By on November 11, 2017

F1 Nov 2017 Redbull

Last week, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne expressed his distaste for what he perceived as a less-than-desirable update to Formula One’s engine rules. He even suggested the brand might remove itself from the sport if Liberty Media doesn’t reconsider some of its proposals for 2021.

“I understand that Liberty may have taken these into account in coming up with their views,” Marchionne said. “But I think it needs to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.”

Still in the midst of discussions, Formula One took time to defend itself against Ferrari’s claim that the new rules would make it the global equivalent of NASCAR.

“Actually I don’t think we have a differing view to Ferrari,” F1 CEO Chase Carey explained to Motorsport. “I’m not trying to be derogatory to NASCAR, but we don’t plan to be NASCAR either.”

“We don’t want to standardize the cars. We don’t want 20 identical cars going round the track, and the only difference is the driver,” he continued. “F1 is unique, and it marries up competitive sport to state-of-the-art technology. We want the teams to have the ability to do what they do to create cars that are unique to them — unique engines to them, unique bodies to them. But we want to make success dependent on how well you spend your resources within some constraints, versus how much you spend. I think that’s a healthier sport.”

Under Liberty Media’s ownership, Formula One has repeatedly expressed an interest in appeasing its fan base, but has been less enthusiastic when it comes to the participating teams. It also makes more money when more people watch, and thinks closer races with louder, less complex engines would be a good way to bolster viewership.

“We want teams to compete to win, but we want all the teams to have a chance,” Carey said. “It’s never going to be equal, there are going to be favorites that evolve, but we want the teams to feel that they all have a fighting chance. Sports are built on the unexpected, and we do want a sport that can have the unexpected.”

“If somebody wins every race every week, at the end of the day, the sport’s going to suffer,” he continued. “You need competition, you need the unknown, you need great finishes, you need great dramas. We’ve got to create that. That attracts more funds, and realistically that benefits all the teams in the sport. Our first priority is to make this sport much better for us, and the existing teams in it.”

Carey didn’t say so explicitly, but it appears Formula One is calling Ferrari’s bluff on quitting in 2021 if it doesn’t get its way. Of course, Ferrari isn’t alone — Mercedes and Renault have also expressed doubts regarding the updated regulations. On the upside, rumor has it that Aston Martin, Ilmor, Cosworth, and Porsche have all been sniffing around Formula One since the new rules were announced.

[Image: Federation Internationale de l’Automobile]

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35 Comments on “Formula One Responds to Ferrari’s Unenthusiastic Reaction to New Rules...”


  • avatar
    Syke

    There are two impossibilities in the world of motorsport:

    1. Limiting the amount of money Ferrari will spend in automobile racing.

    2. Limiting the amount of money Honda will spend in motorcycle racing.

    In the case of Ferrari, there is a certain justification for this expense. It justifies the price of their street legal automobiles. Every Ferrari buyer lives with the illusion that he’s bought in to the racing team, or at least bought in to the glory.

    Honda, I’ve never been able to figure out. No matter what they spend on racing, they’re still just another motorcycle company.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Street going motorcycles are much, much closer to GP bikes than street going cars are to F1 carts.

      Honda has always gone racing explicitly to generate learnings for their production teams. As well as exposing young engineers to the cutting edge. And, back when there existed such a thing as young Japanese, even some that card about racing, as a recruitment tool. More so than for the PR a win generates. So even if Honda is just another motorcycle company, every motorcycle company has benefited from Honda’s (and the others on the grid) GP effort. Hence motorcycling as a whole has benefited. Which indirectly ends up benefiting Honda as well.

      F1, by having gotten so far removed from regular cars, as well as by being an order of magnitude or more more expensive, is a lot harder to justify in absence of the status and branding benefits it brings.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      That’s why drive a Force India 1322GT.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I’ve long argued that the solution to the mountains of money problem is not to have spec rules, but to enforce budget constraints. Have a relatively simple rule book that emphasizes safety, set a universal budgetary limit for teams by assigning auditors and let the teams loose to spend that budget however they wish. That would level the playing field and encourage real innovation.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    With most awesome things in life there is a balance where rationality and desire meet harmoniously. Ferrari is unarguably the most storied engine maker in the universe…the embodiment of Motorsport passion and excellence. The Liberty Media Corporation interests are intertwined in profit margins and sustainability while at the same time preserving the sports integrity and everything that makes Formula One, Formula 1.

    Unfortunately, Ferrari’s return on investment is directly proportional to the amount of passion and excellence they display on the track…so it is understandable that a call for more uniformity would dampen their mojo.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    A return to the tried-and-true 3.0L V10 formula would leave me as giddy as a schoolgirl. This attempt to appear concerned about fuel economy is silly, especially after unloading six 747s for a car race.

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      I don’t think the sport can weather the current reliability and competitive imbalance issues. If they expect people to travel and vacation around the F1 calendar then they better make damn sure that a quarter of the field isn’t a race day casualty of a mechanical-electrical hissy fit.

      That being said I think it is more than just Fuel Economy…I feel it is important that the sports technology parallels the R&D goals of the manufacturers and their performance hybrid business model.

      • 0 avatar
        anomaly149

        It’s less about R&D goals and more about marketing goals. All motorsports is fundamentally marketing; the R&D side is covered by OEM and supplier R&D groups and colleges.

        The question is: does a hybrid powertrain help the marketing goals of the OEM participants? Does it help the goals enough that it’s worth throwing $300,000,000 at it? Now what about Formula-E, where you can run an all-electric car (EVEN GREENER!!!!!1) for a few tens of millions?

        Heaven help them in 5 years when Formula E really starts getting faster and longer ranged.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          “Heaven help them in 5 years when Formula E really starts getting faster and longer ranged.”

          Formula E was recently hosted in Brooklyn and I wanted to attend, but couldn’t make it. Maybe next year.

          I’ve watched an F1 race during a flight that had access to the Speed channel. I found the race entertaining and liked the international aspect of the race, along with various circuits.

          I’d consider attending the time trials in Montreal or Texas as part of a vacation. Time trials are more affordable (and some say more exciting) than watching the actual race from the grand stand. An acquaintance with more disposable income goes regularly, and mentioned the cars are already too loud. He prefers to watch it in an enclosed booth with all the amenities.

          But Formula E in Brooklyn would be virtually local for me, seems more relevant, and could very well be the future.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Bah. Another forum poster (or troll) wondering why F1 racing is trying to be green and save fuel. Hello! They’re not using hybrid power units because F1 teams _have_ to save fuel. The engine spec exists because the engine manufacturers want the racing engines to be road relevant. There is nothing interesting or road relevant in racing with naturally-aspirated engines that rev to 20000 RPM. This was interesting in 1992, but today it’s a dinosaur.

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        A beautiful circular argument. Hello! Your ‘road relevance’ stipulation IS fuel economy. There wasn’t much ‘road relevance’ in the turbo era, either, with 1000hp I4s that couldn’t idle and were coming apart at the seams, but it was good racing because little lip service was paid to the supposed fuel economy of racing cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Im sorry, what is the ratio of Hybrid to Non Hybrid vehicles sold globally?

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Unless the new rules address the sheer ugliness of the cars and the sheer boredom of the tracks, then I won’t be returning as an F1 audience member, and I couldn’t care less whether Ferrari is involved or not.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Boredom = safety.

      And boredom = predictability.

      And predictability is what the OEMs funding the show need, in order to justify such ridiculous spending levels. As well as what allows them to field, and show off, ever more bleeding edge technology. You can justify building a taller building on a solid, predictable (aka boring) foundation, than on an “exciting” one.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Half of the race tracks are truly excellent (most of the old European tracks, plus Australia/Brazil/Canada/Japan). The ones that may be boring are the nouveau riche race tracks that were built in the past 20 years, each one of them trying to look like an automotive Disneyland.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Half the tracks are mediocre (too many chicanes) and half are terrible, but 100% of the cars are ugly as sin. Even though they tend to run on the same boring tracks, vintage racing with early 80s BMW-Brabhams, 1960s Eagles and Lotus 49s, or 1950s Maserati 250F is much more visually interesting – nice to see cars actually slide around.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Maybe they should just spray water on the tracks at random intervals.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I’ve been an avid F1 fan since the sixties when it was a technology race and I loved it. One clever innovation could completely change the order but only for a couple of months until the next six wheeler, fan car, active suspension or side skirts got banned. This standardisation of components is ruining the sport for me.
    I would propose a tight fuel limit and maximum dimensions and let them go at it!
    Beyond this, the cars are becoming too fast. Pulling more than 5Gs in corners will eventually limit the drivers to being mechanical robots. Even more boring.
    Formula E is almost the opposite. They are currently slower and the technology, though currently fairly standard, is being opened up progressively. The tracks are more scenic and the media access is better. I will watch it now and hope for an even brighter future.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Forget the technology, or how the cars look. Formula E interests only a small crowd of techno-geeks. The reason the rest of people watch F1 racing is because F1 got Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, and Verstappen. For example, tomorrow’s Brazilian GP is expected to have a four way battle between Bottas, Vettel, Verstappen, and Ricciardo. Forget how the cars look. People would watch the race even if the cars were soap bar shaped. Formula E on the other hand, has interesting technology, but decidedly second-rate drivers who were recycled from Formula 1 or other competitions. Buemi I think is the only FE racer I wish still remained in F1.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        @Jacob, I’m not so sure. NASCAR switched to a driver centric focus and made the cars all look the same and popularity has been waning. Sure, people root for drivers and want to see the best race, but there is a point where people become disinterested too.

        • 0 avatar
          notwhoithink

          This is true, but only because drivers were half of the loyalty. The other half was to Ford/Chevy/MOPAR. Plenty of manufacturer-based loyalty existed in NASCAR before they standardized it.

          Incidentally, ever see how many people show up to an F1 race wearing Ferrari gear instead of something with a driver’s name on it? The Tifosi are a real force in F1 fandom, and Liberty would be stupid to risk alienating such a large chunk of the fan base.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    The real issue at stake is not the details of the new engine spec. The real issue is that Liberty wants to stop paying Ferrari about 100million USD a year just for being Ferrari. See, Formula 1 racing generates a TV rights income of well over 1B USD a year. A big stash of this money is redistributed to the teams based on their position in the previous championship. However, a number of teams receive a payout from a separate stash of money for their value as a “historically significant” F1 team. The worst of these is Ferrari, which receives close to 100 million USD simply for being Ferrari. They can finish last in the championship and still get their cool 100M USD. Of course, this is disgusting as such formula ensures that the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer. Sauber for example is broke and is on its last legs.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “Formula 1 racing generates a TV rights income of well over 1B USD a year. ”

      I’m pretty sure that you have significantly underestimated the value of the global TV rights for F1. According to Autosport, FOM will pull in about $1.8 billion this year, of which about $940 million will be distributed to the teams.

      “However, a number of teams receive a payout from a separate stash of money for their value as a “historically significant” F1 team.”

      Ferrari is the only team that gets paid this bonus, and this year it was about $68 million, not the $100 million as you claim. And they are paid this bonus due to the fact that they are essentially synonymous with Formula 1 racing, being the only team to have competed in every season since F1’s inception. It’s also worth noting that Ferrari will get a total of $180 million in payouts from FOM for 2017, whereas Mercedes will get $171 million, and Red Bull will get $161. The bulk of this money is award money relative to their finishing position in previous seasons.

      “They can finish last in the championship and still get their cool 100M USD. Of course, this is disgusting as such formula ensures that the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer. Sauber for example is broke and is on its last legs.”

      Sauber is slated to get $49 in payouts from FOM for 2017, though it’s worth noting that Haas racing will only get $19 million. So while Sauber isn’t getting champion-level money, they aren’t getting the smallest slice of the pie. Their financial problems have far less to do with the lack of FOM money than they do with sponsorship and poor performance on the track. But their situation is not particularly different than any of the other “privateer” teams.

      Formula 1 is by no means an inexpensive sport. While most teams don’t disclose what they spend, when Toyota started racing in F1 back in 2001 they were rumored to be spending over $250 million/year (and that was 16 years ago!). So when you hear stories about teams getting a $68 million bonus just for showing up it sounds absurd, but it really is just a small part of the spend. For the most part, unless you have the backing of a major automotive manufacturer you will likely not be competitive.

      • 0 avatar
        Jacob

        Actually, your information is out of date. Take a look here:

        https://thejudge13.com/2017/11/06/so-here-is-a-method-thats-helping-ferrari-to-be-top-dog-in-f1/

        Ferrari is being paid, together with Mercedes, McLaren, and Red Bull from this “special fund”. Williams also is receiving a bit of cash, albeit less than the others (only 10M). Ferrari is receiving +100M of cash indeed, which is outrageous.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Ferarri is bluffing, Ferarri is always bluffing, but, they are the big dog so they usually get what they want. Having said that, I just can’t get excited about things like the myriad tiny aero tweaks that go into F1 racing. Who says, “wow, I really enjoyed watching the millimetre extension on the monkey seat winglet on the Mercedes this weekend.” In comparison, Indycar’s DW12 spec-car has produced some of the most exciting races anywhere at anytime. I believe by adopting some of Indycar’s ideas, F1 can standardize a lot of things to save money, can allow freedom in other areas, and can create an overall strategy that produces exciting races. So, I am thinking the floor/diffuser, the driver tub, the front and rear wings, the block/crankshaft, brakes are spec. Most everything else is free. Here’s the strategy part – no more tire stops (punctures excepted). Races are a 90-min sprint. And one final strategy – if F1 wants to be green, allow the teams to choose to carry more fuel, as long as it is biofuel produced using wind and/or solar renewable energy.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    In the days of self-driving electric urban cars just how relevant is racing going to be in the immediate future, F1 included? Over-powered cars with ic motivation are quickly becoming objects of nostalgia. I teach in a College. Of my students, mainly 18=25, there is minimal interest if any in ever owning a private motor vehicle, and zero interest in motor sports. This generation has moved on.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      ” Over-powered cars with ic motivation are quickly becoming objects of nostalgia.”

      Really? Looking at the most recent numbers from Wikipedia (which cites a pro-Hybrid source) there were around 410,000 EVs sold in the US in 2015. That would have been about 2.5% of the total number of vehicles sold in the US that year. Assuming the numbers have doubled since then (and I have no reason to believe that they have grown quite so much in popularity) then you still have 95% of the car-buying population choosing vehicles with internal combustion.

      “Of my students, mainly 18=25, there is minimal interest if any in ever owning a private motor vehicle,”

      Good for them. As long as they’re OK with living in the city where they have access to mass transit and the Uber-clones then they’re more than welcome to spend what they would have spent on a car on paying higher rents and not having the cost certainty of a fixed-rate mortgage in the ‘burbs. But people do grow up, eventually. When I was that age I lived in the “hip urban part of town”. Then I got married and had kids, and wanted things like good schools and a yard.

      “zero interest in motor sports.”

      Did you interview them all?

      Seriously though, NASCAR has long been the 800lb gorilla of American motorsports, and interest in NASCAR has certainly waned of the years. A lot of fans seem to attribute it to constant changes in the regulations and the attempt to engineer excitement. NASCAR had a winning formula, and in an effort to kick things up a notch they implemented the racing equivalent of a “playoff series”, then standardized the cars (where now only the engines and brand stickers differentiate them), and numerous other changes. There’s a good reason that F1 teams don’t want to be following in NASCAR’s footsteps, they’ve seen where it leads.

      But judging by the popularity of things like Fast and Furious movies, “riced out mods”, and hot hatches, I’d say that general interest in fast cars and (transitively) racing is still there. It’s just changing form.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “This generation has moved on.”

      To what, singularity with Instagram?

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    “I’m a millennial and how I think is how everyone else thinks”

  • avatar

    Maybe also try airing the races on channels that people actually get?

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