Shamelessly ripping off Jeff’s long-running series of posts featuring quotes from IndyCar personalities (and sometimes others), I bring some interesting words from Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren and Chairman of the Formula One Teams Association, who was talking about the future of F1 to Autosport.com’s Dieter Rencken in a paywall article published Thursday. (While it may be from an F1 guy it touches on GP2 and NASCAR so that fits my vague cross-motorsport remit).
There’s this continual balance about it. If you’ve got the best drivers and best cars on the circuits that we’ve got, it’s going to be difficult to overtake. You can see it in GP2, you can see it in lots of formulae. If you’re a bunch of hooligans, and bad teams and hooligan drivers, then you get a lot of mistakes, overtaking and crashes and incidents.
With all due respect, it’s easy to say, ‘Right, where’s the spectacle?’ or whatever. Is the sport right at the end of the day? No, it can be better, yes, and we’ve just got to fine-tune it.
So, do we want to create NASCAR? NASCAR is a good product for that market, they do it well, [but] we ain’t NASCAR. Maybe I shouldn’t say it: NASCAR doesn’t do it for me in that there are three box cars overtaking. You talk about it, and say how many changes [of position] there are, but maybe there are, but an overtake takes three-and-a-half laps to pull off. It doesn’t have me holding my breath.
But they do many things [right], they are marketed much smarter than we are. I think they do the TV show better than we do, they’re commercially and in business better than we are. We can learn lots of things, and what they do is appealing to a certain demographics and a certain market. But that’s not where we are.
Martin Whitmarsh of Mclaren, in his role as Chairman of FOTA, talking to Dieter Rencken
The boss of one of the biggest F1 teams reckons GP2 drivers are hooligans. In fairness he’s quite right, many in the midfield are.. I just thought it odd he’d come out and say it, normally the F1 bosses are quite PC about GP2 as it is one of Bernie’s babies.
He does make some valid points about what F1 should be – I agree that it can and should learn from NASCAR’s marketing, to an extent (without going completely overboard).
If you subscribe to Autosport you should read the rest of the feature, there’s a lot more in there, and part 2 of the interview goes up next Thursday.
I might continue with more in this series in future, not specifically on F1, whatever I stumble across really. Primarily because it is an easy way to get content out without writing a ton of words and I am inherently lazy.