An interesting opinion on where Formula 1 is heading into the future by George Woods Baker, writing for Paddock Magazine, painting a bleak picture as the world moves towards electric cars rendering the pinnacle of the sport as we know it redundant in years to come.
Baker wrote: “When Alejandro Agag launched Formula E in 2014 as the first electric-powered championship, he did so as an alternative to what he saw as a wounded buck. He was dismissed by the Formula 1 paddock. He won’t last, they crowed. The cars were slow and required a lengthy pitstop halfway through the race to change cars!
“Worse, they sounded atrocious. The circuits resembled karting tracks in city centres. Alejandro could set up and be gone in days instead of weeks. Formula E races attracted a different crowd. It was the future of racing, he told manufacturers, drivers, venues, sponsors, and broadcasters.
“The steady pace of progress was on his side and everyone knew it. Slowly, but surely, the series has grown. It may still be considered by some to be more of a curiosity than a serious racing series, but Agag dismisses the trolls with a wave. He, along with the FIA and their deep-pocketed partners, has science and history on their side.”
“If Liberty Media was a dark horse bidder for Formula 1, they should have been no surprise to anyone and yet their arrival was treated as if they were interlopers. What seemingly everyone missed is that while Greg Maffei runs Liberty Media, his compatriot, Michael Fries, runs its fraternal twin Liberty Global which owns a sizeable stake in Formula E. Both companies are assets of one John Malone, a man with a proven track record of keeping his sights firmly on the horizon.”
“While everyone in the Formula 1 paddock were wringing their hands wondering what an extension of the Concorde Agreement would hold, Malone and his (largely) men were at their whiteboards plotting out a timeline and a set of tactics that will, in time, merge the two series. The internal combustion engine is dead.
With motor manufacturers aggressively pursuing the EV (electric vehicle) route, the report adds, “Porsche, once expected to re-enter Formula 1 has instead joined Formula E. No surprise that they recently announced they would be a fully electric car company within a decade. All except the 911, though they have suggested that their EVs will outstrip anything their traditional 911 customers have experienced and come to expect.”
How will it all end? “The ace in the hole is this: Agag and his Formula E controls the exclusive rights to electric powered open-wheeled racing for 25 years, and they’re barely off the line with 21 years left on the clock.
“If Formula 1 has a future, that future rests in the hands of two men and their stakeholders – the venerable Jean Todt and wily John Malone. Will they rewrite the Concorde Agreement, or will they tear it up and introduce a new model?”
While many in the paddock scoff at the suggestion that Formula E could usurp Formula 1 in the future, Baker paints a very convincing picture of a scenario, or process, that could emerge within the next decade.
Baker’s bio on the site has him as “a lifelong fan of Formula 1” and adds that in 2010 “George advised Universal on an effective distribution plan for the film Senna and, as a result, decided to explore a more formal and in-depth involvement in Formula 1.”
“He has since been embedded at races around the world and his private, strategic advisory services are often called upon by individuals and organisations, including global brands, hedge funds, wealth managers and media organisations currently involved in or considering an involvement with the business and sport of Formula 1,” concludes the bio.