Site logo

Liberty prepared for a fight as 'honeymoon' comes to an end

NEWS STORY
24/03/2017

If you thought the mood was unusually sombre at today's team principals meeting you'd be correct.

However, it wasn't because their drivers hadn't performed as well as expected - surely Toto Wolff would have been grinning ear-to-ear - rather the fact that after a couple of months of newly married bliss they had just become aware that the honeymoon is well and truly over.

A few hours earlier, two of the men charged with getting the sport's new owners the best bang for their buck had warned that Liberty Media will allow nothing to stand in its way.

Before the sport's new owners can dream of profiting on their $8bn purchase, they have to start paying off the numerous loans they have taken out to fund the deal, and in order to do that all the other nonsense is put to one side and Liberty has to focus on bringing in the cash.

Be it new sponsors, new additions to the calendar, more pay TV or reducing the money given to the teams, Liberty know that the bottom line isn't the question of whether F1 is a sport or entertainment, rather that F1 is an $8bn business.

As Sean Bratches and Ross Brawn talked about their plans for the sport, the message was already filtering through the paddock, this marriage isn't going to be the bed of roses some might have envisaged.

The pair warned, in no uncertain terms, that if the new regulations don't produce a better show, in other words reel in the fans, Liberty is prepared to do whatever is needed to turn things around.

"If we see things this year that we don't think are great for the sport, then we will be fighting our corner," warned poacher turned gamekeeper Brawn, who is charged with running the technical side of the business, "and we will be fighting at every level.

"You can rest assured that we will be working with the teams and working with the FIA to find solutions if we don't feel the racing is as good as it should be," he told the assembled media.

Using the 'set a thief to catch a thief' mentality, who better to have on board than Brawn, who has enjoyed title success with Benetton, Ferrari and finally his own team, which was to morph into another title-winner, Mercedes.

Not only is Brawn aware of every trick in the book, he invented quite a few of them over the years. Indeed, in many ways, while the teams will fear the threat from Bratches commercial side of things, Brawn - who has essentially turned 'coppers nark' - poses just as much of a danger.

Liberty believes that the best way to keep current fans onboard while bringing in new fans, especially the younger variety, is to make the sport less predictable, to level the playing field to the point that anyone, even the likes of Sauber or Force India, might win - the very two teams, who have taken their complaints about the sport to the European Commission.

"We need to flatten off the variation between the front and the back of the grid so that on a good day with a following wind with a great driver, Force India can win a race," said Brawn, "or a team, a really competent, private smaller team, can still win a race.

"At the moment that is highly unlikely," he added. "Therefore, we have to flatten off the field and that means finding ways of limiting the potential of the regulations or limiting the resources that teams have available."

In other words introducing restrictive rules and - horror of horrors - reducing their spending, a move which would not only come about by redistributing the prize money and installing some sort of budget cap, but by doing away with the controversial bonuses.

Turning his attention to the technical rules, Brawn revealed that aerodynamics is one particular area deserving of attention.

"If you look at the configuration of the aerodynamics we have, we have cars with very complicated bodywork structures which create very sensitive flow regimes around the structures," he said. "It means as soon as they are disturbed by a car in front, they suffer.

"Can we come up with a set of regulations where we can still use the power of aerodynamics to give us the speed and spectacle of the cars, but in a more benign way so they can at least race each other more closely without it having an impact? That is my ambition, that is my objective," he added.

"I have heard it said that some of the cars out there do race each other quite well with large aerodynamic performances, so Sports Cars for instance, and IndyCar aren't suffering so badly," he concluded. "So a proper campaign, a concerted campaign, would definitely take us in the right direction on that. I am convinced of that."

And while many will agree that the aero regulations are in need of some attention, most still feeling that the sport made entirely the wrong move when it agreed to more aero grip under the new regulations instead of focussing more on mechanical grip, if what Pitpass is hearing is true, it's not only team bosses who have the right to look glum and fear the future.

We understand that in his job to level the playing field on the sporting side, Brawn is pushing for "success ballast", the weight- handicap used by other series which would be as welcome as a bucket of cold sick to F1 teams and fans alike.

The honeymoon is over.

Check out our Friday gallery from Melbourne, here.

LATEST NEWS

more news >

RELATED ARTICLES

LATEST IMAGES

galleries >

  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • Pitpass.com latest F1/Formula 1 images

POST A COMMENT

or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment

READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by edllorca, 25/03/2017 3:42

"Less aero = right direction

success ballast = wrong direction."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Hardliner, 25/03/2017 0:20

"I've given you a plus point GrahamG but honestly, why are any of us surprised? The relationship with LM is falling apart slightly sooner than I thought, but it is destined to fail sooner or later. You can play games 'what would BE do?' all day long, but if the viewing numbers continue to slide throughout 2017, which they will if Lewis dominates...it'll all be over in time for the 2020 negotiations... Brawn doesn't need the cash he gets for working for the silly Americans, so what is his REAL game? "

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by mds167, 24/03/2017 21:32

"That should read, "two sticks, no carrot"!"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by mds167, 24/03/2017 21:29

"Could Brawn be using BE's 'two sticks' negotiation method? Offer up success ballast as the least favourable option so that the teams agree to accept something slightly more palatable - such as reduced payments or budget caps? Why spend all that money if all that happens is that weight is added to your car? With ballast, a mid- table team might have a stronger chance of winning the championship by regularly not coming first...with a reduced budget, innovation becomes the key."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Mark, 24/03/2017 21:17

"Exactly where is the line drawn between the FIA, responsible for the technical and sporting regulations and the commercial rights holder and how much influence they have over changing the regulations?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by GrahamG, 24/03/2017 20:08

"Words nearly fail me. The sport is being totally subjugated to the cash requirements of the latest set of blood suckers.
Rather than rewarding incompetence and poor work why not reward innovation by deregulating and removing daft rules."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

Share this page

X

Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2021. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms