Strategy Group meets… but don't get your hopes up


F1's Strategy Group meets today in the hope of giving the sport a kick in the pants... nothing will come of it.

The group, which comprises the six leading teams from 2014, FIA president Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone, will meet at the F1 supremo's offices at Biggin Hill - an airfield that played a major role in the Second World War.

Also in attendance will be Donald Mackenzie, co-chairman of CVC Capital Partners which owns a large share of the sport.

The media is getting excited by the prospect of this meeting, some calling it "crucial", whilst others describe it as a "crisis" meeting. To quote Lewis Hamilton, B*******!

Nothing will come of it.

OK, we might get agreement on another asinine rule such as no livery changes to drivers helmets, or the like, but real ground-breaking moves to halt the haemorrhaging of TV viewers, spectators at races and (consequently) sponsors, simply won't happen.

Yes, there is too much self interest in the sport, and team bosses will never agree on anything, each wanting what is best for them and their team.

However, there is something else very wrong here.

Speaking in Barcelona last week, technical bosses, when asked about rule changes for 2017, pretty much argued 'if it aint broke, why fix it', insisting that much of the racing at present is good.

That's as it may be. However, those fans no longer filling the seats at the Circuit de Catalunya, Melbourne or Monza, clearly don't feel the racing is that good. Likewise those fans now finding something better to watch (or do) on GP weekends.

In this writer's humble opinion The Velvet Underground remains one of the most important bands in the history of rock music. And while it is said that only a few thousand bought its albums they all went on to form bands; the fact is that at the time the band wasn't appreciated; it didn't sell records, it didn't headline major gigs and eventually broke up. (Though John Cale's 'departure' didn't help').

Fact is, you cannot tell people what is good, what they should like, they will decide for themselves, and clearly, at present - indeed, for some time - fans have not been happy.

In the wake of last week's election, which saw a number of party leaders subsequently fall on their swords, former colleagues (and relatives) who only a few days earlier were pledging their total support and utmost faith were to be seen 'coming out' and blaming said leaders for their parties woes.

Have no doubt, no doubt at all, that when Bernie Ecclestone finally does a Harry Shearer and walks away from Formula One, you will hear similar cries from many of those within the sport. "Excellent", they will mutter in unison.

Whilst he has done much for the sport, not least making many of those within it rich beyond their wildest dreams, Ecclestone - no fan of democracy but rather dictatorships - has ruled with a rod of iron, and nobody has had the guts to speak out.

Under him, a situation has developed whereby the infighting and selfishness has become so great that the sport needs him in order to prevent it imploding.

There might no longer be something rotten in the state of Denmark, but there is in Formula One.

The sport has lost its way, indeed it has been losing it for some time, and it will take more than a meeting of a few self-interested men at a former war-time airfield to make things right.

We need a shake-up of seismic proportions and expecting it from the sport's current leaders is much like asking turkeys to celebrate the approach of Christmas.

Chris Balfe

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Published: 14/05/2015
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