A lot of things are great about Formula One. A lot of things in Formula One are also absolutely garbage. F1's still (relatively) new owners, Liberty Media, want to change all that, by making it cheaper, louder, fairer, and hopefully more fun.
Liberty laid out its ideas for the 2021 season in a meeting with all 10 teams in Bahrain this weekend for the race, it said in a press release.
The biggest problem in Formula One has always been money. Someone has too much of it (usually Ferrari), somebody has too little of it (usually the vast majority of other teams), and unless you’re Toyota there was always a good chance you could just buy a championship. The whole system really doesn’t make any sense, especially the bit where Ferrari gets an extra $68,000,000 just because Ferrari, as WTF1 explains:
The new ideas proposed by Liberty Media generally sound pretty Reasonable and Good towards fixing a lot of the weirdness, then, including returning cars to their formerly loud glory:
Power units (PU)
- The PU must be cheaper, simpler, louder, have more power and reduce the necessity of grid penalties.
- It must remain road relevant, hybrid and allow manufacturers to build unique and original PU.
- New PU rules must be attractive for new entrants and Customer teams must have access to equivalent performance.
- We believe how you spend the money must be more decisive and important than how much money you spend.
- While there will be some standardised elements, car differentiation must remain a core value
- Implement a cost cap that maintains Formula 1's position as the pinnacle of motorsport with a state-of-the-art technology.
- The new revenue distribution criteria must be more balanced, based on meritocracy of the current performance and reward success for the teams and the Commercial Rights Holder.
- F1s unique, historical franchise and value must and will still be recognised.
- Revenue support to both cars and engine suppliers.
Sporting and technical rules & regulations
- We must make cars more raceable to increase overtaking opportunities.
- Engineering technology must remain a cornerstone but driver’s skill must be the predominant factor in the performance of the car.
- The cars must and will remain different from each other and maintain performance differentiators like aerodynamics, suspensions and PU performance. However, we believe areas not relevant to fans need to be standardised.
- A simple and streamline structure between the teams, the FIA and Formula 1.
And all of this sounds very nice and good, until you consider that this is all the sort of thing that has been proposed to “fix” F1 for literally decades now.
But there are a couple of huge obstacles to anything actually changing, such as our friends at Ferrari.
Nothing really changes in F1 without the consent of the teams, especially the big teams. If Sauber pulls out of F1 in a spittle-filled rage over revenue sharing (it wouldn’t, but we’re just imagining here, friends), Liberty would probably say it’s not a huge loss and just move on without them.
But what if Mercedes pulls out? Mercedes likes winning championships, and it’s got such deep pockets that it’s willing to pay for them, and it wants to be able to use those deep pockets. Ferrari also likes winning championships, and it also likes doing so with the random extra $68,000,000 it receives.
So if Ferrari and Mercedes both say they’re going to pull out, will Liberty then say it was worth it?
There’s a lot of unanswered questions here, and 2021 is still three years off. Expect to hear a verdict from the teams long before then.