Monday, July 13, 2009

Formula 1 needs to drop the budget cap in favor of other cost cuts and improving the racing.

(Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports)

I consider myself not only as a NASCAR fan, but as a Motorsports fan, I watch several different series throughout the course of a year from most NASCAR series and the IRL IndyCar Series to Road Racing, Off-Road racing and Formula 1, however when it comes to Formula 1, there is a series that has a lot of history, but needs a lot of work done to it to improve the racing greatly, let alone the leadership and rules.

One concept floating around the FIA and Formula 1 is a budget cap. Now I really don’t know too much about it, but as a Formula 1 fan (somewhat), as much as I would like to see Bernie (another guy who thinks he knows best) not running Formula 1 anymore and a new series is born, I would hate to see a series with so much history and known for some of the best racers in the world go straight down the tubes. F1 needs to have its big teams like Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes, Brawn GP and big drivers including Lewis Hamilton in the sport, however the same can be said for Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes and Brawn GP and the drivers, they need F1 too, basically they need each other, so both parties need to work together or else.

The or else part, well for example, open wheel racing in the United States is almost died in my eyes and that is partly due to Tony George, he create a giant split years ago from CART when he didn’t get his way and created the Indy Racing League, fast forward to 2009, first there is no more CART, partly due to a so-called merger, it was a buyout plain and simple, but second, the IRL IndyCar Series is only a few years from dying off completely, the series needs a lot of work to attract more fans and sponsors. Fans and sponsors is what drive’s the sport, just like in NASCAR and without them, there will be no sport.

Now I should mention that Tony George is only one element of it, I’m sure someone else would have come up with the same idea, but the point is, he created the split and now open wheel racing is in doubt and at the same time, there is no CART anymore neither and no history. I had read an article on an interview with Tony George back in December that said (From the article): When pressed about the possibility of being profitable by 2013, George responded, “It has to be, or or there won’t be a 2013. We expect a return on that investment.”

Personally even if the article is false, if a series doesn’t post any profit, it’s not going to stay in business for very long and I don’t see it, but more importantly, if the IndyCar Series goes away, that’s it for the most part for open wheel racing in the United States, of course you will still have some smaller series that still exist. The IndyCar Series right now needs a lot of work and it’s not CART.

The same concept could apply to Formula 1 and the new FOTA break away series, I feel this is the time to stop and work together and not just leave completely, however it’s really simple, the FIA needs to drop to budget cap in favor of working on better racing and more so on other cost cutting ideas for 2010. The FIA also needs to drop the concept of having the World Champion be determined solely on number of victories as well, both ideas, concepts if you will, will not work in this day and age.

The budget cap, there is really no way to police the sport on what each team spends, reviewing books, come on, try again. Teams are going to spend what they want to spend, that’s unavoidable, but cutting costs in other ways will enable more teams to not only complete in Formula 1, but win in Formula 1 and that is the goal here. The manufacturers will have to make cost cutting to their budgets too, they can’t continue to spend this type of money, especially if they don’t see anything, otherwise they will sellout and leave, i.e. Honda, I’m Toyota next, but that’s my opinion.

A few concepts would be:

1. Limit the number of crew members that service the car. Every time I watch a Formula 1 pit stop during a race, I see a mass of crew members all over the car from changing tires to refueling, adjusting wings, and whatever, no, you don’t need it. Limit it to 10 people total. The same for the number of people that each team brings to the track on a race weekend, limit that too by using credentials (if F1 doesn’t already do that).

2. Limit the testing to a few dates during the off-season, F1 has the track open for a 3 day block for every team to attend, of course it’s optional to attend, but they will. No testing during the race season. Now I should mention that in F1, they do have limits on testing, but while you have to allow testing, more restrictions can be applied, but within reason of course.

3. Remove a few bits of technology from these Formula 1 cars, what is a diffuser on the back of the car?

What is KERS? The acronym KERS stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System. The device recovers the kinetic energy that is present in the waste heat created by the car’s braking process. It stores that energy and converts it into power that can be called upon to boost acceleration. – From Formula 1 website

The KERS is an interesting device, but everybody has to use it, otherwise cut costs. I understand that Formula 1 is about technology, but some things have to go.

4. Tires. I liked the softer tires vs. the hard tires, just no rules on them, let the teams use both types during the race, each team has a few sets of each tire, but limit the number of tires per race weekend.

5. Make these rules easier to follow during the race too, it will make it better for the fans watching not only at the racetrack, but at home. Start with the points standings, you’ve got me there.

6. Create a town hall meeting, talk and work with teams, there has to be a compromise, its everyone’s sport, everyone has a say.

These are just a few ideas, just look at NASCAR and other racing series, you would be surprised what type of racing you will have with a lot of the cost cutting in place. Other things that can be done in the series is give the manufacturers something more for their money, which should include better racing, I’m talking about more side-by-side racing, more passing, passing is racing ladies and gentlemen and without passing, you have a parade.

Another way is to race again in North America, preferably in the United States and Canada. Manufacturers sell their products in the US, there for they want F1 here too. In the United States, it doesn’t have to be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we have several different size venues, just work with a race track or build a street circuit, just don’t ask the government to pitch in money, we don’t do that here in the US, it’s not their job, that is what sponsors are for (and no, I don’t blame Tony George for losing F1, if a track can’t make any money off a race, it’s not going to happen).

The point is, the FIA and Formula 1 can help cut costs in several different ways in the series without enabling a budget cap, especially with a few ideas above which I am sure the FIA has already looked at before, but also the point here is, the world doesn’t need another Formula 1 series, it already has one, so I do hope that cooler heads do prevail and the FIA and FOTA can work out several cost cutting measures without a budget cap and not end up having two separate series.

If there are two separate series, it will only be a matter of time before Formula 1 will not exist anymore and formula racing (or open wheel racing) will be no more.