Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Thursday Thoughts - How would you change the public perception of F1? - What I would do if I got to replace Bernie Ecclestone

Published by Christine

This week the Thursday Thoughts question comes from the ever-fabulous Lukeh, who wants us to step into Bernie's shoes for a moment. That's not the best pair of shoes to wear, but we'll give it a go anyway. Here's the original question:

If you succeeded Bernie Ecclestone with controlling and owning Formula 1, how would you change the public perception of F1?

Expanding on the question slightly, Lukeh mentions the perception that F1 is a closed and contrived sport, and that it is seemingly aimed exclusively at the rich. Whilst there is much that F1 can do to open it's doors a little wider, I do think there is an argument for keeping it at the top level. As the so-called "pinnacle of motorsport" it does need to be something to be aimed for, by drivers and fans alike. I feel like opening up the doors and letting anyone and everyone in would devalue it a little. That's not to say the ticket prices don't need to come down a notch or too!

So, although I do think F1 should retain it's exclusivity a little, there is still plenty that can be done to change the public perception to a more favourable one. To start with, there is a lot of scope for allowing clips of races to be broadcast, either on TV or on YouTube, without chasing up people with take-down demands, or with invoices for millions of dollars. This is free advertising, both for the sponsors and the sport itself, and I can't believe it is doing anyone any favours, except the lawyers it is keeping in business. It makes blogging a lot easier when you can illustrate the incidents you are talking about, and conversation about F1 can only be a good thing.

We've talked about the calendar many, many times, and Bernie's desire to expand F1 around the globe is often a hot topic. I don't have a problem with taking the sport to new countries, but to be faced with empty seats only makes F1 look worse in the eyes of the public. If you must introduce a Grand Prix in the middle of the desert, then I may have to contradict myself. The first race in a new country could be free. Gather people from the surrounding areas and make sure they have the best day of their life. A bit of positive PR can only help. Hiring a track designer who knows what he's doing may be advisable too. I will not dwell on the circuit debate now, though.

JB and Pudsey
JB and PudseyCredit: BBC

Since Formula One has been on the BBC, it seems as though there is much more coverage in the UK, and I don't just mean the hour long pre-show and the extended forum afterwards.

Lewis Hamilton is a regular on Blue Peter these days, both McLaren boys were featured on Children in Need and I'm sure there is more besides. I don't know what Bernie, or me as his successor, can do to encourage this, but in all the countries around the world, getting the drivers on television and appearing at events can only help widen the appeal.

Events like F1 Rocks do their bit for making the sport appeal to a wider audience, but I think it would be better if the two events were even more closely linked, and of course, if they could get better acts. I'd pay good money not to see the Black Eyed Peas in the paddock, and I'm still not 100% sure who Simple Minds are. Acts like Eminem and the Stereophonics are heading in the right direction, but I'd like to see even more.

Turning up to events is a great way for F1 itself to garner fans, plus the individual teams as well. I would encourage them to participate in the Goodwood Festival of Speed and equivalent shows, make much more of the F1 stand at Autosport International, and maybe even put on a motorsport show or two of our very own. Bringing back in-season testing would also be high on my agenda.

Finally, I would stop talking about medals.