Teams pay the price for indifferent F1 logo


'Under New Management' proudly proclaims the sign in the days and weeks following the takeover of an existing business, as from the get-go, the new owners seek to retain existing customers while attracting new ones and winning back those that have been lost along the way.

'Things Will Be Changing' the sign could helpfully add, as said new owners set about improving things, be it minor issues like a lick of paint and a few new fixtures and fittings or a complete overhaul.

The bottom line is that in looking at the old business, the new owners liked what they saw, but could see room for improvement.

Strangely however, this did not appear to be the case following Liberty Media's purchase of F1 in early 2017, for in the weeks and months that followed the buy-out the new owners went out of their way to play up the shortcomings of their predecessors, suggesting that so much was wrong and so many opportunities missed that one wondered why they splashed out their 3.5bn in the first place.

Giving Bernie Ecclestone a meaningless title and shuffling him off to F1's twilight zone, up went the 'Under New Management' sign as Liberty Media set to work.

First thing was to get the media on-side and this was cleverly done with a relaxing of many of Ecclestone's strict (and unnecessary) rules, along with the promise that from here on in F1 would work with the press rather than treat it as the enemy.

Then came the various other changes as the sport sought to retain existing fans, win over new ones and convince those that had drifted away to return to the fold.

Determined to distance itself from the old management, not only did the sport seek out a plush new London HQ, it ramped up the headcount as it established various new departments unthinkable under the old regime... we're talking marketing, sponsorship and research.

Christian Horner's brother was drafted in to organise a fan event in London, F1 finally took to social media, the official website began to run genuine news and there was even talk of live streaming of the sport as F1 finally moved into the 21st century.

Much like the new owners of the cafe down the street, out went the misspelled fascia and the fading decor and in came a new logo, a theme tune, an eSports programme and font, not to mention a technical team populated with various former technical directors and various other 'gurus'.

However, all this had to be paid for, and among the hardest hit were the F1 teams themselves, who receive 68% of the sport's underlying profits, for as the sport's costs increased by 12.4% to 332m ($427m) in 2017, this left F1 with a 28.8m ($37m) operating loss compared to a 36.6m ($47m) profit in 2016. As a result, the teams' prize money plummeted 5% to 715m ($919m).

With this trend expected to continue when the figures for 2018 are revealed, the teams can at least comfort themselves, safe in the knowledge that their money is being spent wisely, and that these new initiatives are having the desired effect.

Well actually...

According to Forbes, in his wide-ranging AMA (ask me anything) on the discussion website Reddit, F1’s global research director Matt Roberts, reveals that "from social media, you would have assumed that everybody hated the logo. However research amongst 8,000 representative global sports fans showed that over 2/3s of F1 fans (avid + casual) didn’t really have an opinion either way with the remainder slightly more positive than negative about the new branding."

Changing the logo didn't come cheap either as it was created by advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy which is understood to have produced as many as 600 options. Even then, the version chosen faced opposition from stationery giant 3M as it bears a stark similarity to the logo for its Futuro range of therapeutic clothing, the legal clash currently on hold until 2020.

Ironically, while the fans were clearly indifferent, drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel preferred the old version. "I liked the old one better" opined the German, "I don’t think the new one is as iconic" added Hamilton.

Of course, indifference is one thing, but in terms of the late season update to the official Timing App and the numerous issues with F1 TV, the fan reaction was extremely negative, bordering on hostile.

Despite the sport continuing to lose viewers, and Roberts revealing that just 14% of F1 fans are under 25 (and 37% over 45!), the spending continues, what with Brawn's technical team coming up with simulators to assist in track design, and other initiatives.

"The aim is to have start line ceremonies which are in line with the culture in that particular market," reveals Roberts, adding that "we have launched an eSports series and are about to venture into a number of other licensing markets. We may also look to have an F1 exhibition at one stage."

The gimmicks continue, but as insiders warn that ultimately the much-anticipated new aero regulations will have little impact, F1 has to forget about distancing itself from the old management and begin recalling what made F1 such an attractive purchase in the first place.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 14/01/2019
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