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How to Address the Declining Popularity of Formula 1

How to Address the Declining Popularity of Formula 1

How to Address the Declining Popularity of Formula 1  52,000 people attended the 2014 German Grand Prix. If that line doesn’t get the attention of Formula 1 teams and stakeholders, rest assured, both sponsors and broadcasters will be quick to raise it at their next contract negotiations. That is of course if they even turn … Continue reading

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Bernie Ecclestone has once again ensured that his comments are dominating the news in Formula 1 at a time when focus should centre on the titanic between Hamilton and Rosberg for this years title. In the wake of the recent reports that Caterham owner Tony Fernandes will announce as soon as this weekends British Grand Prix that he has sold the struggling team, Ecclestone has weighed into the debate, expressing his lack of concern for the survival of those teams struggling to survive in the sport.

Ecclestone has openly expressed his pleasure with Formula 1 reverting to eight teams, each with three-car operations. The suggestion of eight teams would almost certainly be directed towards the capitulation of Caterham, Marussia and Sauber, the last of which has openly struggled to obtain funding and has endured a disastrous start to the 2014 season. The comments are disastrous for the health of Formula 1 and the relationship between the teams on the Formula 1 Strategy Group and those that have been left without a say in the sport's future direction.

Ecclestone has also rumoured that the Italian Grand Prix in Monza could well face the axe following the conclusion of their current contract which expires in 2015. It wouldn't be the first time that Ecclestone has used scare tactics of this kind in the bid to cut a better deal but the absence of the French Grand Prix since 2008 shows that he has little regard for the historical significance an event has in Formula 1. The proposed elimination of Monza holds greater significance however, as it has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for every year in Formula 1 except for 1980.

On the back of the ludicrous, and widely criticised decision to award double points for the final round of this years world championships, Formula 1 has introduced a further decision that ha left many in the sport scratching their heads. For the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship, the introduction of a safety car will see races resume from a standing start rather than a rolling start. The decision, which is unapologetically designed to create further unpredictability in the sport has, like that of the double points rule, ensured a further contrivance in the outcome of race results. An additional concern, rarely aired in the media, is the capacity for such a rule to encourage teams to intentionally bring out safety cars as Renault famously did in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

World Endurance Championship

Audi has won an epic Le Mans 24 Hours following a race that saw each of the three works LMP1 manufacturers hold the lead. The race has been described as an 'old school 24 Hours' with endurance very much in focus as teams struggled with the unreliability of the highly complex hybrid power trains of the new cars. Toyota had claimed pole position through Kazuki Nakajima and led the early part of the race. Behind the #14 Porsche hit trouble in the first half hour and lost four laps. During one of the massive rain storms a collision between the #3 Audi and the #8 Toyota resulted in their demise. 2 Audis, a Toyota and a Porsche remained in the hunt.

For some eleven hours through the night the battle went on between #7 Toyota and #20 Porsche. First it was the Porsche who struck trouble, ..., running wide at Arnage. At 5am #7 Toyota caught fire and was out along with Toyota's bid to claim the 24. This left Audi #2 and #1 sandwiching Porsche #20, each car taking turns at leading the race through the morning session. Finally however Porsche's feared unreliability on their return to Le Mans struck and the Audi's regained control.

The final period of the race was dominated further by the unreliability of the Audi's who, despite having to replace turbos on both their cars, were able to manage the lead to Porsche #20 to take their fifth successive Le Mans and their 13th since arriving there in 1999. The winner? Audi #2 in the hands of Lotterer, Fassler and Treluyer taking the victory.

Highlights of the race can be viewed through the link on my Twitter account.

Indycar

Will Power has finally removed his "nearly man" status by claiming the 2014 Verizon Indycar Series. Power becomes the first Australian to win the championship and the first champion for Team Penske since Sam Hornish Jnr took the title in 2006.

MotoGP

Aprillia will return to the top category with a works MotoGP bike in 2016 for the first time in 12 years. Since moving out of MotoGP, Aprillia has enjoyed great success in the World Superbike Championship. It has also been successful in the CRT class of MotoGP but this really isn't anything to gloat about as seen by their decision to build proper bikes for the premier category. The announcement comes off the back of Suzuki's earlier announcement that they would be returning to MotoGP in 2015.

Honda have made the surprise decision to sign current Moto3 Championship leader Jack Miller to a three-year deal in MotoGP. The 19-year old Australian will join current Ducati works rider Cal Crutchlow at the LCR Honda squad in 2015.

KTM have announced that they will return to the MotoGP class by 2017. KTM's decision comes on the back of announcements that Suzuki and Aprillia will also join the premier class in the years to come.

Will these announcements, together with an increase in 3 bikes per works team, lure Casey Stoner out of retirement for the 2015 season? Racefans thinks it definitely will and expects an announcement on Stoner's return to the sport mid-way through this year.

V8 Supercars

The V8 Supercars have signed a six-year, $241 million television rights deal that will see the sport telecast on both free-to-air television on Network Ten and pay television with Foxtel. The return to Network Ten however is not as good as it would first appear with the Network only able to televise 6 race weekends live (Adelaide, Townsville, Gold Coast, Sydney, Sandown, and Bathurst). Further insight into the deal and the ramifications for V8 Supercars to follow soon.

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Vale Jack Brabham 1926 – 2014

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