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Lopez hits out at F1's archaic management

NEWS STORY
16/02/2015

Lotus boss Gerard Lopez believes that those at the very top of F1 are damaging the sport and holding it back.

Falling TV viewing figures and swathes of empty seats in grandstands are the obvious face of Formula One's failure to connect with current fans and attract new ones.

The knock-on effect is that sponsors, alarmed by the statistics, are unwilling to pay the high prices demanded, leading to the abundance of unfilled space on many of this year’s contenders.

Lopez is in no doubt as to where the blame lies.

"Formula One TV ratings are declining steeply whereas the show on track is exceptional, albeit still improvable," he told AutoHebdo. "The sport must reach out to the younger fans, namely engage them not only through TV but also and above all via the Internet and social media.

"What's more, F1 does not have any genuine marketing department," he continued, "which means there exists a significant untapped potential for commercial opportunities. According to the experts I meet regularly and who invest in other sports, Formula One remains the only activity offering a global platform likely to attract world companies. And yet, there seems to be some sort of blockage.

"Why do these potential sponsors never make the leap when they are not really undaunted by the amounts requested in F1. What's holding them back? Is it because of the sport's archaic management and organisation? While around $900 million are redistributed to the teams every year, the system keeps giving too much to the haves and too little to the have-nots.

"The gap is constantly growing, which in turn tarnishes the overall image of F1. Therefore, potential sponsors tend to show wariness when it comes to invest in the sport. All this could be fixed pretty easily but unfortunately none of the other teams shares the same vision, nor the same agenda."

Sadly, whilst his comments will strike a chord, particularly with the fans, they will fall on deaf ears when it comes to the likes of CVC and the man at Prince's Gate, not to mention those teams at the other end of the pitlane.

For its part, Lotus was one of the first to really take to social media, using it to connect with fans rather than merely using it as a tool to screw more money out of them.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by jo6pac, 17/02/2015 21:43

"No Rolex watch for Mr. Lopez even if he is right. I stopped watching a few yrs ago because I could no long afford dish. I can watch it for free in Spanish in Calif with no ads during the race. It is some times is time delay but who care. I don't speak Spanish but volume down and there is enough info on the screen to follow the race. The greed level here is way to high on bernie, cvc, fia. They most know there a world recession/depression going on, must be nice to be .001%. The circus isn't to big to fail."

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2. Posted by gturner38, 17/02/2015 20:05

""If the teams accepts to gain less money, than F1 can drop the ticket prices. What about that Mr. Lopez?"

Some of the teams should be taking smaller payments, but Lotus isn't one of them. Ferrari, Williams, Mercedes, Red Bull, and McLaren all receive extra payments for their historical significance and/or sustained performance over an extended period. It gives them a massive leg up in terms of budget and forces the hands of the smaller teams to try to keep up. Taking those away and splitting them more evenly among the teams would make the smaller teams more viable and improve performance.

As for reducing payments leading to lower ticket prices, I frankly doubt it. Yes, it might lead to CVC agreeing to renegotiate with promoters (assuming CVC wouldn't just take the extra money as profits), but that still doesn't lead the tracks to drop prices. I have to assume that the circuits are setting ticket prices at a level that they feel will produce maximum revenue, therefore lowering prices will not lead to enough extra tickets being sold to cover the drop in revenue per ticket. Since the track owners aren't trying run the venues as charities, I assume prices will stay just as high. The only good would be that the tracks are more likely to be profitable."

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3. Posted by Hondawho?, 17/02/2015 9:42

"I appreciate this is not my most popular post (see ratings below) and I can understand everyones comments and to a large degree agree with you all but; IMHO this is all being planned very very carefully by the F1 management and why not, its their business. The plan, again ONLY IMHO is this:

F1 as an engineering feat has developed as far as it can go without making cars fly or putting the driver in pressure suits.

The sport has developed because a certain BE saw a future in it, the TV as its developed and in its present form, was/is I am sure a bonus.

Yes its a business and as a business you need to make money and they have made a lot of money, however like all good things it comes to an end and I feel sure the end is being planned.

The move towards total "Pay to view" will be in line with the passing of said BE and the selling off of the sport at its peak (which i think has been missed personally, due to the GFC but what do I know?). If this target has been missed then the said "milking" of the sport is the other option and seems to be what most contributors on here seem to think is happening and will continue until there is no more milk left or; is the "time to "sell" . The sport will then be in the hands of the Pay to view stations and will fall away slowly until its reached a natural "its on TV, but do we care scenario". By then BE will be long gone CVC will have made even more money and everyone will be happy that is apart from the company(s) duped into buying it.

There will be, as stated by "testa Rossa' no more "petrol heads with dirty nails" as they will all be playing mind games on 3D goggles on their computer simulators or with the chip in the back of their head. Its called progress.

F1, in fact ALL motorpsort will disappear naturally, but its all IMHO."

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4. Posted by Hondawho?, 17/02/2015 9:01

"4. Posted by ape, 10 hours ago
I think it was great for F1 that we saw Kimi winning races in that Enstone-Lotus.

I agree and at last someone else saying its " Team Enstone with Lotus added as an extra."

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5. Posted by Hondawho?, 17/02/2015 8:59

"6. Posted by testa rossa, 12 hours ago
Bernie and the teams forget that F1 is not tennis but a sport largely supported by petrol heads with dirty nails and little money."

You have hit the nail on the head. The sport will continue to dwindle in terms of real fan support, as the people who are as described above are becoming less and less.

Very few like getting their hands dirty but most like to think they are celebrities! Lopez thinks he is a celebrity as does VJM (Dig that haircut dude!) and many before them, they do not last and always look for a way out normally blaming someone else for their failings...seen it time and time again in F1, David Theme (Remember him of Essex Lotus and Zoro fame", Stoddart, etc etc the list is endless. "

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6. Posted by Vinicius, 17/02/2015 5:37

"If the teams accepts to gain less money, than F1 can drop the ticket prices. What about that Mr. Lopez?"

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7. Posted by Yeyox02, 16/02/2015 23:19

"Mr. Gerard Lopes is right but why he is the only one who says the truth, is it a matter of guts and the rest are afraid of Ecclestone, CVC and FIA?"

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8. Posted by ape, 16/02/2015 22:31

"Lopez did a very good job in saving the Enstone team as Renault wanted to close it and get out of F1 like BMW , Toyota ,Honda. Like Mr Sauber saved the team in Switzerland for closing after BMW failed , these guys deserve more respect and money from the Cartel teams and their boss mr E.
i am so fed up , this cartel is just afraid for new refreshing blood ,..
I think it was great for F1 that we saw Kimi winning races in that Enstone-Lotus.

"

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9. Posted by Dajobo, 16/02/2015 22:05

"The stands are empty because it's an inferior show at a higher price than the competition. This has nothing to do with social media etc.

Here's an example...
Each year I take a bus load to Mount Panorama for the Bathurst 1000. A GA ticket for $150 each gives us four days racing and we can get a great view from many points on the track. Throw in the fact we can camp trackside for a grand total of $40 each for the entire period. The best grandstand seat is $299 for those who prefer a grandstand seat.

Total $190 four days with a great view and a six hour main race.

I went to the Melbourne GP where a GA ticket for four days is much the same price and walked the entire way around the track and could find no place where you could see anything more than a glimpse of top of the car over the concrete barriers or a long distance view of a corner. This means if you cant afford a grandstand ticket it's a waste of time. The cheapest decent grandstand seat is $500. We then need pay hotel accommodation at at least $100 per night each on top of that.

Total $450 four days with no view and a two hour main race.
or $800 for a view...

The cost ends up significantly higher for a GP and that would be fine if the show was significantly better, it's not."

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10. Posted by gturner38, 16/02/2015 21:45

""Nope, sorry this is a case of " he protesteth too much". He has an issue and he wants to fob off the blame on CVC and F1 management. Sorry Mr Lopez if you have an issue sort it or get out."

Sauber, Lotus, and Force India all have very similar issues. If they choose the "get out" option, we are left with 5 teams. for anyone who didn't like seeing Mercedes finish 1-2 all the time, imagine Mercs finishing 1-2-3-4 with regularity or knowing that they can lock out the podium even with a DNF.

CVC only is concerned about the long term health of the sport to the extent that they can sell it off in the future. Otherwise, they will milk it for everything they can get. As for Bernie, he's pretty much stuck following the same philosophy so long as CVC are the largest shareholder. I'm not saying he would be in a rush to renegotiate contracts if CVC were out of the picture, but I definitely don't see an improvement coming when he is no longer around. What we are left with is a series in which the financial distribution so splits the budgets of the teams that it takes either a massive feat of engineering (Williams connecting with Mercedes) or a billionaire to make any move up the grid while no one in charge of the series does anything to promote it."

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11. Posted by testa rossa, 16/02/2015 20:30

"Grandstands are empty cuz it is too expensive ,Tv ratings will fall more in the future with with the pay-tv , now the teams want to cash, but the audience goes doen cuz no new fans come in .
Bernie and the teams forget that F1 is not tennis but a sport largely supported by petrolheads with dirty nails and little money."

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12. Posted by Malbec, 16/02/2015 19:34

"Gerard Lopez is a highly successful business man and certainly speaks a lot of sense when it comes down to how Formula One is run and he is absolutely right that it can and needs to be improved. I am always weary of private equity investors, they are in business to make money for themselves and their shareholders, fair enough, but what have they actually contributed to the 'sport' or am I missing something?
"

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13. Posted by Hondawho?, 16/02/2015 18:56

"I also suspect "Sponsor Group Lotus" already losing a lot of money have said to Snr Lopez, "we will look to drop the sponsorship unless you perform. Snr Lopez is a finance man, what does he know about motor racing?

Happy to listen to other points of view."

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14. Posted by Hondawho?, 16/02/2015 18:52

"Nope, sorry this is a case of " he protesteth too much". He has an issue and he wants to fob off the blame on CVC and F1 management. Sorry Mr Lopez if you have an issue sort it or get out."

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