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As we all know Formula One is facing a bit of problem. I say “save Formula 1” and we all have some kind of image that the series is in dire trouble. That it needs to be resuscitated and have the paddles applied to it’s dying body. It doesn’t. CART does but, F1 doesn’t. So, what is the problem? The pink elephant in the room with us has this written on it “Formula One has gotten boring.” There are a myriad of issues that have brought us to this point some of which I’ll touch on others for the sake of time I won’t.

For about the past ten years though someone’s always piped up and said the sports gotten boring. I had never agreed with any of them until I watched the Hungarian GP this year. For the first time in my life I could have turned the TV off and not have cared. Did you hear that? Not cared about F1. This is coming from someone who loves F1 more than any other sport. This is coming from a person who, couple of years ago watched probably 15 to 17 hours of the 23 hour telecast of the 24 hours of LeMans on Speedvision. The only time I was away from the TV was to eat, bathroom, and change the oil on my car. And that wasn’t even F1. What I’m saying is for me to get bored with an F1 race is really saying something. Costs are getting out control. The differences between the haves and the have-nots is getting too great. Something has to be done. Something drastic. And I’m the guy to fix it. Here’s my plan….

Speed cost money. The more you spend the faster you go. Unless you’re Toyota and/or McLaren. But you get what I mean. Those that have the largest war chest will undoubtedly get their car sorted out and get to the front of the grid. By being at the front of the grid they can attract more sponsorship money thus increasing their war chest. The cycle continues and at the opposite end of the grid the opposite occurs. The fast get faster and the slow get comparatively slower. How do we fix it?

Set the Formula One Payout system like the NFL draft. For those of you who are from other parts of the world and don’t know how the National Football League draft here in America works let me explain it real quick. At the beginning of every season a new crop of players gets out of college and are available to go play in the NFL. They are pooled together and picked by the teams just as many of you probably did when you were kids out on the school yard. One team goes first and picks a player. He goes to their team. Then someone else picks someone and he goes to their team. Now here comes the clever part. The NFL team that came in LAST place gets the first pick. Why? Because they’re last and they need help. This system helps to create a level playing field for all the teams. How do I apply this model to F1? Easy.

At the end of the year Formula One awards travel money to all the teams based on where they finish. You finish first you get the lions share of the money and then it pays out less for each team on down the line. This goes hand in hand with the “winner take all” bravado found in all motorsports. But, it’s not working any more. It just goes to fuel the spiral described above. I say invert the payout system. Give the last place team the lions share of the travel money. The second to last should get what would have gone to the second place team and so forth to the top of the constructors championship. This will in effect help subsidize the lower teams and help level the playing field. It will also have the added effect of making the team more enticing to a sponsor. A lower level team can then make a pitch to them on the basis that their advertising dollar will go farther with them than a higher ranked team because they could offer them more advertising space on the car than they would get with the higher team. As the team progressed up the constructors championship final points grid they loose some of the travel budget money but then get to make the pitch of “our better results makes your sponsorship more visible” along with “your dollar spent with us still goes further than with a top team.” And if you’re a top team and for some reason have a bad season the sponsor, if he continues to stay a sponsor, gets the benefit not having to add in dollars to try to get back up top. Top Engineers might be more enticed to move to a lower level team if they felt they might have more control and have the funds to see their vision brought to fruition. Divers might also move more freely if they felt a team had a real chance to move up the grid. Board members at major car companies could then argue their case better for staying in F1 if their spending would be subsidized if results weren’t forthcoming. Closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots will help level the playing field and fuel competition, solidify the sponsorship dollars that are already hard at work and attract more as well.

Also Formula One must take control of the direction of the television feed. Yes it will be more expensive. I would suggest that the host country still does the set up of cameras and wiring that goes along with it. Formula one would pay them a set amount for it. Formula One would then bring in it’s own directorial team and camera men to keep the language barrier from breaking down. The NFL did this with the Euro Football League. That League wasn’t any good but they showed it could be done. Why do I say this? Because I was at this years (2004) Japanese GP and had a wonderful time watching a wonderful race with the cars in the midfield. Later that evening I watched the recast of the race and was bored to tears as they missed every thing that was going on around the track. It should be the other way around. By taking control of the television feed Formula one will have a broadcast team in place that is better adept to covering the action on the track and not just the race leader and the host country’s driver. As the lower teams get more competitive with the increased funding the racing will get tighter and more on track action will need coverage. Also with this increased action at the back and proper media coverage will come better return for the advertising dollars spent there. If there is no action at the front and quite a bit in the middle or the back that’s where the cameras should be. And if a top team sponsor then scratches his head and say’s “I’m paying too much for what I’m getting” he can then either cut his spending to the top team (bringing them in line with the lower teams and handicapping them financially) or move to a mid field team altogether if the top team won’t give them a deal their happy with. It gives sponsors and manufacturers more bang for their buck. And as said before; It will close the gap between the haves and the have-nots and will help level the playing field and fuel competition; solidify the sponsorship dollars that are already hard at work and attract more as well.

There you have it. Problem solved.

Charles Wells
(aka senna21)
P.S.
If Bernie wants to give me a job I’m willing to relocate.
 
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