the incubus wrote:
a lot of sense
But just 2 little points, everything else is entirely spot on.
This bit "...more money going to the teams would have tightened up the competition to make the racing even better...", would not necessarily be the case. Quite simply because everyone would have been getting more money, so the lesser teams wouldn't have had any more money relative to the bigger teams. In fact, although the general standard would have progressed quicker with everyone having bigger budgets, the disparity would likely have been even greater, and ever increasing, because they would likely have distributed the cash unequally, based on where the teams finished in the constructors' championship. 1st getting the most, last the least.
Admittedly the 2nd one is much more debatable, whether Bernie "saved" the sport or not. Personally I think he pretty much did, he wrangled the teams together to turn the sport into a proper, professionally executed (not a pun) affair, at a time when things were arguably looking a touch sketchy. However, I freely acknowledge that he didn't do this out of the kindness of his own heart, but for his own personal messianic gain. All he's interested in is further lining his pockets and flexing his political power.
The sport definitely would have been better off if he'd retired 15-20 years ago. Well, so long as whoever took his place actually had the interests of the sport as their only priority, oh, and was competent.
Knowing how close teams are to one another in today's F1, surely the big boys would likely have the advantage regardless because they would simply be adding to their already astronomical and almost insurmountable budgets. HOWEVER... as is the case with Ferrari this year and Renault the last few years, big bucks don't guarantee teams will develop a top car and with the smaller teams being just a it off the pace, a larger influx of money from TV rights might be the difference for them to challenge more strongly and consistent towards the front. How many times did Manardi produce excellent cars where if perhaps they had a bigger budget could have developed the cars enough to challenge for wins. The best example of this I can think of was Jordan. They took a bit to get up to speed but when they did, their budgets handicapped their further development and refinement of their cars and they were relegated to the front of the midfield, whereas perhaps another 5 or 10 million dollars would have been the difference in them remaining at the front and challenging for championships. That team showed a whole lot of heart and were highly competitive for quite some time and Eddie's passion to succeed was incredible. Eventually they lost out on engines and other opportunities to other teams that could pony up a bit more than they could and even when they were on the pace with the front runners early in seasons, they usually tended to fade a bit as money ran short and McLaren, Williams and Ferrari had truckloads of cash to allow them to out develop them and leave them behind. this is where those precious extra dollars would have/could have paid dividends and perhaps we might still have team Jordan in F1, or Arrows or Manardi.
Bernie's TV deal did a whole lot to grow the fan base which in turn grew the sport and with all that came the stability it needed to become the juggernaut that it is today. Still, with more teams duking it out at the front the competition would have been tighter and tougher which breeds greater levels of excitement which draws people in more deeply which in turn grows the masses who follow it. So while Bernie helped it, there was much more he could have done if he were in it for the right (better) reasons.