The National Football League (NFL), easily the highest rated form of sport in the U.S., has always been an interesting source of discussion among motorsports decision makers when outlining their season plans.
Inevitably, as a racing season enters the Fall, where championship stakes are at their highest, television ratings typically begin to decline. The easiest attributable reason? Football season.
It’s a tough nut to crack, and with the NFL’s continual growth, all of the major U.S. forms of motorsport have taken different approaches to counter this.
NASCAR’s answer to the NFL began in 2004 with the creation of “The Chase” playoff format, in which the top-10 drivers (and then 12 several years later ) would be locked in to their own form of a playoff for the final 10 races, conveniently when football season began. This year, NASCAR has gone even further with this strategy, creating an elimination-based top-16 playoff, in which four drivers are removed from contention every three races, with four drivers battling it out for the finale in Homestead, Florida.
When Adam Parr, the former Chairman at WilliamsF1 put out a tweet on Sunday morning suggesting that Formula 1 would increase to three-car teams in desperation to keep the series healthy, a flurry of internet posts and social media speculation hit the motorsport scene like wildfire.
With 11 teams entering a mandatory two-car lineup, the current state of Formula 1 currently rides in a tricky balance of measuring the sport’s heritage vs. the sport’s need to look forward.
The current challenge is that quite a few teams currently in Formula 1 are on the rumored brink of closure. Allegedly on life support, the teams of Marussia, Caterham, and Sauber have been incurring very public battles with their financing and desires to be bought out, meanwhile teams like Lotus and Force India continue to be vocal about their challenges to sustain the current operational costs of Formula 1.
On the optimistic side, we will likely have two less teams in 2015, and on the pessimistic side we could lose up to five. Doing the math, this could conceivably leave us with grids of 12 cars, which would be a disaster for the sport.