Formula 1 restructure needed to attract new teams, FIA's Todt feels

Formula 1 will not attract any more new teams without new owner Liberty Media shaking up its revenue system, reckons FIA president Jean Todt

Formula 1 restructure needed to attract new teams, FIA's Todt feels

Liberty has made emphatically clear that it believes the fact bigger teams get the majority of the championship's commercial-rights income is a major hurdle to increasing the depth of competition.

Can Liberty save F1's cash-strapped teams?

While the prize money structure is laid down in bilateral agreements that cannot be changed before the end of 2020, Liberty wants to overhaul the system after that.

F1 is currently three teams short of its maximum 26-car grid capacity, and has not featured that many cars in its field since the middle of the 1995 season.

Todt said "clearly we should be able to fill" the empty slots, but argued the revenue distribution disparity was the main stumbling block.

"The only way to fill [the spaces] is probably by a different distribution of the revenues, which is not one FIA problem," he said.

"It's a problem but we are not involved in dealing with that."

He acknowledged that overall F1 costs coming down would help too.

"My opinion, something which I have expressed many times - Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, is a great show, but costs too much money," said Todt.

"We must see how we can afford to make the sport more affordable."

NEW BUSINESS MODEL

Ross Brawn, F1's managing director of motorsport, is convinced that a shake-up of the commercial structure of grand prix racing could actually be beneficial for everyone.

"The costs are very important. My fellow directors have been brought up in a culture where sports teams are profitable ventures," he told Autosport.

"They look at Formula 1 and you have to pay someone to take the team off your hands.

"We have to try to make moves towards changing the business model for a non-manufacturer team.

"We want the manufacturers in, we want their support, but we want to make the business model for a non-manufacturer team viable.

"You look at some of the NFL teams and what they call their equity value.

"I think the Dallas Cowboys [value] is getting close to the whole value of Formula 1, and that doesn't make sense really, does it?

"There was a time in American football where there was quite a heavily distorted reward system and the top two teams got the majority of the money and the rest of the teams struggled.

"And the top two teams sacrificed their position in order to have an equitable solution.

"So when it became successful, much more successful because there was a spread [of teams succeeding], then the income of those top two teams surpassed what they were getting before because the sport becomes so much more successful.

"Is there a lesson for us there?"

THE LAST TIME F1 HAD A 'FULL' GRID

F1 has not hit its maximum 26-car grid size since the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, which was the last event the Simtek team contested before going out of the business after just a season-and-a-half in the championship.

The previous year was the last time teams - invariably newcomer Pacific - failed to qualify due to the field being full, but with both Larrouse and the original Lotus team folding that winter everyone was guaranteed a start in 1995 even with the arrival of Formula 3000 graduate Forti.

The subsequent creation of the 107% rule for 1996 put pressure on the backmarker teams. Pacific failed to make it through the off-season anyway and Forti went out of business that summer, bringing the grid down to 20 cars.

The FIA's push for new teams for 2010 under the aborted budget cap plan and following the manufacturer exodus promised to restore the 26-car field, but USF1 never made it to the grid.

The three newcomers that did - HRT, the new Lotus and Virgin - have all since collapsed.

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