Rivalry : Formula One's Driving Force
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The author proposes to identify the one key factor that made Formula One racing grow to such a degree that it earned a regular spot in cable television sports programming: rivalry. The author found that seasons with intense rivalries featuring charismatic drivers were often the most important to Formula One in terms of technological and safety development, but also in progressing the sport towards a necessary major TV deal. They contributed figures to Fl's batch of "legends" that make it a more storied and interesting sport to watch than just a collection of cars driving around a track an arbitrary number of times. Before a team owner and businessman named Bernie Ecclestone negotiated the famous Concorde Agreements in 1981, Formula One simply could not guarantee a consistent product to television networks. Due to the high cost of intercontinental travel, many lower-level or underfunded teams often struggled to appear at every race, thus limiting Formula One's ability to ensure that it would have the same field of cars each weekend, or in some cases even enough cars to be able to run a race at all. That, coupled with the fact that negotiating the broadcast rights for each Grand Prix was a task given to the individual race promoters who owned the tracks themselves made networks very apprehensive about approaching Fl for a season-long commitment since the process of negotiating with sixteen different promoters every year was long, difficult, and above all not very likely to result in every race in a season being televised. The story of Ecclestone's success and political maneuvering that brought Formula One to prominence is one that has received a good deal of attention in media and secondary works, so in order to better contribute to the field in a significant way, the author focuses on the role of rivalry, which has received little coverage in this context thus far. Rivalry supersedes simple competition as the thing that truly makes a sport tick. Steady competition creates a good product, but it lacks the certain degree of personality and intimacy that rivalry provides. Rivalry is the breeding ground for stories that go far beyond point standings and the outcomes of races: it creates physical and verbal altercations, respectful and passionate competition, shots at opponents through different forms of media, and any number of other unique, marketable incidents that give a sport a sense of history while simultaneously drawing in new fans. Polarizing, controversial, and sometimes otherwise despicable figures and actions create an agitated environment in which already-elite athletes and engineers feel a need to succeed greater than any of the financial or personal incentives for which they entered their chosen sport. The satisfaction of beating a particular enemy is one that pushes teams and drivers to their limits, in the process creating the greatest, most raw and passionate forms of motor racing that the sport is capable of producing. Simply put, rivalry brings out the best and worst in drivers, and shoves otherwise barely-relevant figures to the forefront of motorsport's consciousness, all the while providing an extremely entertaining spectacle to watch.