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Briatore calls for an improvement to F1... for the teams

NEWS STORY
29/07/2008

Seeing the headline, we have no doubt that most F1 fans hearts would leap in anticipation, hopeful that finally our sport might take a long hard look at itself for all the right reasons.

Unfortunately, Flavio Briatore's comments to Gazzetta dello Sport, ahead of today's meeting of the ten F1 teams in Maranello, were about how F1 can be improved for the teams.

"There is no F1 project," he told the Italian newspaper. "The teams feel abandoned. Formula One needs redesigning. I believe the teams must decide."

The meeting is the follow up to the recent get-together at Hockenheim as the teams prepare to react to Max Mosley's call for a set of new rules for the sport from 2011 or face the prospect of the governing body drafting its own rules.

Also to be agreed however, is a new Concorde Agreement, as the teams and manufacturers vie for a bigger slice of the F1 cake, mindful that CVC and Bernie Ecclestone are unlikely to be willing to give much more away.

However, whilst the teams fret as to how they might get more, one has to wonder whether any of them are giving any serious consideration to the fans, effectively their customers.

Despite the so-called 'Lewis factor', the sport continues to make it into the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Indeed, ignoring the wretched sex scandal, on the day that Hamilton won the British Grand Prix his victory was overshadowed, by the majority of the TV broadcasters and newspapers, by the Men's Final at Wimbledon, which saw Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in a five-hour marathon.

Most fans would agree that the subsequent German GP was looking to be a snoozefest until Timo Glock crashed out resulting in the need for the Safety Car. The closing up of the field, together with what appeared to be an error by McLaren's strategists brought the race back to life however.

Despite headlines claiming that the BBC has won the rights to broadcast F1 from next year, the fact is that, with a couple of years of its current contract remaining, ITV chose to walk away from the sport. Even with Hamilton seemingly destined to achieve championship glory, be it this year or next, the British broadcaster knows where its bread is truly buttered, the old stalwart that really brings in the money, football.

On the day that F1 needed to rely on a suspension failure and an apparent strategic error to give the German GP a shot in the arm, MotoGP fans were treated to a battle royale from Laguna Seca where Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner went at it like their lives depended on the outcome.

Despite having five drivers on the grid at Hockenheim, twenty-five percent of the entry, and in spite of some clever TV direction, there was no hiding the yawning gaps in the grandstands.

Things do need to change in F1, but Flavio and his fellow bosses should take the time to lift their heads out of the trough every now and then and look around them. For there's a good chance that by the time they've finally agreed on what's best for them, CVC and Bernie, the fans will have moved on to pastures new.

Never take your customers for granted.

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