While the sport remains convinced that despite the various changes the older fans will be retained, it is desperately seeking out ways to attract new fans, and in particular the younger generation.
However, what might have worked thirty or so years ago, will not necessarily have worked a couple of decades later, and if the sport is to attract the ‘fresh blood’ it needs to survive it will have to change further.
Fact is, however, that many of the changes needed to attract new fans will have the opposite effect on older fans, even diehards – such as the current focus on e-sports which is leaving older fans less than impressed.
Speaking to reporters in Austin, Ferrari boss, Maurizio Arrivabene pulled no punches, warning that the sport must accept that its biggest competitor is the likes of the Playstation and must therefore adapt to its new customer base.
As the likes of Zak Brown and Claire Williams argued that the budget cap is the way forward for the sport, Arrivabene took a different approach.
“The problem is a bit more than the simple question related to the budget cap,” he said. “The question is related to the overall F1.
“What we want to do, to increase the interest in the sport, we need to analyse the mistakes of the past, to look forward for solutions in the future and this is also very important and to be honest, with ourselves: how is the level of interest to Formula One versus yesterday?
“What do we need to do? It’s not the budget cap, it’s one of the solutions but it’s the solution. We need to go back and to re-launch the sport. Launching the sport is kind of complicated and a complex equation but it’s something that we absolutely need to do and analysing also the audience that we have.
“If at a certain point you have an audience that is becoming older, older, older and you work to retain what you have – I’m talking about the past – and your attention is less focused on acquiring the young generation, this means that you have a problem.
“If you have a problem, you need to find a solution and the solution is not only related to the budget cap that I underline is important, it’s very, very important, but it’s not the only one solution.
“In terms of competitiveness within the teams, OK, we mentioned NFL but I am European, I mention football. For example, how can you tell to Real Madrid ‘sorry, if you play with – I don’t want to mention a small team – don’t play with your best team, play with your middle team.’
“Come on, it’s ridiculous. The sport is done also by the big teams which are participating in the sport and it’s part of the fascination of the sport. In the last few years in Formula One, we saw Ferrari at the time of Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher that they were winning for years. Afterwards, we had the period where Red Bull was winning for years and nobody complained.
“In the meantime we never focused our attention on the audience and the audience, little by little, became older. This is the exercise that we need to look at.
“Our competitor today, in my opinion, it’s my personal opinion, they are the Playstations. If you look at Gran Turismo, most probably we need to switch our minds and focus our attention on our competitors. Today we have a broad offer of entertainment and we need to look at everything, not only certain sports and try to equalise everything. Is Playstation a competitor? In my opinion yes. What do you have to do to beat the Playstation? You have to do something that is more interesting, most probably.
“It’s not a detailed answer to the question but we need to direction our attention to the entertainment industry and today what they offer is bigger than many many, years ago. And then you need to ask why other sports – and let me underline football – they are still big numbers – even if they sometimes face crisis – versus us.”