A flyaway race weekend for the Europeans but for an Indian its just a five hour flight (from Bombay) and almost a local race (Delhi was 2hours 45 minutes + the pain of reaching Greater Noida). But my European counterparts can get hilarious with their routine here. Since all the race/track sessions are post sun-down, they manage keeping their body-clock in the Euro time mode by sleeping at 5 am- waking up by 2 pm, arriving at the track by 3. For drivers, teams and personnel, the night – race routine applies. Drivers being drivers are managing the much awaited party race on the calendar, since they don’t have to stay back in the garage till curfew.
Singapore isn’t new to me, I’ve transited through this city umpteen times, but this time I actually get four days. But as far as my body clock goes, there is no huge time-zone difference, but it only takes one late-night flight booking to throw your body clock into confused mode. Today the sessions got done by 10:50 pm which is usually the time we leave a track, but it didn’t seem like it. And the weather – if my hair doesn’t like it, I don’t like it – hot and humid as hell !!!
The Liberty Media take-over
The talking point this weekend is a bit obvious, which is Formula 1 getting a new owner. Who these owners are? Where do they come from? Well the company that has brought over F1 is the Liberty Media Group who are headquartered at a humble town called Englewood in Colorado, USA. The American take-over means a lot for F1 and a vibrant future ahead. Liberty has basically bought into the controlling shares of F1 which were previously owned by CVC capital. The estimated amount of their share will be roughly 34 %, once they are through with the ideal, after clearance from the FIA and the European Commission. The two key people in this involvement are the billionaire John Malone and Chase Carey (the moustached guy who looks like Dieter Mateschitz, only with more hair)
The change expected post the Liberty deal
In times where F1 draws more flak for getting boring, this Liberty deal might be just what it needed. An American takeover might change the old ways and open new avenues, resulting in the sport being less dominated by the British and Europeans.
Over the years, CVC and Bernie looked at F1 from the perspective of milking a cash cow and keeping the stakeholders and shareholders happy. With Liberty group on board, we might see more strategic growth in the sport, where they treat it like a business and not a cash cow, and all reflect on the long -term sustainability of it.
An area Bernie Ecclestone and his partners couldn’t crack is the North American continent, the American take-over might mean 3 races in America, one in the east , one in the west (maybe Vegas) and the one in Texas. It might help revive old circuits like Long Beach and maybe have new ones like the Grand Prix in Vegas.
Liberty’s involvement may lead to a holistic view on reviving circuits such as Valencia, Imola, etc. by cutting down the race fee, or discounting a few things here and there. So more circuits will lead to more races on the calendar in Europe and overall.
One might also see an even grid where they start boosting the rear end of the grid, when it comes to finances and help them in surviving on the long run. There has been talk about franchising teams like in football or NFL, which certain teams want in F1. A lot of the chatter is baseless at the moment, but Bob Fernley made a comment on it, as it would help teams like his. Teams might even get a stake in the ownership of Formula 1, which will help them retrieve expenditures and eat from the revenue.
When it comes to promoting the spot, there’ll be a big change involving creative strategies using the digital medium. Maybe F1 manages to learn from NASCAR, where it is more fan friendly and realistic. According to drivers, maybe a fresher take helps in drawing younger fans.
This is the shortest gist I can give for the whole Liberty Media topic, which ideally has been in discussion since Belgium GP. However, without getting into the mathematical figures of it I can sum it up by saying, we do have a huge change ahead in F1.
What happens to Bernie?
Well, for now the 87 year old F1 supremo will stay and remain the CEO of the sport, and be there for three years according to what he told the media. However when you google Bernie’s name, Martin Whitmarsh is being considered for his post. From what we were told earlier in the year was there would be three people replacing Bernie. Whitmarsh was previously Team Principal at McLaren, him in that post will give Ron Dennis a run for his money. For now it remains uncertain, and how Bernie’s departure takes place remains to be seen, and who he choses as his successor too.
The drivers press conference was possibly the most boring one, and the topic that was at its prime was the liberty media deal which is going to follow on to Sunday too, and we will get to hear more on that. With Singapore being the first race outside Europe, for the first time its a city I don’t need to even be worried about when it comes to English language.