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An Embarrassing Time To Call Yourself An F1 Fan


Just when you think Formula One has exhausted the countless ways it can make you question why you remain a fan, it comes up with all-new ways to disappoint you. That was especially true during the month of January.

Last year I wrote a piece asking whether Formula One was at risk of losing its soul. On the evidence of the start to this year, the answer would appear to be a resounding yes.

Even though we're only a month into the new year, there's been a trifecta of embarrassing stories that have left me worried for the future of this once great sport. But, since the shock news of Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari may have conveniently made you forget them, let's recap.

Just a couple of weeks ago we heard the news that the new home of the Spanish Grand Prix from 2026 would be at a circuit that would appear to race around a nondescript industrial estate somewhere in Madrid. Not that you'd ever be able to tell it was Madrid if you looked at the real photos rather than the deliberately glitzy graphics F1 attempted to hype up on social media.

You have to wonder whether all the high-ranking management visited the site before they signed the ten year contract. For some strange reason, I suspect not. It looks like the sort of area you'd want to avoid when it gets dark for fear of having your expensive watch stolen... Lando, Charles please note.

Never mind though, because it's another street circuit, just what we need! And that's before you even consider the news that Osaka, the third biggest city in Japan, wishes to hold a race. Or that F1 has recently applied to trademark phrases relating to a Chicago Grand Prix. And the persistent rumours about a future New York Grand Prix.

Seemingly there must no longer be any permanent race tracks in existence in any of these countries for Formula One to now only be interested in racing exclusively on street circuits.

Then there was the news from Red Bull's second team. Having been known as Alpha Tauri for the past three seasons, Red Bull decided now was time for a new rebrand. Late last year, we heard rumours that they were considering "Hugo Boss Bulls Racing" as a possible name for 2024.

Oh, how we all laughed. Surely they wouldn't choose something as horrendously bad as that?

That's true. As if out of spite, they've gone for something far worse.

Behold the majesty of 'Visa Cash App RB'.

I mean...what the bloody hell is that? Even the most woefully incompetent candidates on BBC's The Apprentice would have been capable of coming up with better branding.

Title sponsors are sadly nothing new in Formula One. Recently we had the dreadful Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team, whereas this year Sauber has joined the hotly contested competition for worst team name imaginable with their own mouthful: Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber.

If you'd like to know what Stake or Kick are, I'd love to tell you - but I have no idea myself. Kick, I believe, is some sort of live streaming platform that is used by the type of people who've been permanently banned from using every other better-known site. Stake? Not a clue.

Thankfully, however, this name will only (hopefully) be a short-lived arrangement. Audi is due to take over the Sauber team in 2026, and will likely choose to partner with some companies that are decidedly less questionable.

Visa Cash App RB will unfortunately remain for longer. Even now, I can't get my head around it. The 'RB', we are informed, does not stand for 'Racing Bulls', as some people initially thought. It just stands for RB. It's hard to think of a more bland, less imaginative identity, and one that panders so totally to the highest bidder.

Unsurprisingly, the name has been largely mocked and rejected by fans - many of whom, myself included, will simply refer to this team from now on as Toro Rosso or Minardi, as it was previously known.

But if all of that wasn't embarrassing enough for the so-called pinnacle of motorsport, then we had the third and perhaps most depressing story of all. Despite having been approved by the FIA, Andretti's ambition to become Formula One's 11th team appears to have been thwarted, at least for now. FOM and Liberty Media, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to prevent Andretti from entering.

I've written in detail about this long-running saga over the past couple of years. I feared it would happen, but still hoped that common sense would eventually prevail, and that Andretti would be granted entry as soon as possible. But for the most credible and worthy prospective entry F1 has had in well over a decade to be denied is an incredibly sad development for anyone who loves this sport.

And FOM's reasons for preventing Andretti's entry are so laughably hypocritical. They claim that an 11th team won't automatically add value to the sport, and for it to do so, it would have to be competitive and achieve podiums and race victories immediately. Oh, and GM has to commit to building its own engine too.

But by these same lofty criteria, you can easily question the "value" of over half the current grid. Haas, which is now entering its eighth year of competition, has failed to secure a single podium in that time, and most recently has been better known for its awful sponsor choices (Rich Energy/Uralkali) and sweary (now former) team boss rather than on track results.

Meanwhile, Sauber's one and only victory to date will be 16 years ago this year. Williams have been largely irrelevant since 2004, and haven't won a race in over a decade. Red Bull's second team, which now has no identity and a name nobody will use, has only won the grand total of two races since they were bought in 2006.

You can even move further up the grid. Aston Martin was bought by a wealthy businessman so his son could race in F1 for as long as he can be bothered to, and have only won one race in the two decades since it was owned by Eddie Jordan. Even McLaren went nine years between wins. All of these teams currently rely on customer engine deals.

Maybe it is unfair to bring all this up, given that until the budget cap was introduced a few years ago, the chasm between F1's "haves" and "have nots" was as wide as the Grand Canyon. But to prevent Andretti's entry on these unbelievably high grounds is a massive mistake - particularly following a season in which a single team won all but one of the races!

Of course, some members of the F1 media (and particularly those on FOM's payroll) will try and convince you that this is the right decision. Or they'll just stay quiet until the fan backlash dies down, before they go back to telling you how awesome everything is.

But if you genuinely care about Formula One, this news should really make you consider why you should even continue to carry on watching. It has for me.

Due to the cyclical nature of modern F1 and Red Bull's current dominant position, we're unlikely to witness a championship battle any time soon. Team names are becoming increasingly ludicrous, street circuits are slowly taking over the calendar, and to top it off, a highly credible team has just been prevented from entering.

Oh, and if you did want to attend an F1 race with friends or family, due to ticket prices being so extremely expensive, your best bet is to either re-mortgage your house or hope you win the lottery.

It has never been so clear that the sport cares far more about making money than it does about what its fans want. And it's so frustrating to see all the goodwill the sport had just a couple of years ago being lost as a result of its own stupidity and greed. But ultimately, FOM and Liberty aren't listening, so why should we care?

The sad fact is the sport is now something I increasingly struggle to recognise, and far removed from the one I fell in love with as a young kid. But thankfully, for motor racing fans, there is a plethora of other series to enjoy and give your time to.

Sports car racing is currently enjoying a new golden era in the WEC and IMSA - and the recent Rolex 24 hour race from Daytona was stunning. NASCAR has finally shaken off its Redneck image and is enjoying a rebirth too, whilst IndyCar remains perhaps the most competitive series on the planet. Then there's a personal favourite of mine - MotoGP, arguably the most consistently exciting racing series around.

2024 looks like being a great year for racing, so with all that being said, I'll make one final plea:

Can the last person in Formula One who genuinely cares about the sport please turn off the lights?

James Singleton



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1. Posted by F1 fan, 02/03/2024 12:17

"Great article, I have been a F1 since my first visit to Watkins Glen in 1975 and have seen a lot of great racing over the years. The trajectory Liberty media is taking the sport is very sad, too many street courses and turning a blind eye to the heritage of the sport by freezing out permanent tracks (think Hockenheim,Sepang,Estoril,Brands Hatch). The F1 cars were not designed to be street racers, that's why there were purpose built tracks. I think there should be no more than 4 street races a year as they provide some excitement but overall leave me wishing for a return to actual race tracks. Not sure how many more street circuits can be crammed into the schedule but I really wish they would stop."

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2. Posted by RP, 25/02/2024 21:39

"Good article. I've been a fan of F1 for a long time also. I used to go to Watkins Glen, NY when in college in the early 60's. About two plus years ago, I turned on a MotoGp race and while I used to ride in younger days wasn't giving it much thought then I looked closer - the camera views and very real hard racing was very impressive. I still watch F1 (albeit not always through the whole more boring races) but I genuinely look forward to the MotoGp races and, here, the driver can still make a pretty big difference. Not hopeful about a turn around. They do need someone like Cadillac to add another engine to the pile and Adretti to have another team."

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3. Posted by Mike69, 19/02/2024 10:03

"You sum up my feelings very well.
I wish the FIA would get a grip of the situation for the good of the sport.
Commercial excess is ruining the reasons why long term F1 fans love the sport and see it turned into a overhyped fashion that over time may well fade badly."

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4. Posted by VC10-1103, 14/02/2024 19:45

"It's 55 years since I became an F1 fan. The 1970's (apart from the deaths) were way better than todays F1. You had access to the paddock, you were able speak to the drivers, you could see the cars close up with the bodywork off during the pis walkabout - the drivers even made an appearance during the walkabout. I thought the rot set in with Bernie taking control but I take it back with now Liberty in control."

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5. Posted by Whatabout..., 14/02/2024 15:20

"Thank you James!
Well done.
All your well considered thoughts were rambling around in my head.
My F1 journey started with Frankenheimer’s epic in 1966.
It was always there, but for my young eyes, he portrayed the Grand in Grand Prix.
The ‘Grand’ is gone now, for many reasons, not solely Liberty.
If you care to, raise a glass to Chapman, Ferrari, Tyrell, McLaren, Williams and the rest of the old guard.
Their foundation remains. A look to the past may help us recover the future."

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6. Posted by JamesHSingo, 13/02/2024 19:47

"@CL "I do hope there’s some toys left in your pram for you to write the next one of these about, James.

I'm not sure whether your comment is intended to be sarcastic or not, but let me be clear: I'd prefer to be able to write about positive aspects of the sport, rather than "throw my toys out the pram" and be negative. When I write pieces like this, it's not to criticize F1 for the hell of it - instead they're written from a source of deep personal frustration that a sport I love so dearly makes such baffling decisions (and ones that will clearly be detrimental long-term i.e. Andretti) so regularly. And since those people who are lucky enough to be paid to comment to F1 for a living seem unable or unwilling to criticize the "powers that be", perhaps that responsibility belongs to us fans. "

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7. Posted by @R1Racing71, 13/02/2024 16:30

"Best piece I’ve seen on here for a long time.
It will be 40 years for me this year as an F1 enthusiast, I’m not sure it’s in a better place now than in ‘84.

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8. Posted by Chester, 13/02/2024 13:45

"Agree that IndyCar and WEC ad IMSA racing is good. Less offtrack drama too.

I was disgusted watching views of Taylor Swift during this year's SuperBowl, but I do owe her a debt. She played her only 2016 concert at COTA- a year after the 2015 rain-out imperiled the race. At that time the state of Texas was giving millions to underwrite the race.

I keenly remember the night of her concert. Grimy faced race fans (me and others) sitting on the low walls around the track after a full day, watching mothers and their pre-teen and teen daughters prance by in clean white outfits. A mismatch for the ages. But Taylor did, in my opinion, contribute to saving the race at COTA.

There were very real threats of Texas pulling out the rug from under the race. Attendance in the early days was not great."

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9. Posted by Cobra Driver, 13/02/2024 10:40

There was a time when I would "clear all decks" when a Formula One race was coming up on the tube. Lately (since purchased by Liberty), if I had a more-interesting event, like cleaning the oven, I would defer. Brilliant piece of journalism. Thank you.

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10. Posted by TokyoAussie, 13/02/2024 3:24

"I reckon Andretti should consider taking FOM to court in the EU. The EU courts are very big, or claim to be big, on matters of anti-competitiveness. The FOM stifling competition goes against the very thing that the FOM was formed to avoid (in theory)."

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11. Posted by Laz, 13/02/2024 1:02

"I have followed F1 for nigh on 60years but stopped watching races several years ago - I would look at qualifying and if a Mercedes was on pole I didn't watch any further. Then aerodynamics and the dreaded DRS came along and the show got worse-can't actually outdrive your opponent then just wait until the DRS zone came along. Street circuits have no place in F1 today - and that includes Monaco - they make a complete farce of the safety requirements for safe racing and passing at the speeds modern F1 runs at. Once an American Venture Capital firm bought F1 it was all over - Money-a return on investment is the only motivation for them and when it slows down they will dump ,it but before then they will try everything possible to jazz it up -the history and the sport be buggered."

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12. Posted by Superbird70, 12/02/2024 21:36

"Fast foward to 2026. Taylor Swift hosts a concert in New York city and a F1 race is the warm up act."

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13. Posted by Spindoctor, 12/02/2024 20:01

"Spot on."

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14. Posted by Laps, 12/02/2024 18:18

"If you want to know what future awaits F1, consider today’s News Bulletins! The Super Bowl, one of the greatest sporting events in the world, had 99% of the coverage focused on the ‘celebrities’ in the crowd. I only saw one bulletin which actually gave the result.
Liberty already has us well down that road. "

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15. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 12/02/2024 18:06

"Yeah, but apart from all that…"

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