Chase Carey’s Latest Comments are a Big Wake-up Call for F1

F1’s new Chief Executive Chase Carey has, in a single day in charge, verbally ejected Formula One out of its own arse, kicking and screaming into the present. He has called the model behind the sport a sustained failure and is eager to reform how F1 operates.

With the niceties out of the way, Carey has criticised the current system in Formula One, saying,

“The problems are across the board. We’re not marketing the sport, we’re not enabling fans to connect with it on the platforms that are available today, our sponsorship relations are one-dimensional, the events feel old, the hospitality feels as if it’s at least 15 years old.

There’s a transparency to what we are doing, there’s a context in which decisions are being made. It’s not a case of everybody playing a game of poker, trying to bluff each other. At the moment, it’s not the way it should be if you want a business to be run well.”

– Chase Carey

F1 ros

Formula One is rare in that the politicised aspect of the sport has been prominent for an age. Is this down to a community of fans verging in different directions because Ecclestone was a guy who seemed to think reactively and very short-term? Arguments ranging from recent failed Qualifying formats or giving race weekends to countries with atrocious human rights records like Bahrain and Azerbaijan have been prominent, as have penalty inconsistencies and regulation fluidity.

Hopefully, with the promised simplification of the sport and a more transparent approach expected from Liberty, the range of off-track conversation can remain firmly on subjects within the white lines.

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 28: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 Ferrari 060/5 turbo on track during qualifying for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – MAY 28: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 Ferrari 060/5 turbo on track during qualifying for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Given that in the broader sense, observing sport is an escapism from the grind of reality, Christian Horner’s recent comments regarding reviving the entertainment factor will definitely defect the ongoing rhetoric of “fixing” F1.

“Formula One is the biggest sporting platform outside of the Olympics and World Cup, so it’s a great global platform. For the Red Bull brand, the product needs to be exciting, accessible and aspirational. Formula One needs to tick all those boxes, and for us, unlike a manufacturer, the technology is secondary to the entertainment — we want Formula One to be an entertaining show, and in many respects the technology is a necessary evil to be competitive.

Of course, it can’t be all show and no technology — but it’s about finding that balance. As I say, we’d far prefer to have cars that have a strong emotional impact on the viewer and the spectator by making drivers the heroes.”

– Christian Horner

Source: @ESPNF1/Twitter
Source: @ESPNF1/Twitter

For a long time, F1 has spent too much time overanalysing itself, assuming the fanbase rather than outright appealing to it. The early motions under Liberty look good, there seems to be a determination to reform the sport with the spectator in mind. It could be naivety, it could be that Chase Carey is Bernie Ecclestone in a rubber Chase Carey mask, but let’s give them some time before jumping to anything.