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Mosley: F1 heading for major crisis

NEWS STORY
02/07/2015

Whilst the current FIA president, Jean Todt, believes that much of the current criticism of F1 is misplaced and exaggerated, the raft of changes announced by the sport's governing body today, some to be implemented in the coming weeks, belies his confidence in the direction in which the sport is currently heading.

Meanwhile, at almost the same time the changes were being revealed, former FIA president Max Mosley, he who recommended Todt as his successor, took to the Daily Telegraph to voice his fears.

"There are no two ways about it," he writes, "if Formula One continues on its current path, it is headed for a major crisis.

"The futures of six out of 10 teams on the grid are uncertain, there is too much artificiality in the racing, costs are far too high, and all that is giving us uncompetitive - and at times - boring racing.

"Once spectators stop coming, the Grands Prix are no longer viable for the organiser," he warns. "If television audiences go down, Bernie Ecclestone has to trim down the contracts. From then on it becomes a downward spiral. And for CVC Capital Partners, the majority shareholders, it becomes especially difficult when they are trying to offload the sport.

"There have been all these stop-gap ideas, such as running three cars, but in my view that would be very bad for Formula One. They need to solve the problem of the competitiveness of the smaller teams within the money available. My proposal would be to allow teams who adhere to a cost cap - say 60 million a season - much more technical freedom. Overnight it would make the grid more competitive and more interesting for the public."

Of course, this was his plan whilst still in charge of the sport, indeed it was the basis on which three new teams entered F1, only one of them still in existence, albeit following a couple of changes in name, management and ownership.

It was a plan that almost destroyed the sport last time it was suggested, the haves refusing to be told what they could spend and what they could spend it on, even if it ultimately meant the end of the sport as we know it.

"Formula One needs a drastic rethink in how it makes the rules. The current Strategy Group is utterly hopeless," he admits, a feeling shared by many.

"Even if Bernie and Jean could agree it would be difficult. But as it is, I think Jean feels that the teams should get on with it as grown-ups with Bernie. He’s far more interested in road safety, which I completely support (I was the same way except I did not leave Formula One alone as I saw it as a political tool in road safety).

"The best suggestion I have heard was to scrap the Strategy Group and replace it with three independent advisors; people who know the sport well but are not partisan. Ross Brawn, Charlie Whiting and Peter Wright seem like perfect three candidates.

"When I was president, by some means or another we would push what we wanted through, usually by asking for more than I actually wanted. I don’t know if Jean is unable to do that, but I don’t think he wants to. He believes F1 should get on and run itself, and there is an argument for that.

"The reason I used to interfere is because I thought it was very important for the FIA generally," he admits. "It opened so many doors and gave us clout with politicians when it came to the road safety agenda.

"Formula One remains an astonishing sport with a huge global reach and appeal," he concludes. "But its problems need to be addressed quickly so it is not allowed to drift any longer."

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1. Posted by scf1fan, 04/07/2015 6:55

"I sort of refrained from putting my $.02 in earlier because it seems as if Mosely & Co. are engaged in a circular argument. (Or is that a firing squad?) One can also discuss the philosophical issues involved to no end . . . In reading the comments I feel that the actual "problems" in F1 are much simpler than everyone wants to believe, so, here are my $.02 . . . Quite simply, I believe that the major "problems" with F1 can be boiled down to two things; one is a "business" thing, and the other is a spectacle thing.

The business thing is; is there enough money in F1 to do what needs to be done? I would say yes, but the distribution of that money doesn't facilitate the long term goals of the sport. If the "Sport" made a billion and one dollars, but a billion of those dollars had to go to BE, then F1 will fail. No amount of jiggering with the rules or engine costs will solve that insolvable problem of greed. (And there is plenty of that to go around.) Simply put as an example, it won't make any difference how exciting a race is if the organizers have to charge $10,000 a ticket to pay the licensing fees. At that price NO ONE will be in the stands, except perhaps the crews members and free-loaders. (And if the race still makes a ton of money from other avenues, such as television, they might not really care!! But then why do they need to charge so much for the tickets? (The circular part of the argument.)) If they want full stands, the ticket prices have to be realistic, even if that means that some subsidies have to be in play. Also, how do they expect to have new teams come into the sport and stay! when the expectations are that only the top half of the field actually make any money in the deal? Although "failed" teams have always been a part of F1, the barriers to successful entry into F1 are seemingly so much higher now.

The spectacle thing is; what does it take to put on a good show? A lot of passing? A lot of strategy? A lot of technical prowess? There is probably a lot of room for discussion here, but the one thing for sure is that having a larger number of more closely capable competitors is probably a very good an desirable thing. (Unless it is perceived to be achieved by making everyone (more blandly) the same!) The more capable competitors, the better the "spectacle," the more fans; the more fans, the more money into the sport - either directly or through increased advertiser interest, etc., etc.

So the root answer to almost all the questions lies in how to increase the competitiveness of the field. (And then not killing the goose that provides the golden eggs!) I would rather not see artificial limits put on the current leaders (in part because creative people can always figure out ways to get around statutory limitations) and I don't have a lot of problems with the current technical rules other than I'd rather see more technological freedom allowed. (But that's me, and to decrease engine costs by 2/3rds doesn't really solve the competitiveness issue.) The one thing F1 management has direct control over is in the distribution of a significant portion of the funding. Pulling some numbers out of . . . the air, if every team that participated in every race was guaranteed $50 million, (or $25 million plus some prize money first to last!) they could spend a lot more time on their cars and less time trying to find sponsors. Assuming most teams can raise another $50 million on their own, then that gives them a good shot at developing their cars, as opposed to begging just to get from race to race.

If you have 10-12 teams showing up and earnestly competing every race, that will go a long way toward keeping the sport viable. (Then one can discuss the technical issues of the sport . . . )
"

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2. Posted by 4-Wheel Drifter, 03/07/2015 18:20

"Look. Racing is ALWAYS about money. Those who have it and want to win (like, for example Mr. Red Bull) spend it willingly and their presence generates excitement. The great Enzo Ferrari was willing to spend what was needed to win. There will always be people willing to spend to win. But, face it, Corporate money doesn't want to spend money to win; they spend money to protect their interests. When the corporate money is limited to manufacturers, you will get boring racing. You will HAVE TO GET boring racing because protecting your interest means limiting variables and increasing predictability. And when you add Corporate money in the management of the sport (ie. F.O.M.) you double the limiting and predictability. What Mr. Corporate Mosley says is pretty much the case. The current model of F1 has evolved into an increasingly shrinking circle of protection which equals loss of fan interest which creates the spiral he's talking about. I don't know about NASCAR and Indy Car racing, but I have a hunch the same thing is happening; when I watch I see a lot of empty grandstands even though it is obvious that they're trying to hide it. Racing used to be about a scruffy bunch of outlaws willing to do whatever they had to to win (Mr. Fangio and Mr. Vukovich had grease on their fingers) but what everyone in F1 is trying to do these days is NOT lose. Hard to generate interest that way."

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3. Posted by Skidmarks, 03/07/2015 11:02

"Is this the same Max Mosley who thought that overtaking was over-rated and that fans were more interested in strategy than wheel-to-wheel racing?"

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4. Posted by testa rossa, 03/07/2015 10:36

"Max always was the Brains of F1 and Bernie the wheeler dealer. Together they were gold.
Since Max left this equilibrium was distroyed and F1 going down hill."

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5. Posted by stoney, 03/07/2015 9:50

"A lot of "Back in my day..." talk going on here.
Is Mosley positioning himself for a comeback?"

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6. Posted by Darvi, 03/07/2015 7:45

"I think EJ suggested Gary Anderson should be involved which would be a good idea. Mosely is right in much of what he says, however, he wasn't quite as successful as his memory seems to think and, I for one, was pleased when he was deposed. Little did I think that the next guy would be even worse! :-("

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7. Posted by bfairey, 03/07/2015 7:15

"Please not Charlie Whiting."

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8. Posted by Jonno, 03/07/2015 7:15

"Anyone would think this Mosley bloke had a book to sell.
"

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