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F1- A Smoking Gun?- with David Hall

Before the Silverstone Grand Prix came the news of a plan to revamp F1 for 2017. The Strategy Group, camped deep within the bowels of Biggin Hill, had met and approved important decisions.

– Increased restrictions on driver aids and coaching. Starting from this year’s Belgian GP (Hallelujah)
“Enhancing race excitement and unpredictability”
– Power unit penalties have been unanimously agreed.
(Presumably to stop Honda highlighting how utterly ridiculous they were in the first place)
– Allowance of an extra power unit per driver for teams in their first season. The measure would
apply to Honda retroactively for 2015.
– Mandate had been given to the FIA an FOM to propose a comprehensive set of measures for
power unit development and cost of supply, including full review of the token system, race fuel etc.
– Increased freedom of choice for tyre compounds has been confirmed. To be finalised by Pirelli for
– New regulations for FASTER & MORE AGGRESSIVE looking cars for 2017. To include wider cars and
wheels, new wings and floors and increased aero downforce.
– Changes to qualifying and race formats. Being evaluated for 2016 (GULP)

On a whole, and given the previous inability to do anything but prevent driver creativity (Helmets), it seemed positive. Restrict driver aids. Faster and louder cars. Sorted

Only it was missing something vital. Financial reward for the Independent teams.
Sure, let’s keep the costs of the engine supplies from increasing, but that supply is already devouring most of the Independent teams’ Reward Money.

Hidden amongst the more positive news of the much needed positivity that was Silverstone 2015 came a stark reminder of the troubles some of the Independent teams were facing in their battle for survival. We spoke about it at the start of the season, but it seems to have been forgotten about amid all the talks of faster and better looking cars.

News has emerged of Lotus postponing a winding-up hearing for two weeks after they were summoned to the High Court. It’s claimed that Lotus F1 must pay a financial settlement to creditors after receiving a winding-up petition on Monday 6th July. The postponement is to allow Lotus to reach an out of court settlement. Failure to do so will cast doubt on the team’s future.

Formula 1 has a big problem. Let’s call a spade a spade here.
It has never filled the gaping hole left by the loss of Tobacco sponsorship.
Smoking is bad. Mmkay. We all know that, but Formula 1 has suffered from having its biggest meal ticket taken away and subsequently being unable to replace it.
What has been left in the wake of the Tobacco ban is:
– Dull Corporate colours.
– Cash Strapped Independent teams.

Think back to your favourite Formula 1 car and it probably had Tobacco sponsorship.

Gold Leaf Lotus


JPS Lotus


Camel Benetton


Gitanes Ligier


Marlboro McLaren

Benson & Hedges Jordan.

Jordan 15

Look at those pictures and you’ll see Lotus/Benetton, McLaren, Jordan/Force India. All teams that have been hit by the loss of Tobacco sponsorship. All teams that struggle to attract significant Title Sponsorship. Teams are reluctant to sell their main space to a sponsor without it significantly bridging the financial hole that they need it to.

There is another solution that may allow teams to be financially viable yet introduce some much needed colour to the grid.

Dorna, commercial rights holders for Moto GP, are putting together a proposal to have an agreed cost for the lease of bikes to non-works teams. Everything except crashes will be practically covered by the money paid by Dorna. CVC (Formula 1) could put an Independent team fund together. Take it from the massive PPV deals that are being negotiated, which also impacts on the teams’ exposure seeing as it is causing a drop in viewing figures. The money would end up going to the manufacturers anyway in the shape of payments for powertrains. If Formula 1 is to bridge the gap between the running costs of Independent teams and the amount on offer from sponsors then surely it needs to introduce something similar.

A fund that would subsidise the extortionate cost of the Hybrid engines on the independent teams. It would then take some pressure off the teams in terms of running costs vs incoming revenue. Allowing them to approach sponsors with less demanding figures to entice them on-board as title sponsors. It would also mean that independent teams were less dependent on pay drivers to make ends meet.

That or we can go back to Tobacco sponsorship.
Marboro McLaren.
Gitanes Sauber.
JPS Lotus. (Drools)
B&H Force India.

Come back to the real world you say?
OK. Look after the Independent teams, while you still can.
Revenue at Formula One has raced to a total of $16.2 billion over the past 15 years outstripping its closest rival the FIFA World Cup (Source – Forbes)
There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to talks about the future of Formula 1.
Equal and adequate distribution of funding to teams. If Formula 1 in its truest form is to survive then this needs to be addressed, and soon.

Otherwise images like this will continue to be nothing but a distant memory:


Credit to Camille De Bastiani @camdebastiani for the amazing artwork.

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