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So, what do F1 fans want?

NEWS STORY
25/01/2017

In all honesty we have been - and remain - somewhat sceptical of the numerous promises being made by Formula One's new owner Liberty Media.

If we believe everything we hear, pretty soon F1 is going be bigger and better than ever; a better spread of the prize money, meaning even the small teams can be stable and thereby competitive. Grands Prix are going to become 'go to' events, each round of the world championship like a mini Super Bowl. Not only is the sport going to listen to the fans, they can be put in the cockpit alongside their heroes courtesy of Virtual Reality. More spills, more thrills, more interaction, less rules, a return to the classic circuits and even - if we are to believe McLaren - a few retro liveries.

It's all too good to be true.

Then again, we are minded of the old joke about the marketing man who spends his honeymoon sitting at the end of the bed telling his new bride how good it's going to be.

Listening to Chase Carey and his various promises, in terms of Silverstone and the like, the question is how? After all, to make the numerous improvements we're being told about Liberty Media will have to invest heavily and it's already borrowed pretty substantially to complete the buy-out in the first place.

The appointment of Sean Bratches to head the sport's new commercial arm worries us, but we'll leave our fears of over commercialising and selling souls aside for now - after all , the sport's done a pretty good job of that itself over the years.

The one ray of light is the appointment of Ross Brawn who is to head the technical side of the sport for Liberty, after all, his is a name we are familiar with, a track record that speaks for itself. Ross is one of those who would have every right to wear an official F1 version of the 'been there, won that' T-Shirt.

Be it his success with Jaguar in Sportscars or F1 with Benetton, Ferrari and then his own team, Ross knows about Formula One, it is his DNA.

However, as a long time inhabitant of 'Planet Paddock', does Ross really understand what the fan in the stand wants, or those viewing the races on their TVs or tablets? Is Ross too much of a techie to understand what really excites the fans?

While he has admitted that the frequent rule changes have left him confused, this is only one of the many aspects of the sport that continues to frustrate fans.

At the same time, as witnessed with talk of McLaren's retro livery, fans of different ages have different expectations from the sport.

Just a day or two into the job, Ross has already admitted that, like the rest of us, he finds DRS to be a gimmick. However, he also warns that it is going to take three to five years for him to make his mark.

To help him on his way, we are inviting readers to make their suggestions as to what course you would like Ross to take, what changes would improve the sport not just for you but to encourage new fans.

Do you believe it is the job of the opposition to catch Mercedes - or whoever - in their own time, or should they be given assistance in the form of handicaps or the even infamous budget cap.

Do you believe 'customer cars' might be the answer or do you remain a purist. Indeed, as we call on the sport's new powers-that-be to give us back what we loved about the sport, what attracted us to it, what was it that caused you to fall in love with it in the first place.

This isn't a means of adding your details to our database in order we call flog you stuff you don't want or sell your details on, we genuinely want you to share your thoughts and ideas, knowing that they will be seen by those that matter.

According to Chase Carey and Ross, Liberty is looking to make F1 what it should be, what the fans want it to be, at this very early stage why not point them in the right direction.

For too long the sport has been arrogantly telling the fans what it insists they want, now is the time for fans to put the record straight. And as they say about elections, if you don't vote you have no right to criticise the result.

If you are registered with us, post your comments as ever, if you want to share your thoughts and ideas but don't want to register simply email me (click here) and I'll post them on your behalf.

Chris Balfe
Editor

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Willie, 05/02/2017 16:33

"What do F1 fans want?
Half of them want Ferrari to always win, the other half hopes that someone (anyone) will beat the hell out of Ferrari every time."

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2. Posted by Hardliner, 01/02/2017 14:07

"So what do F1 fans want? I place great emphasis on what Mr Brawn might do, since no-one else in Liberty has any background in the sport, and everyone has pinned their hopes on him

BIG PICTURE

Brawn is too good to be marketing ice creams for Americans… Let’s set him some targets. First task must be to stop the teams leaving as soon as they could. If I was a team, I would. As a fan, I’d also be very happy with this – a smaller, more intense, more grassroots approach to the sport. Why do we need an overpaid Commercial Rights Holder now that the sport's format is mature? The CRH has taken billions for themselves whilst teams go bust, tracks withdraw, tickets are too expensive, drivers are overpaid, TV audiences fall, attendance collapses, and big car makers dominate. So Liberty better watch out, because I think they bought F1 at the end of that product’s life-cycle. Running F1 should no longer be a commercial enterprise – no other major sport needs this, they all have Governing Bodies with commercial arms which run major international events for 1% of the cost of F1. Yes, the FIA shamefully sold this right, but nothing is irreversible. Liberty - Brawn - better start asking themselves what they plan to put back into the sport – why didn’t they support Manor, for starters? FOTA2 or not, I don’t give Liberty much chance of making this a successful investment - but the good news is that Bernie is probably too old to hang around and buy it back!

Changing the relationship with the FIA will be crucial

If FOTA2 doesn’t happen, Brawn is running a marketing organisation only, not setting technical rules, and he has a deskful of problems. He needs to make an immediate gesture to show fans that he means business and has teeth. In Brawn’s recent book about F1 strategy he said that the FIA no longer has a role, that ‘the CRH [i.e. now Brawn] controls everything’………prove it

He needs to get F1 back on an upward path, something that fans believe in. Clarkson is doing it with the Grand Tour, Farage did it with Brexit


FORMAT

F1 should be a development class. Maybe fix the rules for 3 years at a time but change them with only 4 months notice? Then allow in-season testing, so the grid is disturbed for prolonged periods, and engineering talent could predominate over money, and hopefully a monkey couldn’t win just because it was in a dominant car. No F1 teams on the Tech Rules committee!

Testing ban must be removed, and learner drivers actively encouraged once or twice a year

Find another ‘You must be joking!’ event like Monaco, something completely off the wall, non-Tilke. Iceland? Manhattan? Scottish Highlands? Sicily? Laguna Seca? A circuit with big vertical displacement?

Embrace free-to-air TV or else…

Concentrate on the circuits in the First World, but extend the reach to Aus, NZ, SA, South America

Grids need to be over 20 cars. Make cash available for teams early [unlike Bernie did to Brawn] but make them compete for it e.g MAKE the manufacturers run GP2 teams, and they get some of the Concorde money by how well they do in GP2 [...development…]

Fans want raw, almost dangerous, noisy excitement. We are completely bored with yoghurt-fuelled cars, corporate interviews, dozens of press releases every weekend, drivers on message, yawn yawn bland

We do NOT want cheerleaders, bands, fireworks, crooners, or display jets, we want gutsy fast cars, hard racing, 25% retirement per race

The overall race weekend format [Practise/Quali/Race is fine, but could we have GP2 and/or Moto GP events at the same venue some weekends? Fi should be on a bit of a pedestal, but its not a god, it should muck in and share its pits

CARS

Don’t compromise safety, but no halo as currently conceived, and reduce front wings to stop cars tripping over them every few minutes. Probably need to look at cost limitation on aero, it’s a marginal return money hole

We want tyre competition, are happy to have refuelling back, and DRS should extinguish itself

More racing incidents, fewer stewards enquiries, retire Charlie?

Maybe allow one-car teams?

MONEY

Tickets must be £50 for race day, tracks should pay less to THE CRH, or even be paid to put races on

Teams must have a better than 8/11 chance of surviving [new teams 100% failure]. Brawn needs to put team leaders in a position where they can have longer term vision for the good of the sport


There you go, too radical to happen? Just like voting for Brexit or Trump....."

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3. Posted by Editor, 31/01/2017 17:58

"From Scott Alpervitz

Wife and I attended every F-1 race weekend at Indy. Although the tire-gate fiasco of 2005 was a sign of things to come. Spent a lot of money that weekend for nothing.

I'll "try" to keep it simple.

1) V-12's, V-10's or V'8's. Normally aspirated or fuel injected. No R.P.M. limit. Pushrod or overhead cam. Number of cams unlimited. 1000 B.H.P. Torque limit?

2) No fuel limit. Premium pump gas. Refueling optional, gravity feed none pressurized.

3) Pit adjustments allowed for practice, qualifying and race. Steering wheel, just that a steering wheel. Paddle shift optional, (see #8). Roll bar and brake bias driver controlled only.

4) Pit help limited to boards. Track communication radio etc. only if danger to driver, fan or track personal. Continue driver and track safety as required, safer barriers etc.

5) Pay drivers, gone! I realize this is the sport of kings. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

6) Tires, wide as reasonably possible, slicks. Multiple compounds gone! Multiple tire manufactures optional. Fair allotment for practice qualifying and race, use them as needed. Rain tires one type.

7) Aero, if it fits in this 3-D box its' a go, safety first being keep in mind. Weight, set to a minimum/maximum with driver. Track of car length and width min/max, safety first.

8) Manual, semi or full automatic transmissions. Remaining drive train. Hybrid gone! 2-wheel rear drive or 4-wheel drive. Drive, ratios unlimited. Posi, limited slip whatever.

9) Track fees. Everybody pays the same. Whatever the market will bear. Schedule is set so weather and efficiency of travel logistics are determiner of which race is run and where.

10) Tickets. Again whatever the market will bear. If the price is right they/we will come.

11) Suspension. Air, active, coil over whatever. Let's see what they come up with.

12) Brake lights!

13) Money. Complete open book. Cap, you bet. Luxury tax for over spending goes to the under budgeted teams. Wind tunnels, CFD and driver simulators, have at it.

14) Customer cars. Absolutely. If you have the budget. You should be able to buy any part from anywhere and build a car. Or build it from scratch. Again safety first, passing crash tests etc.

15) Safety car only. Virtual safety car, gone! Held gaps, gone. Bunch the field up. That's the excitement of a re-start.

16) Sponsorship on cars, unlimited.

17) Points, the way they were handed out in the 1991 for driver and constructor worked just fine. And yes constructing a Jonny Cash car is still construction!

18) Qualifying should be done individually on a clear track. 3 attempts. Pit adjustments allowed including tire changes from allotment, rain or shine.

19) Television viewing should be available with the greatest exposure at the cheapest cost.

20) Pit crews. Same number of personal, "over the wall". Limited by refuel or not.

21) Engines, transmissions and differentials. No maximum number of units. If a true failure occurs on any of the major components on race weekend teams are allowed to swap out. Back of the field start.

No I can't let go of F-1 racing. Yes, I haven't really watched a race since they banned the V-8's.

Bringing back Ross a step in the right direction, if given the power to do what needs to be done."

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4. Posted by Editor, 29/01/2017 0:15

"From Bill Hopgood

I caught up with a fellow F1 fan over a recent lunch event who I had not discussed the sport with for a long time. He was/is? an avid Ferrari fan while I'm a McLaren Man (just, after the way Ron Denis left) so over the years we've had a bit of banter and usually he has had the bragging rights.

Last year he watched one grand prix and has killed off his SkyNZ sport subscription. He just can't be bothered with F1 any more and he values his time to spend on other things.

I did not get to the nub of the reason why, though it was certainly more than just Ferrari not winning everything from 2000 - 2004.

This got me thinking again as to the "why?" of following and watching F1 for myself and increasingly it is becoming more difficult to justify compared to other forms of motorsport.

Last year was the first in 20 that I've ju st recorded the GPs and ignored the wireless and watched on a Monday evening. Usually, it is a 5am start to watch them "live" before work, recorded on the Sky device.

MotoGP, GP2, WRC, and GT racing were much more interesting overall for me and unless the first 3 - 4 races prove interesting in F1 this season I'm probably going to take a sabbatical if not fully retire.

Back to the "why".

F1 is way too complicated.

For example, I like the technical nature of the business of F1 however the power units are just too damn complicated to explain to myself let alone anyone else. If I'm struggling to understand what is going on even before the race then how is the casual observer supposed to get on? Try explaining DRS and the reason behind it while someone just watched a MotoGP race with passes galore. I know they are not really comparable but to a newbie they are.

Now try mentioning to a newbie that there favourite team Ferrari (it just about alwa ys is) g ets a bonus before kick off (I know McLaren do too) while Manor are on their **** while Merc got less money despite winning the year before... Goodbye newbie.

F1 needs to be dramatically simplified and the structure of the championship sorted. English Premier League football is a good example where there is no salary cap yet the sport does very well even though the same five teams win the majority of championships.

My solutions to F1's problems?

Charge the tracks less so there is no need for government funding and punters can actually go and watch while the tracks make money. The broadcast (internet and TV) rights can go to the commercial owner as they do now but the circuits need some trackside revenue and gate takings.

F1 needs to ditch any links to road cars regarding powertrain technology meaning, get rid of the hybrid power unit and leave that to sports cars and formula E. Let there be more variation scope so a V8 can race a V12 or V10 or even rotary engine . Get ri d of stupid engine and fuel limits and let the teams and drivers race.

Bring back two more tyre suppliers and also in season testing so the teams can entertain their partners better giving them more value.

Link better with GP2 (thanks GrahamG) and have a Tasman Asia Series with F1 demonstration events between races (off season testing)? Let their be grid and paddock walks as Highlands Motorsport Park has.

Have quali on Saturday, a sprint on Sunday morning, then a slightly shorter race on Sunday afternoon. Attention spans have changed.

Kick the teams off the rules making body. Give them the specs and let them build the cars.

And if Ferrari don't like it... that is fine. No team is bigger than the sport."

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5. Posted by Silver Fox, 28/01/2017 22:35

"For me this thread links in with your other thread in which you discuss Ross Brawn's current thoughts on a cost cap. As such my thoughts as to how F1 can be improved (from both a cost & racing perspective) are as follows:

1) Make driver skill count for more: - most of the grid could have been vying for a WDC in the last few years if they had drove a Merc. Alternately neither the hamster or kissylips would have had a sniff of their championships if they had been driving a FI or Sauber. One way to balance this up would be to ditch most (if not all) of the driver aids that allow drivers to constantly tune their cars (adjustable diff locks / engine maps / etc), only allow 6 speed manual gearboxes and reduce aero whilst increasing downforce.

2) Make the rules simpler: - ditch the artificial '2 different tyre compounds per race' rule (letting the drivers / teams work out the best strategy for their race). Allow but not enforce refuelling, provide a maximum race fuel allowance of 100Kg but ditch the maximum fuel flow rate rule and allow unlimited kinetic & heat energy harvesting & deployment. Ditch DRS. Allow different tyre companies to compete (if they are willing to join the sport...) and have decent grippy tyres that don't fall to bits if you lean on them hard. Relax some of the ridiculous penalties currently being imposed when anyone even tries to overtake someone else. Go back to previous times when different engine configurations were permitted (e.g 1.6 litre turbo hybrid or up to 3.2 litre normally aspirated ICE only (any cylinder configuration).

3) Make the racing better: - ring fence the historic European circuits (Spa, Monza, Monaco, Silverstone, Nurburgring / Hockenheim) whilst also keeping some of the historic non-Euro circuits such as Suzuka. Ensure that the other circuits in the calendar are decent ones with passing opportunities. Make the drivers & teams more accessible at the circuits without the need to spend a second mortgage to gain access. Impose a rule whereby if a team steals a technological march on the other teams they gain subsequently increasing weight penalties for subsequent races - ala BTCC - (say - 10Kg per race) so that whilst they gain from their improvement i the short term such gains aren't baked into the results all season long, as has happened with the Mercs in the last few years and RBR before them (this should also help dissuade teams from investing too much money if their rate of return is to be capped).

4) Make the racing accessible: - ditch the move to 'pay per view' race viewing, allowing races to be viewed on 'free to air' TV. Set up an internet channel for deeper access (in car / in pits footage / interviews & comment / car data / etc). Set up communication channels between fans and the sport (forums / etc). Allow the drivers more freedom to express their views and become characters rather than corporate robots. Put bigger race numbers on the cars to make following specific drivers in races easier. "

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6. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 28/01/2017 10:28

"Most replies basically come up with the same results, one item does appear to be missing, hiding in plain sight, the steering wheel.
This little item used for steering the car, now has a multitude of brain baffling functions, one button can have 10 functions with 10 more sub-programmes, umpteen other things to keep the driver occupied, get rid of these?
Lets get back to the driver driving the car, the settings the car starts the race with are the settings it finishes with and no adjustments in-between!, no objection to roll bar or brake bias adjustments, but thats it! "

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7. Posted by Editor, 28/01/2017 9:45

"From Tony DeMichele

The simple answer is racing on the limit , none of this watching tyres , watching fuel and no more one team domination, we're sick of it , the best car always wins no matter how good the other drivers are and bring back the sound of F1 and no more silly penalties for just trying to race."

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8. Posted by Editor, 28/01/2017 9:31

"From Nick Bee

With Liberty now in control and having read the various announcements made so far, including their intent to embrace the digital age, there's a lot more that can be done.

1) The Prima Donna attitude displayed by most, if not all drivers, needs to be removed and bring the fans closer toward them. Like the cars they drive, they're largely stereotype - robotic figureheads.

2) Drop the one make tyre supplier. The epic wars in the Schumacher-Hakkinen era were riveting

3) Qualifying- I used to call it ten-to-two rush hour (again, Schumacher and Hakkinen) providing the most scintilating shoot-out.

4) Raise the tyre allowance IRO of #3

5) All circuits to pay the same race fee. Monaco should be paying and not getting a freebie! No one would lose any sleep if Monaco was removed from the caelndar either. Bugger the glitz and tits!

6) No fuel restrictions, quantity or grade

7) Noise, noise noise

8) Liberty wants to propose more races- sure, go ahead!! Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen etc would be welcome and aid their cause too in their American base. Other circuits come to mind which are too numerous too mention."

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9. Posted by Hardliner, 27/01/2017 14:39

"First mistake, Liberty. You should have provided a lifeline to Manor to allow them to make Melbourne...
"

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10. Posted by Editor, 27/01/2017 9:38

"From Alain A

For me, F1 is dead and has been for a few year since the start of RedBull and MB dominance. Races are predictable, no excitement, no need to watch. I record all the races and watch only if I read afterwards that something happened during the race ie, when Hamilton and Rosberg crashed.

I have been a long time follower since since the mid 60s and have vivid memory when I heard in April 68 of Jim Clark's death - the greatest car driver ever (not counting Rudolf Caracciola) . I followed religiously every grand prix on TV, in print, and a few times at circuits. I started tuning out when races became boring, no overtaking, too much whining, no excitement. I still think today, that Alonso is the best driver, he does his job, races very hard when his car allows it and has been too maligned by the like of Shumi and Hamilton who did not play fair.

I have few hopes that Liberty Media will make it any better, probably more making F1 more like Nascar or Indy car races.

I would hope for Bernie to start a competing series, based all in Europe using the classic circuits, going back to real racing."

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11. Posted by Editor, 27/01/2017 9:37

"From Emmanuel Samaras

Bring back FormulaLibre (anything goes formula) Then you'll see a ballistic improvement to monoposto racing. "

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12. Posted by Editor, 27/01/2017 9:36

"From Ralt

Is it overly simplistic of me to suggest a “standard issue” front wing, single plane, no endplates, must fit within inside edges of front tyres ?

I know that would mean every car have the same looking front wing but without ( and even with ) the different paint schemes all the cars look much the same, especially at a distance on TV.

Doesn’t front wing aero pretty much dictate the “total” aero effect on the car and would this not reduce that dramatically, with all the attendant benefits that would bring ?

Better racing and reduced costs, what’s not to like ?

What are the unintended consequences, if any ?"

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13. Posted by Editor, 27/01/2017 9:35

"From 'KDew336'

We need more of the engine noise vibrating through our bodies ,making the hairs on your arms stand up , It's simply not the same now.

Also we need to see more of the driver's they seem to be Demi gods too elitist, much much more than other sports ."

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14. Posted by Editor, 27/01/2017 9:34

"From Walt Needham

I've been a fan since 1975, when I attended my first race at Watkins Glen (Niki Lauda taking the win and the championship). It was a magical day, and I was hooked. I've managed to work out vacation time so that I could attend 26 more races after that-5 more at the Glen, 20 in Montreal, and one in Indianapolis.

What I enjoyed most about the racing then was that you were expected to start and finish the race on the same tires, and the same fuel load. Pit stops were few and far between, only changing tires if you had a puncture, or if it started to rain. There was no need to decide on normal, soft, or super soft tires, and no strategy for bringing drivers in for pit stops to change tires.

If we have to live with the current tire compounds and continue to have multiple stops in a race, then I would suggest that the driver or team would be allowed to use whichever compound they want, because it is working for them, instead of being required to use both compounds.

I would also like to see the DRS thrown out, as I look at it as an artificial tool to try and allow passing in certain areas. I would think that drivers are good enough to figure out when and where to pass without taking advantage of a special area on track.

I would also hope for less use if the safety car, and instead utilize more of the virtual safety car when applicable. I just don't like the fact that a driver who has worked hard to build a lead during the race will lose it whenever the safety car is deployed.

Perhaps the organizers can concentrate on adding more cranes or tractors and more track side officials to get damaged cars off track quicker.

There is no need to introduce refueling, or another "double points" scheme to try and spice up the racing. And the recent idea of having the race in two different halves would be a very bad idea."

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15. Posted by Editor, 27/01/2017 9:32

"From Cliff Roythorne

For me it is simple, if F1 could ever be that.

1. Reduce front wings to just a wing without add on’s, no winglets, wedges, scopes etc. a single plane wing.

2. Remove dirty air creative idea’s on the rear of the car. So no more coke bottle. You must have a flat uncurved rear body work until the gearbox.

3. Bring back active suspension and skirts but with limits to help cornering safety.

4. Remove DRS.

5. Bring back basic steering wheel with no adjustment/mode controls including fuel mixtures, braking, launch controls etc.

6. Run V6, v8, v10, v12 or V4 hybrid, turbo so long as you can get to the end of the race with 90 litres of fuel and your limited to 21000rpm, and 1000bhp.

7. Manual gearbox.

8. Rewrite the rule book in the terms, this is what you can do. Anything grey is illegal. So it’s black and white.

Don’t know if you could call these ideas simple but to me they are."

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