Monthly Archives: September 2014

Formula One Could Learn From The BTCC

Yet again we have been given a stark warning of the grave health that Formula One is in with news that we could be left with just SEVEN teams for 2015 as Marussia, Caterham, Sauber and Lotus all struggle to get enough finance to see themselves over to next year. Gene Haas’ F1 team will not be ready until 2016, whilst the Stefan Grand Prix team entry has gone eerily quiet.

Contrast that to the British Touring Car Championship. This is a race series in the form of its life, with over 30 entries per race meeting coupled with record crowd numbers. The BTCC is fast becoming the racing format of choice for your average British motorsport fan. And there are a number of factors for this.

Firstly, the management of the BTCC is much better than the often chaotic mess we’re served up with by the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone. Alan Gow is a racing man. He knows what will put bums on seats with the BTCC, and there is no way he is in it for the money. You cannot say the same of Ecclestone or the FIA, with those two combined making billions of pounds at the expense of F1’s health. Sadly, that money doesn’t trickle down to Formula One teams.

Prior to the 2014 season, the FIA actually increased the entry fee from $10m to $40m (according to the Guardian). Don’t adjust your screen. You read that right. At a time when the Power Units brought in for 2014 cost upwards of 20% more than the V8s of 2013, that is as baffling as employing George Michael as your chauffeur. Another baffling decision was the decision not to award the last placed Constructor any prize money at all. Who on earth does that benefit in the long run? The sad fact is that they are not interested in whether Formula One prospers. They only care about their wallet.

The same can be said of Ecclestone. It’s all well and good securing these lucrative new deals in all the glitzy and glamourous locations such as Abu Dhabi and Singapore, but what’s the point if they continue to line the pockets of one man instead of getting to the bread and butter of the Formula One paddock?

Some have suggested running three car teams. But that would have a similar effect on F1 as dynamite would on a small house. Who would want to see a race where only one Formula One team made the podium, and where only four teams score points? The only small team left in F1 were all of the above scenarios to come true, Force India, would stand no chance at all post-Silverstone. Where would the interest be? Where would the unpredictability (That despite Mercedes’ dominance, we do still have) be? Do we want that for F1?

Contrast that with the BTCC again. Twice in the last 15 years the organisers have introduced cost-cutting measures, with the Super Touring era being brought to an end in 2000, when they realised it was becoming unsustainable. After a couple of years the BTCC was almost as exciting as before, and the sport’s popularity went from strength to strength as the unpredictability grew and grew. Again in 2010, they brought in the cheaper ‘Next Generation Touring Car’, and the results speak for themselves. The BTCC is as popular as ever, with fans being able to go to watch for a not extortionate amount of money as more and more drivers enter. The accessibility for drivers and fans alike is magnificent.

The hierarchy have propelled the BTCC to what it is today by putting the fans first. And it’s about time Formula One did likewise.


Enough is enough

The Buxton Blog

Sergio Canamasas c/o GP2 Media Service Sergio Canamasas
c/o GP2 Media Service

Motorsport is dangerous. These words are printed on the back of every race ticket. They are written on every credential I’ve ever held as a journalist and broadcaster.

The possibility of a large, potentially life threatening accident is an ever present reality in motor racing. Perhaps that’s what gives the sport its edge. Perhaps that’s what makes these racers so heroic. Perhaps that’s why some people watch.

Every weekend I arrive at the track and go into the commentary box knowing that at any point any one of these brilliantly talented men and women, whose stories and racing exploits it is my honour to narrate, may be taken from us. But because of the actions of one man, that possibility becomes ever more real. That fear of the unlikely becomes increasingly likely. The concept of “if” is replaced by the knowledge of “when.”


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F1 – Boo Boys Need To Get Some Respect

The Italian Grand Prix passed off with little in the way of childish incident between the two major title protagonists, either on or off the track. It was your typical Italian Grand Prix, full of high-speed shenanigans and action through the field. You would think then that the fans would all go home happy, contented with what they had seen and not harbour any bad feelings from the hangover of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Sadly, you’d be wrong.

For reasons known only to themselves, a large number decided to boo Nico Rosberg again. This is much more baffling than in Belgium, where it was possible to understand the angst towards the German from fans, who had no doubt been expecting to see a battle between the two drivers in a class of their own this year. Rightly or wrongly they blamed Rosberg for cutting that battle short. Some believed it to have been sinister, whereas knowledgeable race fans have quickly forgiven and forgotten for what was little more than an error of judgement.

Some of the idiots who made themselves heard really don’t know what they’re talking about. They might go to the races, but really, all they see is cars going round a circuit with little idea of what is actually unfolding before their eyes. Which makes the booing at the Italian Grand Prix more lamentable.

What some people fail to realise is that whether or not you disagree with someone’s actions on the circuit, these drivers risk their lives so that you can have a fun fay out watching some nice cars go fast. So to boo one of them for little reason at all, as was the case with the Italian Grand Prix, is very poor indeed. It does absolutely nothing constructive, and has failed to really ruffle the target. So all round, it’s about as useful as trying to get from Cornwall to America via a donkey.

It comes to something when the driver whom Nico wronged at Spa has spoken against them. Lewis Hamilton deserves a lot of credit for asking the boo boys to wind it in, whilst another driver in Jenson Button has also hit out at them. It doesn’t look good.

I’m all for the paying public having a right to voice an opinion, but it has to stay respectful. That is what sets motorsport fans aside from any other sports fans. That is what’s unique about motorsports fans. Everyone should have some respect for some of the most skilled men on earth. If you could do better, then you have more right to boo. Not that any of the hecklers.

So, let’s keep this unique feature running and get on with it.