Few sports are as business-dominated as Formula One, and Bernie Ecclestone is the man behind this. Many would argue that he has single-handedly turned the sport into one of the most watched sporting events across the globe, but the sport has stagnated over the last few years, and Liberty Media’s takeover has led to the ‘removal’ of Ecclestone from the day-to-day running of F1. Liberty’s three man team of Chase Carey, Sean Bratches and former team owner Ross Brawn have pledged to transform the sport, and here’s some of the problems that will be filling up their in-tray over the next few weeks.
Survival of the small teams: News broke a few weeks that Manor were in administration, for the 2nd time since joining the sport in 2010. The British team allegedly spent £80m last season, and finished last in the championship, costing them valuable prize money. One of the biggest costs of running an F1 team is the hybrid power units which have been compulsory since 2014. Although the big manufacturers want them to develop future road car technology, independent teams are struggling to pay the bills, and the sport won’t survive without the little guy bringing in new talent. And on the subject of prize money….
Ferrari’s unfair finances: One of the biggest gripes of teams such as Force India and Sauber is the additional money given to teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull. The ‘prancing horse’ has been seen in F1 since the first race in 1950, and receive money every year just for being in the sport. However, they won’t give up this payment easily (they’ve previously threatened to leave when they didn’t like a rule change), so it will be interesting to see how the new owners deal with this.
Anti-social media: Bernie wasn’t a fan of social media, as he couldn’t see a way to make enough money out of it. Lewis Hamilton was once scolded by Ecclestone for putting footage from inside the garage on Snapchat, but Carey seems to be taking a much more relaxed attitude. With most races now being shown on pay TV only, the internet will be the best place for the sport to gain new fans.
Bye bye Britain?: Silverstone have already said that they will not be able to afford to keep F1 in Britain, due to the high price of hosting a race. Countries such as Azerbaijan, Singapore and the UAE have no problems paying £50m+ a year, but does this have to be at the cost of losing the old classics? Most of the sports fan base is in Europe, and it would be foolish to not give them the chance of going to as many races as possible.
Passing problems: While the cars have been getting faster and faster, overtakes seem to be getting rarer and rarer. Artificial methods of ‘improving’ the racing exist, but the current regulations make it very difficult to follow close behind another car. It’ll be up to Ross Brawn to decide whether it’s worth sacrificing speed for better racing.
It is likely to be a case of evolution, not revolution for Liberty Media over the next few years, when the sport and its stakeholders will find out, whether three heads are better than one.
Featured Image: Bloomberg