F1 teams lay out their vision for F1 future
Setting out its proposed agenda for the evolution of the sport, FOTA unveiled a dynamic package of unanimously agreed proposals which, pending the approval of the FIA, will take effect in 2009 and/or 2010.
These proposals are aimed at increasing the stability, sustainability, substance and show of Formula One, and have all been developed as a result of rigorous interrogation of a FOTA global audience survey carried out in 17 countries earlier this year. The study canvassed views of existing fans but also, for the first time, drew on insights from a cross-section of general and infrequent followers of the sport, in line with FOTA’s stated ambition to broaden as well as to deepen the appeal of Formula One.
The proposals can be classified under three headings – technical, sporting and commercial - in line with the three working groups inaugurated when FOTA was formed in September 2008.
These proposals will ensure the retention of Formula One’s unique and essential sporting ‘DNA’, improve the show for all audiences, reduce costs, and increase the value proposition to the major stakeholders.
Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman of FOTA, said: "This is an unprecedented moment in Formula One history. Above all else, for the first time the teams are unified and steadfast – with a clear, collective vision. Thanks to this unity, all the teams have already managed to make a significant reduction to their costs for 2009. And, while we will continue to compete vigorously on track, we all share one common goal: to work together to improve Formula One by ensuring its stability, sustainability, substance and show for the benefit of our most important stakeholder, namely the consumer. It is with this mindset that we now intend to work hard, with our partners at the FIA and FOM, our shared goal being to optimize the future of Formula One.”
KEY DEMOGRAPHICS OF GLOBAL AUDIENCE SURVEY - 17 countries surveyed - First ever poll of Formula One devotees alongside non-Formula One devotees (i.e., marginal and/or low interest fans) - Responses were weighted according to the size of viewing market in each country (to avoid small markets skewing the results) - Results were segmented by interest level in Formula One, demographic profiles (age and gender), country and region - Total audience is comprised of: - Regular fans (25% by volume, predominantly male, cross section of ages) - Moderate fans (44% by volume, female and male, cross section of ages) - Infrequent fans (31% by volume, unlikely to watch grands prix, predominantly female, cross section of ages)
KEY FINDINGS OF GLOBAL AUDIENCE SURVEY
Implication: there is no evidence to suggest that grand prix formats need ‘tricking up’ via, for example, handicapping, sprint races, reversed grids or one-on-one pursuit races. Formula One audiences appreciate the traditional gladiatorial, high-tech nature of the sport and would not respond favorably to a perceived ‘dumbing down’ of the current format.
2. F1 needs to be more consumer-friendly. An individual’s view or understanding of Formula One is framed almost entirely by their local broadcaster. Unlike most global sports, the vast majority of ‘consumption’ of Formula One is via race-day TV coverage, supplemented in part by traditional, non-specialist newspaper coverage.
Formula One fans are also mature consumers of new media channels (e.g., on-line, mobile) and other touch points (e.g., gaming, merchandise).
The global nature of Formula One, although an attractive characteristic in itself, impedes the uniformity of race schedules, and often results in consumption of a race being limited to locally broadcast TV highlights programs. Only devotees (25% of the total potential viewing audience) are likely to watch a race live if it occurs outside peak viewing times.
Implication: significant opportunities exist to build audience via other channels such as internet and mobile.
3. Major changes to qualifying format are not urgent. When asked to consider alternative qualifying formats, all fan types expressed a modest preference for a meritocratically determined starting grid. There was some degree of interest in allowing luck to play a part in shaping the starting order, but the general sentiment was that the fastest driver should always start from pole.
Implication: there may be justification for minor modifications to the current qualifying format, following further trials; however, a major change to the format will not result in a significant increase in audience.
4. Revisions to the points-scoring system. As with qualifying, all audiences want a meritocratic points-scoring system. This means that they want winning grands prix to count for more than it does currently. There is an indication that all audiences would like to see a greater points reward for winning grands prix.
Implication: a minor adjustment to the existing points system is justified
Implication: audiences are unlikely to diminish if refueling is discontinued. Tire changing is an important driver of audience interest (in pit stops) and should not be further automated.
TEAM PRINCIPAL QUOTES
Dr Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director and Team Principal, BMW Sauber F1 Team) “The FIA and FOTA are pursuing the same aims – to increase the sporting value of Formula One and to cut the expenditure required to do so. Reducing costs is definitely the way to go.
The members of FOTA have made great efforts to this end over recent months and have set out a whole series of measures which will already allow substantial cost savings in 2009. Further savings for the coming years will follow in due course.”
Dr Vijay Mallya (Chairman and Team Principal, Force India Formula One Team) “Formula One is undoubtedly about competition and striving to beat one’s opposition. While this is very much the essence of the on-track action, unity and collaboration off-track is crucial. The open spirit of discussion and co-operation to increase both the spectacle and financial viability of Formula One are entirely positive for the sport and its investors – i.e., the teams, the sponsors and of course the fans. I fully support the initiatives and hope that between FOTA, the FIA and FOM we can find a balance to safeguard the wonderful sport we have before us now.”
Flavio Briatore (Team Principal, ING Renault F1 Team) “Through FOTA we have found unity among the teams as we strive to provide a sustainable future for Formula One. From a commercial standpoint, we recognize that while our sport enjoys a remarkable global reach, there is still room to improve its appeal as an investment opportunity.
It is clear that we need to strengthen Formula One as a show and through our global audience survey we have given a voice to the consumers of Formula One. The results confirm that we must exploit the potential of new media, while continuing to enhance the TV experience, which remains the most important interface with the public. It is therefore essential to provide our audience with more information and to make the teams and drivers more accessible to ensure that we deliver a product that is always exciting, unpredictable and compelling both on and off the track. I am confident that, working together, and in a constructive spirit with both governing bodies FIA and FOM, FOTA can help build a solid future for the sport in the years ahead.”
Tadashi Yamashina (Team Principal, Panasonic Toyota F1) "FOTA has already achieved a great deal and we can be very satisfied with the progress we have made, but there is a lot of work still ahead of us. It is vitally important not to neglect the soul of grand prix racing. Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport and our challenge is to retain the DNA of the sport as a technological as well as a human contest, while also delivering value for money for all stakeholders, and this includes the fans. We all embrace the need to cut costs, and the significant savings achieved by FOTA and the FIA at the end of last year are a promising start. FOTA’s strength lies in the unity of the teams. This unprecedented joint initiative, which we hope will work in combination with the FIA and FOM, can inspire Formula One to conquer the challenges facing it and the wider world.”
Christian Horner (Team Principal, Red Bull Racing) “Since FOTA was established in the summer of 2008, the organization has already made strides, in conjunction with the FIA, towards achieving significant cost savings for the 2009 season. Through FOTA’s working groups, the teams are acting as a unit for the first time to ensure Formula One improves its appeal to all generations of fans, while continuing to control costs. Red Bull fully supports the work of FOTA.”
Stefano Domenicali (Team Principal, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) “United in our intentions and with a common vision for the future of Formula One, while remaining rivals on track: these are the key strengths of FOTA. It is thanks to its creation that we have already achieved significant results in just a few months. Racing is part of Ferrari’s DNA and will always be so, which is why we are working very hard, along with all the other teams. We must continue on this track to make our sport more exciting for the fans and more attractive for our current partners and also potential ones, while maintaining close links with the production of road cars.”
Franz Tost (Team Principal, Scuderia Toro Rosso) "FOTA has already achieved a great deal in a short space of time, thanks to unprecedented unanimity amongst the teams. The motto ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ has been around for many years, but Formula One team owners took a while to take it on board! FOTA should not rest on its laurels, but continue to collaborate as closely as possible with the FIA and FOM to ensure the continued success of Formula One as a sport, as entertainment and as a business.”
Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) "FOTA has already achieved more than any other assembly of Formula One teams in the history of our sport, and those achievements are both a result of and a testament to the strength of FOTA's unity. On track, Formula One teams remain as competitive as ever; but, off track, in collaboration with the FIA and FOM, motivated by our shared ambition to steer grand prix racing to ever-greater successes, we're now devoting a great deal of time, resource and radical thought to making a concerted effort to enhance the benefits of all Formula One stakeholders – the teams, the manufacturers, the sponsors, the media and above all the fans.”
Ross Brawn “FOTA represents a hugely important initiative, all of the Formula One teams working together to combine their strengths to the benefit of all aspects of our sport, Formula One. Never before have I experienced the level of unity and commitment of the teams that has been demonstrated within FOTA under the leadership of Luca di Montezemolo. This is a complementary process to the work of the FIA and FOM and enables the teams to present unified views on how we can take both our sport and the motorsport industry forward. As an ex-rugby player, I was taught to apply the principles of competition on the field and a spirit of co-operation and unity off the field.
That is the principle of FOTA."
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