Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It's been hard keeping up with all the political wrangling in Formula 1 these days. I know the media claims they'd rather be talking about the racing. In the real world though the racing is pretty dry what with Brawn winning everything that's not pouring rain. Besides, past years have shown the media loves a controversy and will build one out of practically nothing if needs be.

Personally I find it hard to care these days. I don't have the time to watch all the Formula 1 racing I want to -- I've seen only one or two qualifying sessions in the last year. And I've only seen maybe one race live in that time too. Real life has intervened.

I'm also not sure where I'd follow if there was a series split. While Ferrari has a history, the fact of the matter is that F1 has all the TV contracts, so a spin-off series is less likely to get any coverage over here in Canada, let alone live coverage. And if F1 had a bunch of spear-carriers that I really didn't care about, and/or if the racing was incredibly dry, I'd probably drop away from racing altogether.

This I think is one consideration that the FIA has not taken into account. It isn't just about Ferrari fans following the series. It is about fans of any team following the series, year after year, including dry years.

Of the teams which agree they are committed for next year and beyond, Williams is the only one I can think of which can be described as having a large fan base. The big teams are McLaren and Ferrari, with Renault being a strong regional player and BMW building fans (well up until this year anyways). And Toyota is a huge name.

Team credibility is an important factor in this sport. Part of the problem with this year is the optics that Brawn has swept in from nowhere and run over the established leaders of the sport. The truth is that Brawn got a heck of a head start courtesy of Honda last year.

But next year -- and with all due respect to them -- what if Prodrive shows up and runs away? What does that show for the legitimacy of the sport if some nobody can show up and take over? It suggests not only that the bar to success in the sport is very low, but that the FIA is incapable of attracting competent regulars to contest the series.

F1 needs Ferrari and the majority of the FOTA members. The history of their participation legitimizes the present competition.

Lose that legitimacy, and you'll lose some measure of your fan base, which dilutes the value of the series.