Bernie Ecclestone, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Five years since Ecclestone’s exit, how Liberty changed the F1 world he crafted

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Five years ago today, seismic news broke that many involved in motorsport likely thought they would never live to see: Bernie Ecclestone had been relieved of his duties as CEO of Formula 1 Management.

To say Ecclestone loomed large over Formula 1’s constant evolution as a sport through a tenure spanning more than four decades is to spectacularly underplay the influence the former Brabham owner had over the growth of the world championship series. For better and for worse, no one else had as great an impact on Formula 1 becoming as internationally revered as it continues to be today.

But with Ecclestone so famously uncompromising in his vision for what Formula 1 should be, his departure after Liberty Media’s $8 billion takeover of Formula 1 opened the door to a raft of changes in the sport, from how races are broadcast, to pre-race pageantry and how prize money is allocated between the competing teams.

Five years on from his departure at the helm of Formula 1’s commercial rights holder, here are many of the most notable ways that the sport has changed in his absence.

Off track

F1’s new look

Formula 1 logo
From the classic logo…
Formula 1’s brand identity had remained fairly consistent since the turn of the millennium, but it was also hard to define what it was.

After Liberty Media ousted Ecclestone from his post, it took less than a year for the sport’s new owners to announce a full rebranding for the series, including an entirely new logo, new TV graphics, new fonts, a new audio sting to announce team radio clips – and even a brand new specially-composed theme song.

Formula One logo
…to a new look.
While views on whether the refresh is an improvement over what came before may differ, it’s unquestionable that Formula 1 has a much clearer visual sense of what it is in 2022 than compared to 2017. It also extends to Formula 2 and Formula 3 as well, meaning all three tiers now feel cohesively part of the same entity for perhaps the first time ever.

And with the sport enjoying a clear growth in profile in key markets across the world, it appears to have be an successful marketing exercise so far.

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Embracing social media

As web 2.0 began to transform the internet, hailing in the arrival of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, everyone from brands to politicians and professional sports embraced new ways to connect directly with customers, voters and fans. Everyone, it seemed, except Bernie Ecclestone and Formula 1.

It took until 2014 for F1 to even begin sharing footage from TV broadcasts of races on their official YouTube channel – laughably later than most major professional sports. Compared to many other international sports and fellow motorsport series, F1’s output was still relatively pedestrian even in early 2017.

The growth since Ecclestone’s departure has been remarkable. When Ecclestone was replaced F1’s YouTube channel sat at just over 272,000 subscribers. Five years later, F1 is on the verge of breaking through 7 million. On Twitter, F1 has grown from 2.45 million followers to over 7 million five years on.

With official F1 profiles on Instagram and TikTok too, the sport is now firmly embracing the opportunities that social media offers to connect with fans and become a part of their daily newsfeeds.

F1 TV

Ecclestone’s empire was built on television broadcasting contracts, charging networks across the world millions for the honour of broadcasting his product to their viewers. It was a successful strategy for many years, but with the rapid development of the internet and broadband technology, it did not take long for fans to start clamouring to be able to watch their favourite racing series on their PCs, tablets and phones.

F1 TV was unimaginable in Ecclestone’s era
Just over a year after Ecclestone was out, Liberty Media announced the launch of F1 TV in select markets at the start of the 2018 season. For the very first time, fans in the United States, Germany, France and many other nations could pay to stream live F1 sessions directly from the sport itself, without any need to sign up to any third-party networks first.

There were some teething troubles for early adopters, but eventually F1 appeared to smooth out many of the issues in their product and expanded to more territories across the world with each new season, including Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal and Brazil.

Unfortunately for most predominately English-speaking countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand and many European nations like Spain, Italy or Finland, F1 TV is not offered due to broadcast rights deals with TV networks. But that such an option even exists and what it could mean for viewers in those countries in the future is a world away from what many would have hoped to have under Ecclestone.

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All-access pass for Netflix

The idea that Formula 1 would allow television cameras intimate access to teams and drivers in the paddock during the course of a grand prix season is one that would have been unfathomable five years ago.

Netflix Drive to Survive season three
Netflix have introduced new fans to F1
Despite its well-recognised flaws, Netflix’s Drive to Survive has also offered both fans and F1 novices unprecedented insight into the characters at the heart of the sport. By helping the audience to feel connected to who the drivers are as people as well as competitors, the show has become one of the most effective marketing tools that F1 has ever possessed.

Sceptics were quickly won over. Mercedes and Ferrari declined to allow the Netflix cameras in for the first series, but embraced the show from season two. Not everyone has been won over, however: Max Verstappen has accused Drive to Survive of faking its drama and refuses to participate.

Nonetheless by making a deal with one of the world’s most popular entertainment streaming platforms – rather than holding the show for ransom behind F1 TV or on another, more exclusive service for more money – Liberty Media have focused on getting the show and the sport in front of as many eyes as possible. And it is a strategy that appears to be working.

So successful has Drive to Survive proved to be, that many other promoters are now seeking to capture some of that same magic for their own sports, with similar shows greenlit that will follow the world tennis tour and the PGA tour in golf.

Budget caps and financial restrictions

Perhaps one of the most enduring criticisms of the Ecclestone way was how the financial structure of the sport under his control led to feedback loops where the richest, most successful teams only got richer and more successful and the poor, lower-performing teams would get the lowest share.

To Ecclestone, it was simply a means to incentivise teams to push for success rather than be content with existing in perpetual mediocrity on the grid, happily collecting their share of TV revenue. But with Ferrari receiving special bonus cuts of the money simply for being Ferrari – the team with the longest history in the sport – calls to distribute prize money more evenly grow louder over his final years in charge.

With only 10 teams on the grid since 2017, Liberty had to address the inequality in the sport to not just help ensure closer, more competitive racing on the track, but to help reduce the risk of the grid become ever thinner. Their answer was the new Financial Regulations, otherwise known as the ‘budget cap’, which restricted teams from spending above a certain threshold for the first time to help introduce more parity into the sport and reduce operating costs for all competitors.

While the cap does not cover everything – marketing budgets, driver and team boss salaries are among the areas excluded – the cap will reduce to $140 million for this season with further reductions planned. It’s early days for the new financial frontier in F1 and the impact on both the racing and the health of all 10 teams remains to be seen, but that it even exists at all is a major departure from Ecclestone’s doctrine.

Goodbye ‘grid girls’

‘Future stars’ replaced grid girls in 2018
For decades, Formula 1 grids regularly featured glamourous models holding boards that identified each driver’s slot on the start line. As these models were virtually exclusively women, criticism from fans, journalists, politicians and even drivers alike that the spectacle was sexist, unnecessary and reinforced a sense that Formula 1 was not respectful of women only grew louder over the years.

It was a perception that was not helped by Ecclestone himself, who made offensive public comments about his views on women on multiple occasions during his time leading the sport.

Soon after Liberty Media took over control of the sport’s commercial rights, it was announced that Formula 1 would phase out the old practice of models on the grid and replace them with ‘future stars’ – young children from the host nations of each grand prix acting as mascots to accompany drivers prior to a race, similar to those who escort footballers onto the pitch before a match.

It was a controversial decision, with many celebrating the new direction for the sport and others decrying what they considered a break from tradition. While the impact of the pandemic led to the programme being halted, it was another striking departure from the approach taken under the sport’s previous leadership.

On track

Special helmet and car liveries

Under Ecclestone, teams and drivers were heavily restricted in how much freedom they had to run special or alternative helmet and livery designs during a season. Only a handful of teams were ever permitted to run alternative designs just for one race, with Monaco often the popular choice for it. The FIA even took matters a step further in 2015, banning drivers from being able to change their helmet designs in the season.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Monaco, 2021
McLaren ran a popular Gulf design in Monaco
While the rules about both cars in a team running fundamentally the same livery design remain today, post-Ecclestone F1 has become far more relaxed about competitors embracing some creativity and adopting one-off designs for individual races. McLaren ran a special Gulf-influenced look in last year’s Monaco Grand Prix and Red Bull ran a white livery at the Turkish Grand Prix in honour of power unit provider Honda, which was originally planned to be raced at the cancelled Japanese Grand Prix. Mercedes (in 2019) and Ferrari (in 2020) have also taken advantage of the opportunity to race special designs, commemorating historic milestones.

A U-turn on the helmet design ban means drivers too are now regularly updating and changing their helmet designs again. Unsurprisingly, it’s proven popular with fans who enjoy seeing their favourite drivers not only switch up their style but better express their own personalities and advocate for the issues that are important to them.

Record calendar sizes

Given how Ecclestone was famous for securing lucrative contracts with circuits over the privilege of hosting a grand prix, it’s remarkable to think that the F1 calendar has ballooned to its largest ever size under Liberty Media.

Ecclestone felt no obligation to offer special favours to European circuits that had long been the backbone of the calendar. Instead, he actively courted growing nations in Asia and the Middle East, with wealthy backers willing to build stunning, state-of-the-art circuits with facilities that put their European counterparts to shame – even if their layouts paled in comparison.

The 2022 F1 calendar features a new Miami race
But since his departure, the calendar has only gotten bigger. With a record 22 races last year, the upcoming season will see F1 visit 23 venues in a single campaign for the first ever time. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, a second US race in Miami and even Vietnam (despite never materialising) have all been added to the calendar in recent years, while Imola appears to be back for good also.

So many races have led to a concerning trend of ‘triple headers’ – three rounds held over three consecutive weekends. It’s not only been a major logistical challenge for the sport to move all its equipment and personnel across three nations over three weeks multiple times a year, it is also taking a toll on the teams and their staff.

Ecclestone’s dealings with circuits may have had their critics, but he arguably never asked as much from the people involved in Formula 1 as Liberty Media now do.

Sprint races

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2021
Liberty Media introduced the sprint qualifying race
Ecclestone was not above introducing gimmicks in a bid to ‘improve the show’ – remember the short-lived double-points finale. But Liberty Media has embraced an even more radical innovation in the form of sprint races.

Introduced last season, the sprint qualifying race format used at three races proved divisive. While F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has repeatedly claimed huge fan support for the extra Saturday races, their own surveys point to a much more mixed reception, and RaceFans readers have repeatedly panned sprints.

While touted as an exciting way to shake up the grand prix weekend and introduce more drama and unpredictability, these 100km qualifying races have effectively been treated by teams as the opening stint of the grand prix, which is then resumed the following afternoon.

Sprints are slated to return in a revised form at six rounds this year. However some teams’ concerns over the financial arrangements mean a question mark hangs over Liberty’s expansion plans.

2022 radical regulations overhaul

The coming season beckons in a brave new era for Formula 1, with a major overhaul of technical regulations intended to improve racing by making it easier for drivers to follow behind their rivals. Cars will not only look strikingly sleeker with larger front wings and smoother, more sculpted bodies, they will generate a large amount of their downforce from ground effect underbodies that should help to dramatically reduce the dirty air effect that has been the bane of the sport for so many years.

2022 F1 car model, Silverstone, 2021
Cars will look, and behave, differently in 2022
The FIA sets the regulations and has ultimate say over the wording in the rulebooks, but it is clear how the current FOM leadership and efforts of Ross Brawn as managing director of motorsport have shaped his bold new vision for what racing in Formula 1 should be. Coming off the most intense, season-long championship battles ever seen, with the popularity of the championship only growing, the new season will be a major litmus test for the sport as it seeks to provide even more competitive and unpredictable racing for its viewers.

If it is successful, then the upcoming era of Formula 1 racing may be one of the most enthralling its millions of viewers have seen. And while it will not all be down to FOM, it will also be a striking example of Liberty Media giving F1 fans more of what they want to see, compared to the later years that Ecclestone presided over the direction of the sport he influenced so heavily for so long.

Over to you

Has Formula 1 changed for the better or worse on the whole in the five years since Bernie Ecclestone relinquished control? Share your view in the comments below.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 49 comments on “Five years since Ecclestone’s exit, how Liberty changed the F1 world he crafted”

    1. Ecclestone’s main issue was his strict rules regarding the sport’s exposure to the public. He definitely lost the plot with how he handled F1 marketing in the rising world of social media. That was the main issue i had with Bernie’s management in his latter years. It was slightly logical as he was getting older, but he definitely lost the plot there.

      On the other hand,i can’t say I’m impressed with Liberty’s management. They quickly fixed the social media issue (which was obvious to the vast majority of observers), but after a couple of years, it was obvious that they tried to add the “show” factor inside the sport’s DNA.

      Something that i don’t like about Liberty,is how they tried to promote Sprint Races as a success. Bernie tried different formats in qualifying but when they failed,he changed them immediately (2005,2016). Liberty on the other hand, is trying to sell sprint races as a massive success, while there’s no sign of them being so…

      Overall, i think it’s a bit early to judge Liberty’s management, as we need to wait a couple of years to see the new regulations (aerodynamic and budget cap ones).

      1. Couldn’t agree more. Despite being just as money focussed as Liberty Media, when it came to changes to the weekends format, it felt like Bernie actually wanted to improve and was not afraid to revert back incase that his change failed. With Liberty Media it feels like they simply look at the financial picture to evaluate wether it was a success

        1. I guess that’s a result of having someone who knows the sport from inside (as in Bernie’s case) versus someone who is not that familiar with racing aspects (as Liberty Media is mostly focused on Media communication).

          I fully agree for the money factor, nothing to add there

    2. I won’t say everything Liberty does is a good thing, but all in all, Liberty has done a lot of good for the sport. First and foremost by making F1TV, which had a rocky start, but especially since the change of provider this past season has been nothing but excellent. Allowing me to get the English commentary feed without having to resort to less-than-legal means instead of horrid Dutch commentary from TV has been great. It’s also convenient for those Sunday when family obligations have me unable to watch live, being able to jump into the race on-demand when I get home later in the day has been great. That alone has been well worth it. Add to that the extra content (which I still feel can be expanded and improved upon) and the 70 Euro a year are a great spend.

      The social media expansion has been very good as well, I enjoy the YouTube channel especially a lot, it has really opened up the grid and drivers in a way Ecclestone actively worked against. Not just by FOM themselves, but also the various teams that have vlogs from race weekends, a very enjoyable watch and something Bernie actually banned.

      Ecclestone, especially post 2000s, just didn’t have the interest of the sport in heart anymore. There were so many dumb decisions made under his control, from double points final races, to horrendous qualifying changes made with mere weeks to go before a season start, to dropping historic tracks for Tilke-snore fests in countries with no crowds (the latter still exists, but at least there’s also an effort to get exciting tracks with hot crowds back, like Zandvoort and Imola).

      I hope the regulation changes have at least the desired effect (to some degree), but at the very least I appreciate the effort and work that went into creating the rules, no singular decisions by one man, but a workgroup actively testing and designing rule changes before introducing them, gives me more hope than previous efforts to do such things.

      1. Same for me well spoken @sjaakfoo

    3. I think it is sad and very telling of our wider societal issues, that the younger audience F1 has gained on social media has resulted in the most toxic, intolerant and hateful undertones I have seen in 30 years following the sport. It (social media) was invented to bring people together; instead it creates partisan division and intolerance on all matters. This, for me, is the biggest change since Bernie was at the helm.

    4. Bernie lost millions of fans in the first half of the decade.
      He was not ready to acquaint himself with changes and was too greed.
      Liberty Media is the best thing to happen to F1

    5. For me it wasn’t just Bernie, it was the combination of Bernie + CVC. CVC basically were just a bunch of vampires leeching off the sport and Bernie was more than happy to enable that.

      Liberty may also ultimately end up leeching off the sport too but they seem to recognise much more that the best way to make money is to make the sport successful and appealing and grow the size of the pot for everyone involved, not just themselves.

      Ultimately I think Liberty have been far more positive for the sport. The only thing they need to be careful of is not going too far down the WWE-type route to appeal to America and the big bucks, and there’s been a few different signs of that recently. It’s got to tread that fine line of sport AND show – leaning too much to sport is pure but can be dull, leaning too much to show is drama but artificially so which doesn’t appeal either.

      1. @Robert McKay Best post.

      2. Liberty appear to be a more positive force than CVC, but really they are the same. They’re here to make money by any means necessary and if that comes to mean asset stripping the sport, they will do so in a heartbeat. At present they seem to be in it for the long-term, which is encouraging, but stakeholders have no option but to go along with them (the alternative is to abandon the sport) so it’s kind of irrelevant if you agree/disagree with their approach.

        Having said that, of all the interventions listed above, I’d argue that most fall under the category “so what” (e.g helmets, liveries, the new logo) , a few may be classed as smart organisational/structural improvements (budget cap, 2022 regs overhaul), some cultural/political shifts (e.g getting rid of grid girls, expanding YouTube – albeit modestly) and some as concerning mis-steps (e.g. expanding the calendar so much, rubbish sprint race format).

        I realise covid has put a bit of a break on things but they haven’t really done that much given how many years they’ve been in charge. Perhaps we should be grateful they’re not rushing in rash changes, but a lot of what they do does seem ill thought out.

    6. Ecclestone was broadly acknowledged as the person who ‘professionalized’ F1. But he made it near impossible for the designer/engineer/driver to compete. He also extinguished the entry of the local hero’s who could run in a car they leased or purchased to race in their home Grand Prix. He also failed to see the change with the global usage/impact of the internet and the explosion of social networks, and the value it could add to F1.
      Liberty on the other hand is purely a media company with no direct interest in F1 other than a medium for increasing profit. The new rules seem to be rather draconian and headed down the spec series avenue.
      So where are we going to end up?

    7. Rather we should say: how Liberty screwed up the F1 world…

      1. Well argued.

    8. Love pretty much everything they’ve done except sprint races

    9. A few of the things Liberty get credit for were things that were in the works before they were anywhere near putting pen to paper.

      F1TV for example was going to happen even without Liberty. Plans were already been drawn up & a very early version of F1TV was even been trailed publicly for the final few races of 2016.
      https://motorsportbroadcasting.com/2016/10/22/live-in-car-footage-set-to-take-centre-stage-in-revamped-f1-app/

      The early plans were to have the service running in a limited capacity through 2017 with a full launch targeted for 2018 should it prove reliable enough. When Liberty came in they put it on hold before deciding later in 2017 that they wanted to launch it for 2018 despite everyone knowing it wasn’t ready as while it was on hold no work was been done & Liberty then also did deals with different providers that meant everything had to be restarted from scratch anyway with just a few months before it was meant to go public.

      And social media was also already been more widely adopted in the year or 2 before with the Youtube channel becoming a lot more active & a dedicated social media team been brought in to upload clips & stuff onto Twitter & Facebook.

      I’m not saying that Liberty haven’t done anything as clearly they have expanded some of this stuff, Maybe even at a faster rate than would have happened (Which was a mistake with F1TV). Just saying that they get credit for stuff that was going to happen anyway.

      1. @gt-racer Always appreciate your insights into the broadcast side of the sport!

    10. Apart from opening to social media, streaming and other similar stuff, I don’t think the rest of the changes are any better or worse than it would’ve been with Ecclestone. And I guess F1 would have opened to social media and streaming by now anyways.

    11. Overall, neither better nor worse. Some things have been good, others not.

    12. Say what you want about Bernie but at least he understood & had some level of love & appreciation for the sport.

      Liberty have no real knowledge of the sport, it’s traditions or it’s fans & clearly have no interest in learning.

      Bringing in guys like Ross Brawn was supposed to give Liberty that knowledge/appreciation & connection to the sport. Yet instead he’s just turned into Liberty’s puppy who will try to be the ‘respected face’ that has to push all the artificial, show nonsense. I’ve lost all the respect I once had for Ross over the past couple years as i’ve had to watch him try & sell this stuff.

      F1TV was & continues to be a disappointing mess. It still doesn’t work reliably enough, It rarely ever gets updates to the archive (No updates to the race archive has been added since last May!).

      The social media stuff is fine I guess but I don’t really spend much time on social media like twitter & stuff so don’t really care.

      I still hate the new logo. Just doesn’t feel very F1 & I still don’t think it looks like it says F1. The old logo was just much better & much easier to see what it was.

      Netflix is another example of show over sport with it’s fake drama that makes the sport look like something it isn’t. Fine some new fans have come in but if they stick around long term once they see it isn’t what is portrayed in the drama show is yet to be seen.

      Budget cap is OK but don’t like the additional restrictions that go along with it. Should have been a spending cap with more design freedoms & more opportunities to develop. That would have been far more interesting rather than the pseudo spec Indycar+ formula we are heading down.

      Banning of grid girls. Don’t really care ether way to be honest.

      Allowing drivers to use different helmet designs & stuff is a positive though. Same with car liveries.

      Calendar expansion to 22/23+ races is too many in my view. Calendar should be capped at 20 races max. More results in these awful triple headers that give you no time to breath between them & must kill the crews.

      Gimmick Sprint races are an abomination. By far one of the worst things to be introduced in the sports history. Does nothing but take away from the GP (As we see a race start & a race the day before the GP which takes away from the GP start & opening stint which both feel that bit less relevant & devalued) & add’s nothing of any value to the weekend.

      And while aspects of the 2022 regulations are good. The restrictiveness of them is most definitely not. It’s been slowly turned into that Indycar+ pseudo spec series i’ve been warning about since they took over. Less room to design & develop, Clever thinking shut down sooner if they deem it as something they don’t like. That just simply is not F1!

      And of course putting the show above the sport was a big part of what led to the mess in Abu Dhabi.

      Honestly. Liberty have done more to turn me away from the SPORT of F1 than Bernie/CVC ever did & I am now more disheartened about where it’s at & the direction it is going than at any other time in the 45-ish years i’ve been a massive fan of the SPORT.

      1. @roger-ayles

        Well said. I agree on most points.

        “Netflix is another example of show over sport with it’s fake drama that makes the sport look like something it isn’t. Fine some new fans have come in but if they stick around long term once they see it isn’t what is portrayed in the drama show is yet to be seen”

        Your point above is a sentiment I share. I dont believe that the majority of these so called new fans will ever stick around.

        1. @jaymenon10 and @roger-ayles If you want something a bit like DTS, but with a lot less of the artificial drama (compared to what I’ve heard of DTS, I don’t have Netflix myself), I would highly recommend F1TV’s “Formula 2: Chasing the Dream” series. Similar idea to DTS, following teams and drivers through the paddock throughout the season, but with fewer creative liberties than what I’ve heard about DTS. If you have F1TV, I would strongly recommend it. I would also strongly recommend F1TV as well just for the archive content alone.

    13. I think Liberty has overall been great for F1. It actually feels cool, as it always should have, but before Liberty was seen as quite a niche boring car nerd show.

      Drive To Survive has really done wonders. Anecdotally but my girlfriends sister is now massively into F1 and is planning on going to a race this year, and she was never interested before. For sure the hardcore fans will question the new influx of fans but it absolutely will help keep the sport going and growing in the years to come.

    14. I think the changes are relatively positive while not perfect. Liberty id an entertainment company and wants to make money like the prior owners did but they did hire F1 people like Ross brawn to run it. I don’t get this they don’t know anything about f1 mantra.
      In terms of growing the sport it’s the young fans they are interested in, us old guys will watch it anyway.

    15. F1 was losing fans under Ecclestone, and while some fans have been lost under Liberty, more and younger fans have come into the fold. That’s good if the sport is to survive the future. It does no one any good to stick to traditions so much that the fans age out and fade away. I’m pretty optimistic about F1’s future, bumps and all.

    16. I think that Liberty Media have been a mixed bag. I think it is very clear that they, like Bernie Ecclestone, are in it for the money, but the key difference is that they are better at getting that money than Bernie was.

      The first question is whether or not F1 is in a better position now than it was five years ago, and the answer to that is definitely yes. I think it is largely down to luck that 2021 was such an incredible season, but there are far more fans now than there were in 2016. And it is good that Liberty have attracted these new fans and young fans with the likes of Drive to Survive and the better options to watch than before, when Bernie famously said he prefers old fans to young fans because they can afford to buy Rolex watches.

      But what I very much don’t like is the fact that Liberty then look at these new fans and see them as the future of the sport, so they try to mould the sport into what they want. This is not the right thing to do when trying to make something as good as possible, because to be perfectly honest if you’ve only been watching for one season then you don’t know what you like yet. Would I have been in favour of sprint races when I was seven years old and had only watched F1 for one year? Probably I would have been, given that there were many other gimmicky changes that I wanted at the time but now would hate, and through watching F1 for many more years and gaining more knowledge about the sport, I now think sprints have a negative effect on Formula 1. Ross Brawn says that most new fans like sprints, and most ‘avid’ fans don’t, and I believe that it is more logical that when the new fans become avid fans they will mostly turn against them, than that young people just have short attention spans so like sprint races. Similar to this is the huge increase in red flags, and the bizarre agreement that races should finish under green flags if at all possible. This may look exciting to a new fan, but in a sporting sense it vastly increases the amount of luck involved, and so this is not a positive change.
      (And F1 should never listen to casual fans, who are not the same as new fans. Listening to casual fans always lessens a product, and it is better to have fewer fans who are more dedicated than many more fans but who don’t really care, which is what happens when casual fans’ views are listened to.)
      I think Liberty don’t particularly care about the sport being good, just that it brings them money, and this is the main objection that I have.

      The second negative from Liberty is the massive increase in social media for F1. It is true that it has attracted more fans, but I don’t think this makes up for the fact that it has led to an increase of toxicity in the fanbase and generally has made it so that controversial incidents are massively unpleasant, whereas previously they were exciting. Perhaps this is a little exaggerated and I am misremembering what it was like before. A bit more social media than before is good to get some more fans in, but it shouldn’t become too much. And that is not just true of F1, but of life in general.

      But one very good change has been the end of ‘grid girls.’ This was a very outdated tradition that was surely a cause of the lack of female drivers and engineers, and should have been scrapped long ago. It is shameful that the likes of the BTCC still use grid girls.

      I have a suspicion that Liberty are trying to extract as much money as possible now before selling up, as it seems like a lot of these changes are good for getting money in the short term but maybe have the opposite effect in the long term. But maybe this is wrong, I am not a businessman.

      1. But one very good change has been the end of ‘grid girls.’ This was a very outdated tradition that was surely a cause of the lack of female drivers and engineers, and should have been scrapped long ago.

        No, this is just dogma. Fact is that women are less likely to choose to become engineers in everything, in more emancipated countries, even in fields that have nothing remotely like grid girls (and most engineering doesn’t, for example, no grid girls when a new bridge is unveiled).

        This dogma is part of a belief system that constantly makes changes that don’t result in what is promised, after which these failures are completely ignored and new changes are demanded, that also don’t give the promised results.

    17. Has Formula 1 changed for the better or worse on the whole in the five years since Bernie Ecclestone relinquished control?

      I find that difficult to answer because on one hand maybe it is better in terms of the budget cap & things like F1TV & some elements of social media (Although I agree with @f1frog that this has led to more toxicity & divisions amongst the fanbase than before).

      Yet on the other hand I find myself more down on F1 than ever before as I just don’t like the direction Liberty seem to be taking it & also don’t share much of there vision of what F1 should be.

      I love F1, I love this sport as a whole, It’s been my passion & a massive part of my life for the past 32-33 years. Yet looking at where F1 appears to be going I just don’t know how much longer i’m going to feel that way as I right now honestly feel like i’m been pushed away & that what started as little pushes is starting to feel like harder & harder shoves with each new ‘for the show’ element that gets discussed, introduced or utilised.

    18. Here’s my opinions:
      Positives:
      – Rebrand: Much needed, and definitely an important step in the right direction. And for those of you who never realised (it took me years as well), the ‘1’ in the old (pre-2017) logo is actually the blanked out bit between the black and red.
      – Social media following: love it or hate it, it’s a vital part of building a strong business these days. Liberty have definitely opened up F1 to more people and a wider following online.
      – F1TV: As GT-Racer points out above, how much credit can actually be given to Liberty for this is debatable, but it’s definitely a product introduced under them that has certainly deepened my love for the sport. The archive is excellent, as are a lot of the analysis and shows (particularly Tech Talk imo). Definitely approve
      – Budget Cap: Again, a solution long proposed, but Liberty have done the hard work and actually got it implemented. I like the idea, I also quite like the sliding testing scale as well (giving the opportunity for smaller teams to catch up/do well, without handing it to them on a plate a la reverse grids).
      – Getting rid of grid girls: Really? What was the point of these in the first place? And the fact it took until 2017? Come one Bernie…
      – Helmet/Livery changes: Love this move. Unnecessary rule in the first place, have loved seeing the different styles and changes.

      Negatives:
      – Sprint races: Yh I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not a massive fan. I’ve given it a go, and I’m happy they’ve at least trialled them and wouldn’t be extremely against them trialling them for one more year, but I’d be equally happy to see them go. Would be quite laughable if the reason there are none this year is the money dispute Zak Brown has talked about though. Arguably not any worse than some of Bernie’s ideas though, though not all of them made it past the teams.
      – More divided fanbase: This isn’t really Liberty’s fault. If you increase the number of followers, you increase the number of sour grapes following it as well.
      – Extra long calendars: I don’t think I can take another season as long as 2021.

      And the rest:
      – 2022 regs: I can’t really pass judgement until we’ve seen in action them to be honest.
      – Drive to Survive: I don’t have, and have never had, Netflix, so don’t feel like I can comment. But I can tell you from first hand experience it’s definitely increased the fan base. I have plenty of friends who have become fans because of DTS. But I’m equally aware of the situation with dramatization and creative license. I have no idea how they’re going to make 2021 more dramatic though (and am interested to see what side they take. Will they make Verstappen the hero for ending the Mercedes domination, or vilify him because he isn’t taking part?). For anyone who wants a less creative interpretation of a similar environment, I would strongly, strongly recommend “Formula 2: Chasing The Dream” on F1TV. Similar idea to DTS, but with a lot fewer creative liberties taken (compared to what I’ve heard about DTS; Liberty pun not intended), following the F2 paddock in 2019 and 2020 (and I hope 2021 soon as well!). And no, I still can’t get through the Anthoine Hubert tribute episode without tearing up just a little.

    19. Very little changed, the downward trend got a tad sharper, perhaps aided by the increase in online engagement, which is by the way, the only post Bernie success.
      Teams still overrule f1. They dictate everything and now they have a new weapon which is the online engagement. I don’t know if f1 is able to save itself from become the Automobile club l’ouest or ACO.
      We can’t have the teams pay for the event make the rules for the formula and enforce such rules, only to then flee the event whenever a higher bidder comes to the fore.

    20. I’d also add Liberty’s focus on the drivers as stars to the mix. I think that gets forgotten when talking about F1’s increased success, especially in US.

    21. The jury is still out for me.

      Definitely been some real positives, most notably the budget cap and the attempt to resolve the dirty air issue.

      I think that this year could well end up being their “make or break” year when the new design cars hit the track. If it leads to more interesting racing, and by that I mean racing, not overtaking, without any need for gimmicks or over regulation, then I’d say they’ve done well.

      If however it continues to veer towards more gimmicks and artificial (whether intended or not) drama, I’ll be seriously reviewing my commitment to F1 as, I would imagine, will many others. Then it will boil down to whether these so called new fans are retained as long term fans to replace us older generations, or whether they struggle to retain viewership numbers.

      Personally, I can’t think of a worse way to start a new era than to start with a nonsensical sprint. That to me does not bode well.

      1. I’m certainly not a fan of the sprint races and I certainly won’t be as invested in watching them as I will be for Grands Prix but as long as they remain the fastest circuit racing cars in the world, F1 will always have my attention.

    22. Being from Puerto Rico I didn’t have that many people to talk about F1. Ever since the “drive to survive” series I have at least 5 people in my job that talk about it, even more, this season.

      So yeah Liberty has done a great job. Bernie was becoming the villain after being the hero many years ago. Sure there are the Spring races but I’m going to keep an open mind to see if the new cars make that event interesting.

      1. @idmjungle As someone who grew up in the US, this is the biggest change for me, as well. Suddenly, there’s a real-life community to connect to, and it has sprung up even within my existing friend circles (even if we’re only connecting virtually these days).

    23. It’s an impressive list and I think I support all of the changes except for the sprint races. F1 TV has been revolutionary. Long gone are the days of trying to find dodgy torrents to download full races from yesteryear. Even though we can’t get live streaming through F1TV in Australia, it’s still well worth it for only $40 or so per year. I’d easily use it at least weekly.

    24. Ok, here we go:
      – New look: 4. Old logo was rather clever, new has no imagination whatsoever

      – Embracing social media: 10. Long overdue due to Bernie being and old f

      – F1 TV: 10. Long overdue too

      All access pass for Netflix: 3. This triggers a path downwards, away from sports into sheer circus. It did bring in the desired extra revenue in terms of growing audience but it will prove to be a non loyal and ever changing group

      – Budget caps and financial restrictions: 8 for the idea, 3 For policing it. Conceptually great, I just don’t trust mainly Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault with it. Seems hard to enforce given the track record of these companies in other scandals. Overall a nice attempt.

      – Goodbye grid girls: 10. Long overdue. Let’s stop the objectifying, it’s 2022

      – Special helmet and car liveries: 5. Let’s first start by making it possible to see whom is whom. I’ve watched since the end 70s and I still have trouble distinguishing team mates. Totally unacceptable and a disgrace since it is easily fixable.

      – Record calendar sizes: 3. Just for the money. Shame on Liberty

      – Sprint races: 2. Again, no added value just circussing the sport

      – Radical regulations overhaul: ?. Depends. If they fix the not being able to closely follow the car in front of you, then a 10. Overall the processional character of the Mercedes Lewis era so to say was the ultimate low since the 70s. He was practically gifted every race and there was zero tension who would win. I’ve never had such ease in completing poule predictions. If this comes to a stop Liberty will have done great.

      So around a 6 overall for Liberty, with which they pass with lot’s of room for improvement.

    25. I approve of everything except sprints, longer calendar and the plans for more Street races.

    26. I’ll repost this from December 2020.

      Liberty have chosen to go down the road of fireworks and drama to increase the eyes on the sport. They have succeeded in the short term, but is it just a sugar hit that can’t be sustained?

    27. I’ve seen very little improvement at all in the sport and the changes in graphics, logo and adding sprint races haven’t yielded much to impress me yet. My main hope lies in the new rules and if they will allow for closer racing. I’ll give them a go and see what the situation is like then (assuming the FIA don’t completely swipe Abu Dhabi under the carpet in which case I’ll just not bother).

    28. I can’t believe that the banning of grid models can be seen as some shining light of enlightenment.
      Actually, yes I can – this is 2022. Woke is a thing, now. Such low grade tokenism.
      As if any single person in or out of F1 has had their life influenced at all by some females holding signs and smiling – other than the models themselves, of course, who are/were doing what they love. Many of whom started modelling careers as a result of that opportunity.

      If female models are that offensive to anyone, do you also feel the same about other products advertised in that exact same manner? Dental products, mobile phones, clothes, food, furniture, cars…… Other sports….
      As far as I’m aware, females have careers in those industries too.

      1. It is not about the girls being offensive to anyone. It is about protecting them against being seen as an object. Which we all know leads to lots of other issues. A mobile phone or furniture is not a person by the way.

        1. Do those women need protecting? Aren’t they adults who are capable of making their own life choices?
          If you or anyone else sees her as an ‘object’ that is being manipulated, then it is that mentality that is the problem. That is incredibly degrading, patronising and even dehumanising.
          I’ve never known any model who sees herself as an object – they generally see themselves as empowered by what they do. It’s their choice, it gives them confidence and they are proud of themselves for it.
          Can she not live her own life without people pitying her for not wanting to be something else?

          Mobile phones and furniture aren’t people – that is true. But neither is F1, nor is an engineering project.
          It’s exactly the same marketing method at work, though – attractive people making something look nice.

      2. The point is that a young girl watches Formula 1 and sees, ‘my brother’s job is to build or drive the car, and my job is to stand in front of the car looking pretty.’ It would be less bad if there were more women in motorsport, but the fact is that there aren’t very many, and I believe the tradition of grid girls are partly responsible for this. It would also be less bad if there were ‘grid boys’ as well as ‘grid girls’ (I still prefer nothing at all but this would at least reduce the look of inequality between the genders).
        It goes back to the culture of men being judged by their talents and women being judged by their looks, which is blatantly wrong but thankfully has been gradually disappearing for decades (and labelling this as ‘woke’ doesn’t make it bad), and grid girls should have gone long ago. Hopefully the scrapping of this ridiculous tradition will accelerate the disappearance of the aforementioned culture in Formula 1.

        1. The point is that a young girl watches Formula 1 and sees, ‘my brother’s job is to build or drive the car, and my job is to stand in front of the car looking pretty.’

          Nonsense. Girls who like cars can do whatever they want to, if they so desire. If looking pretty in front of the car is what they want to do, then let them do that. It just so happens that very few females want to work in this technical/engineering field – and that’s really not a surprise. It’s completely normal and natural.
          You are seeing something that’s not there @f1frog. It’s your own projection.

          I often wonder if people with this idea of protecting these ‘poor, defenceless and stupid girls’ are the exact same people they think they are protecting these (actually strong, independent and smart) women from.
          Because if you think they can’t make their own life choices, and accept the consequences of those choices, then that’s exactly what you must think of them.

    29. Single team dominance and the inability for the cars to follow one another were the 2 main factors killing F1. I think the hybrid era was the worst ever which wasn’t Mercedes fault, the rules let them streak ahead to multiple titles with little resistance. You have to give Liberty credit for trying to change this (hopefully for good) and put most of the difference on track, into the driver’s hands.

    30. Liberty will have brought a well oiled PR machine to the format that exists to show them in the best possible light. There’s nothing inherently ground breaking in what they’re doing, in fact if they’re behind the ratings-led Masi debacles of last season, they’re bad for the sport.

      Just about everything that’s been cited in the article above was either in the planning stage or mooted before they came along.

      I’m no Bernie fan, in many ways he ran the show like a dictator and his advancing years meant he wasn’t best placed to comprehend what the social media revolution could bring, but I do think he wanted F1 cars to be the absolute pinnacle of what was possible from various engineering disciplines in motor sport. That costs money and if you put caps on spending plus introduce stringent rules, for example insist on engines having to last for 6-8 races, then you’ve compromised the ability to reach that pinnacle.
      An engine that lasts for 7 races has to lean more towards reliability than out and out performance.

      There’s a risk Liberty keeps forcing down the spending cap making it not really worth the bother for the elite manufacturers who will question risking their brand value if they cannot demonstrate it adequately. If you can’t go all out and make pinnacle products, you might as well just go down the Indycar route and give everyone the same basic Dallara chassis for 400K then spend another 2 million quid on an engine for it.
      If they keep cracking down on the budget, we may yet see Team Trabant battling for the podium in this brave new world. Just don’t expect to see Ferrari, Mercedes or Aston Martin scratching around for the ever decreasing kudos.

    31. Five years have passed, and I still can’t see “F1” in the new logo. I automatically think of Force India.
      Well to each its own. Old logo is one of the only things which is better compared to new times.
      Not a fan of Drive to Survive. First season was quite ok. But the second one is a soap opera at times.
      Hopefully the new regulations let Formula 1 get rid of DRS. That would be the real icing on the cake.

    32. I think the biggest consequence of the Liberty era isn’t any single thing, but how they’ve managed to reposition the brand in the mindshare of their target demographic. The sort of things that I see F1 associated with in the public eye (and to an extent, in my mind) have changed from things like:
      – History, noise, Rolex, yachts, and just generally a sort of glamour and hedonism and heroism that revolves around retrograde gender roles

      To things like:
      – Hybrids, Twitch, esports, Netflix, men who are willing to be emotionally vulnerable and open to having conversations about social issues

      Liberty didn’t invent any of those things, and not all fans like these things. But inarguably, Liberty have allowed the sport to grow by embracing them. And in the process, they’ve recast the sport in the minds of many from being a competition that epitomizes money and power to being a show about how 20 (mostly) sympathetic young men (and their bosses) navigate a world of money and power — which, not surprisingly, a broader segment of people find compelling.

    33. Objevtification LOL!! So what? Are we not allowed to look at a beautiful lady. See the similarities between a beautiful female and a beautifully built F1 car? Freedom of choice. A beautiful or sexy women does not equal any negative bad or horrendous actions. Only perverts rapists and sick people see beauty as a reason to commit bad things.

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