How Formula 1 is digging its own grave

On Sunday we had an absolutely thrilling Formula 1 race, something F1 needed after a very boring 2015 season. However since then, the news since then has been mainly bad news. However I would like to put the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers Association) in the light. On Wednesday afternoon, they sent a superb letter to the FOM (Formula One Management), addressing the issues with Formula 1 and how it is run. The Irony was unreal when 3 hours later, there was heartbreak for British Formula One fans.

On Wednesday evening, it was announced that from the 2019 season onwards, that Pay TV channel, Sky Sports, had bought all exclusive rights to Formula One until 2024. In the contract, Sky stated that ‘Sky Sports will be the home of Formula 1 in the UK and Ireland from 2019 to 2024, offering live coverage of every Grand Prix’ under the heading ‘Exclusive.’ However, they have promised that there will be highlights of all races and their qualifying sessions as well as the British Grand Prix live on Free-to-air.

This is disastrous for UK viewers because this means it’s going almost completely behind the paywall live. In terms of the Free to air Highlights, I would guess they would be hour highlights on Pick TV about 4 or 5 hours after the session ends. It most definitely wont be as in depth as BBC or Channel 4’s highlights packages for Sky’s Exclusive races. A lot of people I have seen saying that they shall not watch f1 from 2019 onwards, myself included, and considering that Sky’s average figures are about 500-800k when the races are exclusive on Sky and when they are shared with the BBC/C4, this does not bode well for Formula 1 in the UK.

And you have to feel so bad for Channel 4. they were told just before Christmas that they had got the rights, and in the 3 months they worked their arses off to get to Melbourne for the saeson opener, a job well done, and their coverage was superb. It is not correct that their reward is to axe their coverage after 3 seasons. And remember as well, they’ve been waiting for this moment since 2011.

There are 2 plus point from this, we still have 3 years left of Free to air coverage in the UK, and the only other plus from the announcement is that next year, Sky customers will be able to watch F1 in UHD (Ultra High Definition) from 2017. So, not exactly something to shout about. More on what I would’ve done, a little later on.

Keep digging Formula 1, there’s more. For you Formula 1 fans, you know how awfully Qualifying went. Lewis Hamilton came across the line with four and a half minutes prior to the checkered flag and effectively ended the session. As Sky Sports’ Damon Hill said “Lewis [Hamilton] could’ve waved his own checkered flag.”

On Sunday morning, team principals met to sort out this mess, and it turned out that we would go back to the 2015 format, however on Thursday, it all changed as out of the blue, we would have another Melbourne style qualifying session, completely unchanged. People took to social media to express their frustration about this. It looks like it is definitely the wrong decision, as the only qualifying session that had cars out as time ran out was Q1, and it gradually got worse and worse. This definitely looks like the wrong idea, and a solution needs to be sought before China.

And also in other news, The FOM have frustrated PC gamers by deleting all mods of Race Department due to ‘copyright’ infringement. This is absolutely pathetic, I mean, they are fan made mods, they are not made by FOM in anyway. They gave the license to Codemasters in 2009, and since then mods have been made almost non stop since, for other people enjoyment. And it doesnt help that recently the official games haven’t been up to scratch. There is more on this on, so for more information on what has happened, I’d check there.

What I would’ve done

This section is all about what I would’ve done in these scenarios above. I won’t do the issue on the race department mods, because there’s nothing there to talk about, I just would let the mods live.

So first is the issue on of the UK broadcasting rights. Firstly, i would’ve extended Channel 4’s and Sky’s contract till at least 2021, however with a few tweaks to make the British public more immersed in the rights.

Currently the rights say that Channel 4 get half the races live, and half highlights, whereas Sky broadcast every race live. Both broadcasters aren’t allowed to have 3 races in a row, and the pick process means that firstly, C4 pick three, then Sky pick three, and then each broadcaster picks one each until all races are gone. In the event of a season which has an odd number of races, Sky have priority, for example, this year C4 has 10 races and Sky has 11.

So what i would’ve done is change the contract to make it more in C4’s favour. Now in a season with odd amount of races, C4 get priority. Secondly, before the pick even starts, C4 automatically get Britain and the final round. The pick then begins with C4 picking 3, then Sky picking 3, and each broadcaster picking one each until each broadcaster has their set amount of races. The other thing I would do is irradiate the extended highlights part of C4’s deal and replace it with a ‘delayed as live’ therefore Fans would get some build up, some analysis as you were watch live, and also, with C4’s deal they promised no ads during the races, so therefore the fans wouldn’t miss a single bit of the action. They would be shown an hour after the end of the race if that on normal occasions.

However with the price Sky paid [Note: still unconfirmed how much was paid, but it looks close to £1bn for 6 years], something would’ve had to given way, so i think if C4 got a third of the races live and the rest delayed as live, Sky would’ve been happy to come to those terms.

And now to the qualifying format. Once again what I shall do is look at my ‘ideal’ format before looking at the more realistic option.

For Q1 it would remain more or less the same. It would be 16 minutes long and there would be a live elimination, however it would be slightly different, for starters, those in the drop zone would be allowed to improve. However, there would be elimations every 2 minutes and not every 90 seconds. The first elimination would be with 6 minutes to go, meaning coming up to the checkered flag, 3 cars would’ve already been eliminated. At the checkered flag, three more cars would be eliminated meaning 6 drop out at the end of the session.

Q2 would’ve been a carbon copy of Q1, and 10 cars would then go through to Q3. Q3 would be exactly the same as the 2015 Q3, with 10 cars in 12 minutes fighting for pole poition in the to 10 shoot out.

However, I think that would take too long to work out, so what I’d do in the short term is keep the elimination in Q1 and 2, but scrap it in Q3.

Either way, those are my ideas, feel free to leave yours down below.


2 thoughts on “How Formula 1 is digging its own grave

  1. “Currently the rights say that Channel 4 get all the races live, and half highlights, whereas Sky broadcast every race live.”

    Um…What rights have you been looking at Jack? ^_^ I think you meant to say “Half live, half highlights” for C4…


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