McLaren Life banner
521 - 540 of 589 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,025 Posts
Separation of the race team from the road car division makes no sense, particularly for the road cars.
Why is that? If Racing is self-funding, would it not be better to protect that, and expect Automotive - which occupies a far more problematical position in its industry - to succeed or fail in its own right rather than leaning on Racing?
If the shitshow that is Aston Martin can get away with conflating its branding across two separate companies in separate industries, I don't see why a proper racing team such as McLaren could not do the same.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
910 Posts
Why is that? If Racing is self-funding, would it not be better to protect that, and expect Automotive - which occupies a far more problematical position in its industry - to succeed or fail in its own right rather than leaning on Racing?
If the shitshow that is Aston Martin can get away with conflating its branding across two separate companies in separate industries, I don't see why a proper racing team such as McLaren could not do the same.
Because the raison d'etre of most race teams is to sell cars, particularly true of the red ones, and F1 is arguably the biggest marketing tool for McLaren at least in Europe.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,025 Posts
Because the raison d'etre of most race teams is to sell cars, particularly true of the red ones, and F1 is arguably the biggest marketing tool for McLaren at least in Europe.
Williams, Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Haas? Yes, in the era when budgets were unlimited the raison d'etre was often to sell cars, but that has changed with the budget cap. The teams no longer require the massive subsidies that few apart from the big automakers could justify. The long-term outcome with the cost-cap may be an explosion in drivers' salaries, but we're not there yet except in a couple of cases.
Even if it still is to sell cars, as I say there would be nothing to bar McLaren Automotive from sponsoring the racing team.
If you were to ask me which is more culturally and historically important, McLaren Racing or McLaren Automotive, without hesitation I would say the former. Therefore I would not want the Group to do anything in service of Automotive if that were to put financial or other pressure on Racing.

I should add that Ferrari are unique in many ways. They make huge profit margins on their road cars, which in turn are used to subsidise their racing activities. It was always dubious whether McLaren could fulfill Ron's ambition to be the 'British Ferrari', but we know today that, if that goal were to be ever achievable, it would be many years off, which brings us to BEVs, the continued degradation of any possible driving pleasure, and the use of a sports car purely for ornamentation. In that sort of motoring dystopia could Automotive be substantially profit-making? I suppose it is possible, but I would not want to bet the racing team on it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
910 Posts
Williams, Red Bull, AlphaTauri? Yes, in the era when budgets were unlimited the raison d'etre was often to sell cars, but that has changed. The long-term outcome with the cost-cap may be an explosion in drivers' salaries, but we're not there yet except in a couple of cases.
Even if it still is to sell cars, as I say there would be nothing to bar McLaren Automotive from sponsoring the racing team.
If you were to ask me which is more culturally and historically important, McLaren Racing or McLaren Automotive, without hesitation I would say the former. Therefore I would not want the Group to do anything in service of Automotive if that were to put financial or other pressure on Racing.
Red Bull sell a drink, and have repeatedly made clear that the two are intrinsically linked. Alpha Tauri are part of that. Williams is a dinosaur with no chance of winning. The Renault realignment is a much better example.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,025 Posts
Red Bull sell a drink, and have repeatedly made clear that the two are intrinsically linked. Alpha Tauri are part of that. Williams is a dinosaur with no chance of winning. The Renault realignment is a much better example.
I think your example of Red Bull/AT proves my point - the list of industries for which being title sponsor and indeed owner of an F1 team is financially justifiable is not limited to car-makers.
This is increasingly the case as the economics of Formula One are changing. MSP Sports Capital did not commit to buying 1/3 of McLaren Racing because MSP want to start making road cars. The model promulgated by Liberty and agreed by the teams is that a team with an average sponsorship package should be able to make at least a small profit under the cost cap. Having behind your team a massive car-making multinational that justifies spending $100m/yr in F1 because it might help them to sell more road cars is simply no longer necessary.
The involvement of the car-makers (at the moment, we have six in F1 as owners or title sponsors) is not guaranteed to last forever. As Formula One cars have less and less to do with road cars, and Formula E has the exclusive rights to be the FIA's only purely BEV series for another 18 years, unless F1 goes to hydrogen and road cars do the same, it is difficult to see the current link between racing and road cars doing anything but becoming more tenuous.

As for Williams having 'no chance of winning', this year they are doing better than McLaren did only three years ago. They have new ownership enabling them to run a proper development program. I could not say when, or even if, they will win another F1 race, but your use of 'dinosaur' is inappropriate. Put it this way: McLaren Automotive can only wish that their road car-making staff were as half as good at their jobs as Williams's technicians are at theirs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
910 Posts
I think your example of Red Bull/AT proves my point - the list of industries for which being title sponsor and indeed owner of an F1 team is financially justifiable is not limited to car-makers.
This is increasingly the case as the economics of Formula One are changing. MSP Sports Capital did not commit to buying 1/3 of McLaren Racing because MSP want to start making road cars. The model promulgated by Liberty and agreed by the teams is that a team with an average sponsorship package should be able to make at least a small profit under the cost cap. Having behind your team a massive car-making multinational that justifies spending $100m/yr in F1 because it might help them to sell more road cars is simply no longer necessary.
The involvement of the car-makers (at the moment, we have six in F1 as owners or title sponsors) is not guaranteed to last forever. As Formula One cars have less and less to do with road cars, and Formula E has the exclusive rights to be the FIA's only purely BEV series for another 18 years, unless F1 goes to hydrogen and road cars do the same, it is difficult to see the current link between racing and road cars doing anything but becoming more tenuous.

As for Williams having 'no chance of winning', this year they are doing better than McLaren did only three years ago. They have new ownership enabling them to run a proper development program. I could not say when, or even if, they will win another F1 race, but your use of 'dinosaur' is inappropriate. Put it this way: McLaren Automotive can only wish that their road car-making staff were as half as good at their jobs as Williams's technicians are at theirs.
So you could see Red Bull divorcing themselves from the drink?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,025 Posts
So you could see Red Bull divorcing themselves from the drink?
?
Sorry, I don't see how that relates. Are you asking whether I could see Red Bull Racing (the Formula One team) splitting from the drinks company that owns it?
If so, absolutely. Of course I can. Once the drinks company decides that what they get from Formula One is no longer worth what it costs them to participate in it, or that the value that they could get in a sale of the racing team would exceed its value to the drinks company, they'll leave on the morning stage. The decision will be the drinks company's, not the racing team's.
There has been talk for at least a couple of years that the drinks company was looking to sell the racing team to VW. I have no idea whether that would happen, but I am 100% confident that, if VW (or Porsche or Audi) were to buy what is now the Red Bull racing team, they would stop calling it 'Red Bull Racing'!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
910 Posts
?
Sorry, I don't see how that relates. Are you asking whether I could see Red Bull Racing (the Formula One team) splitting from the drinks company that owns it?
If so, absolutely. Of course I can. Once the drinks company decides that what they get from Formula One is no longer worth what it costs them to participate in it, or that the value that they could get in a sale of the racing team would exceed its value to the drinks company, they'll leave on the morning stage. The decision will be the drinks company's, not the racing team's.
There has been talk for at least a couple of years that the drinks company was looking to sell the racing team to VW. I have no idea whether that would happen, but I am 100% confident that, if VW (or Porsche or Audi) were to buy what is now the Red Bull racing team, they would stop calling it 'Red Bull Racing'!
Right. They'd sell it to a car company who would use it to sell their cars.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,025 Posts
Right. They'd sell it to a car company who would use it to sell their cars.
I'm just doing this off the top of my head, so I might have something wrong, but the most recent significant investors in F1 racing teams in the last decade were:

  • MSP Sports - Private equity fund
  • Ineos - Petrochemicals
  • Dorilton Capital - Private equity fund
  • Latifi group - Food
  • Lawrence Stroll, et al - Group of private investors (nb: they purchased the assets of Force India Racing 18 months before an affiliated but different group purchased a stake in Aston Martin Lagonda)
  • Longbow Finance (owner of Sauber aka Alfa Romeo) - Private finance
  • Renault - Car-maker
  • Uralkali-Haas - Fertilizer; machine tools

In the few years before the above invested, we had car-makers Jaguar, Honda, Toyota, Renault, and BMW leave Formula One.
The previous major joiners in the mid-'00s were Red Bull (soft drinks company), Force India (breweries, aviation), and Mumtalakat (sovereign wealth fund).

Do you see a pattern there?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
910 Posts
I'm just doing this off the top of my head, so I might have something wrong, but the most recent significant investors in F1 racing teams in the last decade were:

  • MSP Sports - Private equity fund
  • Ineos - Petrochemicals
  • Dorilton Capital - Private equity fund
  • Latifi group - Food
  • Lawrence Stroll, et al - Group of private investors (nb: they purchased the assets of Force India Racing 18 months before an affiliated but different group purchased a stake in Aston Martin Lagonda)
  • Longbow Finance (owner of Sauber aka Alfa Romeo) - Private finance
  • Renault - Car-maker
  • Uralkali-Haas - Fertilizer; machine tools

In the few years before the above invested, we had car-makers Jaguar, Honda, Toyota, Renault, and BMW leave Formula One.
The previous major joiners in the mid-'00s were Red Bull (soft drinks company), Force India (breweries, aviation), and Mumtalakat (sovereign wealth fund).

Do you see a pattern there?
Yes, but a different one from the one you see. McLaren is much more like the Ferrari model.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,540 Posts
Discussion Starter · #531 ·
Maybe, but that makes me wonder why they would sell the 'good' part only to hang on to the less good part.
If they could get an attractive price for the racing team (such as by selling it to VW), I could see that. AFAIK, however, the people controlling the decision (Bahrain Royal Family) are genuinely interested in motor racing. If the racing company can at least cover its expenses, I would expect the shareholders to want to stay involved (except in the case of an exceptional bid for the company).
Connecting dots;
. McLaren Group needs to raise some money? to support the Car Group
. Liberty Media wants to expand F1 presence in Arabia
. Bahrain already owns the largest share of McLaren Group and is based in Arabia so may have connections with Qatar and Saudi Arabia
. McLaren Race Group is break even profitable and looks to have a viable future
. McLaren Group could make a sale of McLaren Race or a partial sale while maintaining brand name value from the F1 association?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
910 Posts
Connecting dots;
. McLaren Group needs to raise some money? to support the Car Group
. Liberty Media wants to expand F1 presence in Arabia
. Bahrain already owns the largest share of McLaren Group and is based in Arabia so may have connections with Qatar and Saudi Arabia
. McLaren Race Group is break even profitable and looks to have a viable future
. McLaren Group could make a sale of McLaren Race or a partial sale while maintaining brand name value from the F1 association?
Bahrain and Qatar??
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,025 Posts
Yes, but a different one from the one you see. McLaren is much more like the Ferrari model.
Your comment has a certain circularity to it. ;)
The question, I thought, was whether the ownership of a Formula One racing team needed to be justified by the corporate purpose of selling cars. The examples I gave demonstrated that most of the recent investments in F1 were made not to sell cars but for other reasons. Indeed, in the last 20 years F1 has gained 1 major car-making investor but lost 5 such investors. Of the 10 current teams, only 4 have car-making investors, and in 2 of those 4 teams there are other, non-car-making investors as well.

Wrt Ferrari, the company is unique in many ways. Enzo Ferrari was a racing man and made road cars only in order to generate profits for subsidising his racing team, which is the opposite of a car-maker buying a racing team to help it sell more road cars.
Ron Dennis hoped to emulate that model, a plan that so far has not worked. (AFAIK, there was one year in which Automotive made a chunky payment to Racing - related to the payoff to Honda - but that was facilitated more by some ambitious cash-flow arrangements than it was by intrinsic profitability at Automotive.)
Yes, it would be nice if Automotive were throwing off boatloads of cash to give to Racing, but that has not happened yet and appears to be unlikely to happen anytime soon. The critical point, however, is that the new cost v revenue model in F1 is meant to make teams less dependent on huge external subsidies for their success.
If that new model works - and statements and actions by Zak and others certainly appear to indicate that they think it will work - there will be not only no need but effectively no point to subsidies from big car-makers. The dependency of racing teams on car-makers would be reversed: racing teams will have no need for sponsorship money that they are not allowed to spend on racing, although car-makers may see racing sponsorship as a sensible form of advertising.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,025 Posts
Connecting dots;
. McLaren Group needs to raise some money? to support the Car Group
. Liberty Media wants to expand F1 presence in Arabia
. Bahrain already owns the largest share of McLaren Group and is based in Arabia so may have connections with Qatar and Saudi Arabia
. McLaren Race Group is break even profitable and looks to have a viable future
. McLaren Group could make a sale of McLaren Race or a partial sale while maintaining brand name value from the F1 association?
A relatively small number of people call the shots in these countries and, unlike the leaders in many democracies, some of them are motor racing fans.
At the same time, the oil sheikdoms have been trying to reduce their economic dependency on fossil fuel extraction whilst improving their international reputations through 'greenwashing' and 'sportswashing'. Saudi sold off a chunk of Aramco, Qatar will be hosting the World Cup, Bahrain sponsors a pro cycling team, Abu Dhabi owns the world's most profligate soccer team.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,540 Posts
Discussion Starter · #537 ·

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,540 Posts
Discussion Starter · #538 ·
SAIL-WORLD
America's Cup: At least two Formula One teams set to partner with Challengers for AC37

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 3 Oct 20:49 PDT4 October 2021
INEOS Team UK - Waitemata Harbour - January 29, - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

Sail-World understands that two Formula One teams are set to partner up with challenger teams for the upcoming America's Cup.

The first Mercedes-AMG are set to announce their partnership in a few hours with the Ben Ainslie led INEOS-Britannia team, who is the Challenger of Record for the 37th America's Cup.

Their F1 rivals Red Bull Racing are also tipped to have joined forces with the unannounced challenge from Alinghi, the 2003 and 2007 America's Cup winners.

The move brings to the America's Cup, one of the great sporting rivalries between Red Bull's Christian Horner and Mercedes-AMG's Toto Wolff.

The move will obviously increase America's Cup team budgets, but at the same time will also increase the media interest in the on the water event, which draws on the synergies from both sports.

The challengers had little option but to draw on the resources of the F1 teams if they were to close the technological gap between themselves and Emirates Team New Zealand, as they had to make a technology leap, rather than play catch-up, with the likelihood that the Kiwi team would just have extended further.

F1 teams are set to join the AC37 teams - photo © Mercedes-AMG Formula One
F1 teams are set to join the AC37 teams - photo © Mercedes-AMG Formula One

The overlapping areas of expertise are likely to be in design, including parasitic drag reduction, composite engineering, the use of artificial intelligence and simulation, along with the introduction of F1 performance tracking and control - during training and development at least. The INEOS F1 connections are widely credited with providing the design analysis and direction that helped dig INEOS Team UK out of a performance black hole made apparent in the America's Cup World Series. Come the start of the Round Robin phase the British was the first to go through to the Prada Cup Finals. But Luna Rossa (ITA) was able to close the performance gap during the intervening three weeks before the start of the Finals.

Max Verstappen (NED) and Red Bull Racing - photo © Mark Thompson/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen (NED) and Red Bull Racing - photo © Mark Thompson/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Alinghi is also believed to have signed Nick Holroyd, former design chief with Emirates Team New Zealand for the 2013 America's Cup, who then joined Softbank Team Japan, and then INEOS Team UK in the last Cup and brings knowledge of the experiences and mistakes as the sport transitioned from the traditional IACC displacement monohulls to foiling hard wingsailed catamarans and now foiling monohulls with soft double-skinned wingsails.

Interestingly Martin Whitmarsh, team boss at McLaren racing for 24 years and previously with the British LandRover BAR team until the 2017 America's Cup, has recently returned to head up the Aston Martin F1 team. During his six years at McLaren, Emirates Team NZ's current design chief, Dan Bernasconi, reported to Whitmarsh.

Fans are also likely to be the winners as television coverage of the America's Cup, and its build-up is expected to be opened up as a result of the F1 influence - with a more open approach to filming and access to pit areas by expert commentators, able to analyse and spot the technical developments.

For sponsors, the move has upped the exposure, with the three or four-month-long America's Cup regatta and build up meshing nicely with the bam-bam coverage of F1 as it moves circuits around a 22 race calendar - and one which has continued to meet its TV schedule requirements despite the COVID pandemic restrictions.

With ten teams in F1, there is plenty of opportunities for other challengers to form relationships with F1 teams and share technology and exposure from the spectacular F1 racing and the AC75's.

The AC75's open up the experience for F1 sponsors to sail aboard the boats with the professional race crews, offering a unique experience not possible aboard an F1 racer.

Old rivals Alinghi v Red Bull on day 2 of 2021 GC32 Lagos Cup 1 - photo © Sailing Energy/ GC32 Racing Tour
Old rivals Alinghi v Red Bull on day 2 of 2021 GC32 Lagos Cup 1 - photo © Sailing Energy/ GC32 Racing Tour

More is expected to be revealed on Inside Tack Show which is being run live by the INEOS Britannia team from the Mercedes-AMG Formula One Team HQ in Bracknell on October 4 at 1230pm BST.

The announcement and prospect of more F1 teams being involved is likely to up the ante in the bidding process for the 37th America's Cup venue, which has yet to be determined.

The preferred venue was not announced on the expected date of September 17, with negotiations continuing between the short-listed venues.

That process is likely to have been opened to other interested parties by UK based Origin Sports who are working with holders Emirates Team New Zealand and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,540 Posts
Discussion Starter · #540 ·
Clothing Face Chin Hairstyle Daytime

What has Liberty achieved in the five years since it arrived in Formula 1?
RacingLines

6th October 2021 Written by Dieter Rencken

It was in late September 2016 that Formula 1’s newest moustache made its first appearance on a grand prix grid, under the bright lights of Singapore. The naked glare of TV cameras followed every move made by the owner of said luxurious upper lip strip as he snaked between rows of F1 cars, each an unknown monster to the US America, each tended by groups working in perfect harmony.
The wavy, greying moustache belonged, of course, to Charles G. Carey – better known to F1 fans across the world as Chase – who had been plucked from a relatively obscure broadcasting executive role to close Liberty Media’s latest deal: the acquisition of F1’s commercial rights from venture fund CVC Capital partners.

A scathing assessment of CVC’s tenure in charge was provided by then-Force India team boss Robert Fernley in 2013. “They have raped the sport,” he said. “CVC have done an absolutely awful job. They are the worst thing that has ever happened to Formula 1.”

In many ways – and to many fans – Liberty’s acquisition of the rights proved F1’s salvation, although rebuilding the sport after CVC’s cynical ownership proved a tougher nut to crack than even the most optimistic Liberty board member could have foreseen at the time.

Domenicali replaced Carey in charge after 2020Consider: thanks to CVC’s revenue structure, which paid obscene bonuses to four teams simply to commit to F1 and didn’t give a hoot about independents, and an inequitable governance structure that permitted the majors to veto rules unless these played to their best interests, every independent team that signed up to CVC’s eight-year agreements in 2013 changed ownership under distressed circumstances during that period.

The net effect was that for 100-plus grands prix not a single team from outside this privileged minority managed to win a grand prix, a situation that prevailed for over six years. There can be no bigger indictment of CVC’s ‘custodianship’ of the sport, nor a better illustration of the mess F1 found itself on that humid evening in Singapore. “Is he up to it”, we asked ourselves as we traipsed along, intently observing Carey’s every twitch.

Rumours that a deal was in the offing surfaced during the Belgian Grand Prix a month earlier, then intensified during the subsequent round in Italy – where CVC’s head honcho Donald Mackenzie was, for a change, much in evidence. The reason for his presence soon became clear: to put about the story that Liberty was not the only bidder for the rights; that there was another syndicate in the running.

The word was that sports entrepreneur Steven Ross had put in a belated bid, in turn boosting the price. A source with knowledge of the process later told me that the owner of the Miami Dolphins withdrew after cutting a deal with Liberty, one that included the granting of rights to a Miami Grand Prix
When this scenario was put to Tom Garfinkel, promoter with Ross of the upcoming Miami race in the Dolphins stadium, he said flatly, “That’s not accurate,” but would not elaborate. Either way, Liberty went to enormous lengths to make the race a reality, as outlined here previously, a scenario a Liberty insider described as “accurate”.

F1’s old logo flew for the final time at Yas Marina in 2017…With its opponent side-lined, Liberty pressed on, and in late November it emerged that subsidiary Liberty Media Corporation had filed a Schedule 14A return, as required by the US Securities and Exchange whenever major changes to a listed entity are planned. The filing confirmed Liberty as the buyers of all shares in Delta Topco, which was effectively CVC’s F1 operating company.

Simultaneously Greg Maffei, Liberty’s president and CEO and thus Carey’s ‘boss’, wrote a letter to shareholders outlining the advantages of the acquisition. “The Formula 1 acquisition will enable Liberty Media to leverage its long-term perspective gained from investing in media and sports assets to help Formula 1 to continue to develop and grow the popular global sport that is Formula 1 racing and to take advantage of new opportunities created by increasing demand from broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors with access to mass live audiences,” he wrote.

“These new opportunities include additional commercial sponsorship partners, increases in promotion and marketing of Formula 1 as a sport and a brand, enhanced content distribution and expansion to new media.”

Through it all Bernie Ecclestone, F1’s diminutive master who ruled F1 with an iron fist wrapped in fire-proof gloves – first for his own account, then for CVC – put about that he had been offered a five-year deal to stay on, with others suggesting marketing entrepreneur Zak Brown was in the running. The latter, though, denied the story, telling me he was joining McLaren as CEO – which he did a month later.

At the time a US sports marketing consultant with close links to both Liberty and F1 doubted that Ecclestone would survive the take-over, offering this assessment of the operating style of John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media and its sister Liberty Global, and the largest private landowner in the US.


…before Liberty stamped a new identity on the sport“There will be no sacred cows,” he told me in an interview for another publication. “Liberty will look at every aspect, from broadcast deals to weekend format, with the teams likely to benefit the most. They’ll look at it from an American perspective, which means NFL-type treatment of franchises [teams] and salary [cost] caps. All in it’s very good news for us teams, so for the fans as well,” he added.

He also predicted that Fiat and Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne and Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche would “stand no chance [against Carey], and Bernie will meet his match when push comes to shove.” In fact, he opined that Ecclestone would be gone by the [2016] year’s end such would be the power struggle…

In the event he was out by three weeks, with Liberty on 23 January 2017 announcing completion of the deal, plus the executive structure of what was listed as the Formula One Group (FWONK) after Delta Topco was reversed into Liberty Media Corporation – with Ross Brawn taking on the managing director (sport) role, supported by Sean Bratches as MD (marketing), both reporting to Carey, then CEO and executive of FOG.

On his first official day in office Carey had taken the toughest decision of all by side-lining Ecclestone, effectively booting him upstairs by appointing the octogenarian as ‘chairman emeritus’ and adviser to the board – both being ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ roles. “If Chase could do that to Bernie without a backward glance the team bosses stand no chance,” the source said later.

Long-awaited Miami race was announced in AprilFive years on, how has Liberty fared as custodian of a sport that thrives on passion? For starters, there are no doubts that F1 fared substantially better than predicted by cynics at the timer of the acquisition – but then CVC had set the lowest of low bars – but on numerous metrics Liberty still falls well short of (mainly its own) projections. Indeed, the perception lingers that Liberty was oversold F1’s short-term potential by CVC.


That said, Covid affected two of the five years to date, and one wonders whether CVC and Ecclestone could have salvaged the 2020 season to the same extent if at all. The pandemic also delayed some of F1’s plans, including the introduction of ‘new era’ regulations. In order to properly analyse Liberty’s performance since 2017 it is necessary to divide the F1 business into its constituent parts:

Regulatory

New rules presented in 2019 were delayed to next yearAlthough the FIA is the sport’s regulator, Liberty provided data-led input and concepts to the governing body and as such had a major hand in the processes for technical, sporting and financial regulations. Liberty cannot, after all, commercially exploit a product it has no faith in.


Technical

Covid delayed the new cars, so it is too early to judge their performance and potential for closer racing definitively, but the regulations were signed-off by the time Covid hit, so full marks on that front. The acid test will be 2022 on the chassis front, while power units have been largely carried over despite early promises to revamp them for 2021, with 2026 projected as switch over date.

Although on-track action is closer this year that is arguably a by-product of Red Bull-Honda’s improved performance.

Sporting

Unloved sprint qualifying format is expected to stayLiberty promised to revamp weekend formats and has done so for 2022 – reducing the timetable to three days (even in Monaco!) and introducing sprint events, seven of which are forecast for next year. Parc ferme regulations have been tightened although along the way there were numerous hiccups – think reverse grids.


While sprint events may work for certain promoters and broadcasters and theoretically enables F1 to eventually schedule fewer race weekends there are no doubts, though, that the concept has not found universal favour, particularly among RaceFans readers.

Commercial

Signing Aramco at the beginning of last year is a big-buck deal but F1 has fallen far short of projections in this regard, having initially touted advertising as low-hanging fruit and a major growth area. Crypto was signed this year as sprint sponsor, but for the rest it’s been lean pickings apart from regional partner Workday and, of course AWS as computing provider.

While Covid affected hospitality, this particular product in any event needs a total overhaul, as do licensing and merchandising activities.

Calendar

A race in Hanoi was announced but never heldLiberty managed to salvage a 17-race season and is on track to hit 22 rounds this year despite Covid but has failed to add new events apart from returning oldies (France and the Netherlands) plus a few that recently stepped into the breach. Headline addition Vietnam dropped out, expansion in Asia is stagnant, an African race is far off despite constant discussions – the latest this week – and Miami took four years to get across the line.

Broadcasting

Arguably Liberty’s biggest achievement was the Netflix deal – ironically sealed by Bratches, who left thereafter – which opened doors across the globe, provided additional exposure for sponsors and teams, and attracted new audiences – many of whom became converts. Off the back of this, interest in the USA has rocketed. Equally, the quality of presentation of the global feed has improved massively.

Against this some of the AWS data seems an excuse to flash a logo. F1 TV Pro is a massive disappointment despite improvements in this area. Once projected as Liberty’s big revenue spinner, the fact that numbers are not disclosed is telling. Broadcast contracts have been renewed lucratively or alternatives signed, but Liberty needs to bag Sky TV at the same (or better) rate come 2024 to maintain credibility in this area.

Concorde Agreement

New teams are unlikely to join due to Concorde changesAnother massive achievement was the signing of the 2021-25 Concorde Agreement last August despite the machinations of Mercedes (in particular), which in turn introduced a more equitable financial and regulatory playing field for all. Although the ills of the past are likely to take three to four years to wash out of the system, the significance of the agreement should not be underestimated – save for one aspect (below).

Teams

If there is a negative to the Concorde it is the $200m ‘anti-dilution’ fee, which effectively precludes new teams from entering. What was Carey thinking when he accepted this proposal from the major teams? Ironically the sport is now bending over backwards to attract VW Group as engine supplier yet does everything in its power to dissuade teams from joining.

Structure

Having driven the signing of the Concorde Agreement, Carey handed over his CEO role to Stefano Domenicali. This marked a high point as F1 again has an F1 ‘guy’ in charge, one who is undoubtedly right for arguably the toughest job in sport The American, though, continues to oversee FOG as non-executive chairman.

Telling, though, a number of high-level heads recruited during the early years departed, including Bratches and heads of department in marketing, broadcasting and research. It seems that F1 was not for them. Against that, most F1 ‘lifers’ have remained (or transferred from elsewhere in the sport), suggesting that F1 should look internally rather than recruiting on the basis of impressive curriculum vitae.

Other

‘We Race as One’ was created following pressure from driversThere was some cosmetic changes such as the introduction a new logo and creation of an official anthem. Grid girls were replaced with Future Stars and the We Race as One campaign created in response to drivers’ concerns over, among other things, the lack of diversity in the sport. How far will the effects of these changes endure?

A significant shift in the sport’s future direction was prompted by sustainability studies which led to F1’s pledge to go carbon neutral by 2030. These are all steps in the right direction and one wonders whether CVC and Ecclestone would have introduced similar projects

Conclusion

Liberty has done an admirable job under trying circumstances, and F1 could undoubtedly have fared better but for Covid. The commercial rights holder laid a solid foundation for a new era despite coming into the business cold. It is all too easy to overlook that too Liberty F1’s culture was foreign and its global fan base most unlike that of US sport franchises such as the Atlanta Braves – another of Liberty’s assets.

It has built a solid base for the future, and that is in itself praiseworthy. Roll on the next five years – the end of which coincides with the sport’s next new formula.
 
521 - 540 of 589 Posts
Top