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Chase Carey simply doesn't get it

NEWS STORY
07/12/2017

If there's one thing that the majority of F1 fans will agree with Chase Carey on it is his admission that the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a non-event.

"Abu Dhabi puts on a great show and a great event," he told an audience at the BRDC Awards earlier this week. "But the race in Abu Dhabi was not what we want in the sport today. And I think there's broad-based agreement amongst the teams."

Ignoring the fact that for once there is "broad-based agreement amongst the teams" - something he's unlikely to see much of from here on in - from this point in his speech Carey appeared to lose his way.

First he went in to the marketing mode so beloved of the Liberty men.

"Obviously on specifics there'll be differences," he said, "but there's broad-based agreement on things we need to do to make the competition better, make the action better, make the sport more captivating, have other cars have a chance to win, have the unexpected happen, and have events happen on the track that really live up to what makes F1 so special.

"Everybody knows the initiatives we have in terms of engines and costs and rules and the like. We're all driving to achieve that."

Ugh!

At which point it got worse...

"Probably the people who have been with it the longest, and are the hardest core fans, probably they're the ones that have liked that what they've grown up with," he said. "They are the foundation of the sport, so our historic fans are tremendously important.

"But we want to bring new fans in, and to bring new fans in we have to continue to find ways to respect the history and what's made the sport special, but also find ways to entice and engage new fans. We've got to bring in a new generation.

"It's a great sport, with great stars, a great brand, great heroes," he continued, Marketing Man now clearly in control. "It is an incredibly captivating sport which combines competition with state of the art technology, that I think shocks and awes fans. It's great, but we can make it much better.

"And it starts with the sport on the track. We can make the competition better, the action better, and then around it we want to make sure it's a sport that captures everybody's imagination, an event that captures people's imagination. We've used the word spectacle, and it should be."

Putting pretty much all of the marketing rubbish to one side, the fact is that Carey makes a grave error right at the very start.

He says that the hard core fans "have liked that what they've grown up with", but the fact is they haven't.

For some time now the sport has been losing its way, in many ways deliberately, thing is those hard core fans have stuck with it.

Over the years they have seen their sport - a niche sport at that - go the way of so many others and become a business.

Whereas it was previously about the racing and the taking part, it is now about profit... which is exactly why Liberty bought the business in the first place.

At the same Award ceremony, Lewis Hamilton, not known for his love of the history of the sport, was highly critical of F1, insisting: "There's no reason why a GP2 race, or F2, or whatever you want to call it, should be louder and sound better, and be able to have better racing, and follow closer. And that's what we've somehow got to make in F1, while it's still faster than the other classes."

Tellingly however, he added: "Why did Jackie (Stewart) have big tyres back in the day and we've got smaller tyres? Maybe a little less downforce, maybe we can race closer."

And in one sentence the world champion summed up the views of so many hard core fans.

What Bernie Ecclestone once described as "natural culling" will in time see the end of those hard core fans, but in this age of instant information with all types of entertainment provided on various platforms can Formula One really hope to attract new fans. We think not.

We have said it before and we will say it again, the Liberty team, despite its best intentions, is well outside its comfort zone in terms of F1, which is exactly why Ross Brawn was brought (back) in to the fold... he is the conduit to the sport through which Carey and Co hope to operate.

However, earlier this year, as part of its extensive research into the sport as it continues to try and discover what makes an F1 fan, Liberty came up will all manner of categories, nearly all of which race fans will be unable to identify with.

The likelihood of another two seasons of Mercedes domination will only inflict further damage on the sport, not to mention the outright hostility that will erupt when Liberty reveals its plans for the financial future of the teams.

Consequently, Liberty must ease back on attracting new fans and instead work flat-out on keeping existing, hard core fans on board.

Enough of the soundbites and promises, F1s want action, and based on that one speech Lewis appears to have a better handle on this than Liberty's ever expanding team of 'experts'.

While he jokingly refers to himself as poacher turned game keeper, fact is when he was a poacher Brawn was a major part of the problem, he was one of the driving forces behind the technologies - particularly aerodynamics - that have compromised the sport over the years.

While there is an element of nostalgia about the good old days of F1, fact is fans have been unhappy for some time now, and despite the promises - which were forthcoming long before Liberty entered the picture - for the most part things haven't improved, far from it.

The data analysis and information forensics so beloved of this sport should apply only to the cars... not the fans.

Bottom line… you cannot tell fans what they will enjoy, they will tell you; and they’ll do so by cancelling their pay-TV subscriptions, stopping attending races and buying the merchandise.

How ironic that a sport that prides itself on being the most technologically advanced appears to think that the people that follow it are idiots.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by sagosac, 10/12/2017 8:47

"and although I am a puristic, oldschool (35 yrs) core fan,* I cannot see that Mr. Carey's statement is wrong -- in any way; rather positive as it shows that he quite quickly understood that this sport-business is special in terms of importance of heritage
* there is just no alternative to F1"

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2. Posted by sagosac, 10/12/2017 8:39

"Mr. Carey is there to steer the busineess, Mr. Bratches to add new marketing approach and Mr. Brawn to conduct the sporting /technological side. In that respect current avalanche of criticism towards Mr. Carey is unfair. Let's look what mistakes happened before the trio joined...hard to match. [BTW I like the idea of presenting races to local tastes; less streamlined-corporate doctrines are adding surprise]"

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3. Posted by Red Baron, 09/12/2017 22:59

"I have to question whether hard core fans really are turning their backs on the sport, or do we instead persevere in the hope that it will eventually change for the better?

Apart from falling asleep on occasion, I haven't missed a race in 32 years, so I guess that would make me a pretty hard core fan, but I can't imagine ever turning my back on the sport, regardless of my dislike for the modern circuits, the lawn mower engine sounds, or the over-the-top down-force and ridiculously short braking distances. As long as F1 continues to attract the best drivers in the world, I'll continue to follow and support it, and I don't think I'm alone in that regard."

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4. Posted by Your Mom's Best Friend, 09/12/2017 7:39

"The last thing that I'm interested in is getting into a flame war with strangers over the internet. However, some of the comments, post my previous invite responses.

First of all, @-ape-, your post consists of an Ecclestone quote, basically shitting on fans, and then say that I and "Former fan" (who I must point out is a different person, not me) prove the validity of the quote.

I think you missed the point in the summation of my first comment. That being, that the hardcore fans have finally had enough and actually are departing. Departing as in, leaving. And not coming back.

Perhaps I wasn't clear. If so you have my apologies. I'll attempt to spell it out more broadly, using some personal history to illustrate:

I used to watch every broadcast practice, quali, race. For years. Long before DVRs existed I wore out more than one VCR, recording F1 sessions if I couldn't watch live. Pathetic, I know. But why did I do this ? I did it because from the age of three, the first time I saw F1, I was hooked. Of course at that age I couldn't understand anything of significance, but I quickly knew enough to understand what should be self-evident: What I was seeing was ostensibly the "best" cars in the world, piloted by (theoretically at least) the most qualified men to do so (Yes, men. Sorry Susie. (Nor boys. Sorry Max V.)).

Into adulthood the highest of the high points were undoubtedly the four GPs that I had the pleasure of personally attending. Back in the stone/iron/bronze age (pick your metaphor), when the engines sounded like they were actually doing something. If I live to be 100, I will never forget driving into Montreal on a friday morning and hearing those cars scream from God only knows how many miles away...

Over time though, as I learned more and more about how things actually worked behind the scenes, and as scandalous events one after another began piling up publicly in tandem with the races, I gradually began to come to my senses. At a certain point, I stopped watching most free practice. Then dropped practices completely, limiting my intake to strictly quali and races. Then later still, further diminished my intake, only watching some qualifiers but still all of the races.

I forget the specific timeframe but I actually did quit watching F1 entirely for an period of about two years, this being precipitated by the absolutely despicable allowed return of Mike Coughlin, and later Pat Symonds back into the sport, both with Williams. A team and a man who I then lost absolutely all respect for, for so doing (to say nothing of the F.i.A.). Those two men, but especially Symonds, should have been banned-for-life. Period. End of.

Anyway, despite that, like I said prior - after a couple years away I started watching again. But, again, much less than before. For the last three or four seasons, I don't know the exact figure but I haven't seen an single quali session, and I don't think that I've looked at more than half a dozen races, each season, maximum. This last year, I think that I maybe watched four races. One can see a clear trend: The closer to the present in time, the less F1 consumption. Graphed in total it looks like your basic bell curve.

The one race that I've always watched (except for the couple-odd seasons away) is Spa. Absolute favorite track, and the GP frequently falls on or very close to my birthday so it's been something of a gift for me over the years. Thanks Bernie ! See ? I can acknowledge that that stunted troll has done some good, even if only by chance or accident.

Anyway this last year is the last one for me. I'm out for good. Over the years I've had a half dozen or so friends who are, more or less, just like me with regards to F1 - and they're done too.

A couple of them and I were discussing this very recently, and we all agreed: The only thing, the absolute only thing, that will compel us look at even a single minute of Formula 1 next year is the possible return of Robert Kubica. If this does occur it will be in a bar somewhere, because while we're all happy to drop some coin on a bartender, none of us are paying Chase, Bernie or whoever else to look at F1, ever again. But even then, if this does happen it will be supremely bittersweet. We'll raise a glass to an incredible return of a once pretty damn good driver. We'll raise a second glass to the demise of Formula 1. We'll raise a third glass to ourselves. Beyond that, well, won't be able to see Kubica through the halo - so not much point.

So, do you see ? Ecclestone may have been, in a way, "right" for a time, but ultimately he was dead wrong. With every day that passes, less and less fans will continue to purchase the garbage FOM/F.i.A. is selling.

To the other two:

"Bring back Bernie" ?

"And Max wasn't so bad either. BBM i would say" ??

Seriously ???

It might help if one or both of you presented an actual, you know, argument.

Made an actual case beyond "For all his foibles nobody knows F1 better than Bernie".

Foibles. I like that. It's right up there with antics. And shenanigans.

I don't always agree with everything that the paid writers here at Pitpass have to say. But in general, they are consistently more "on point" than just about every other journalistic outlet that covers Formula 1. They "Get it". Unlike, say, Chase Carey. Or Jean Todt. Or Ross Brawn.

The regular commenters here too are, by far, the most intelligent to be found online. Unlike the almost unbelievable amount of trash I see at most other F1 websites' comment sections, here, even I disagree with a commenter's opinion I can usually at least be assured that it's reasonable and/or not totally misinformed.

It just truly a shame that there's really not anything good to discuss anymore."

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 09/12/2017 6:07

"Formula 1 is not, and has never been "a Business".
Formula 1 is dead, but dinosaur-like the message hasn't got from its miniscule brain to its bloated body. I'll leave it to you to figure out how that analogy maps to the likes of Carey, FIA and the teams.

Despite Carey's futile attempts to commoditise F1 and market it, F1 is actually a complex web of differing interests, expectations, ambitions bound together by a further mix of self-interest, Sporting ambition and (originally) sheer Fun. The notion that this is some kind of simple "Business" is indicative of the banality and paucity of intellect & analysis that characterises modern Commerce.

The preceding comments have, for the most-part, identified both the malaise and a variety of potential cures, and Your Mom's Best Friend ahs appropriately identified and castigated the unctuous, the unrighteous, the crass and greedy characters largely responsible for the demise of a once engaging Sport.

Big, Brassy, Manufacturer-led F1 will NEVER go back to the petrol-engined Nirvana that some long for.
The beast really is dead, but it doesn't know it yet. Carey's desperate efforts at artificial respiration suggest that the realisation is dawning....."

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6. Posted by klmn, 08/12/2017 14:18

"And Max wasn't so bad either. BBM i would say"

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7. Posted by JogonUK, 08/12/2017 13:00

"For all his foibles nobody knows F1 better than Bernie, F1 and it's hardcore fans will rue the day Bernie ws placed on gardening leave.

BBB Bring Back Bernie! "

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8. Posted by -ape-, 08/12/2017 11:18

"Bernie once said ," i don't care about the hardcore fans because they watch F1 anyway".
A guy like "Moms friend" aka "Former fan" proofs it.
"

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9. Posted by Your Mom's Best Friend, 08/12/2017 3:08

"While I would agree with you (PITPASS), "that Carey makes a grave error right at the very start". The fact is that you missed his actual, first error. The first of many.

Says Chase Carey:

"Abu Dhabi puts on a great show and a great event... but the race in Abu Dhabi was not what we want in the sport today."

Your lead-off consists of a basic, logical contradiction Chase ?

If they did indeed put on "a great show" well then, just exactly how is it not what you want ?

Later on he says:

"But we want to bring new fans in, and to bring new fans in we have to... also find ways to entice and engage new fans. We've got to bring in a new generation."

So, Mr. Carey, the best you have for us on the new fan front is essentially... a tautology ?

But hold on, there's more (!):

"It's a great sport... a great brand, great heroes..."

"A great brand" you say ? Well, obviously you don't mean that literally, do you Chase ? It's so great, that you had your marketing crew waste time and (undoubtedly a massive amount of) resources to create a new one, rather than (aside from a another possibility which was to do nothing) spend that same time and money working to maximize the "great" brand you already had. Brilliant. Basic logical contradiction number two, noted and registered Mr. Carey. Like a brand.

And what's this about "Heroes" ? I guess he must be referring to the the drivers, though I fail to see what is heroic about them. And no, I won't even bring Halos into the Heroes criticism. That's a bit too easy - everyone can see that particular contradiction in logic from miles away. In any case there is nothing remotely heroic about driving a machine to it's mechanical limits, while being massively overpaid to do so. Much less paying massively to do so (cough, Stroll, cough). To put it as briefly as possible, the last time I checked the definition of the word hero, it relates primarily to acts of self-sacrifice. If anyone involved in the world of Formula 1 warrants the honorific of being called a hero the only ones who come even remotely close in my estimation are the track marshals. You know, those unpaid guys who have a tendency to (admittedly, rarely these days) get killed by tyres and whatnot. Even this is stretch though, but regardless self-sacrifice and Formula 1 are not two phrases that naturally join together in my mind.

Mr. Chase again:

"It is an incredibly captivating sport... that I think shocks and awes fans."

Finally, something sensible from Carey, though not at all in the manner in which he means. Formula 1 is captivating, shocking and awesome. For all the wrong reasons.

This nonsense doesn't even rise to the level of marketing BS, or even Orwellian/political double-speak. It's just stupidity, plain and simple. I used to wonder how people like this attain wealth and prominence, because judging by the visible evidence it's certainly not through intelligence. Or hard work, skilled application or talent.

This guy, Carey ? He's an assclown. Am I permitted to say that ?

Also agree with you, Pitpass, that (to paraphrase) the hardcore fans have NOT liked A LOT of what they've grown up with, prior to this Brave New Liberty Era. A great many of us have been holding our noses for such a long period of time that it must be some kind of miracle we didn't long since expire due to lack of oxygen.

While this "sport" has, over many years, provided me with an tremendous amount of pleasure, more than equally such has been the level of pain endured that I've been forced to look in the mirror, far too many times, and ask myself: Am I some kind of masochist ? (Cue Max Mosley, Ilsa, and her She-Wolves of The SS).

Let's hear from Chase one more time, re.F1:

"It's great, but we can make it much better."

Carey may as well be talking about a beer recipe. Formula 1 has never been perfect, but it's been so far from great for so long, it's essentially unrepairable. Arguably, the last time Formula 1 could truly merit being referred to as "great" was sometime prior to the Ecclestone-Mosley/Axis-of-Evil Takeover. It's true and fair to say that both men have done good things, but on balance they harmed Formula 1 to a much larger, almost unimaginable degree. Ecclestone never should have been allowed sole control of the commercial rights. Never. That moment was the the beginning of the end for Fomula 1. Mosley never should have been allowed to, well, never mind. The damage has long since been done, and my thoughts/opinions are basically irrelevant to anyone who "matters".

I'll finish my pointless rant by just mentioning that there's a person who I've seen commenting on these boards from time to time, goes by the name of "FormerF1Fan" or something close to that. Very apt screen-name, that. He (or she) isn't the only one, and as surely as the sun rises tomorrow morning won't be the last.
"

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10. Posted by Ro, 07/12/2017 20:10

"Simplify the cars. Get rid of the front wings being so complex. A straight single pane....get rid of DRS and get rid of the stupid engines. I went to an "E" race and it was really weird , cos on the first lap they all came round. NOT A SOUND AT ALL! By the first corner, all I could hear were tyres squealing. WEIRD. Not for me. The last time I heard tyres squealing on an F1 car was Brands, Tom Pryce going into Paddock. Made your balls tingle. Realised he was doing what I could never ever do. Watch an F1 race now, all that tingles is my alarm clock. I dont think Ive ever slept thru so many F1 races this year. Liberty Media, wake up. Listen to the fans, the money will come in in by the sackfull, leave F1 as it is and all you will have is small change"

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11. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 07/12/2017 17:41

"I've been thinking about why I watched F1 this year (and paid for it too) and aside from new cars and hoping for a Honda fix and Brendan Hartley joining the grid, I can't think of why I bothered.
Now, this is only because I watched some better racing on TV elsewhere; Aussie GT, LeMann, Indy, F2, and especially MotoGP.
All F1 need to do is look outside their bubble and see what works elsewhere.
MotoGP was probably the best series overall as the season fluctuated between riders and the season went to the wire with close racing and newbies mixing it up with the established riders.
I don't know how to fix F1 but just simplifying things would help as others have already stated.
More mechanical grip, noise and power and the ability to have different compounds of tire front and rear at the same time. No halo either.
The manufacturers can shut the critics up by having a FE team."

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12. Posted by Ro, 07/12/2017 17:01

"Now come on fellas, the guy is trying his hardest...look at the new logo, well thats gonna make all the difference...Todt doesnt helf much either, 3 engines in a year for 21 races??? that mneans one engine should last 7 races....never gonna happen. Guess Im going to follow GP2 from now on."

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13. Posted by ryanhellyer, 07/12/2017 14:43

"Could you be any more negative? What do you expect him to stand up there and say? "We're in it just for the money"? We all know that's the case, but it's going to be the same no matter who is running it. F1 is a business whether people like it or not, and that will never change. Most big sports are just a business, they just happen to be in the business of entertaining via sport. So creating the most entertaining sport is in their best interests.

To my mind, creating the most entertaining version of F1 is what needs done. I may disagree with the exact method used to achieve it, but the fundamental goal seems sound to me. Lewis Hamilton's comments were griping about things which Liberty are trying to fix. They haven't been able to fix them yet due to existing contracts.

I haven't see anything yet to make me fundamentally disagree with the approach being undertaken by Liberty Media. IMHO they're 100x better than Bernie was in his latter years. They've implemented an official F1 sim racing series, embraced social media, tried new and innovative (for F1) measures to promote the sport. Some of the ideas may have tanked (eg: boxing promoter leading drivers), but if they keep throwing ideas at the wall, a few of them will eventually stick (eg: the F1 sim series).

You seem to be looking for all the negatives but ignoring most of the positives."

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14. Posted by imejl99, 07/12/2017 14:30

"We could argue good old F1 days all day long, but as far as I remember there was one dominant team, one close, and the rest. Also, as long as I remember, some 30 odd years, those around me were always asking how can I watch cars making circles for 2 hours, as nothing happens? The truth is, we were educated, we were interested what is going on behind the garage doors, who will come up with what next. In the reality of 20 men driving the 300 km distance within 2 minutes or 5 km apart from first to last after hour and a half of effort, we forget that all of them are super skilled and fast. We admire the best ones, the ones who are constant, make fewest mistakes, and have best equipment. We were educated and interested in innovation, who will outsmart all others. Preferably underdog. That was it.

Then, to make it "more competitive" FIA banned any and every innovation that came along. For 30 years.
Then, to make it "more appealing" FIA gave us more races across the globe, as like it helps at all.
Then. to make it "more TV friendly". changed format of qualifying, points, etc...

Every year they are "making it better" for the fans. Last time I was excited about F1 season was when Brawn GP took the field by surprise, and by some very clever engineering. Not by overtaking, close racing, points system, event format... just excited with the knowing it is still possible.

Tear the rule book down. Educate fans. Celebrities and pit babes are sideshow, not main theme."

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15. Posted by thtabe, 07/12/2017 13:57

"BobW Don't fool yourself, F1 has been about Profit for 40+ years. There have only been a handful (Enzo, Bruce, etc...) that have been in it for the pur sport of it. Profit isn't evil if there was not profit there would be no F1. That said F1 needs to move away from trying to mimic its road going cousins and forge its own path through technology and Hot Rodding as that is what got us the last 60 years of racing."

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