The Time For Change Is Now?

Formula 1 has been thought of as “the pinnacle of motorsport” and the frontrunner of technology and innovation where young engineers, aerodynamicists, racing drivers, etc. could get the opportunity to hone their craft while fueling their passion for motorsport.  Formula 1 has also been known for its glitz and glamorous parties and events while also being known as a wealthy man’s sport that was fortunate enough to have car manufacturers like Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, and Lotus having works teams in the sport.  With the attendance at grands prix and television viewership numbers declining, the sport is facing a crisis.  Today, there are so many options for the public’s attention sport wise, how does Formula 1 keep itself at the top of everyone’s list of events to attend or watch on television?

First of all, everyone involved in the sport has to realize that the time for change is now.  Formula 1’s focus needs to be on the fan base.  The decision makers of the sport need to look at ways to make the events more accessible, affordable, and a little less exclusive.  Right now, as a result of grand prix tickets being priced so high, if a family wants to attend a race it must incur a good amount of debt.  This fact makes people think twice when looking for family entertainment options for a weekend.  At one point, Silverstone was offering financing options for the tickets to its grand prix.  If financing options need to be offered so that people can attend a grand prix weekend, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.  A grand prix weekend needs to be family friendly with other activities connected to the grand prix so that the event doesn’t just include the practices, qualifying, and the race itself.  In today’s sporting marketplace the customer is looking for value for his money.  Some of the activities that could happen in conjunction with a grand prix weekend are cultural festivals which highlight the local culture, businesses, and customs since Formula 1 makes stops in cities around the world during the course of its racing calendar.  By putting on an event like this, a chance is given to local businesses to showcase their products at an international sporting events which gets them more exposure while helping the local economy.  Some of the other activities that could happen in conjunction with a grand prix weekend are car shows, engineering displays, and concerts.  The organizers must always keep in mind that the customer is looking for value for the money that they spend.  It’s important to make sure that race attendees all have good seats so that they can see the on-track action and not limit the good views and track amenities to just a select few in the expensive seats.  The fans also want ways to see the Formula 1 cars up close.  There should be ways developed for the paddock area to be a bit more accessible to the average fans for people to see the cars up close and not just the VIPs.  The more accessible Formula 1 is to the average fans; the more the sport will grow.  The average fans gets a better view of a Formula 1 race on television than in person.  This must change.  The sport of Formula 1 should be for everyone not just people with financial means, celebrity status, or connections.

There were good intentions behind Formula 1 regulation book but, with the passage of time, the sport has become too regulated.  The over regulation is stifling and pushing the geniuses of the sport out.  In order for Formula 1 to thrive and grow in the coming years, the rule book needs to be thinned out and more creativity and leeway allowed so that through the work of the engineers, aerodynamicists, manufacturers, etc. Formula 1 can continue to be thought of as the pinnacle of motorsport.  Right now, many of the rules are hindering the development of technology and innovation instead of allowing it and that’s not good for Formula 1 because the on track product suffers.  The only rules that are absolutely needed are the ones that are in place for safety reasons.  Formula 1 should consider getting rid of some of the non safety rules and see what happens.  I bet the on track product gets better.  For instance, get rid of the engine freeze, let them spend what they want and develop what they want, get rid of the the fuel flow limits and if someone runs out of gas going flat out midway through a grandprix; they run out of gas, turn up the horsepower, put a good set of tires on the cars that won’t go off by end of the pit lane, etc.
There are some of the ways that Formula 1 must change in order to be able to compete in a crowded arena for the public’s attention.  Will Formula 1 embrace changes like the ones that I’ve suggested or will the status quo continue because the Commercial Rights Holder is out of touch with what today’s motorsport fan and what they want to see from Formula 1’s product on track?  For the health, stability, and long-term growth of Formula 1, change must happen soon.

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