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Dwindling fans: F1 'victim of its own success'?

2015-08-13 09:52

BRING BACK THE MAGIC: Should F1 attempt to revive the magic of its 80s and 90s racing-era? Image: AP / Darko Vojinovic

LONDON, England - It is the perfection of Formula 1 that is turning off the fans, according to motorsport veteran Gil de Ferran.

With F1 in a period of intense introspection amid a declining audience, de Ferran thinks the pinnacle of motor sport is a "victim of its own success".

Speaking to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, he said: "F1 will always be the top of motor racing, but it's too perfect. It lacks the human factor.

IN PURSUIT OF PERFECTION

"Over the past two decades, huge investments were made in formula one and everything has got better to the point almost of perfection. The aim has been to eliminate mistakes and mishaps.

Read: F1 teams wary of race-start clampdown

"Now I wonder: is there anything left that is bad?  When I look at the cars at the far end of the field, I have to say that even they look damn good."

RETURN TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS

The 47-year-old Brazilian is best known for his success in American open-wheeler racing, including titles and the Indy 500 win. In 2005 he was sporting director of F1 team BAR-Honda.

De Ferran says that perfection is in contrast to the 80s and 90s, which he thinks was F1's best era as drivers struggled to tame the imperfect monsters.

He insisted: "Any step back in that direction would be a good one.

"Even in my day, we all dreamed of the perfect race. Start from pole, do a good start, drive with no mistakes, take care of the tyres, lap the field and win the race.

"Unfortunately, the people don't really want to see that. But if you have everything you need in your hands to plan this perfect race, things get dangerous.  This is the curse of the money that is in F1.

"I do believe that today's F1 drivers are still working hard for that perfect race, it's just so hard to see from the outside. Maybe I can see it, because I raced for 30 years.  But it's difficult for the ordinary spectator."

NO SWEEPING CHANGES NEEDED

However, de Ferran thinks F1 should not despair too deeply, as it is still among the most popular sports in the world.

He said: "When we are talking about the problems, everything is relative, I drove to Silverstone one morning and was stuck in a traffic jam - so the problems cannot be too great."

So he thinks it would not be wise for F1 to start making sweeping changes, especially if they are based fundamentally on what the fans are saying in a recent spate of global surveys.

De Ferran said: "Henry Ford once said that if he had asked the people what they want, they would have said 'faster horses'. And if Steve Jobs had asked people what they want, no one would have told him the smartphone.

"What I mean is that although it is important to know how the fans tick, what you actually deliver to the people must be decided by those who run the business."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.


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