I won’t add my commentary to soil the pure quotes of two men who have a lot to say about the lack of management in F1. I would very much like your comments on McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh, which we posted here, and Renault’s Gerard Lopez (which AUTOSPORT ran today). Juxtapose these two comment boxes and give us your opinion. Are they right? Are they wrong? Where are the right or wrong?
â€¢ â€œI personally believe that in F1 it is remarkable we are sat inside a successful sport,â€ said Whitmarsh. â€œI am not pointing fingers at CVC, because we, those involved, have really badly managed this sport. There is no central marketing â€“ no strategy. There is no real cooperation. It has been divide-and-conquer. â€œWe donâ€™t look at developing young talent. We donâ€™t look at developing young peopleâ€™s interest in the sport. How many multi billion dollar businesses donâ€™t spend one dollar centrally marketing themselves?
â€¢ â€œBut I am an optimistic. I think it is great that F1 is such a powerful product that it has been able to overcome collectively how badly we have managed it â€“ and the teams are as bad as anyone. â€œWe have now demonstrated for a while [through FOTA] that the teams can work together and be quite responsible, which in a way they perhaps have not done historically.
â€¢ â€œIf we can properly engage with the FIA and the commercial rightsâ€™ holder and say: â€˜letâ€™s work together, improve and develop this sportâ€™ then we ought to make it a much bigger sport.â€ â€œArguably the teams do not need the FIA, and the FIA does not need the teams. Arguably the teams do not need the current commercial rights holder, and the commercial rights holder does not need the current teams.
â€¢ â€œWe can all go our own ways. The FIA can have its FIA championship; there can be a GP1 with CVC, and F1 can go off and do Grand Prix racing; and the teams are big enough and ugly enough to do that as well. But to do all that would be counter productive â€“ we should try and find a way of working together.â€
â€¢ “Formula 1 does need to promote itself better as it is a global sport,” Lopez said. “It probably also needs to monetise better, which is a different thing. Promoting means putting money into something and hoping you get known, monetising means making money. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re looking at a situation whereby F1 needs to add other offers to its package, and Bernie Ecclestone will be looking at it for sure.
â€¢ “The future of the sport is an evolution in terms of adding additional media channels and increasing revenue to the sport. The future of the sport is also the new geography it’s trying to go to. To do a better job acquiring audience in these new geographies, we all know what it takes to do that – which is having a successful driver from these places.”
â€¢ “It’s very easy to criticise F1 as a sport and be detached, but we [Renault] push our drivers to walk without guards and so on, one kilometre down to the cars.
â€¢ “Why? Because we think it’s a good thing and nobody’s going to kill them. Nobody’s going to rob them. At the most, people are going to touch them. That’s not the end of the world, right? Being over-protective of the drivers is kind of a first measure of not being close to your fans. “And also, the drivers enjoy it. They actually enjoy it, unless you tell them that it’s not the right thing. Vitaly [Petrov] and Robert [Kubica] will sign autographs for an hour, and those are little things where you tell yourself that even we as teams need to do a better job. And sometimes a better job at doing nothing – which means not over-policing it.” “Look at it, it’s F1. The paddock is 200 metres times 50 metres, and most of the F1 people think that’s the centre of the universe, when it’s not. So I think we would gain from just being more relaxed about certain things.
â€¢ “I see drivers when they come from GP2 and they’re all star struck, and they’re more than happy to be recognised, okay? Spend two or three years in F1 and they get into this mental behaviour like it’s not okay, that it’s wasting time. Come on! You’ve got a couple of hours of racing and a couple of hours of debrief. They could spend some more time with the fans.”
â€¢ “I think F1 has done a very good job, and I’ll be killed for saying this, at not doing anything with the Internet so far, and waiting for it,” he said “You can do it the wrong way, like the music industry, where you don’t do anything at the beginning, and then you do something that is half-baked, and then you find that you’re in a troublesome situation. “Bernie has waited for the market to mature, and nobody can criticise F1 in terms of security – it has been a very protected model – so now is the right time to act. “F1 does not need to be more famous, but needs to do a better job at monetising itself outside of television rights and so on.”
â€¢ “There is all the historic video content for example – and people would pay,” he said. “I would, for example, love to really look at the Ayrton Senna/Alain Prost Suzuka accident, and I would pay to have monthly access to any race I wanted to watch. “We know that all the races, including all the black and white ones, are now digitised, so there’s a huge amount of historic content that you can sell. Then there’s all the betting sites, and not just the high-end betting, also the fun betting. You can have mobile betting, at the tracks, outside of the tracks – and full betting at the office, so all these different money games.
What do you think?