F1 MD says sport can improve at every turn

BARCELONA • More teams, more sponsors and more circuits are all on the long-term wish-list for Formula One's new owners, who say fans will see changes this season as part of an aggressive strategy for growth.

Commercial managing director Sean Bratches said yesterday that every area of the business is being looked at.

"There will be a point in the season where we start to effectuate change," he said during the first pre-season test in Barcelona.

"It's not going to be... where we just drop our vision one day and that's the vision. It's going to be a build (up) and we are going to be very aggressive. We are going to try new things, all in the spirit of better serving Formula One fans."

The first small sign of change came on Monday when teams were told they and their drivers could post snippets of videos on social media channels from inside the paddock confines.

Bratches, a former ESPN executive who reports to F1 chairman Chase Carey, said the sport was "replete with opportunities to improve at almost every turn".

The sport changed hands in January, when Liberty Media replaced 86-year-old former supremo Bernie Ecclestone with Carey.

"We are going to pivot from what has been a very deal-oriented structure to one where we are formulating a strategic plan that we are going to execute on relentlessly over the mid- to long-term," Bratches added.

"We'd love to see more teams, we'd love to see more sponsors and we'd love to see more circuits in the right places. Places that we believe are growth-oriented and can improve not only from a fan standpoint but improve the overall economics, drive television revenues, drive sponsor engagement and interest, create opportunities for teams and drivers."

Struggling Manor folded in January, leaving just 10 teams. He said the aim was to put all on a more secure footing.

"In the (English) Premier League or National Football League or Bundesliga, if a team goes up for sale there are 30 individuals or entities that want to buy it. When Manor went out, that was not the case," he said. "So we have to make this a better business on the promoter side, on the team side."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline 'F1 MD says sport can improve at every turn'. Print Edition | Subscribe