What F1 can learn from the Rugby World Cup

In recent weeks I have written much about the need for greater transparency in F1 in order for the sport to retain its fan base and restore trust in the brand following a turbulent year for the pinnacle of motorsport.

Concurrent to the back-to-back races in Singapore and Suzuka, the greatest spectacle in the Rugby calendar has been taking place in England, with the greatest teams from around the world coming together to battle for the World Cup crown.

Rugby has long been heralded as a sport that puts its spectators at the forefront of the game; ensuring new regulations ensure a better product of fans, as well as improving the safety and strengthening of the sport itself. This approach is something that F1 could greatly benefit from.

Uncertain penalty decisions are discussed openly by the referees, which are broadcast live to the crowd in the stadium and the viewers at home, with clear and honest explanations for the reasoning behind a chosen punishment. These are adjudicated by a video referee and played out with commentary from the pair so that fans are left in no doubt about why a decision has been made.

Taking the example of Felipe Massa’s collision with Nico Hulkenberg at the Singapore Grand Prix, all TV angles appeared to show a clear racing incident where the drivers were simply unaware of the space available to them.

This incident was judged by the race stewards to have been the fault of Hulkenberg, who was subsequently awarded a grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix. They, of course, have access to a plethora of angles and data that the viewing public do not in order to inform their decision – and therein lies the problem.

While rugby officials are open, honest and inclusive about their decisions, F1 fans are held behind a veil of secrecy and as such trust in such decisions – and the sport itself – are questioned quickly and easily.

This is supplemented by the TV commentators, who are not always privy to a full explanation from race stewards, which compounds the mis-trust of fans when they question the decisions in front of millions at home.

Delivering clear information about why a penalty has been awarded would be a simple and lasting solution to this issue. With radio feeds between drivers and their engineers available on TV, why not also make such communications between the FIA and teams available?

This approach, coupled with a full explanation of why the penalty was awarded alongside video evidence on the F1 website and social media, would help to restore faith in F1’s decision makers and ensure that fans understand that teams are competing on an equal footing.

Do you want to see greater transparency in F1? Share your views in the comment section below and on Twitter @ApexRacingPR

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