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Strategy Group meets… but don't get your hopes up

NEWS STORY
14/05/2015

F1's Strategy Group meets today in the hope of giving the sport a kick in the pants... nothing will come of it.

The group, which comprises the six leading teams from 2014, FIA president Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone, will meet at the F1 supremo's offices at Biggin Hill - an airfield that played a major role in the Second World War.

Also in attendance will be Donald Mackenzie, co-chairman of CVC Capital Partners which owns a large share of the sport.

The media is getting excited by the prospect of this meeting, some calling it "crucial", whilst others describe it as a "crisis" meeting. To quote Lewis Hamilton, B*******!

Nothing will come of it.

OK, we might get agreement on another asinine rule such as no livery changes to drivers helmets, or the like, but real ground-breaking moves to halt the haemorrhaging of TV viewers, spectators at races and (consequently) sponsors, simply won't happen.

Yes, there is too much self interest in the sport, and team bosses will never agree on anything, each wanting what is best for them and their team.

However, there is something else very wrong here.

Speaking in Barcelona last week, technical bosses, when asked about rule changes for 2017, pretty much argued 'if it aint broke, why fix it', insisting that much of the racing at present is good.

That's as it may be. However, those fans no longer filling the seats at the Circuit de Catalunya, Melbourne or Monza, clearly don't feel the racing is that good. Likewise those fans now finding something better to watch (or do) on GP weekends.

In this writer's humble opinion The Velvet Underground remains one of the most important bands in the history of rock music. And while it is said that only a few thousand bought its albums they all went on to form bands; the fact is that at the time the band wasn't appreciated; it didn't sell records, it didn't headline major gigs and eventually broke up. (Though John Cale's 'departure' didn't help').

Fact is, you cannot tell people what is good, what they should like, they will decide for themselves, and clearly, at present - indeed, for some time - fans have not been happy.

In the wake of last week's election, which saw a number of party leaders subsequently fall on their swords, former colleagues (and relatives) who only a few days earlier were pledging their total support and utmost faith were to be seen 'coming out' and blaming said leaders for their parties woes.

Have no doubt, no doubt at all, that when Bernie Ecclestone finally does a Harry Shearer and walks away from Formula One, you will hear similar cries from many of those within the sport. "Excellent", they will mutter in unison.

Whilst he has done much for the sport, not least making many of those within it rich beyond their wildest dreams, Ecclestone - no fan of democracy but rather dictatorships - has ruled with a rod of iron, and nobody has had the guts to speak out.

Under him, a situation has developed whereby the infighting and selfishness has become so great that the sport needs him in order to prevent it imploding.

There might no longer be something rotten in the state of Denmark, but there is in Formula One.

The sport has lost its way, indeed it has been losing it for some time, and it will take more than a meeting of a few self-interested men at a former war-time airfield to make things right.

We need a shake-up of seismic proportions and expecting it from the sport's current leaders is much like asking turkeys to celebrate the approach of Christmas.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by petes, 15/05/2015 3:07

"@Chris Balfe - who instructs Pirelli, Chris, please? FIA? FOM?
I ask because I've never seen a clear cut answer.
I suspect that somehow it's FOM, yet I'd see that as conflict of interest."

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2. Posted by Joop deBruin, 15/05/2015 2:07

"Very well said, I have nothing more to add. Should be required reading before these lunatics meet, him haw hum before heading home with no real solution."

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3. Posted by scf1fan, 14/05/2015 16:36

"For those that don't quite see the humor in the associated picture . . . please pardon my initial post. ;-) Now, as far as the rest of the "concerns" expressed here, I'm still a bit bemused. I don't believe you can have "the greatest show on earth" excitement and be the most technologically demanding sport possible, together. "Close" racing REQUIRES equalization, equalization is counter to cutting edge development. The rest of the rules are just rules and don't/won't effect my interest in the sport. (Though I will agree that the rules about helmet schemes and other livery changes, or similar issues are just silly!) But, for example, for a "fan" not to be "happy" about a technology that is faster but doesn't "sound" the same, is pretty silly too. (They must have never heard of the "whoosh" mobile. :-)

I'm mostly concerned about having 20-24 viable cars on the track. (Some of which will lead, some of which will be back markers.) That primarily is a money thing, not a rule thing. Obviously, a lot of the cost is in the engine/PU department, which is somewhat overregulated (and quite B*****D about) yet the teams are seemingly quite willing to spend oodles on fancy wing (which break off and cut down other competitor's tires) and steering wheels with a thousand permutations of settings.

Mostly what I see is just a bunch of handwringing, to little or no useful avail. Maybe all the "talkers" should be spending more time in the garage . . . or out courting advertisers."

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4. Posted by ape, 14/05/2015 16:16

"The funny thing is that Bernie always wanted that the teams were involved in the rule making and so reducing the power of the Fia.
He dug his own grave . "

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5. Posted by Damo57, 14/05/2015 15:52

"I've been watching motorsports, be they open wheel, sportscars, touring cars, rallycars, motor bikes, for 50 years, and welcome the fact that it is now pretty unlucky for any participant to be severely injured or die whilst competing.
Apart from that, I find motorsports far less interesting now than they have ever been. WRC is stale, but much better than F1. WEC is coming up as not too bad. BTCC has been a joke for 10-15 years or so. MotoGP is not bad but needs fewer rules. Ultimately, of them all, F1 is in the worst state, to the point that I have only watched around 30 laps this year. About 20 from Oz and 10 or so from Barcelona the other week. I find that sadly, I don't actually miss it. I thought I would, but last year I watched fewer races and found that just checking who won etc online, for 2-3 minutes, was enough to keep me current, and I did not feel any need to watch qualy, pre race shows, the races or post race shows. All the talking is irrelevant really, and qualy is so restrictive it isn't worth the effort of staying awake. As for the races, I'm just not missing them. I miss real F1, but that has been going downhill now for 20 years or so. My first memories of F1 date back to the last year of 1500cc cars, and then I grew up with the 3000cc era. Turbos were fun, but I've always preferred the 3000cc DFVs, BRMs, Ferrari Boxers and of course, the unforgettably shrill Matra V12. The 2400 V8s did nothing for me and these hybrids are positively rubbish imho. Degrading tyres, DRS blah blah, stupid driving rules....limited engine numbers....blah blah blah....just all rubbish really. I heartily wish it were not so, but it is and that is all I can say. My visits to Goodwood are like Mecca, nothing Bernie & Co has available, is in anyway comparable to the old cars, as I said, the only thing better these days is that drivers don't die or get badly hurt very often. That part of the sport is excellent, but the cars, and awful circuits are not worth wasting time and life over."

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6. Posted by Darvi, 14/05/2015 15:47

"I agree with many of the comments above, but the FIA needs to reign in Ecclestone and have a more proactive approach to their flagship formula. It wouldn't hurt for FOM/CVC to invest a little of their obscenely large income in renewing and revitalising the TV coverage and marketing. They appear to put nothing back into the sport, despite taking a lot out. F1 is becoming irelevant, you only need to look at the dearth of sponsorship. Unless steps are taken to halt the slide soon, it will go the same way as Indycar."

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7. Posted by Rock Doc, 14/05/2015 14:44

"I've been a fan for many years, but for the last couple of years the drivers just don't seem to be on the limit any more. They just seem to be managing the car and the tyres to get to the end. These are the result of limited number of engines and quick degrade tyres. These days it tends to look like anyone can drive these cars, only made worse by the entry age dropping to the teens (nothing against Vestappen he is proving himself).

We need the sound back and the belief that the drivers are superhumans, able to hustle their death machines around at track at seemingly impossible speeds. We need to see them make mistakes and have the consequences of being out of the race. All the real drama seems to have been lost. Now we have DRS and tyre management faking the drama. It's all too contrived now. It lacks reality. "

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8. Posted by nonickname, 14/05/2015 14:39

"Perhaps they should sit down and work out how much damage they are doing to their own brand and ay"Enough... we are out of here" The average viewer on TV only remembers the bad things,and all we hear is tyres,tyres,tyres."

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9. Posted by Editor, 14/05/2015 12:21

"@ Mugmug

And a common misconception is to blame Pirelli… when they are only doing what they have been INSTRUCTED to do."

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10. Posted by Mugmug, 14/05/2015 12:16

"My previous post criticized the asinine "club" of F1 trying to fix the problems they caused in the first place.
After reading a Michelin statement regarding their possible return as tire supplier, I thought their statement was exactly what F1 needed. Michelin wants to build a tire that's an appliance or tool, not as a gimmick to spice up the show.
The most common "word" used by the announcers/pundits on TV is tires. Tires this, tires that, every pre-race show (in the US anyway) has the assorted tires on display and a considerable amount of time is dedicated to explaining the differences.
While this is all interesting, I feel that the tires should have a much smaller role in the show that is F1. Since all the teams are on a level playing field, why not focus on the RACING, not tire management, fuel management, helmet color management, and double points in the last 2 races management.
Bernie's response to Michelin's statement was that it was "no good" for F1. And to quote him, said Pirelli do what we want them to do. This is exactly why his, and Todt's asinine ideas are driving the sport into the ground. "

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11. Posted by scf1fan, 14/05/2015 12:00

"And in other news . . . during the first match in the F1 arm wrestling competition, J.Todt leads by a nose . . . ;-) "

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12. Posted by xkd504, 14/05/2015 11:58

"F1 has lost the plot - simply by turning the sound down - the racing may be good - BUT no sound at the circuits. F1 was sold on the sound.
Having attended Melbourne for the past 20 years and Adelaide before that for 15 years I and lots of others would love to see the turbo cars of past years - great racing with the glorious sound of a screaming turbo.
Bring on the sound and you will bring on the crowds at any circuit.
As for selling the TV to pay tele - what bright spark thought of that one???????"

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13. Posted by Mugmug, 14/05/2015 11:22

"Chris Balfe, I couldn't agree with you more. What I find asinine is that the people who got F1 into this situation in the first place, are meeting to try and solve the problem?!*|"@$#. Ha Ha Ha! They're the last ones I would select to be doing this. As I've said in the past, go to a grade school, ask some 12 year olds to fix the problem, and you'd get better results!!!! Jean Todt has to go. Someone has to be responsible."

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