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Schmidt's F1 blog: Lessons from the Corona crisis

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T he Rally Mexico on the second weekend in March was the last major motorsport event that was still taking place. The engines have been idle ever since. No races, no test drives, no nothing. From Formula 1 to Formula E, from Le Mans to Indianapolis, from MotoGP to Motocross: everything stands still. And nobody knows for how long.

Maybe even all year round. In Formula 1 circles, there is a ten percent risk that nothing will work in 2020. The coronavirus is now in charge. Because nobody knows when the crisis will be over, there is no plan or concrete hope to be sold.

One can only wait. And use the time to think about what could be done better at the restart. Some things will have to be changed in order for the sport to continue. Motorsport is so badly affected by the standstill because there is so much money involved. Which sports club already has 1,500 employees like Ferrari or Mercedes?

Your fault, you will say. We are there. The crisis is also an opportunity. We all have a lot of time now. You could invest them, for example, in thinking about what went wrong in motorsport in recent years and how you could correct that for a restart.

Are the manufacturers remaining loyal to Formula 1 despite falling sales?

Manufacturers on the jump

I would say it's a historic opportunity that everyone involved should seize. The crisis will cost jobs one way or another. Teams will lock up or downsize if they are to survive.

In the downturn in the economy, perhaps automakers will see the golden opportunity to get out of motorsport through the back doorto adopt. Corona gives them a welcome excuse that you couldn't even argue against. In bad times you have to concentrate on your core business, they will explain. And that's not motorsport.

I would like to limit myself to Formula 1 here. She is the tip of the iceberg. Everything that applies to them can be transferred to other series on a smaller scale. The premier class has to slim down, and dramatically. And it must position itself to withstand the crisis. The longer we don't drive, the more we will notice how vulnerable we are.

This is already starting with Liberty. The Formula 1 business is listed on the stock exchange and is therefore exposed to this completely insane pursuit of ever more growth. And first of all it has to bring in the money that the Americans paid for Formula 1. It would therefore be in the interests of the rights holder that I change something fundamentally in their shop.

Some teams will not survive without cost reduction.

Costs in Formula 1 down!

Die Budget cap needs to be revised down to $ 100 million or more. Without exceptions. The lower the cost cap, the more freedom one could allow with the technology. Because then everyone works at eye level. There would also no longer be the incentive to play the B-Team, one of the big players.

I bet: Formula 1 will not be a bit worse. Nobody will tell from a racing car whether it was built with a $ 100 million or $ 500 million budget. Nobody will complain when only a tenth of the data is collected. Nobody will notice if there are only 40 instead of 60 men working per team on the route and if the strategists on site have to do it alone without a mission control at home in the factory.

To be honest: Me as Racing fans don't need a simulator either. I never see him anyway. It can only be good for the tension if the teams come to the track a little less prepared. Leave out all the nonsense that is invisible and doesn't add anything to a better show! It would be so easy, you just have to want it. Hopefully you will now be forced to do so.

The teams have to downsize. 400 employees, that's enough. Fewerwould be even better. You say that will cost jobs? No less than when we don't do anything. Then people lose their jobs because their employers go to the dogs at some point.

Formula 1 should emerge stronger from the crisis when the corona risk is over.

Formula 1 needs new teams

A basis has to be created that makes it easier for new teams to enter the business. We will still need them desperately because one or the other F1 racing team will not survive the crisis. Ten teams are not enough anyway. There should be at least twelve to have a cushion for bad times.

It is complete nonsense of the F1 management with the introduction of the new regulations to demand a sum of 200 million dollars for each new team. Then he will never grow again. Not even a manufacturer.

There is another way of protecting yourself against candidates who just want to make a quick buck. There should only be money if the cars qualify enough often over the season within a certain minimum time.

It is also no solution if billionaires buy ailing teams and change their names every two years. A sport lives from brands with a history. Not from alibi names like Alfa Romeo or Aston Martin, which have absolutely nothing to do with the team and their own history.

The pressure on Liberty Media is growing, new onesTap into sources of income. Even if the deals are not for the good of the sport.

Less costs, less pressure on income

Motorsport also urgently needs 100 percent CO2-neutral fuels. Then we can throw the hybrid fig leaf overboard and drive again with affordable and less complicated engines that an Ilmor or Cosworth can also build. In the event that the manufacturers all say goodbye.

What will Formula 1 do when Mercedes, Renault and Honda pull the plug at the end of 2021? Should everyone then drive with a Ferrari engine? This dependency, born from the complexity of the powertrain, is one of the biggest construction sites in Formula 1. There is no plan B for this scenario. This is precisely why the WEC fell on the nose.

Lower costs for the teams also take the pressure off the rights holders to generate more and more money to feed the voracious children. For example, one would not have to try compulsively to isolate sport in pay TV in order to increase rights revenues.

And the calendar would not have to be inflated further and further. We don't need grand prix in countries that see Formula 1 only as an opportunity to polish up their image. You can give them a chance. For five years, if you like. If the grandstands are still half empty, the attempt has failed. So it is better to drive where motorsport is still popular.

That will be an issue anyway when the engine starts again after the Corona crisis. We will have to offer fans a good product to compensate for the time they have given up. Especially in our core countries.


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