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