Behind the scenes in F1 at the moment there is a lot of work going on to consider a fresh approach to the cars and the appearance of the sport, wit...
Behind the scenes in F1 at the moment there is a lot of work going on to consider a fresh approach to the cars and the appearance of the sport, with some measures possibly coming for 2016, but some weightier ones for 2017. The appearance of the cars is fundamental to this.
Discussions have been ongoing in the F1 Strategy Group, which currently comprises Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA and the six leading teams (Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Force India) about moving towards 1,000hp engines, wider tyres and more aggressive and spectacular looking cars. The horsepower figure could be arrived at by relaxing fuel flow restrictions, but how would that play with the FIA's desire to champion more fuel efficient technology?
"We used to be the best, but now other sports have caught up", was the observation of one F1 veteran insider. In fact on many levels the other sports have not only caught up, they have moved ahead.
TV deals struck this week for the UK domestic rights only for the Premier League football for three years reached a staggering £5.1 billion, which means and annual revenue in excess of F1's simply from the domestic rights deal alone, without any additional income from overseas sales, sponsorships and other revenues.
The fact that only one significant new sponsor has entered F1 over the winter - Epson on the Mercedes, as well as a smaller deal for McLaren with KPMG - is highly significant, as is the sight of McLaren going into a second consecutive season without a title sponsor.
There are many reasons for this: the post-credit crunch economy, the high price tag for the sponsorships, the uncertainties around F1. But the show is also a symptom.
The result is that without that significant sponsorship income the teams cannot survive financially and part of the solution is to look at ways to give the show needs a revamp. Clearly in parallel the sport needs to find a solution to the inequitable distribution of commercial revenues, which sees Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren in particular receive a substantial bonus payment not made available to the others.
There is no sense of unity at present as to how that might be achieved and the three teams who called for action on this last season (Lotus, Sauber and Force India) are still in the same position. This raises the prospect of three car teams or even Ecclestone's proposed alternative of a B Class category using old Red Bull chassis and Renault power units, which has had a mixed reception.
F1 bosses know that a revamp is needed and are addressing it. The timetable for change is quite short for next season, they would need firm proposals agreed by March to be able to pass measure with a majority. After that everyone would have to be unanimous.
But the site believes that the look of the cars is fundamental to the revamp and that means the liveries as well.
The drab and uninspiring liveries revealed in the 2015 cars are symptomatic of the problem. Most F1 teams approach liveries as a canvas to showcase sponsors. A lot of work goes into it, but nothing like as much as goes into refining the aerodynamics of a brake duct, which the public never sees.
Apart from the drivers, the look of the F1 car is the thing which is most prominent in the public domain and yet there are a handful of people in each team thinking about it, while the engineers' drawing office is stuffed with over 100 boffins.
This highlights F1's real problem; that there is a disproportionate bias towards the engineering and not enough effort expended on the 'wow-factor' of F1 cars.
Liveries revealed this winter by Sauber, Force India and McLaren in particular have been conservative and dull, not reflecting in any way how spectacular and exciting F1 cars are to look at. They dress the cars down, rather than dress them up. F1 is about personalities, but the cars should have strong personality as well.
Ferrari and Mercedes have their hands tied to some extent by the fact that their car has to be on-message with their automotive brand, while Red Bull devotes immense time and effort to the look of the cars, because F1 is primarily a marketing exercise for their brand. McLaren, now that it is an automotive brand in its own right, as well as a technology brand, wants to follow suit, but seems to have got itself very confused about what it is trying to say. A reworked livery is believed to be in the pipeline after the hostile reception given to the HRT-like look revealed on the Jerez test car.
Well behind the scenes is a new group called the Promotional Working Group, which is being driven by younger team members with ideas and they have been given a degree of room by Ecclestone and the FIA to work on ideas for the next phase for F1. New Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene as a marking man himself, along with figures like Claire Williams, are pushing this group hard to come up with real meaningful plans.
Let's hope that a collective realisation that the cars should look stunning on the eye, will be one of their principle recommendations.Who has the best livery and who's got the worst, from what we have seen so far? Vote for your Top 1-9 in the comments section below
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Why the look of cars is so important to F1 revamp
|FP1||Fri 25 Oct|| |
|FP2||Fri 25 Oct|| |
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