If you were running either of the world’s biggest aircraft producers, Boeing or Airbus, what decisions would you now make for the future? In principle, would they be any different to a small business manager/owner in Central Otago, Christchurch or Auckland?
It is all about moving to a new model of doing business, and it is the same for motorsport. In a time of crisis like the present, clarity of mind and vision for the future is difficult. The kicker, and potential pitfall for business, is transitioning to the new model and the financial implications that are required. Many don’t make it.
The spread of the Covid-19 virus has closed borders and essentially stopped all domestic and international air travel. With no customers, airlines have parked their planes and have an uncertain future ahead. Many will have cancelled their forward orders for new planes from Boeing and Airbus. What would you do?
Is it any different to someone running a business that has been affected by a country’s lockdown? It could be an adventure business in Queenstown, a restaurant in Christchurch, or a hotel in Auckland.
All these businesses cannot carry on as before. All must change or adjust their business model, or how it does or goes about its business of creating, delivering and capturing value in an economic, social and cultural context.
How does this apply to motorsport?
Watching Formula One adapt to a ‘new normal’ is almost excruciating. While trying to pursue the current business model, each Grand Prix is either cancelled or postponed as we head into the Northern Hemisphere summer. The overriding objective is to deliver enough Grand Prix in order to declare a World Champion. And why not?
Everything was ready to go in Australia for the opening 2020 race in March. The cars, drivers, teams, officials and fans were all set, only to be thwarted by a highly contagious virus. F1’s advantage is that it is still set to go, but is very much reliant on countries allowing such a sporting fixture to take place, with or without spectators.
While some sort of championship may eventually take place in 2020, much consideration will be given to 2021 and beyond. Particular considerations will be given to the economic fallout of the global pandemic and world recession, the stability of governments through the crisis, border restrictions and local regulations coupled with the presumption that we will find a suitable vaccine.
As for the World Rally Championship, David Evans from Dirtfish.com writes a very good article on the uncertain future 2020 calendar The harsh realities of the WRC’s calendar quandary He ponders whether the WRC calendar is like an unwinnable game of chess (he doesn’t hold out much hope for Rally NZ taking place).
Applying this to motorsport within New Zealand
An important aspect to Government investment in Kiwi business for the future is choosing what is known to work and not what may work. There are many suggestions floating around such as inviting billionaires to come and live in NZ which will involve investing millions of dollars within the economy. Investing in new (and yet to be proven) technologies or even alternative ‘green’ methods of business will not cut-the-mustard. None of these are known to work and there can be a lot of speculation on their outcomes.
What is known to work is agriculture (and yes, specifically dairying), horticulture, forestry, tourism etc. Industries that have been the backbone of the nation for many decades through recessions and good times. They will continue to be our future albeit with a change of business model as new markets and opportunities emerge.
As for Kiwi motorsport, we must invest (time, focus and money) in what we know works. This starts at the foundation of club racing through to national competitions and staging international events.
As for Boeing and Airbus, a key difference between them and small business is that given the potential economic fallout on both US and European economies, maybe they are just to big to fail. (Note that Warren Buffet the legendary American investor, has sold his firm’s entire holdings in the four major US airlines, warning that the “world has changed” for the aviation industry because of the coronavirus crisis.)