The pressure piles on Formula 1, the FIA and Liberty Media in 2022

04-01-2022 11:00 | Updated: 04-01-2022 15:36
The pressure piles on Formula 1, the FIA and Liberty Media in 2022

The New Year came in a few days ago and the world now returns to everyday normality by pressing the reset button following the festive period. Formula 1 will be pushing that button a little bit harder than they usually do as they reprint the rule and regulation book for the coming season. 

Despite concluding the best ever season of modern F1 less than one month ago, a full control alt delete has been applied on the pinnacle of motorsport. The 2021 season provided exactly what the stakeholders of the sport cried out for during the turbo-hybrid era: An intense title battle in both championships, with a sprinkling of surprise from the midfield teams. 

The final clause in that sentence is almost exactly why the rule and regulation changes were drawn up in the first place. To raise the bar on a spectacle level, to increase natural overtakes and to close the field together whilst maintaining the integrity of the sport. 

Liberty Media 

Liberty Media have controlled Formula 1 for a fairly long time now, yet the jury is still out. They’ve done positive work both on and off the track yet you feel they will be judged on how the 2022 season works. Of course, it’s not just Liberty Media who have worked on the technical rule and regulation changes but there’s a sense of judgement looming. 

A huge amount of time, money and effort has been spent on creating the perfect formula that ticks all of the boxes required to deliver what the stakeholders want to see. All of the boxes might be ticked on the paper, but it’s on the tarmac at 23 different locations around the world that will do the talking. 

With all the resources put together, it could all be a massive damp squib. What if it doesn’t bring the cars closer together? What if it doesn’t increase the spectacle? What if drivers still find it difficult to overtake? 

Had you measured it against any season between 2014 and 2020, it would be easy to see any kind of improvement. But 2021 set the benchmark high and expectations are now at an even higher level. 2021 will be tough to beat and that adds pressure to these changes. Comparisons will be made almost immediately. If they aren't right, it would look very silly. 

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Formula 1 and the FIA

Historically, rule and regulation changes haven’t always improved things. Thinking back to the last major change in 2014 and one team aced it: Mercedes. They focused on the changes earlier and produced a car superior to all other teams. Despite getting a strong challenge from Red Bull Racing last year, they managed to maintain their 100% record of Constructors Championships through the turbo-hybrid era. 

And then Ferrari and Red Bull were miles ahead of the rest. Only in 2020 when Ferrari fell out of the equation due to an ‘illegal engine’ did we start to see a few more surprises on the podiums. Of course, in 2021 aerodynamic changes were made that favoured the Red Bull car. And we don't know how much attention Mercedes put on the 2022 car. That, alongside Verstappen's phenomenal performance, helped close the gap. 

The FIA will also be feeling the pressure. Perhaps the only downside to the 2021 season was the claims over the inconsistency of stewards’ decisions and the way Michael Masi dealt with certain situations. None more so than the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. If 2022 brings us anything, let’s hope it’s consistency from the stewards around track limits and battles on the circuit. The last thing that everyone will want in this new era of Formula 1 is the constant debates over track limits to rumble on. 

Masi has arguably the toughest job in motorsport. In 2021, the intense title fight and constant phone calls from both Mercedes and Red Bull must’ve only made the situation harder for the Australian. He’s on his own out there and perhaps needs a little bit of support in this new era to spread the workload. 

All in all, 2022 represents a massive year for Formula 1. The hard work carried out during Liberty Media’s tenure could be unravelled with a disappointing product following new rules and regulations. The pressure on those who have worked for this will be extremely high. Especially now it’s going to be compared with 2021.

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