Carey wants more


At a time there is speculation over Toto Wolff succeeding Chase Carey as F1 boss, many might say that whether it's the Austrian or whoever, the American's departure cannot come soon enough.

In a call with financial analysts today, Carey outlined a grim vision for the sport, certainly as far as fans are concerned, just days after Ross Brawn, in reference to levelling the playing field, said "it's a key theme for the future of this sport and I think we are all in agreement on this, starting with the fans, whom we must listen to, because, at the end of the day, they are our most important asset".

Carey's vision is simple, he wants more, more Pay TV, more races, more money flowing into the sport's coffers.

At a time the nett viewership in the UK alone is down 3 million after the sport went almost exclusively behind a paywall, Carey admitted: "we will continue to move towards pay platforms because that is where the world is going". This despite him admitting that the global TV audience so far this year is "down a few percentage points".

Insisting that he isn't particularly bothered as the fall has been influenced by a decline in Brazil, home to the sport's biggest TV audience, in reference to the viewing figures he said: "I'd say it has been OK."

Referring to the streaming service which has suffered a litany of issues that race in, race out sees fans around the world left frustrated and disappointed and has led to the service having to issue refunds on a number of occasions, he insisted that "we have made good strides" with the reliability of the service, though he admits that it remains a "work in progress" and that it is "getting closer to our targets both in terms of content and reliability."

Readers may remember that exactly one year ago, he said virtually the same thing about it being a "work in progress", while those fans that Ross Brawn insists "we must listen to, because, at the end of the day, they are our most important asset", continue to pay full whack for a service that is still essentially in beta testing.

Referring to sponsors he admitted that "the time required to grow this area of our business has probably been a bit longer than we would have anticipated a couple of years ago", however, there was good news on another front.

"We expect to announce the 2020 calendar in the next few weeks," he said, according to Forbes, adding that, at a time the sport is bracing itself for its busiest schedule ever, featuring 22 races, "we expect the number of races over the next few years to increase a bit".

Since buying the sport in early 2017, Liberty Media has sought to expand F1 in its own backyard, and while Holland returns to the calendar and Vietnam hosts its inaugural race next year, there is still no sign of a second American event.

Insisting that talks for a second American Grand Prix are ongoing, he said: "We have talked about adding races in what we call destination cities like Las Vegas and Miami. We have been engaged for the last year there. I think we have made good headway there. We continue to and in fact I have meetings next week with parties there. I had meetings a month ago there... down the road you would love to have a US driver. That probably takes longer."

Along with another American race and an American driver, Carey also wants a "high-profile US team" - and yes, you read that right.

At a time Gene Haas must already be giving serious consideration as to whether it was worth the money and effort, his team having slumped to ninth in the standings, serious doubt over its title sponsor, and no cast-iron guarantee that the 2021 regulations are really going to level the playing field, Carey gave his fellow-American the ultimate slap in the face when he said that he hoped the planned budget cap, more equal prize money and other efforts to level the playing field, would attract new teams.

"We are talking to new team entrants, as we firm up the business model for team ownership, we have Haas as a US team, we'd love to add a high-profile US team, down the road you'd love to have a US driver, that probably takes longer."

Perhaps Peter Windsor can be persuaded to resurrect the US F1 project, with an all-American hero such as Pete Aron or Michael Delaney at the wheel, maybe even Ricky Bobby. Y'know.

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Published: 08/08/2019
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