The issues set to define the profitability of the motorsport industry

Motorsport has become hugely popular across the world, but one question being asked is whether changes in the future might impact on motorsport’s popularity.

If you follow motorsport, you will know that concern has been expressed about the financial sustainability of Formula One amid questions of whether the dominance of Mercedes has made the sport less competitive. A less competitive sport could turn followers away from Formula One and undermine its profitability. Two-tier funding is another issue, with the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams all receiving more than the less successful teams as they are seen as pivotal to the sport’s success. Without a more even spread of funding, Formula One may not thrive, so the issue of finances must be addressed.

Another challenge to Formula One at present is the noise debate. The introduction of V6 hybrid engines has led some to suggest that the iconic sound of Formula One cars racing around the track is under threat and that fans will react negatively to this. Max Mosley has called the Formula One noise debate “nonsense”, you can read the comments here: http://www1.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/9267301/former-fia-president-max-mosley-has-described-f1s-noise-debate-as-nonsense. Max Mosley is suggesting that the introduction of hybrid technology is a positive for the sport, he speaks with authority and is well respected within motorsport. As president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for Formula One and other motorsports, Mosley was a champion of integrating technology into racing cars to help improve safety, in particular. Formula One did not become any less popular under Mosley’s guidance, and it has actually increased its global appeal.

The hybrid technology debate is an interesting one because it speaks to a broader issue within motorsport of how the sector is going to respond to the fall-off in fossil fuel stocks in the future, given that alternative engine technologies – such as electric power – are not equivalent, at the present time at least, to petrol-powered engines in terms of performance. However, motorsport is not avoiding the issue. The Formula E championship series has been launched and it fully embraces sustainable racing with drivers using electric cars capable of reaching top speeds of 200km/h. This is in contrast to the more than 300km/h capability of a Formula One car, but some of the biggest names in motorsport are involved in Formula E, including McLaren, Williams and Renault, and its backers are determined to make it work. Ambitious plans have been hatched to develop a video game enabling fans watching races on their televisions to race in real time with Formula E competitors. In addition, the Formula E cars have a power-boost capability to increase the speed at which cars can pass each other, and it is proposed that fans will be given a vote to determine when it can be used during races. The developments in respect of Formula E suggest that motorsport has the capacity to react to changes that threaten its popularity in order to keep fans interested.

Motorsport, and Formula One, have risen to challenges in the past, and there is no doubt that the sector will continue to respond in as positive a manner as it can to secure its future as a sport.

Simon OatesThe issues set to define the profitability of the motorsport industry

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