Ever since F1 was brought by Liberty from Bernie Ecclestone at the end of the 2017 season, Formula 1 has been on an upward trajectory. Liberty has attempted to revitalize the ageing sport and improve fans' experience and access to the action. They have made multiple changes and new ventures to achieve this, but to what extent have they been successful?
One new addition is the hosting of live events around the world; the first of which was 'F1 Live London' which I was lucky enough to attend. Every team brought along cars which were parked for viewing and later used for the demo runs up and down the road. Huge crowed gathered to watch, hear and smell the cars and they were't disappointed by the amazing show the drivers put on. I was personally able to get within 10 meters of at least 10 drivers and later saw 19/20 of them (Hamilton didn't attend) appear on stage before the live music started . These live events allow avid fans and first time viewers to get up close and personal with F1 cars and draw in new audiences and interest in the sport. So far they have been to London, Milan, Miami and a few other places I can't remember. I think these free to attend events are being used effectively by Liberty to expand F1's audience as anyone can go along without splashing out and experience F1.
Although it a topic of controversy and outrage at the time, the new F1 logo was a much needed change. Looking back on the beloved old logo, you have to agree it looked outdated. The new logo provides the sport with a current look and modernizes the ascetic appeal of F1. This was another key change and saw Liberty put their stamp on the sport.
The F1 opening titles and theme tune at the start of sessions has already become a fan favorite. The catchy tune by Brian Taylor is liked by everyone and raises excitement levels before every race. Not only is the theme tune good, it acts as an alarm for me as I quickly grab some snacks for the race. Even my 11 year old brother who isn't a particularly big F1 fan whistles it around the house.
This year, the FOM (Formula One Management) graphics were given an overhaul. The new graphics fit nicely with the new modern logo and neatly add information to the sessions throughout the weekend. Before each race we are shown a track layout which give fans an insight into the location and track's corners. As we all know the halo was a problem as they obstruct the previous t-cam angle. However, Liberty have got round this using a new graphic that uses the halo to show the selected gear and the acceleration/breaking levels. This new on-board graphic works well and shows Liberty can work around such problems.
Over the year we have seen a number of new additions and tweaks in terms of cameras. We have been given access to 360 degree on-boards giving us freedom to look around which provides an immersive experience. More recently ,in Abu Dhabi, new cameras were tested including thermal tire cam and a driver cam which Alonso was fitted with for his last race. Although these cameras may not be used in the future, it shows Liberty Media are trying lots of new technology to improve the spectacle.
F1 has really upped its game in terms of social media this year posts have been regular and more informative and funny than before. They post on track as well as off track highlights and updates which the fans around the world can see quickly and easily. YouTube has also been used more, 5 minute highlights of all sessions are posted so busy fans can catch up quickly and lots of extra content for more avid fans are also posted.
In some places, a new subscription service created by Liberty is available called F1 TV. People can pay a small amount each month and be able to watch all the races live as well as access archived races. When watching live, the fan can choose which driver(s) to watch and are't dictated by the FOM broadcast. Annoyingly this isn't available in the UK as Bernie Eccleston screwed us over with a exclusive deal for Sky from 2019-2024 (Paywall). The future of F1's coverage has been made clear by Liberty though, they want fans to be able to see races free but have the option to pay more for extra content (F1 TV).
Liberty have already made a huge positive impact on F1 but now they face their biggest challenge. They need to draw up the 2021 regulations which will see huge changes to the design of the cars. The current cars struggle to follow each other which has resulted in the 2019 aero changes so the 2021 regulations need to avoid problems like this. However as the big 3 teams spend so much compared to the others, Liberty will be making steps towards a cost cap. They intend to introduce it gradually by decreasing the cap each year and want to make it easier for new teams to enter the sport after no new teams were interested in the proposed 2021 regulations.
Whatever they decide to do in 2021 will shape the future of the sport dramatically. However, going on the positive changes they've made so far, I trust Liberty Media to do whats right for the sport.