In deep concern for formula 1 and its entire full-throttle world, the head of the automotive world association calls for a radical rethink.
"What we need is a complete rethink of motorsport". "We could talk about a new deal, like the one america had after the world economic crisis," fia president jean todt was quoted as saying in the association’s youngest magazine. Michael schumacher’s former ferrari team boss says the corona standstill also threatens the future of his premium formula 1 product. At the same time, however, the crisis could also be an opportunity for radical reforms in the racing series.
This was a "painful" process, says formula 1 sports boss ross brawn. "But i think we’ll come out of this stronger if we can get through it," adds the 65-year-old nicknamed the "mastermind". Formula 1 is to become more cost-efficient, fairer and more efficient. Closer to the fan, more exciting and supposedly even more climate-friendly. All of this is what liberty media wanted to do before the covid 19 pandemic, but now the need for rapid change is much more severe.
Besides an emergency calendar with a season start on 5. July in austria and a series of ghost races, the makers of formula 1 have been discussing the future spending limit for weeks now. The 160 million euros per team per year that was once set for 2021 is long outdated, and the need to save money is overwhelming. 133 million euros is the target for next year, announces negotiator brawn. "And the question is how far we can print this in the next few years," he adds.
Ferrari in particular is resisting a further reduction in the limit, because otherwise sebastian vettel’s racing team would probably have to lay off many employees – and is afraid of the smaller teams catching up with it. But in the battle of big versus small, this time the underdogs have the stronger arguments and the rule makers on their side. "As a family, we should look after everyone involved in formula 1," says vettel too.
"Economic sustainability is the priority in the current situation, and that goes for the big teams as well as the small ones," says formula 1 sports chief brawn. For more equal financial opportunities, prize money will also be distributed differently in the future. The midfield teams then receive more from this pot than before. Less spending, higher revenues – this is the recipe that is supposed to give the competition a better chance against the top dogs mercedes, ferrari and red bull.
At the same time, the world governing body and the owners are hoping that a new business model will also attract newcomers. Formula 1 is open for two new racing stadiums if investors can be found, reports the trade magazine "auto, motor und sport". Due to the necessary downsizing of current teams, specialist staff were available. The budget limit would make it more favorable than in the past.
However, it is by no means certain that all the current teams will still be there after the crisis, despite the millions in advances from the rights holder. Private racing stables are threatened with bankruptcy in case of a long forced break. Manufacturers such as mercedes and renault were able to reconsider their commitment because of the emergency in the car industry. "I hope the team owners and sponsors retain their motivation. We have to strengthen their feeling that they still want and need it," warns fia boss todt.
Longtime chief marketer bernie ecclestone advises his successors to take even more drastic steps. "Someone should grind up the rule book – and write completely new rules," says the 89-year-old in an "autocar" interview. Away with overcomplicated technology and hybrid engines, back to threatening burners and greater freedom for wild drivers – that’s ecclestone’s vision. "We have to make sure that formula 1 remains an entertainment package," says the briton.
Even though ecclestone is probably speaking from the heart of many a retro fan such as sebastian vettel, his suggestions were allowed to go unheeded by the decision-makers. "We must be humble. Even though we love motorsport, it is not indispensable to society," says world governing body president todt. "So we have to make reasonable and wise decisions."