical or business orientated should be based on a clear master plan. Such plan should reflect the principles and core values of Formula 1.

“We need to ensure that F1 remains a sport, a closely-fought competition between the best drivers in extraordinary machines on the coolest tracks. F1 should be home only to the best teams, drivers and circuits, with partners and suppliers fit for such an elite championship.

“Formula 1 has undoubtedly established itself as the pinnacle of motorsport and as such one of the most viewed and popular sports around the world. We drivers stand united, offer our help and support for F1 to keep it as such, and further to make it fit and exciting for many years and generations to come.

“It is important to state that this open letter is intended in the best interests of all and should not be seen as [a] blind and disrespectful attack. Thank you for your attention and granting us the liberty to put our thoughts into words.

“Best regards,

“Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Alex Wurz, on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers.”

Mr. Ecclestone agrees that things could change and took the opportunity to offer his own letter.

Bernie Ecclestone has penned his own letter:

“It is not always easy to agree with you but you are correct in stating that the decision making process in the sport is obsolete and ill structured.

“We must, as you have stated, urge the owners and all the stakeholders of Formula 1 to consider restructuring its own governance.

“It is easy to analyse what is wrong so why not think and come back on this. At least it is better to think before you wish.”

“You state that every individual acts with the very best intentions. I am not sure if this is a misprint. If not, it should read ‘with their very best intentions’.”

Free everything

There is nothing easy in this complex mix of ingredients. I’ve read the words of GPDA president, Alexander Wurz, when he talks of opening the sport up, being on social media, how the new kids groove and how F1 should have different ways to access via tablets etc.

I’ve argued this until I am blue but giving away the content will kill F1 and if you look at other sports freely throwing out all their content to get the hip kids watching, they are not generating the kind of profits needed to keep the teams in the money they are accustomed to being in. If you reduce the revenue stream, you critically wound the teams and their ability to operate at this level.

I’ve read journalists who have pressed back on the GPDA letter suggesting that they themselves could simply put pressure on the teams they work for to stop voting for nonsense and start making a stand. That’s very true but in most cases, not very realistic. It’s like to telling your employer to completely abandoned its own self interest (what Mr. E eluded to) and consider a reduced revenue stream as a positive. That may not be an appealing plan to them.

I can’t be certain if the GPDA letter was more publicity or born from frustration but regardless, the situation will take more than two letters and a new qualifying system to fix. The letter could be dog-whistling for a change at the very top but there is are contracts until 2020 so regardless if you agree with that idea, it may not happen until then. At that time, I am not sure who will be negotiating the new deal but like the GPDA, I suggest a re-think on how all of this is handled and the teams may not like it very much.

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dude

I don’t want free contents. I’ll pay for good content delivery, but they aren’t offering.

geeyore

True enough. I’d gladly pay for a world feed sub through Amazon or Netflix. Throw in some decent commentary and it’s a no-brainer.

The Captain

We’re only one race in and F1 is already changing rules back and forth, having outrage over terrible action (qualifying), and a drivers revolt (albeit a polite one). This seasons gonna be a fiasco if Merc settles in to crush the field again.

Oh, and I’m just SICK of Bernie. Oh he agrees with the drivers???? Yea well he also called the new qualifying ‘crap’ and said it needed to go on Sat then pushed for it to come back today. So yea, he just lies out of both ends of his mouth whenever it suits him.

Joe Sims

I wonder why everyone is so bent on Mercedes dominating? Before Mercedes, it was Red Bull and before them, Ferrari and so on and so. There has often been one dominant team in F1 but everyone is now on the Mecedes is killing F1 bandwagon.

Negative Camber

It’s a good question Joe and I think much of the answer lies in the details of the new hybrid engine package and the performance that is baked in to their design. When RBR won, it was with aero and a better chassis, the V*’s were all pretty close. The regulations had matured to a point where finding the differences between .200 and .700 of a second was finite. Merc has a great package but it would seem to me that folks are suggesting that there really is a large imbalance that isn’t easily overcome and that this could remain… Read more »

Joe Sims

Certainly the new engine formula is more challenging then in the past. But if you look at F1 from a historical basis, the Cosworth V8 was a dominant engine. The Ferraris, the Matra, the Hondas of that Era were lagging behind. The TAG motor that McLaren ran was a dominant engine in its day.BMW had a killer engine for a few years. My opinion is the animous shown Mercedes goes beyond just the engine success. And certainly Ferrari is gaining. But I wonder is a part of the issue is today’s fascination with instant gratification? And a dislike for a… Read more »

Negative Camber

I can’t discount that notion either Joe. It may be playing a part in the cooling interest in F1. I’m ok with Merc domination, it doesn’t bother me much. I’m not sure I’m jazzed about the shift in power to Merc and Ferrari because I tend to think the regulatory and direction of F1 should be separate. Teams have too many self interests to do what’s best for the fans even when they really want to and many do but they can’t do it at the expense of their own revenue streams etc.

Tim C

This has all the characteristics of a volcano about to explode and destroy everything in its path. If it weren’t for all the families that depend on F1 for their livelihood, I’d say just let it all come crashing down. How much worse can it really get?!?

runnah

Fun Fact: Bernie is impervious to magma.

MIE

No, he just runs his operations from within a hollowed out volcano..

runnah

Dear F1,

Please fix your severe case of anal cranial inversion.

Yours Truly
– F1 fans

geeyore

Looks like they read MotorSport’s Mark Hughes interview with Luca di Montezemolo, and are angling to bring him back as boss of F1 :)