Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen has backed the initial changes made by Formula One’s new owner, Liberty Media, but at the same time adds that it will take “a few years” in order to judge its impact on the sport. Liberty Media, which arrived on the scene towards the end of 2016, completed its purchase of Formula One in January, and has spent the year understanding how the sport operates.
Chase Carey replaced Bernie Ecclestone as CEO, with ex-Formula 1 team boss Ross Brawn handed a key sporting role, and Sean Bratches taking control of the commercial side. Several new initiatives were trialled, including expanded fan zones at selected races, the first ‘F1 Live’ demo in London and a star-studded pre-race show at the United States Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen has praised Liberty for putting in “a lot of effort” with these early changes, but reckons the full effects will not be felt until the next major regulation change in 2021. Liberty and the FIA recently outlined plans for the post-2020 power unit, with a 1.6-litre V6 hybrid set to be retained, but as part of a simpler, cheaper and louder package. Meanwhile, discussions continue over a potential budget cap, and redistribution of prize money, in an attempt to create “a healthy Formula 1 from top to bottom”:
“They’re trying to make it even bigger and more maybe easy to see… and people to get more involved” – the Finnish driver said, regarding Liberty’s takeover, in a Shell Live Q&A – “But I think only in a few years, when the next rules come, you will see the impact that they have for the sport, [as] they just took it over, so it’s a bit like a ‘halfway’ now. I think they have put a lot of effort to make it… listening to everybody and making the right rules and calls. I think that’s why in a few years, once the new rules come, and the cars, we’ll see if it’s been a good decision. But from what I’ve seen and heard they at least put a lot of effort to make it good.”
Carey recently described Liberty’s first year in charge of Formula 1 as a “good start”, though made clear that much more is on the horizon: “Our main goal for this year was to give the sport some positive momentum and excitement about the future after a number of years of criticism and concern,” said Carey – “It’s still early days, but we’re off to a good start. With our new organisation largely in place, we’ve now begun to pursue the initiatives to enable us to build Formula 1 to its true potential. Among our key priorities are first improve the race, we have groups working with the teams, and the FIA, on costs, engines, aerodynamics, and tracks and rules. Our goal is to make the races more competitive, the action even better, the ‘wow factor’ even bigger, and the business model better for us and the teams. There’s broad agreement on the directions of these goals, though there will obviously be different opinions about the details. We do not plan to negotiate in public, but to work with the teams to find the compromises that ultimately deliver a better sport to fans and benefits to all of us.” – Chase Carey recently explained.