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Werthead

Formula One 2020

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We're knee-deep in testing and it looks like Mercedes has the upper hand (sigh) thanks to a number of small but notable innovations. Ferrari seem to be lagging, Red Bull looks to be starting stronger than previously, Williams has made a big improvement and Racing Point appear to have just cloned the Mercedes from year, which is a questionable choice.

Season 2 of Drive to Survive has hit Netflix and is looking good. Ferrari and Mercedes contribute to every episode now, but clearly Netflix realised that Gunther is worth his weight in comedy gold so there's still a strong focus on him, Daniel Ricciardo and the McLaren boys. One thing that is slightly disturbing is the degree to which Gunther treats Romain Grosejan like his personal punching bag, which is supposed to be funny but does go way overboard. I know they're paying Grosjean a lot and he's clearly finished in F1 the second Haas dispose of his services, but I'm genuinely surprised he's staying in the sport to put up with this level of treatment.

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The other big question for F1 at the moment might be whether other races will follow China in being postponed due to coronavirus. As well as the locations of the races themselves continued spread in northern Italy could create problems for Ferrari and Toro Roso.

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How critical is ticket sales to F1 vs. broadcast? Certainly it's a ton of money but in terms of the product, a F1 race in front of empty stands is nothing like a football or basketball game played in an empty arena. Sadly by the summer, this is going to everywhere so unless we'll all going to agree to stay inside for 3 weeks, people will just have to go on with their lives and deal with the consequences. 

 

I would loved to have some behind the scenes info last year discussing the fact that a fake energy drink company was a top sponsor of Haas. 

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1 hour ago, Vaughn said:

How critical is ticket sales to F1 vs. broadcast? Certainly it's a ton of money but in terms of the product, a F1 race in front of empty stands is nothing like a football or basketball game played in an empty arena. Sadly by the summer, this is going to everywhere so unless we'll all going to agree to stay inside for 3 weeks, people will just have to go on with their lives and deal with the consequences.

I don't know exactly how things are split up but I wonder if the race circuits might have a lot of reliance on ticket sales for revenue (along with government funding in many cases). The broadcast rights would be the far bigger prize in terms of cash but that would be paid to F1's owners not the businesses running the circuits.

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2 hours ago, Vaughn said:

How critical is ticket sales to F1 vs. broadcast? Certainly it's a ton of money but in terms of the product, a F1 race in front of empty stands is nothing like a football or basketball game played in an empty arena. Sadly by the summer, this is going to everywhere so unless we'll all going to agree to stay inside for 3 weeks, people will just have to go on with their lives and deal with the consequences. 

The way the system works - and it is insane - is that the track has to pay F1 for the privilege of holding the event. The track then makes up the revenue through ticket sales, food and drink etc.

If they decided to hold the race on empty circuits, keeping the audience away but running the race for TV, then the tracks would lose massive amounts of money. F1 would have to compensate them. Plus you're still going to have drivers and teams passing through airports, sharing planes with people likely infected etc. It'll help a lot at the events, but not completely solve the problem.

More likely is that the race events will judge whether attendance will be enough to justify holding the race and could then cancel. Normally that'd breach their contract with F1, but they'll have clauses of God stipulations they'd try to invoke.

China is 100% out but the rest will be assessed on a case by case basis. The hope is that the virus is starting to burn itself out in China and if Italy follows the same pattern, it could be okay long before the race. The big question will be those countries which haven't had any cases at all yet and so could be adversely affected at the time of the grand prix. 

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I would loved to have some behind the scenes info last year discussing the fact that a fake energy drink company was a top sponsor of Haas. 

 

This has already been the focus of one episode, but they didn't go into it in too much detail. The guy in charge of Rich Energy is clearly an absolute lunatic though, and I wasn't aware of the fact that he broke his contract with Haas and there's potentially a big court case looming over the non-payment of $60 million, which is more than Haas's entire annual budget.

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It's good to see mercedes and Ferrari on board with the Netflix doc this time. Although they still know that Haas are the best team to follow for entertainment.

The coronavirus reaction is crazy. I appreciate WHO and governments training how to stop a pandemic for something worse but they are essentially treating this like ebola/severe instead of it being a new addition to the "seasonal flu" collection. The cat is out of the bag regarding it spreading throughout the world, it's more a case of when. It feels like king canute telling the tide not to come in.

If the Italian grand Prix was the first race I'd postpone it and I'd hope Australia isn't letting too many Italian fans in without checks (or simply ban from arriving in Australia). I can understand the Ireland v italy rugby game being cancelled. By May i suspect it will be a moot point as it will be eveywhere in which case the hysteria will have levelled.

Like i say, it's good practice for worse outbreaks but the "close borders" and "cancel everything" hysteria is more a reflection of the media and people's attitudes than anything regarding the virus. Flu-like viruses are shitty and they can be deadly but no more so than the ones we already have. The reason it is spreading so effectively is because it's not so debilitating and deadly. It's the slow spreading ones that are truly dangerous by merit of it incapacitates/kills the victim before they have a chance to infect others. 

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Will Buxton is insufferable in this new season. After the first one I was hoping they would have found a better talking head. Guess not!

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2 hours ago, Raja said:

Will Buxton is insufferable in this new season. After the first one I was hoping they would have found a better talking head. Guess not!

I was thinking that, but then realised they could have gotten Martin Brundle instead (if it wasn't for his Sky contract) and shuddered.

An actually successful racer-turned-pundit might have been a better choice as the main critical talking head, but most of them are under contract elsewhere, like Rosberg and Coulthard. Not sure about Webber, as he only does a few things per season for C4.

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18 hours ago, Werthead said:

This has already been the focus of one episode, but they didn't go into it in too much detail. The guy in charge of Rich Energy is clearly an absolute lunatic though, and I wasn't aware of the fact that he broke his contract with Haas and there's potentially a big court case looming over the non-payment of $60 million, which is more than Haas's entire annual budget.

I hadn't heard about the Rich Energy mystery before but I've just been reading up on it and it does sound absolutely bizarre that a company which barely seemed to exist as a business was sponsoring a F1 team.

9 hours ago, red snow said:

If the Italian grand Prix was the first race I'd postpone it and I'd hope Australia isn't letting too many Italian fans in without checks (or simply ban from arriving in Australia). I can understand the Ireland v italy rugby game being cancelled.

If the Australians started banning Italian fans for health reasons then it could be difficult to justify not banning the crews from the Italian-based teams. I wonder if Ferrari might have been tempted to tell their key team members not to go back to northern Italy after the testing. Of course, as you say the current focus on Italy might be completely overtaken by events elsewhere.

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Jalopnik was onto the Rich Energy scam last April - https://jalopnik.com/what-you-find-when-you-look-into-rich-energy-the-myste-1833303620

 

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16 hours ago, Werthead said:

I was thinking that, but then realised they could have gotten Martin Brundle instead (if it wasn't for his Sky contract) and shuddered.

I actually had no idea who he was before watching S1. I know some of it is the producers telling him what to say, but even his delivery irritates me lol. And yeah, Brundle probably wouldn't be any better.

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Bahrain GP will be without spectators.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/51789298

Italian quarantine could seriously hit F1, as not only the Ferrari and Alpha Tauri teams  are affected but also suppliers like Pirelli and Brembo. (Looks like Alpha Tauri isn't headquartered in the current quarantine area but who knows how things look like in a week or two.) 

 

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4 minutes ago, Loge said:

Bahrain GP will be without spectators.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/51789298

Italian quarantine could seriously hit F1, as not only the Ferrari and Alpha Tauri teams  are affected but also suppliers like Pirelli and Brembo. (Looks like Alpha Tauri isn't headquartered in the current quarantine area but who knows how things look like in a week or two.) 

 

Yeah, this could go south really quickly. I think some of the teams would be happy to forego another year of racing so they can focus on the 2021 car, but the havoc that would unleash in terms of sponsorship deals broken, financing etc would be hellish to sort through.

Also seeing ideas floating around about running non-championship F1 races (like they did back in the day) if one or more teams are prevented from attending a race. You get the spectacle but it doesn't count towards the championship points. It could also give them more room to experiment, like reverse grids and some of these other crazy ideas people are uncertain about putting into place during a full season.

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Bahrain can probably absorb the loss of spectators as it's essentially a promo even anyhow (same with Azerbaijan and some of the more dubious hosts) but it would be a disaster for other hosts who absolutely rely on turning a profit which requires spectators. Unless the FIA agrees to give them a cut of tv revenue i could see it resulting in losing some tracks for several years.

Show races seem a bit strange too as in i wonder how seriously drivers would take it - especially if it affects their pay. The likes of Hamilton would probably be better doing something else for the season.

Playing around with the format could be a great opportunity though like reverse grid starts. Heck, I'd love to see them switch cars based on performance eg Hamilton has to drive a williams and Russell gets the mercedes next race if they finish first/last. It would probably never happen based on secrecy behind tech and set up but would be a great way of judging driver vs car talent and giving me a reason to watch non championship races.

It does sound like Bahrain is testing all teams/staff so it should allow everyone to take part. If other countries have same approach it should mean most races can be official even without spectators.

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I'd say Hamilton and MB really want this season to go ahead - he's not old but he only has a few years to pass Schumacher. Depending on how the 2012 cars go, he could lose the huge advantage of MB engineering and financial resources if the rules changes does result in a more level playing field. 

 

I've always loved to idea of a driver/car swap race. That would be a riot. Have a live lottery on Thursday night to match cars w/ drivers.  

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8 hours ago, Vaughn said:

I'd say Hamilton and MB really want this season to go ahead - he's not old but he only has a few years to pass Schumacher. Depending on how the 2012 cars go, he could lose the huge advantage of MB engineering and financial resources if the rules changes does result in a more level playing field. 

 

I've always loved to idea of a driver/car swap race. That would be a riot. Have a live lottery on Thursday night to match cars w/ drivers.  

I suspect most teams want the season to go ahead. I guess they can lose several races off the calendar and still have enough races for a championship - there were a lot less races in the past.

But this is Hamilton and mercedes best chance of getting another championship as who knows how the rule changes will pan out next year.

I think the appeal of switching around drivers and cars is that it should allow us to judge how good the drivers are (including their ability to set cars up). If everyone wins in a mercedes it's the car. If someone wins in a McLaren, or finishes top 6 in a williams - it's probably the driver.

Maybe the bigger teams wouldn't be so averse to the gimmick as it's an excellent chance to trial a driver out. If Russell wins in a Ferrari or mercedes alongside a "better" driver that's pause for thought. 

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3 hours ago, red snow said:

I think the appeal of switching around drivers and cars is that it should allow us to judge how good the drivers are (including their ability to set cars up). If everyone wins in a mercedes it's the car. If someone wins in a McLaren, or finishes top 6 in a williams - it's probably the driver.

Maybe the bigger teams wouldn't be so averse to the gimmick as it's an excellent chance to trial a driver out. If Russell wins in a Ferrari or mercedes alongside a "better" driver that's pause for thought. 

I think the problem is more that it's physically impossible for a driver to make up a 2 or 3 second a lap deficit, although a good driver can make up half a second and an exceptional one maybe a full second. Unless they've had a massive turnaround in fortunes, Hamilton in a Williams would simply not be able to win or get on the podium, no matter his talent level. He could certainly be the difference between finishing 12th or 18th though.

This isn't a new problem though. F1 has never been a level playing field. What it did use to be was a lot more variable, with a team being hugely noncompetitive one season and then capable of getting podiums the next and back and forth.

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McLaren have pulled out of the Australian GP after a team member was tested positive for Covid-19.

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Posted (edited)

Sounds like the race will now be postponed as well.

With Bahrain being held without audiences and Vietnam banning all trips from Italy, they're probably better off giving up for now and setting the Netherlands on 3 May as the first race of the season and hoping the situation is clearer by then.

Edited by Werthead

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