Formula India and bums on Sets

[B]Formula India[/B]

It was intriguing to see last week that the Delhi Government has sent a letter to Formula E Holdings, pledging their support for a potential ePrix in New Delhi.

There were of course a number of factors that finished off Formula One in India before it even began. Firstly due to financial troubles with Indian Grand Prix organisers Jaypee Sports International Limited; who coincidentally had also failed to hold a Superbike event by failing to obtain permission from the sports ministry to stage the event.

The other issue being India high tax regime causing a major headache for drivers and teams. High customs duties, corporation and personal tax caused major headaches for Formula One personnel and major tax claims against multi-national companies and sponsors will not go unnoticed.

That said, the fact that the idea of a Formula E race having strong government support should go some way to stemming the tide of potential tax claims and ease any concerns from Agag and co.

[B] Bums on Sets[/B]

Formula E Holdings will be watching the recent SkySports deal and Formula One Management with great interest. With the sport effectively being run behind a paywall for the next three years, there has never been a better time for rival motor sport categories to poach viewers.

The World Endurance Championship has just entered into their own deal with as a digital partner, so it remains to be seen how the move will sit with audiences faithful to RadioLeMans, but Formula E will have to up its game if it’s to seize on the opportunity.

Currently, live streaming on the official Formula E site has been sketchy at best, with some countries requiring a VPN to even view intermittently functioning telecasts. Likewise, UK viewers often find themselves watching delayed telecasts when races clash with more ‘popular’ sports.

Unfortunately, there is little alternative, with (even during season one) small cable networks being priced out of broadcasting highlights packages due to exorbitant licensing fees.

While Formula E is to be applauded for chasing new media outlets with 360* sports highlights and computer generated recreations of races (starting at the Long Beach round with live streams projected to be available from Paris onwards) aimed at improving viewer engagement, it need to walk before it can run. Fans want live sport – pure and simple - and if you don’t deliver, they’ll go elsewhere.

[B] A sow’s ear?[/B]

Something that concerned me last week was the announcement that Formula E was evaluating an updated body-kit look for Season Three.

Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, the alarms bells raised when the call was made out for applicants to submit a ‘futuristic bodywork’ in their bid.

The idea reeks of F1’s Strategy Group’s call for a ‘more aggressive’ aero package with ‘retro styling’. Yes, a new look would be nice to keep the fire burning amongst fans, but avant-garde aesthetics should probably be looked at after solving the bespoke battery issue that was sidelined by the World Motor Sport Council recently for reasons of cost.

The very DNA of Formula E centres around battery development and if the series is to curb development, then they will lose not only the interest of punters but manufacturers as well.

Great summary of the current situation. Two things spring to mind:-

F1 is moving itself away from mainstream and towards pay per view - leaving a gap for Formula E to fill

Surely all parties involved in the India talks can come to a suitable arrangement - the market there is huge and a win win for all involved