Formula One and the plea for parity (to be more like IndyCar)

Formula One has long endured a highly irregular funding distribution scheme – but what will it take to get the top stars to agree grid-wide parity?

Formula One needs parity. Everyone has known it for years, but only now is the sport heading in a direction that may see itself right the wronged ship and level the playing field across the board. New owners Liberty Media have talked at length about their desire to shakeup the archaic foundations of the sport, but they’ve yet to showcase just how they plan to do so.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Some have speculated that an upcoming revision of the Concorde Agreement – the behind-closed-doors agreement that serves as a document for team funding distribution – could be the moment that changes the future trajectory of the sport. The only issue is, there doesn’t seem to be much incentive for top-funded teams to agree to the conditions. As it stands, there’s no secret that the revised Concorde Agreement would favor mid-field and smaller, under-funded teams. As such, there is a distinctly high possibility that the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes could veto the new agreement – rendering the whole discussion for moot and putting the sport right back where it was.

So, what then, is the answer? It’s difficult to discern, but the maestros of negotiation over at Liberty Media will have their work cut out for them in finding what they could possibly offer Ferrari and Mercedes to get on board with such a drastic makeover. One possibility is to cut both teams in to the profits of each Formula One season. As the two top reigning teams in the sport, one could argue that their rivalry generates the majority of the driving force behind Formula One viewership throughout the season. Sure, we’re all aware of what the rest of the pack is doing, but we’re also all aware that for what it’s worth it may as well be a sideshow.

No, there is no denying that the Ferrari and Mercedes rivalry does a lot of good for the sport for the time being, but what we’re talking about here is long-term, sustained growth. That’s something that no amount of back-and-forth between the Silver Arrows and Bucking Horses can generate to sate the hungry masses. The only way forward is to ensure that parity across the board becomes the new norm to Formula One. Chase Carey and Co. need to take a page out of the book of their fellow American Motorsport executives and strive to create a field a la IndyCar, where there could be five or more drivers in contention for the race win at any time.

Alas, it is possible that Liberty Media try to force the hands of Mercedes and Ferrari should they not cooperate, but it’s difficult to see them trying to pull a shotgun wedding-like scenario without running the risk of losing their two biggest players. Only Liberty Media knows what they’ve got in store for the sport – but whatever it is they’ll have to be sure it’s the best move for everyone.