SADDENED BY F1'S SITUATION: Former McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh says Formula 1 might 'crash and burn' before it returns to its former glory. Image: AFP / Mark Thompson
LONDON, England - Former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says he is saddened by the current state of Formula 1 and fears it could "crash and burn" before eventually recovering.
Whitmarsh, 57, was ousted by McLaren Group head Ron Dennis in January 2014, told Reuters: "I love F1 and I love McLaren. I was there for 25 years. I'm saddened by it."
He was speaking at a media day for British America's Cup yachting challenger Ben Ainslie Racing, of which he was appointed chief executive in March 2015.
STILL A FAN OF F1
The Briton, who has commented very little about F1 since he left McLaren, said he still watched F1 as a fan. However: "I'm staying away as much as I can. I try not to comment on it but I'm saddened by what's happening in the sport. I think F1 will crash and burn before it gets turned around."
He added that he would be "sad to see it go through the process".
McLaren, the second most-successful team in the history of F1, has not won a GP since 2012 and has scored only four points in eight GP's so far in 2015 - its first season with 'power unit' Honda.
F1 has suffered a wave of negativity with leading figures - among them commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone and the bosses of former F1 champion team Red Bull - talking it down. Recent 2015 headlines have focused on the possible sale of the sport to RSE Ventures, who own the Miami Dolphins NFL team, and Qatar.
F1 RESISTS CHANGE
Whitmarsh, a former head of the now-defunct F1 teams' association Fota, believed F1 was still struggling to adapt to changing circumstances.
Whitmarsh concluded: "If you look at the cycle... you had the sport as it was 30 years ago, then the tobacco era which was the big growth spurt, and the automotive era when we had at one time seven of the nine largest automotive companies."
"Then that went away with the economic crisis and it's diversified but in order to diversify it has also has to recognise - something with which it is struggling - that it has to be doing it at a slightly different level and it has to be a bit more equitable in terms of distribution.
"It is an ongoing argument and unfortunately it's led itself into a very difficult place."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 season. Fresh reports every day.