Formula 1 may be prolonged as ‘world’s best motorsport series’ and the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ however evidently it hasn’t been going so smoothly for the sport in the past few years, F1 has reached a very critical stage, and in order to avoid a future-threatening crisis F1 must make immediate changes. Kahran Vohra evaluates.
Over the past few years, the viewership of Formula 1 has drastically dropped, and arguably there are two critical factors that are to blame for this decline in viewership which seems to be harming the sport, the first is thanks to a big drop in on-track action. On average, less overtaking is seen over the course of a race, and since the introduction of the turbo era’s, it has been Mercedes up-front in most of the events, and F1 is becoming far too ‘predictable’, which is leading to an eminent decline in viewership.
The second reason that is seeing a decline in F1 viewership is the coverage. F1’s coverage is arguably dominated in the UK, however just a few weeks ago, UK’s top TV broadcaster, BBC announced it will abort its F1 coverage thanks to cuts in the sports budgeting of the company. In the UK for the 2015 season, the only way to follow all 19-races was with Sky Sports F1, which was pay-tv, and for a large majority of the customers, it wasn’t worth the money thanks to the decline in on-track action.
Below are such solutions that Formula 1 must adapt to, in order to avoid loosing its fans, and more importantly being overhauled by rival motorsport’ series.
Increase on-track competitiveness and overtaking
Currently one of the most popular discussed topics in the world of Formula 1, the overtaking. Formula One in 2015 experienced an all-time low in terms of the number of overtakes, and for good measures the rate dropped by twenty percent over the course of the 2015 F1 season over 2014.
The newly introduced V6 era has seemed to have create a declined rate in the number of overtakes, and the reason being cars finding it ever hard to follow each other in the turbulent air, and find it near impossible to follow the car ahead.
The sudden decrease in the rate got the FOM thinking fast to help resolve this ‘critical’ issue, as most races were effectively decided on Saturday. The 2017 proposed rules is targeted on more overtaking and faster lap-times. However there have been very different views up and down the paddock, where some believe the advancements in aerodynamics may potentially lead to less overtakes.
Reduction in costs for teams
Ever since the brand new introduction of the V6 turbo’s which didn’t go down so well in the fans point of view, the operating costs, especially for the mid-field running teams have been much higher than it should be.
Formula 1 in 2014 saw Caterham drop out, and Marussia too so nearly dropped out. 2015 saw tremendous financial struggles for Lotus F1, which arguably cost them fifth place in the constructors championship, and hampered their on-track progress in several occasions, for example when cash struggles saw them receive tyres very late on Friday at Hungary, resulting in both drivers sitting out FP1. The eminent debts for Lotus F1 saw the eminent Renault take-over take place.
The high Research and Development costs in the sport have almost made the sport ‘boring’, as Ferrari and Mercedes have been up-front for most of 2015, whilst rivals such as Renault and Honda couldn’t get on strives with Mercedes and Ferrari, thanks to very high Research and Development costs, and Renault had admitted they had invested a lot less then Mercedes into research and development of their power unit, which is one factor to blame for their lack of competitiveness.
Talent to prioritize over Money
In recent years, Formula 1 drivers very much have been a case of the amount of sponsors that driver brings into the team, which very much has created a tough barrier for talented youngsters to enter the sport.
A simple example could be Pastor Maldonado and Stoffel Vandoorne. Maldonado has been in the sport since 2011, first with Williams and then with Lotus. The Venezuelan driver does not have the best of reputations, following several ‘silly’ crashes and lack of competitiveness in comparison to rivals. Maldonado has remained in the sport for such a long time thanks to the $50 Million his main sponsor, PDVSA brings to his team every year. Whilst on the other hand, GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne arguably has much better talent then a hand-full of drivers on the grid, however due to lack of sponsors the ‘more talented’ driver is very unlikely to get a seat in Formula 1.