Last week, F1 boss, Chase Carey, met with race promoters but the night prior to that meeting, the Formula One Promoters Association (FOPA) released a press release strongly worded that slated F1 for its handling of the contracts and leadership of F1. The had issues with a lack of clarity, loss of free-to-air TV and new races added to the calendar—such as the newly announced Vietnamese Grand Prix—at, potentially, a risk to existing races.
Carey found all of this slight strange as he was scheduled to meet with FOPA, who represent 16 of the races on the calendar, and discuss things. He told ESPN:
“I think, realistically, if you get 21 in a room you are bound to find a couple who have something to complain about,” he told ESPN.
“In all honestly, I thought the meeting [with race promoters] was incredibly positive. I thought there was tremendous support from the vast majority and they have a great appreciation for what we are doing.
“The fact that a few of them wanted to find something to complain about, that’s life. It’s not going to change what we are doing, and by a large majority the promoters have been supportive and are excited about what we are doing.
“They believe the sport, for them and in general, is in a much better place than it was a few years ago and is going in the right direction, and we have got a list of places we can’t accommodate [on the calendar] that we would like to add to the sport.
“It’s part of life, you are going to find a bunch of people who have something to complain about and are going to make noise. We will go forward and do what we are doing, which I think we feel good about.”
He’s right, of course, you can’t please everyone. There will always be those who are not happy with how their needs, hopes, desires or wishes are being met. Chase can’t cure everyone’s woes but in general, if FOPA members are largely happy with the direction, then you seek some compromise with those who aren’t and forge ahead.
Did he address the three concerns FOPA’s press release listed?
“I addressed all three [concerns at the promoters’ conference], but realistically no-one brought any of them up — they just put it out in a press release, which was a little strange.”
“I thought that was the strangest [part] because they put it out the night before [we were due to meet with them], so we already had a day set up to talk about initiatives and they — well, only a couple of guys — put out a press release saying we need to talk about initiatives. That was the strangest part.”
What I do find interesting is that are five races that are up for contract extensions this year. The British Grand Prix, Italian Grand Prix, Spanish Grand Prix, Mexican Grand Prix and German Grand Prix. Oddly, F1 just made a big splash announcement that they have extended the Azerbaijan race in Baku…which isn’t one of the five up for renewal this year. Perhaps just timing but that seems odd to me.
Also, it is the one race that F1 boss Greg Maffei said,
“So we end up with races in places like Baku in Azerbaijan, where they paid us a big race fee, but it does nothing to build the long-term brand and health of the business.
“Our job is to find partners who pay us well, but also help us to build the product.”
There must have been a change of opinion here if Chase just inked a deal for his boss with Baku? If it did nothing to build F1’s brand last year, what changed in that time period to now become a strong brand partner for F1? If F1’s own press release is accurate, then the change may very well be that Maffei was wrong, it is building an F1 brand because fans voted it as “best race of the season” in one of their many fan surveys.
I’m not privy to their survey work but if anyone knows surveys, our own Grace does because she creates them for the American Government and she’s had concerns over some of the process behind getting accurate, measurable results to answer defined questions. I didn’t see the result of the survey so if you have, let me know.
It wouldn’t have been my vote but then I’ve come to not be surprised by F1 fan surveys results and votes. I think you could author a small book about the wording of those questions and how fans interpret and answer them.
Regardless, let’s hope Chase assuaged any real fear and bridged a few gaps in his meeting with FOPA and that the renewals can be done quickly for the benefit of all involved. I don’t envy Chase’s task here, he’s got a lot on his shoulders. The least of which is the giant hand of Azad Rahimov who is very happy with the Baku extension.