Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) reveals initial plans and framework for the future of Formula One at landmark press conference
The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) today outlined its roadmap for Formula One at a press conference at which senior management figures from all 10 current Formula One teams shared the stage together. Setting out its proposed agenda for the evolution of the sport, FOTA unveiled a dynamic package of unanimously agreed proposals which, pending the approval of the FIA, will take effect in 2009 and/or 2010.
These proposals are aimed at increasing the stability, sustainability, substance and show of Formula One, and have all been developed as a result of rigorous interrogation of a FOTA global audience survey carried out in 17 countries earlier this year. The study canvassed views of existing fans but also, for the first time, drew on insights from a cross-section of general and infrequent followers of the sport, in line with FOTA’s stated ambition to broaden as well as to deepen the appeal of Formula One.
The proposals can be classified under three headings – technical, sporting and commercial - in line with the three working groups inaugurated when FOTA was formed in September 2008. These proposals will ensure the retention of Formula One’s unique and essential sporting ‘DNA’, improve the show for all audiences, reduce costs, and increase the value proposition to the major stakeholders.
Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman of FOTA, said: "This is an unprecedented moment in Formula One history. Above all else, for the first time the teams are unified and steadfast – with a clear, collective vision. Thanks to this unity, all the teams have already managed to make a significant reduction to their costs for 2009. And, while we will continue to compete vigorously on track, we all share one common goal: to work together to improve Formula One by ensuring its stability, sustainability, substance and show for the benefit of our most important stakeholder, namely the consumer. It is with this mindset that we now intend to work hard, with our partners at the FIA and FOM, our shared goal being to optimise the future of Formula One."
Technical2009: More than 100% increase in mileage per engine (eight engines per driver per season) Reduction in wind tunnel and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) usage Engine available at €8 million per team per season2010: Engine available at €5 million per team per season Gearbox available at €1.5 million per team per season Standardised KERS (put out to tender, with a target price of €1-2 million per team perseason) Target a further 50% reduction of the 2009 aerodynamic development spend Specified number of chassis, bodywork and aerodynamic development iterations(homologations) during the season Prohibition of a wide range of exotic, metallic and composite materials Standardised telemetry and radio systemsSporting2009: Testing reduction (50%) New points-scoring system (12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1), to give greater differentiation/reward togrand prix winners Race starting fuel loads, tyre specifications and refuelling data to be made public2010: Commitment to recommend new qualifying format Radical new points-scoring opportunities (eg, one constructors’ championship point to beawarded for the fastest race pit stop) Further testing reductions (four four-day single-car pre-season tests plus one single-carpre-season shakedown) Reduction of grand prix duration (250km or a maximum of one hour 40 minutes) pendingthe approval of the commercial rights holder
Commercial2009: Increased data provision for media Explore means by which the presentation of Formula One action can be moreinformatively and dynamically presented, common to other sports such as tennis andcricket, to dramatically improve engagement with the public Nominated senior team spokesman available for TV during grand prix Commitment to enhance consumer experience via team and FOTA websites Mandatory driver autograph sessions during grand prix weekends2010: Commitment to enhance consumer experience via TV coverage
KEY DEMOGRAPHICS OF GLOBAL AUDIENCE SURVEY 17 countries surveyed First ever poll of Formula One devotees alongside non-Formula One devotees (ie,marginal and/or low interest fans) Responses were weighted according to the size of viewing market in each country (toavoid small markets skewing the results) Results were segmented by interest level in Formula One, demographic profiles (age andgender), country and region Total audience is comprised of:- Regular fans (25% by volume, predominantly male, cross section of ages)- Moderate fans (44% by volume, female and male, cross section of ages)- Infrequent fans (31% by volume, unlikely to watch grands prix, predominantly female,cross section of ages)
KEY FINDINGS OF GLOBAL AUDIENCE SURVEY1. F1 isn’t broken, so beware ‘over-fixing’ itThe current race format is not viewed as fundamentally broken (across all levels of FormulaOne interest) and therefore doesn’t require radical alteration. There is a strong desire forFormula One to remain meritocratic, while consumer interest is driven most by appreciation ofdriver skill, overtaking and technology.Implication: there is no evidence to suggest that grand prix formats need ‘tricking up’ via, forexample, handicapping, sprint races, reversed grids or one-on-one pursuit races. Formula Oneaudiences appreciate the traditional gladiatorial, high-tech nature of the sport and would notrespond favourably to a perceived ‘dumbing down’ of the current format.2. F1 needs to be more consumer-friendlyAn individual’s view or understanding of Formula One is framed almost entirely by their localbroadcaster. Unlike most global sports, the vast majority of ‘consumption’ of Formula One is viarace-day TV coverage, supplemented in part by traditional, non-specialist newspaper coverage.Formula One fans are also mature consumers of new media channels (eg, on-line, mobile) andother touch points (eg, gaming, merchandise).The global nature of Formula One, although an attractive characteristic in itself, impedes theuniformity of race schedules, and often results in consumption of a race being limited to locallybroadcast TV highlights programmes. Only devotees (25% of the total potential viewingaudience) are likely to watch a race live if it occurs outside peak viewing times.Implication: significant opportunities exist to build audience via other channels such as internetand mobile.3. Major changes to qualifying format are not urgentWhen asked to consider alternative qualifying formats, all fan types expressed a modestpreference for a meritocratically determined starting grid. There was some degree of interest inallowing luck to play a part in shaping the starting order, but the general sentiment was that thefastest driver should always start from pole.Implication: there may be justification for minor modifications to the current qualifying format,following further trials; however, a major change to the format will not result in a significantincrease in audience.4. Revisions to the points-scoring systemAs with qualifying, all audiences want a meritocratic points-scoring system. This means thatthey want winning grands prix to count for more than it does currently. There is an indicationthat all audiences would like to see a greater points reward for winning grands prix.Implication: a minor adjustment to the existing points system is justified5. Evolution of pit stops and refuellingAll audiences view pit stops as integral to their enjoyment of grand prix coverage; however, theyrank the most important and compelling aspect of pit stops as tyre changing rather thanrefuelling. Race strategies were not highly ranked as a determinant of interest in Formula One.Implication: audiences are unlikely to diminish if refuelling is discontinued. Tyre changing is animportant driver of audience interest (in pit stops) and should not be further automated.
TEAM PRINCIPAL QUOTES
Sir Frank Williams (Team Principal, AT&T WilliamsF1)“The new FOTA group has the best of intentions in representing the teams’ best interests, bothtechnically and commercially. FOTA wishes to enjoy an open and productive relationship withboth the FIA and FOM.”
Dr Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director and Team Principal, BMW Sauber F1 Team)“The FIA and FOTA are pursuing the same aims – to increase the sporting value of FormulaOne and to cut the expenditure required to do so. Reducing costs is definitely the way to go.The members of FOTA have made great efforts to this end over recent months and have set outa whole series of measures which will already allow substantial cost savings in 2009. Furthersavings for the coming years will follow in due course.”
Dr Vijay Mallya (Chairman and Team Principal, Force India Formula One Team)“Formula One is undoubtedly about competition and striving to beat one’s opposition. While thisis very much the essence of the on-track action, unity and collaboration off-track is crucial. Theopen spirit of discussion and co-operation to increase both the spectacle and financial viabilityof Formula One are entirely positive for the sport and its investors – ie, the teams, the sponsorsand of course the fans. I fully support the initiatives and hope that between FOTA, the FIA andFOM we can find a balance to safeguard the wonderful sport we have before us now.”
Flavio Briatore (Team Principal, ING Renault F1 Team)“Through FOTA we have found unity among the teams as we strive to provide a sustainablefuture for Formula One. From a commercial standpoint, we recognise that while our sport enjoysa remarkable global reach, there is still room to improve its appeal as an investment opportunity.It is clear that we need to strengthen Formula One as a show and through our global audiencesurvey we have given a voice to the consumers of Formula One. The results confirm that wemust exploit the potential of new media, while continuing to enhance the TV experience, whichremains the most important interface with the public. It is therefore essential to provide ouraudience with more information and to make the teams and drivers more accessible to ensurethat we deliver a product that is always exciting, unpredictable and compelling both on and offthe track. I am confident that, working together, and in a constructive spirit with both governingbodies FIA and FOM, FOTA can help build a solid future for the sport in the years ahead.”
Tadashi Yamashina (Team Principal, Panasonic Toyota F1)"FOTA has already achieved a great deal and we can be very satisfied with the progress wehave made, but there is a lot of work still ahead of us. It is vitally important not to neglect thesoul of grand prix racing. Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport and our challenge is toretain the DNA of the sport as a technological as well as a human contest, while also deliveringvalue for money for all stakeholders, and this includes the fans. We all embrace the need to cutcosts, and the significant savings achieved by FOTA and the FIA at the end of last year are apromising start. FOTA’s strength lies in the unity of the teams. This unprecedented jointinitiative, which we hope will work in combination with the FIA and FOM, can inspire FormulaOne to conquer the challenges facing it and the wider world."
Christian Horner (Team Principal, Red Bull Racing)“Since FOTA was established in the summer of 2008, the organisation has already madestrides, in conjunction with the FIA, towards achieving significant cost savings for the 2009season. Through FOTA’s working groups, the teams are acting as a unit for the first time toensure Formula One improves its appeal to all generations of fans, while continuing to controlcosts. Red Bull fully supports the work of FOTA.”
Stefano Domenicali (Team Principal, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro)“United in our intentions and with a common vision for the future of Formula One, whileremaining rivals on track: these are the key strengths of FOTA. It is thanks to its creation thatwe have already achieved significant results in just a few months. Racing is part of Ferrari’sDNA and will always be so, which is why we are working very hard, along with all the otherteams. We must continue on this track to make our sport more exciting for the fans and moreattractive for our current partners and also potential ones, while maintaining close links with theproduction of road cars.”
Franz Tost (Team Principal, Scuderia Toro Rosso)"FOTA has already achieved a great deal in a short space of time, thanks to unprecedentedunanimity amongst the teams. The motto ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ has been around formany years, but Formula One team owners took a while to take it on board! FOTA should notrest on its laurels, but continue to collaborate as closely as possible with the FIA and FOM toensure the continued success of Formula One as a sport, as entertainment and as a business."
Martin Whitmarsh (Team Principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes)"FOTA has already achieved more than any other assembly of Formula One teams in thehistory of our sport, and those achievements are both a result of and a testament to the strengthof FOTA's unity. On track, Formula One teams remain as competitive as ever; but, off track, incollaboration with the FIA and FOM, motivated by our shared ambition to steer grand prix racingto ever-greater successes, we're now devoting a great deal of time, resource and radicalthought to making a concerted effort to enhance the benefits of all Formula One stakeholders –the teams, the manufacturers, the sponsors, the media and above all the fans."
Ross Brawn“FOTA represents a hugely important initiative, all of the Formula One teams working togetherto combine their strengths to the benefit of all aspects of our sport, Formula One. Never beforehave I experienced the level of unity and commitment of the teams that has been demonstratedwithin FOTA under the leadership of Luca di Montezemolo. This is a complementary process tothe work of the FIA and FOM and enables the teams to present unified views on how we cantake both our sport and the motorsport industry forward. As an ex-rugby player, I was taught toapply the principles of competition on the field and a spirit of co-operation and unity off the field.That is the principle of FOTA."