If you’re a fan of the science of Newton’s third law, then perhaps Liberty Media’s acquisition of Formula 1, the massive regulation changes (harder tires, more downforce) and the EU investigation into the FIA’s role in the sale of F1 as well as the prize money distribution model, are all actions getting their equal and opposite reaction.
The first law of motion was the fact that F1 was considered to be an object at rest or at least at a slow, consistent velocity of evolution regarding the ownership and even, to some extent, the regulations/formula and few forces were working on it in order to improve it.
The 2013 regulations ushering in a hybrid power unit, HD tires and DRS was met with an equal and opposite reaction—slower cars, fan disapproval, lack of sound, tire management—and this forced the new regulation changes for 2017. The regulation changes have already been questioned as to why they sought increased downforce instead of less downforce and grippier tires.
Pirelli’s Paul Hembery is already offering “don’t blame us” sentiments and the season hasn’t even started yet nor has there been any testing.
The second law could be considered the sale of Formula 1 and while this purchase was set in motion, the rate of change in that process was the force endorsed by the FIA who had a legal right to trump any potential sale. As a component of their approval of the sale, The FIA turned a $450k investment in stock of F1 into a $70M payday. The EU is now seeking to exhort its own force to apply to the equation. Will this be a loss of mass causing a change in the momentum of the sale and direction of F1 as well?
I posted an article yesterday that discussed this EU investigation and that Liberty Media surely knew this was a potential action of the EU but I also suggested that this action may have been something the EU might have been banking on in order to force F1 to change its prize money distribution as well as create a leverage point with the FIA.
Today a story appeared that suggests a new effort by the top teams, who are part of a Constructors’ Championship Bonus (CCB) element of the prize money model, are possibly banding together to form a group like the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) of years past. Presumably this is to be a force to impact the rate of change in momentum and offering its own 2nd law of motion element into the situation.
This leaves us with the third law of F1 motion and that could simply be that he EU, the regulation changes, the FOTA-style CCB teams, Liberty Media and the fans are all equal forces pressing against each other like the tires of a car and the road which pushes back against the tires that trod upon it. Unlike last year’s Pirelli’s, these tires don’t degrade quickly and there could be some friction causing some overheating.
The three laws of F1 motion really come back to what the Concorde Agreement expertly addressed. Teams, the FIA and the commercial rights owners all signed a tripartite agreement that bound them all to each other and in a certain direction. Since it’s disappearance, the lack of a definitive Concorde Agreement can be felt in the multiple forces pressing against each other and perhaps we could all earn a lesson from Newton. If Isaac were here today, He’d surely apply the Conservation of Momentum to this situation now. On the other hand, perhaps he would hold his hands up and say, “I feign no hypotheses” and admit that the F1 series in mired in Quantum Entanglement. He may be right.