Silverstone boss rips F1 as ‘S***’ product

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Silverstone managing director Patrick Allen had some harsh words for Formula 1’s current product today according to The Independent:

“I’ve said that people don’t come to watch guys looking at data screens. Fans want to see gladiators racing and fighting it out in a fair fight. Nobody wants to hear drivers getting told to ‘lift’, ‘coast’ or ‘we’re not going to catch the guy in front, settle for second’.

“I think it is criminal when we have got to that state of racing and that is not saleable. I think Bernie is as frustrated with it as we all are. How long is it before the technical director is stood on the top step, not the driver? You’ve just got to throw the towel in then and look for something else.”

According to the report, Allen vented his frustration with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and said that there was certainly an understanding if not sympathy on the issues:

“Fans don’t want to see a procession,” Allen said. “As a promoter I can only promote what you give me and if that isn’t up to standard, people aren’t going to buy.”

“Months and months back I said it to Mr E himself that I can’t sell tickets for a s*** product,”

The comments come on the heels of reports that the circuit may not be able to continue to afford the yearly British Grand Prix and its £16m hosting fee. Even though the circuit had 140,000 in attendance to see British champion Lewis Hamilton with the race in 2014, Allen feels the novelty will wear off:

“Lewis gets attention this year because it’s new, it’s a novelty. Wait until this year is gone and the public say, ‘I wonder what is going to happen? Are we going to have another year like last year? Hamilton is going to go rushing off.’ People want a race.”

Now, there is one element you may find interesting in the article and some may argue a counter perspective but I’ve been covering this sport long enough to know that there are more than one power broker involved and the permutations and machinations the commercial arm of F1, Formula One Management (FOM) have to go through to get all teams on board and the regulatory body, the FIA, happy with it’s position are grand.

The article suggests that Ecclestone’s critique of his own series is really a commentary against how the FIA are regulating it and the new technical regulations that have doubled or even tripled the costs and frozen any real and immediate efforts for competitors to find parity against Mercedes and their baked-in advantage.

The article is right, Mr. E does not run the FIA and the teams were very involved in getting these new regulations in place…Mercedes and Renault in particular. He’s been very vocal about the engineering pendulum swinging too far the other way.

The FIA president, Jean Todt, is a very low-profile person and not often called out as being participatory to F1’s current ills. It  does seem much easier to target Ecclestone but I’ve always refrained from that as I do not believe it is 100% in his control.

Recent editorial’s I have written have suggested that the FIA needs to take a firm stand, as it did under Max Mosley, and right the ship regardless if the teams are 100% happy or not.

I may not feel as pointed as Mr. Allen but I will say that many of his comments seem to echo many, many comments I’ve read from fans. The proof may be in the pudding when/if the novelty of a Hamilton victory at Silverstone and yet more Mercedes domination wears off. We’ll see. Several years of Ferrari domination followed by two years of Renault and then four years of Red Bull domination have left fans looking for more parity and better racing among teams. However, Hamilton or Mercedes fans are perfectly happy with the status quo.

Hat Tip: The Independent

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@_canuck_

Someone trying to make a name for themselves.

Negative Camber

And did. :)

Alpha16

F1 will never fix itself until it hits rock bottom thats a fact. F1 would have been better off without Merc in F1 they stuck us with this new engine formula thats destroyed F1. Renualt would not have been able to force the change through alone. Merc destroyed 2 fold 1) they destroyed sport with the engines that sound like vacuum cleaners 2) now we left 2 see that win every flippin race. Personally i wish they were the ones that could just flip off from F1. and they can take Jean Todt with them. His been a useless piece… Read more »

Evan Bummy

Mr. Negative Camber: Do you think Bernie, FOM, FIA see the Indy-car and NASCAR series and want to emulate some of their parody and competitiveness but are held back because of worry about becoming too much of a ‘spec’ series? I mean, they’re trying to bring competitiveness to the sport while maintaining the amazing, controlled technological arms race. It may follow then that there isn’t as much to be learned from the big two American series as it may seem, IF their parody is a result of the limitations on car spec differences. I’ve just often thought about F1, why… Read more »

The Imperative Voice

I think F1 is held back because the big teams understand that as a “car” series they can use an engineering and money advantage to stay top handful every year. Their engines and engineering separate them from the field. You have to have testing limits just to keep it reasonable. To me they keep blocking efforts to flatten the playing field because then Merc or the Horses are just as likely to win as the next guy, unless they really have better drivers, ideas, parts. Just look at Red Bull, they win a few years they are tickled pink, they… Read more »

Negative Camber

I agree with IV on this one, I don’t think they really are looking at other series quite as intent as possibly they could but then the markets are distinctly different as well. That’s the challenge too. They would like the competitiveness thought.

Jamie Huntoon

If you sell 140,000 tickets and don’t make money you have a problem.

Nigel@CassRacing

F1, for better or worse, wants the car manufacturers participating. Right now, car manufacturers are terrified of the “green lobby”. So they drank the Kool Aid, and slow, fuel saving, boring F1 is what you get. It will only be fixed if 1. the World moves on from the anti-car/speed/fun environmental movement or 2. F1 accepts it does not really need car manufacturers to have a great racing series.

JustCoz

The new engines are more powerful than the old v8s ever were. It’s the aero changes and fuel limits that have slowed them down. It was so stupid of the FIA to clip the wings and change the nose the same year as introducing the engine change, because it makes it look like the engines are the issue.

longshot

Not only that, the tires that degrade quickly if drivers push, or even if they get too close to the car in front of them.

Tom Firth

Right so Bernie doesn’t like the product and needed a circuit owner to say it for him, but doesn’t have Ron Walker anymore.

Ok …

The Imperative Voice

The emphasis on it as a “car” series as opposed to a “driver” series is the core of the problem. It is why certain cars drive off in the distance. It is also intended for the big teams to stay on top and the weaker ones to be constant backmarkers. If F1 went more to a driver series with more spec’d cars — I don’t think it’s so much power or sound as competitiveness — it would be Indycar x 100 because of the talent it attracts. They would also be able to retain people who now go to Indycar… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

Be careful what you wish for….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB1LuCUovW4

…you just might get it.
In the hew and cry for parity and competition against the backdrop of perceived boredom and unwarranted interference, I am reminded of “Rollerball” (the older version).

Spencer A

He’s just now noticing this? When I marshal or watch on TV, I find myself gravitating to the GP2 or GTE races. Those are phenomenal events to watch, yet there are no people in the stands. If I want to see a parade I’ll go to a cruise, or time trials. F1 is a joke. The most exciting part of the weekend are the last 2 minutes of qualifying sessions and the start of the race.
There isn’t as much technology in that series going to road cars anymore anyways. Restrict technical regulations, and let the drivers have at it.

Chuck Voelter

FWIW, the new ‘lightning bolt’ building at your track looks like s***

Negative Camber

Is that the “Wing”?

Tom Firth

FWIW the view inside is pretty s*** as well. Coffee wasn’t bad though.