What the fuck is wrong with CVC, FOM, Bernie, the lot of them?

Wrote this last summer. Still applicable. These guys are going to run our sport into the ground, then get on their helicopters, land on their yachts, and sail away rich and happy. This sport is being run by immature greedy corrupt capricious adolescents. I’m sick of it. We all work so hard in our daily lives to do our jobs right, to do right by those who use our services – why can’t these idiots have a tenth of that conscientiousness? Anyway, here goes:

What is wrong with this picture?

I’m going to venture out of my usual terrain, and allow myself to talk about the sport of Formula 1 in general. This is brought on by a tweet this morning by the CEA, the (fabulous) crew of fire marshals at Monza (and Imola). The tweet shows the start of restoration on the tarmac at Parabolica. It jarred me to realise that even Monza has raised the spectre of no longer being able to host the Italian Grand Prix.

This summer has been oddly and uncomfortably full of ruminations and reflections as to what’s wrong with F1. Commissions have been formed . . . and disbanded. Those asking the question itself are accused of negativity. And meanwhile, a spine tingling championship is underway, with team orders given and followed, team orders given and disobeyed, and drivers battling as much with their minds as with their cars. And the cars – brand new, beautiful machines with power trains that are stunning in their sophistication. Is there anything REALLY wrong at all?

Let’s imagine something, to help me illustrate my answer to that question.

I’ve just built a bottling factory. Modern, efficient, state-of-the-art. And you, well you have a soft drink you need bottled. A very popular soft drink indeed. People all over the world want to drink it. And you want to use MY factory to bottle it!

When the time comes to do the deal, you tell me “there’s just one thing Gary. Our business model is a bit . . . unconventional. You see, normally I’d pay to use your factory. But since my beverage is SO popular, YOU’RE gonna have to pay ME for the privilege of hosting my drink”.

I guess you see the concerned look on my face. My factory cost money to build. It costs money to maintain. Everybody ELSE rents my factory when they want to use it. I seek reassurances.

“Don’t worry a bit, Gary, you can run guided tours and have people pay to see your factory working. And you can serve them lunch!”

I guess you see what I’m getting at. I’ll have to charge $100 for a tour, and get 100,000 people over the weekend. No way that’s gonna happen. A guaranteed loss. Every time. Damn.

Right now, as we all know, for $15 million or so, a circuit can buy the privilege of hosting an F1 race. And all it has to do to recoup that is to sell tickets and hotdogs. A lot of VERY expensive tickets and hotdogs. Not one cent of the TV revenues generated by that race, and not 1 metre of signage around the circuit can be used to generate revenue for the circuit itself.

It’s not FOM who makes F1 tickets astronomically expensive. It’s the circuits. Do the math. You need to make up several million dollars with three days of tickets, food, and beer. No wonder it’s only races with government support that avoid the year to year threat of bankruptcy.

So here we are with the backbone of the season, with virtually every European F1 circuit, either under severe financial threat . . . or gone. Spa, Monza, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Nurburgring, etc. This is insane.

Why do these circuits not do what any normal owners of crucial and rare resources would do? Form a cartel.

Why do the owner/operators of the “classic” circuits of the season not band together to put an end to the bizarro world of F1 circuit use. You want to use our infrastructure? It will cost you this much, plus a percent of global TV revenues (averaged over a season, to avoid late season races, with their bigger box offices, earning more just by their place in the calendar), plus some portion of the signage at our circuit.

Sure Bernie will bluster. He’ll threaten to go elsewhere. And to some extent he will go elsewhere- he’s been “going elsewhere” for years now. But remember a few things:

  • F1 homologated circuits are not a dime a dozen. They are rare birds indeed, and the lag time from project to race is YEARS.
  • Google earth is littered with abandoned Tilke-domes, each having cost $200-400 million. Think Istanbul, Korea, India. (What will archeologists in 500 years think these things were?) Only governments awash in petro- (or narco!) dollars will keep building these white elephants, and even that will ultimately peter out. Even the most corrupt autocrats have better ways to waste $400 million!
  • Even if FOM moves strategically away from Europe, it’s wrong to think that the circuits will be losing a prestigious money-making event (countries might be, clubs might be, fans might be . . .); in FACT, they’ll be (temporarily, see below) losing their biggest headache of the year. As a taxpayer here in Belgium, the question of who exactly is going to foot the known and expected loss from the upcoming Belgian GP is a perennial favourite, of which I’m growing quite sick.
  • FOM cannot, by the nature of the series, reduce the number of European/North American/South American races well below half (or slightly more) of the season. How many corners on ANY new-ish circuit do you remember? Is there an Eau Rouge? A 130R? A Becketts-Maggotts complex? A Tabac? This is not a diatribe about circuits, but dammit, they really ARE intimately involved in what we love about the sport. People will not get up early, or stay up late, to watch a race if this is not felt viscerally to be a EUROPEAN series. They’ll watch the evening news, and see the best overtakings and the results . . . and there go your TV revenues Mr. E. Sooner or later, European races will have to comprise close to the bulk of the season, with a smattering of exoticism added, because it’s F1.

Enormous advantages would accrue from a system like this. Not least would be a significant lowering of ticket prices, and an opening of the sport to a wider audience AT THE CIRCUIT. And as you all know, once you’ve seen this sport live, you’re hooked forever!

A different system for distributing revenues from the sport would vastly increase the “health” of the infrastructure supporting it. The team principles, until now staggering by how completely they ignore the long term interests of the sport that gave them all yachts and Gulfstreams, and FOM itself, would have to make do with slightly less. But the pillars of our sport would survive and flourish, and government support for what many view as a frivolous pastime would largely become unnecessary.

Rant over.

100 thoughts on “What the fuck is wrong with CVC, FOM, Bernie, the lot of them?

  1. About MS….
    Just read that the 25 million dollar jet has been sold as well as one of the vacation homes because the Mrs thinks he will never be able to enjoy them again.
    Also, and this is ridiculous….they have erected tents on the property where they live so that the media can not photograph MS in a wheelchair. This guy must really be in bad shape if they are going to such extremes to hide him.
    What is the point….it is what it is and he is what he is.

    Gary, are we disbanding?

  2. Hi, love your blog. Refreshingly honest.

    When are we going to get treated to the final part of the Saillant/Todt denouement? It would be very understandable if you had decided to leave all that behind you, but it would also be a great shame. It is very entertaining and those scumbags deserve their sneaky actions (and rather amateurish assassination attempt on you) to be made public.

    I bet you’ve a great book about F1, the medical side, the personalities and the politics inside you. Do you think it will ever get out?

    Continue to enjoy your great new life Doc.

    • ……I hope you mean character assassination! Ol Bernie Shekelstone and Toad of Toad Hall would be in big 5hit if they played that dirty. After the Monaco GP I have to say it says phuk all for F1 when 1 team or other keeps dominating!! The competition for titles is only between teammates in the fastest car. When a driver of Fernandos quality and a team like McLaren can hardly finish any races it shows something is badly wrong with this “sport”. #:)

  3. Hello Gary,

    I think about how your blog began October 2013 with masterful dissertations on traumatic brain injury, moved on through the Michael Schumacher accident/drama gathering steam all the while, and then, refusing to kowtow to the unctuous chorus surrounding the FIA bravely tread upon the golden toes of El Jefe Todt and his minions. As you plowed forward you were joined by thousands of like-minded (and some not so like-minded) folks who were interested in what you and their fellow-travelers had to say. I learned much. Somewhere along the line, maybe when opinions were shared about Schumacher’s medical condition, the blog became a bit more about how political correctness stifles truth and how censorship serves to polish the crowns of the few while insulting the intelligence of the many.

    I just realized I’m writing this exactly one month since your delicious WTF piece. Great stuff. It’s been a demanding year for you, bringing more attention then I’m sure you ever bargained for. . . having said that, and sending bravos to you in your new world, lying by your pool and all, now that you’ve gathered this coterie of smarty pants people perhaps there will be another chapter?

    The raucous assaults on your blog, on you, and on free speech in general have sensitized many to the formidable forces ready to wage war against any voice questioning the party line. I’m enclosing a couple of probing articles that might be of interest. Or not. Whatever you decide on the future of your blog, please know you’ve made a difference to a lot of brains/minds.
    lm

    Re: Charlie Hebdo killings and censorious-ship: “But while outrage at the violent act briefly united our generally quarrelsome political culture, the quarreling quickly resumed over deeper fissures. Were the slain satirists martyrs at the hands of religious fanaticism, or bullying spokesmen of privilege? Can the offensiveness of an idea be determined objectively, or only by recourse to the identity of the person taking offense? ” Jonathan Chait
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/01/not-a-very-pc-thing-to-say.html

    “The value of intellectual freedom is far from self-evident. It’s hardly natural to defend the rights of one person over the feelings of a group; to put up with all the trouble that comes with free minds and free expression; to stand beside the very people who repel you. After the massacre at the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, in January, even defenders of free speech couldn’t help wondering why the cartoonists hadn’t just avoided Islam and the Prophet, given the sensitivities involved. Why be provocative?” The New Yorker, George Packer “Mute Button”
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/13/mute-button

  4. Rob Smedley has said this week that Massa is now driving as well as in 2008 before his accident. Of course he has no chance of winning because Williams have less money than Ferrari and the budget gap in starting to show.
    Bahrain made headlines 3 years ago for human rights abuses but recent political events mean it’s probably no worse than many of the other F1 venues. Now that you are in UAE Gary I hope you will be able to report back on what it is actually like living and working in this region. I would be interested to know if your future patients include foreign construction workers who have received severe head injuries falling from heights. I gather that camel racing has now banned child jockeys and robots are used instead so that is one good idea that F1 could follow. I think there could be separate competitions for robot driven cars and ordinary cars. Anything to make competition more dependent on the skill of the drivers!

  5. I would just like to comment on the Chinese Grand Prix 2015. Rather than talking about a Mercedes return to winning ways everyone is talking about Nico Rosberg’s post race moaning – it can’t be good publicity for Mercedes at all. What I don’t understand from Rosberg’s complaint is he says he didn’t push Hamilton for the lead because he wanted to preserve his tyres and push at the end of the race, yet complained to the world when Hamilton was trying to preserve his tyres at the same time. Elsewhere 17 year old Verstappen was showing a spirit and a daring on the race track completely lacking in Rosberg. Rosberg’s moaning really put a dampener on the whole race.

  6. “Somehow, I don’t think much is going to change until Bernie fails to awaken one morning, and, then, perhaps, all hell will break loose. Maybe when the dust settles after that, we might get some sanity. ” Mark R.

    MarkR; The thing is, it’s not Bernie, or Todt, or the titular heads of any organization where corruption is rampant. (how much do you know about our U.S. government?) Bernie is the front man for those who gain their wealth by supporting his brand of banditry. When Bernie keels over Christian Horner says he wants to step into those size 6s. As long as it works for the monied and powerful few, nothing will change. I believe I read that F1 audience has dropped 24% over the past year? Perhaps the FIA/FOM’s response to that was engineering a Ferrari win in Malaysia? Who knows? And, ultimately, who cares?
    lm

      • Much more interesting to see pictures of your new apartment than watch F1 Gary. I haven’t forgotten that it is almost exactly 6 months since Jules’ accident now and part of the reason that I have totally lost interest in F1 is because I don’t want to see any more crashes, which I used to think were the most exciting parts. Don’t think anyone enjoys seeing people really getting hurt but they do need to somehow make it better as a spectator sport.

      • PS: I’m vaguely following Giuliano Alesi and Mick Schumacher in Formula 4 – Sabine Kehm is managing Mick and perhaps something about Michael’s recovery will get out this way.

    • Philippe Bianchi has spoken about Jules Bianchi today. Very moving interview with Nice-Matin paper. I know you are far away from all this now Gary but you might be interested in the FIA investigation part. I hope you will be able to blog about differences in emergency care between UAE and Belgium once you are settled in new job. The race yesterday was just as boring as predicted so no change there!
      “Our universe collapsed on 5 October 2014,” said Philippe. “The questions that no one can answer now: will he make it? If so, will he be disabled or can he live normally?
      “I think that in this type of accident, it hits harder than a death. The suffering is relentless. A daily torture,” he explained.
      “To those people who think of him, I want to thank. And tell them that we will give news when there is any, good or bad.”
      As for the FIA investigation that essentially blamed Bianchi for the Suzuka crash, however, Philippe sounded furious.
      “It was an internal investigation,” he answered curtly. “Only those who were involved were engaged.
      “Regarding this, I have nothing new to say,” said Mr Bianchi. “Very good people are involved now to defend the interests of Jules.

    • Hey Doc,

      I’ve not commented in ages on here, but I just thought I’d stop by to say I think you’re ace & F1 could use more of you. I hope you’re happy in your new home & you didn’t have to go because of unmentionable people’s actions. It looks beautiful there.

      Keep rattling cages Gary, the sport I love needs more of it!

      • Hey Carla! Thanks for the good wishes. The move here was planned over a year ago, and by the time of saillant’s nauseating behavior, all but my start date here was fixed. Highly ironic, actually.

        Cages will of course be rattled, as needed!

        Be well.

  7. I can’t see why anyone should wish to watch races where the cars are so unequal that the skill of the drivers is almost irrelevant. Watching F1 is about as exciting as watching our old Citroën C3 being overtaken by a Porsche on a motorway (in fact rather less so as the Porsche can at least overtake in the outside lane.) Watching kids in go-karts would be more fun. Actually watching Bernie Ecclestone race Jean Todt in classic cars or scooters would be more fun – Stirling Moss could join in.

  8. F1 should be allowed to die a natural death due to free-market economics (coupled with its allegedly nefarious practices). Then there will be an upsurge in national and club series amongst competitors and fans alike, and – voila – a healthy, vibrant and person-focussed motor racing industry across Europe.

  9. Do your talking with your feet, and not the internet, don’t go, stay away from the races, it will soon hit home, they get away with it as they know we only do one thing, talk….boycott, simple.

  10. Hi Gary,

    Let me start off by saying yours is the only blog I read, mostly because the subject matter interests me a lot, especially the medical insight.

    Please humor me while I rant a bit:

    As far as the FIA and F1 in general go, I stopped watching about 10 years ago, I just read the results on the news next day, mostly out of curiosity. F1 stopped being interesting for me once passes became uncommon or in some cases impossible. Why people keep watching it is beyond me.

    Jean Todt is an asshole, as is Ecclestone and basically everyone involved in the running of F1, but I lay the blame squarely on the car manufacturers. Why do they cater to the FIA? Just dump F1 altogether and make your own racing series which hopefully would run internal combustion engines. Fuck hybrids, if I wanted to watch a hybrid race I’d buy a prius.

    F1 could learn a lot from Nascar, a far more competitive series which I also don’t watch because frankly running in circles bores me to death or from my current favorite the Australian V8 supercars, both of which run far less sophisticated machines but much more entertaining races.

    People want to see close racing with aggressive passes, risk taking and uncertain outcomes. The current F1 season just started and I could probably write the season outcome now and maybe be off by a couple of drivers.

    Rant over

    PS: Keep fighting the good fight, eventually someone with power out there will pay attention and do the right thing and sack that french toad and his cronies. Jail terms would be nice but unlikely.

      • Dear Gary, all
        I grew up in Bathurst, NSW, Australia- went to my first race, the lond gone Easter meeting when I was 4 or 5, my first (Series Production) 500 mile October race in 1969. My father worked in the motor game for all of his adult life. I have flowed what is currently v8 Supercars through all its versions- Series Prod, GpC, GpA, to v8s.
        The 2014 1000km would probably make the top 10 ‘most bizarre, unpredictable races of all time’ , if ever Motorsport magazine decides to rate them. Who’d have guessed that first and second would be fought out between the cars which started second last and last, up until the last third of the last lap.
        V8s have just gone to pay TV, with the exception of four races, one of them Bathurst. With a highlights package on FTA. F1 has now gone the same way. NASCAR, which last year, was broadcast live, with a full repeat the following Sat, is now 100% pay TV. Add to this Super XV Rugby and every Rugby League game, for $750pa, and, it is a pretty good deal. And yet, I still haven’t taken the 10 min max it requires, and the 2-3 day wait, to subscribe.
        For the most part, I find v8s as boring as bats#*t. They have the parity pretty well sorted out, and 5 different makes of vehicle competing, but…… with the amount of aero, braking distances are short, and, overtaking under braking has become a thing of the past- between cars running optimally. Instituting compulsory pit stops, and limited allocations of tyres are a tacit admission that the racing itself needs to be artificially ‘enhanced’- a bungled or badly timed pitstop, or, a failure to ‘look after the tyres’ may cost a race.
        As to the tracks- Mt Panorama, with two long straights, Phillip Island, with open sweeping curves, make for plenty of overtaking , Sandown has plenty of overtaking, , Eastern Ck has a long main straight, but, Symmons Plains, Winton, Queensland Raceway, are just too short. Barbagallo not much better. The ‘street circuits’ – Homebush is nothing short of a travesty- and only exists because a politician or two were happy to self aggrandise, using tax payers’ money- and, the only challenge is keeping it off the walls. Townsville, ditto. Adelaide – at least has some tradition, being partly based on the old GP circuit, and, with plenty of overtaking opportunities. But, all in all, it is a shonk. Even if I do decide to shell out for PayTV, I doubt that I will bother to watch it, save for perhaps the enduros
        It’s dumbed down racing for a nation where 70% of print journalism is dumbed down by Murdoch, and, most of the population are quite happy to be served up ‘dumbed down’ motor racing, politics, etc.
        As to F1- well, the merchants are well & truly in the temple, aren’t they? For the greater part, the machinations draw more interest than the machines. Somehow, I don’t think much is going to change until Bernie fails to awaken one morning, and, then, perhaps, all hell will break loose. Maybe when the dust settles after that, we might get some sanity. One can only hope and pray.
        Cheers
        MarkR

  11. On the more general point of whether F1 and motorsport can ever be a force for good, I am still following Jean Todt’s political ambitions and his various expensive travels round the world. Recently he was in India promoting himself but some of this is quite interesting. The various road safety charities are determined to block his political ambitions (supposed to be aiming for United Nations) due to alcohol sponsorship in F1. Gary, I would be interested to hear what you think about his comments in Mumbai.
    According to Todt, there’s no denying Formula One is dangerous but the accidents that take place during the race allow the viewers understand the mistakes the driver has made and what led to the accident. Drivers wear proper safety gear- helmet, seatbelt, their suit of armour and they still are not invincible, and this is something he thinks drivers world over need to understand.
    Citing the example of France, Todt adds that here were over 18,000 accidental road deaths in the 1970’s. But with the implementation of simple road safety measures such as seat belts and the widespread use of air bags, along with improved road standards, we have brought down that number to just over 3000 deaths in 2014.”
    “Imagine if the government of India would take up this cause, imagine the lives that could be saved by just these simple measures,” Todt added.

    • PS: I do not like his total focus on drivers as the most vulnerable are in fact pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike riders and I am sure that this applies even more in India. Keeping such users away from cars and giving them priority might well save even more lives. A few years ago I heard a shocking programme about how children going to school in some countries have to dodge traffic on highways with no safe crossings which really made me appreciate the UK.

    • The programme, made by Sheen McDonald, a former BBC news reporter who herself suffered severe head injuries when knocked down by a speeding police car in London is still available. It shocks me how great the divide between rich and poor is and how little lives are valued.
      Crossing Continents: Road Kill BBC Radio 4 2010: Millions of people die on our roads each year. Hundreds of children are killed as they try to get to school each day. Road deaths threaten to overtake malaria and HIV in how many lives they take around the world, particularly in poorer countries.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vy328

  12. Dear Gary,

    Why? Why do you bother? Aren’t there sufficient positive things in your life upon which you could focus your time and energy?

    Please don’t misunderstand. Had I been the victim of an attempted ‘doing’ by elements of the FIA I too would have been screaming from the rooftops. Carry on screaming until you’ve made those who would have caused you pain suffer a little as well.

    But, placing that to one side, I completely fail to understand why you waste your time analysing the current state of F1 and / or proposing ways it could return to its former glory or develop in a more acceptable direction.

    F1 today is what it is. And it’s going wherever those holding the reins wish it to go. They’re not listening to you or to anyone else without a significant $ stake in the ‘sport’. You’re irrelevant. Your opinions are irrelevant. And, in your heart, you already know this.

    There are many competitive sporting activities which would benefit from your input, advice and expertise. Choose one and offer it to them. Hopefully you’ll select one without the commercial imperatives and alleged corruption endemic in F1. Who knows, you may even find one where – before your time on earth is over – you make a real difference to the development of the sport and the lives of its participants.

    Walk away from things you can’t change towards those you can.

    Oh, and perhaps ‘WTF’ instead of ‘What the fuck’ would have been a slightly classier way of expressing yourself🙂

      • Not at all, ‘snaprollsa’. As an ex-motorsports person now firmly involved in the world of gliding I have no axe to grind nor do I wish to protect those with whom Gary has issues. I simply hate to see energy and expertise wasted on an endeavour which will never have a positive outcome.

        Besides, Gary could make a very real contribution to aviation medicine. We don’t even use helmets, yet head injury is a real possibility in many gliding accidents. It would be nice to have someone telling us what we need to do and why. Heaven knows, no one currently fulfils this role.

        Why would Gary continue to waste his time on a sport which rejected him and which is never going to listen to his views? There comes a point where it crosses over from justifiable anger and bitterness over his treatment by the sport to being an uncomfortable obsession.

        Finally, I’m not sure I appreciate your ‘seriously strange’ observation. If you have constructive criticism on my post to offer, feel free. Until then I’d consider it a personal kindness if you’d keep the ad hominems to yourself. Thanks🙂

      • I totally understood/understand where you’re coming from, and have often asked myself the same question. Half expected the ski people to reach out last year.

        People here can get a bit passionate, but it’s a fantastic group of posters.

        Thanks again so much for jumping in!

      • Or…

        To avoid criticism say something in a manner likely to influence the rule-makers, do something relevant to your realistic future goals, be a positive force for change in every facet of your world.

        Aristotle was a Greek. Says it all, really🙂

      • Mark D you are of course right that CVC and Bernie dont give a f… what we all think – unless that is we ALL THINK and stop watching their show – in which case it will implode in fsirly short order – as some of the teams are in the process of doing already, it seems

    • Gary, this guy Mark makes a point. It takes money and not words to change things. “They” have the means and you don’t. You’ve seen how ruthless “they” can be. Is it worth the aggravation? We all know the truth when it comes to MS and we know the truth about Formula 1.

  13. I understand the concept of charging tracks to host a round of F1. I understand restricting advertising to the sport’s corporate sponsor. I understand FOM negotiating the TV rights deals.
    What I don’t understand is doing all this together then acting surprised when a track fails.
    You cannot take so many revenue streams away from a track facility then act surprised and offended at the prices they charge to recoup their outlay. There needs to be another source of income, be it a percentage of trackside advertising dollars or a portion of the local TV rights. Even if that money doesn’t go directly to the track but is used to offset the cost of hosting the event, for example Australia hosts the opening round, plenty of interest from corporate and television, so their fee is reduced to say $2m because of the increased money brought in.

  14. In the UK MPs are concerned about those at the the bottom of the supply chain losing out. This is relevant to Manor and I have just heard an item on Radio 4 about it. City Link collapse caused misery here and may well lead to a change in the law. Doubtless Bernie and his cronies are much too rich and powerful to be directly affected by anything like this. Personally, I was infuriated to see the photos of Tamara Ecclestone’s lavish first birthday party for her daughter last week. Something wrong with the system here I think,,,,,
    City Link deliberately deceived workers about the state of the troubled delivery business before it collapsed with 3,000 job losses, a committee of MPs has claimed.
    In a report on the collapse of City Link, in which more than 3,000 workers lost their jobs on Boxing Day including 1,000 self-employed van drivers and agency workers, the Scottish affairs committee said that City Link and its private equity owners were “morally, if not legally, responsible for the difficulties that many individuals and small business now find themselves in”

  15. It’s sad, as you say, that the focus drifts away from the real sport/competition. Personally, like many, I try to ignore all the politics & money side of F1 & just enjoy it for the show it brings. But I fail miserably ignoring it, probably because the media see this side of it like blood to a vampire & love to splash the offerings around like the temptresses they are, for the evil deeds they dream up in the name of greed.

    I’ve long suspected a lot of jiggery pokery, shall we call it, in F1, but again I try to set aside these thoughts and just enjoy the face value. My mind is uncooperative though, it likes to delve into the inner workings of things and analyse every last little cog, to the point where it will deduce the linkage if it’s not there to be clearly seen. I sometimes wonder if these aspects are intrinsically linked with the mystical hold that F1 has over me.

    I find it fascinating yet morally deprived how the powers that control F1 go about their business. So few people, yet they hold control over so many in terms of those businesses that cling to F1 for the easy side pickings but, more than that, their uncompromising hold over the masses of lovers of the sport.

    In the manner of control, F1 typifies the manner in which the whole world is run these days. Those in control make use of all the sleazy tools at their disposal to manipulate and ensure that their positions are not only safe guarded but enhanced in the richest ways possible. But we, the masses, are content so long as the end product we desire is served up in an acceptable manner.

    The few will be regarded as renegades for even daring to speak of the mechanisms let alone suggest any weaknesses or immorality. The truth is that the control has become so strong that it dares display its mechanisms as if to challenge or bring out into the open any who dare to question it.

    Keep up the good work Gary🙂

  16. I quite like Bernie. I’m not sure if a proportion of me liking him is due to the fact in his mid 80’s he still enjoys getting up and running his business 20 years after most have retired.

    I genuinely think he means well, and reading Prof Watkins books, Bernie comes across as a firm but nice guy in the way he has helped certain people in the past.

    I just think he’s blinkered somewhat. On one hand it seems like we are trying to appease the over 40’s who remember the classic tracks and things like varying cylinder engines (V10 against V12 etc in a race) and drivers that were not afraid to speak out and have a no bull shit approach without a PR company bearing down. (I admire Vettel and Raikkonen for their approach to glitz and glamour outside of racing (they can’t be arsed with it) Youngsters won’t know or care about the F1 of old, but only of what it is now.

    What it is now is that to become an avid fan in the UK, you need Sky TV and £10 on top that subscription for the F1 channel.

    What chance has say a10 year old got in becoming an avid fan if parents have no interest in it. And how many people can afford hundreds of pounds to attend a race when you can take a family holiday abroad for the same cost.

    I don’t know where it’s heading, but it doesn’t feel like it once was. But maybe I’m one of the old brigade at 39 that they are not interested in catering for.

      • Which is why all my family now follow free BBC online coverage which is actually better. I really like their live twitter feeds. My son also likes the car tracker which shows the cars going round the track like little toy cars. Why anyone should pay is a mystery to me.

  17. Unfortunately inequality and self interest rule in F1. Nothing is going to change until a major crisis is reached. Why?
    The teams could not agree the day of the week if any advantage was to be had by holding a differing opinion, this has been proven several times over.

    The circuits could develop some clout if they got together, but they are kept well apart by Bernie’s incentives (Both positive and negative ones) The only circuit owner who ever put one over on Bernie was Nicloa Foulston. (An amusing tale)

    Only a fundamental change in financial structure, ownership and distribution of spoils can save F1, but it may well have to die first. The 100 year agreement has to be terminated (“determined” in contract terms) We now have a sport which is half governed by secret agreements and the terms within them, the FIA have declared they no longer have full control, they have accepted shares from FOM or one of its intertwined holding or subsidiary companies, and thus are compromised. (If only by the first EU Commission ruling on F1 some years back,one only has to search the internet it is there to see).

    Bernie has done an incredible job for F1 (helped enormously by Max for many years) and as a businessman is an extraordinary instinctive talent almost unequalled. BUT he is also responsible for much of the diabolical mess in which F1 is currently wallowing. While he was too many years ahead with digital tv which no country had adopted, he is now too firmly blinkered and ignoring other modern revenue streams. Though to be fair FOM’s new website is heading in the right direction but needs to go much further. Existing tv contracts will restrict online access to live race video feeds. But contracts expire or else the “Big Bang” end of the 100 year agreement may end them by force majeur.
    The secret rules apparently insist upon Bernie supplying “x” number of cars to the grid, we are getting very close to him not meeting that number.

    The fine financial balancing act by smaller teams due to the lack of sponsorship is not unexpected and we could yet see further departures due to lack of money. Then if Red Bull continue their tantrums and leave taking Torro Rosso with them we could very well see a breach in the 100 year agreement. Hence Bernie’s frequent pleas for three car teams or customer teams. (though it does seem logical for Renault to buy Torro Rosso if Red Bull pull out)

    I hesitate to mention the shortcomings of the FIA here, but they need to change too. Todt must stand up to Bernie and be prepared to start emulating Max in reforming the sport, a new F1 Trust is needed to be set up to hold and distribute the F1 revenues after FOM is gone. We know that JT is capable from his performances at Peugeot and Ferrari, we need that spirit again, or for him to go, allow a far more proactive president to take a very high profile dynamic position. Or to step back and appoint a vice president in total charge of F1 with total authority, (Bernie was always right about that, you need a dictator to get things done, not a committee)

  18. As I understand it, upwards of %50 of all F1 revenue is from track fees including track advertising etc. If this plan of yours were to come into effect the economic underpinnings of F1 would be shattered with the pay out to teams halved. For the benefit of stability this plan would have to be enacted gradually, but the financial pain for F1 would still be high.
    I love the idea of teams creating their own organization to deal with the FIA and FOM and your idea of tracks doing the same. In order to be most effective the tracks should include many tracks, far more tracks then are now on the F1 calendar, far more then could have an F1 race right now, lets say 40 to 50 tracks. The incentive for each track would be their sharing in the groups income. The tracks that don’t have a race of have no chance in hell in ever having an F1 race without spending millions in upgrades will get a sliver of the groups income. This track organization could also tell FOM which tracks will be available for next years racing and when during the year. How F1 got to this point is the story of smart people not seeing the big picture and seeming to be dumb, its never too late to fix things though.
    I believe there is a better way to reorganize the F1 game saving teams vast sums of money, improve racing for the fans and allow tracks to have their say, but its not focused on the topic of tracks. If the tracks did what you suggest the domino’s would start to fall, lots of pain but in the end F1 would still exist and the chances for better racing would be high. F1 is like a large corporation, they have been selling the same product for years manufactured in the same way, there is no incentive to change anything, we need a single domino to fall.

  19. Gary,
    You have a lot of company. Here are just three examples:
    AUTOSPORT: F1 reached a new low in Melbourne
    It wasn’t the first dull season-opener with a small field, but the nature of the dramas around the 2015 Australian GP showed the toxic mess Formula 1 is now in, says DIETER RENCKEN

    http://thejudge13.com/2015/03/21/aussie-f1-tv-coverage-sadly-lacking-in-the-coverage-department/
    And so, another year begins with the continued erosion of F1 fans access to quality Formula 1 coverage. As the sports owners continue to peel every last dollar out of a dying product, I’m left wondering why FOM haven’t moved the way of every other professional – and growing – sporting body, and taken true ownership of their broadcast revenue streams by providing online access to live streams and past clips. This is even more confusing seeing as they provide all the infrastructure, all the data, all the personnel, and indeed, the entirety of the global stream via the FOM broadcast already.
    But as always, I’m sure Bernie has a grand plan. It’s just too bad us underlings aren’t part of it.

    BBC Sport – http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/formula1/31895609 Andrew Benson: And the future of the German Grand Prix – one of the sport’s classic and most historic events – remains uncertain because the organisers cannot afford to pay the fee demanded by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, and he is not prepared to compromise. The chances of a solution are said to be no better than 50-50.
    lm

  20. Astute insight Gary. F1’s ills can’t be placed solely with Bernie, FOM and CVC; other parties seem completely unable to come up with any plausible and intelligent negotiation tactics.

  21. This somewhat jumbled article was in FORBES 25Feb2015. While extolling Bernie’s “genius” as a deal maker, the conclusion is no-one can replace him. I’ve read that Christian Horner sees himself as Bernie’s Mini Me. Hm. Well, at least he’s prettier.
    lm
    Replacing F1’s Ecclestone Is The ‘Most Difficult Mission Of Any Corporation’ Says Racing Boss
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/csylt/2015/02/25/replacing-f1s-ecclestone-is-the-most-difficult-mission-of-any-corporation-says-racing-boss/

  22. You may be a medical doctor, but your command of the English language is an embarrassing zero. The “F word” is reserved for the uneducated lot.

    • Or the pretentious one.

      I was the kid whose language the teachers, in second grade, complained about.

      I’m pleased to note you’d also have been shocked by my mentor’s language.

    • Matt,
      Really? “uneducated lot”? The word “fuck” and its many derivations is one of the most widely used words in any language and has been for centuries. You may use it as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, as well as attach it to any other word you desire. Think of the possibilities! Free yourself!
      lm

    • I’m afraid I agree Matt. It’s for the uneducated lot and a certain type of American lot, who for all their plusses have never quite understood that prose devoid of extraneous profanity is a measure of a man’s inability to express himself adequately and a man’s ability to be taken seriously in what he has to say.

      • Since I am from the Bronx, we say fuck quite often as in “fuck this shit” or “what the fuck!” typically, “you are a fuck” is inferred as bad, however to be a “good fuck” well.. . Never mind, fuck this.
        go WRC!

      • Seems that Staten Islanders have many of the same linguistic quirks! Although I REALLY need to temper my public vulgarity over here in the UAE. Not quite as de rigueur as in NYC!

    • Oh dear.

      To roughly paraphrase Stephen Fry: ‘Anyone who believes that someone’s use of so-called ‘bad language’ reflects, in any way, someone’s level intelligence, education or their moral compass is, frankly, a fucking idiot.’

      Personally, the headline made me chuckle, and I feel the use of the ‘F-Word’ (let’s just call it ‘fuck’ shall we? We’re all grown ups here) adds to the sense of frustration the article conveys. Lots of things in life are far more deserving of concern than a bit of harsh language.

      Excellent work Gary, I am looking forward to the final installment of the FIA Gangster Saga, kudos is due to you for taking none of their bullshit.

      Ned

      • As my mentor and probably one of the top 20 cardiologists in the world would say, ” If i didn’t fucking say what the fuck are you doing, you’d probably fucking keep doing the fucking thing I want you to stop doing”.

        Totally agree with your assessment Ned and fully agree with your analysis Gary! There is a time and a place for a good expletive and this was a perfect example of an appropriate time and place.

        Glad to see you back in action.

      • Sorry, don’t agree.
        Use the F word by all means in speech … not in written prose. It tends to offend.
        And … “I’m pleased to note you’d also have been shocked by my mentor’s language”…. one thing I’m pretty sure of. Sid Watkins (if that’s who you mean) may have sworn like a trooper, but he would not have used the F word in a written article.
        Just sayin’! …as they say! No harm done.
        Now … back to the more important stuff ….!

      • peterkirchem

        Offend who? People who are frightened of certain written words? Or just you? So far as I can tell, I know VERY few people who would be offended, and I don’t see why me saying ‘FUCK YOU’ to your face would not offend, yet if I handed you a note saying the same thing, it would…? Hahaha!

        And while we’re at it, ‘I am offended’… What does that even mean? Why? It’s equally possible that I might be offended if I felt that my opportunity to express myself as emphatically as possible (using appropriate sweary-stuff) were being curtailed because someone else was ‘offended’ by my use of legitimate English words, used by almost everyone I know. I’m not offended, but I am puzzled, as it seems to me that focussing on a single use of the work ‘fuck’ might be distracting the offended person from considering the greater body of the text… But then, that’s really YOUR problem, isn’t it? Much worse things happen, get over it.

        As you say, back to the important stuff…

    • What’s wrong with saying fuck? I say it all the time. Fuck you, fuck that, fuck this. It’s really a lot of fun saying it. Try it. Start with “oh, fuck. My favorite being…shut the fuck up!

    • Roberto, Americqn racing died some time ago. The only worthwhile thing left is NHRA drag racing and sprint cars, and at the rate developers and their NIMBY friends are gobbling up their racetracks, I fear it won’t be too terribly long till they are only a memory too.

  23. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done at this late stage. It genuinely is starting to feel like Formula 1 is being torn between CVC and Bernie’s desire to earn enormous sums from staging Grand Prix and the manufacturer’s needs to have Formula 1 races in their key markets.

    Yes, Europe is a mature market, but for Mercedes, it’s still representing 44% of their total sales. Germany is their biggest European market, with nearly 16% of their total volume. If they lose sales because of a lack of Formula 1 exposure in Germany, they’re unlikely to make much of that back through increases sales in places like Azerbaijan, realistically.

    Mercedes (and Audi, BMW and perhaps even Volkswagen) have the stalking threat of a resurgent Jaguar-Land Rover operation to worry about, a massively more profitable business on a car-per-car basis, so they will need to pay attention to mature markets in Europe and North America, given the sales volumes they generate. They cannot allow Formula 1 to become too concentrated on the Middle and Far East, Asia and South America, it genuinely needs good levels of European and North American coverage, supporting individual markets and providing coherent coverage across different time zones so races are accessible at sensible times for viewers.

    France, who have a long interest in Formula 1 let their race disappear. Renault have what, 2 constructors titles as a team and 12 as an engine supplier, and there was Peugeot’s less illustrious contribution. That meant nothing, and off the F1 bandwagon rolled to the Middle East. It’ll need a lot of work from the German organisers to stop 2014 being the last year the German Grand Prix was held, the finances weren’t making much sense last year for the organisers, and with negligible support from FOM/Bernie this year, it’s not going to take much for the Germans to not bother with it at all.

    There could have been a race this year, it would have lost money, they wouldn’t have not sold all the tickets, but FOM could have done something to make sure the race organisers at least broke even, but that would be a dangerous precedent and the very antithesis of why Bernie exists, so no chance of that.

    I think, ultimately, the sport (or a similar, replacement series) will need to be organised by the constructors and motor manufacturers to ensure races are held in relevant locations; it’s quite clear now that FOM aren’t doing this correctly.

  24. Spot on, except that Bernie has most likely added an anti-cartel clause to all the contracts that pays him another fee if they form one.

  25. I have a solution!

    Niki Lauda to replace Bernie. Vast experience as a driver, vast experience as a businessman, no bullshit approach. He has 20 years on Bernie and would shake things up for the better for sure.

  26. I think lots of fans are fans in spite of Bernie, FOM, CVC et al, not because. They do as they do as they have been allowed to get away with it for so long. Until the tracks band together and stand together, this total disregard will continue. Regardless of what Bernie and FOM thinks, they cannot run an F1 series without the European races. I think it is both disheartening and depressing that we won’t be seeing the German Grand Prix this year, especially with Mercedes being World Champions last year and looking to dominate again this year.

    The question is – which tracks will have the balls to stand up to the management of F1? I love the sport but I wouldn’t blame any track saying ‘enough is enough’ and withdrawing, regardless of the heritage and the love fans and drivers may have for a particular track. Could you imagine what the outcry would be if, for instance, Monaco said ‘enough’??

  27. Completely agree with this Gary, and similar sentiment written on other outlets, BUT, the bottom line is that things WON’T change until every dollar has been milked from the sport and it dies. Whoever is in charge of F1 in its current form will only ever care about making money. There’s no going back from being sold to private equity, for one thing.

    I’m very sad to say that until the sport dies and can be brought back from the ashes by racing people, I can only see the same short-term thinking and fleecing of the fans continuing.

    I love this sport, but can honestly never see the sport being the same again.

  28. Completely agree. Spot on as usual. Looking forward to part three of the Todt-Sailant Saga as well. Cheers from Australia.

  29. Well stated. COTA appears to be on the verge of bankruptcy. It’s 58K+ USD to rent for a day and smaller clubs can’t afford to play there. A track tour is $25USD and tower tour is an additional 20USD. Beautiful but uninspiring rack.

  30. I’m so glad you’re there to tell it like it is, I wish the powers that be would listen to you. But no, they removed you, cos they don’t like squeaky wheels… When sometimes it feels like you’re the only commentator making sense!

    You, and Joe Saward, really enhance my understanding of F1 behind the scenes. Thank you.

  31. The average man is getting priced out of F1. If I want to go to silverstone for the weekend and take let’s say my 2 nephews, I will have spent £700 once we have eaten. The reason the prices are so high is down to F1 machine becoming corporate greedy. And that’s what Bernie wants, corporations going to the F1 with huge entertainment budgets and not Joe public. I love F1 but it’s starting to lose its sparkle, you have Redbull whining because they can’t win. Sauber not honering contracts to drivers, most drivers are probably pay drivers and all because the teams are unable to compete unless they have 1000 staff and £1 million per race drivers.
    The days of the smaller teams like Caterham, Manor etc are gone and that’s a terrible shame for young drivers who don’t have £10 mill in sponsoring to take to the table, how much talent is not seen or can’t get a drive or a decent drive, Niko H springs to mind.
    Rant over, keep it up Gary, nice work and good job helping people that are sick and appreciate what you do for them.

  32. In the business world “bungs and kick-backs” to get contracts are hidden as they are illegal (against fair trade etc). Yet here we have a business model that is a 100% “bungs and kickbacks”.

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