KEEP 'EM COMING: Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda (left) speaks with championship leader Lewis Hamilton. Image: AFP / Jean Magnenet
• Radically faster cars
• Driver in full control
• 150km/h in pits lane
LONDON, England - Things are starting to look up in Formula 1, at least according to veteran racing legend Niki Lauda.
Immense criticism, introspection, yes, but the Mercedes team chairman said TV ratings were actually up over 2014, contrary to other reports. "There's a positive trend," Lauda told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
DRIVERS IN CONTROL
However, that didn't mean the "so-called crisis" was over. Lauda said F1 as a whole was pushing ahead with plans to make the cars radically faster for 2017 and there would be other changes by the end of August 2015 for the Belgian GP.
Indeed, teams have now been informed about the details of immediate rule changes for Spa-Francorchamps following the realisation that drivers must be put back in full control of the cars.
Lauda added: "Communication from the box (team garage) to the drivers will be minimal during the formation lap. The goal is that the driver will once again be the one who decides how best to bring his car to the finish.
"The role of the driver without manipulation or interference must be more obvious to the audience."
OTHER CHANGES FOR 2017...
Lauda added: "In 2017 we will have an all-new F1 car but whatever can be simplified and improved along the way, we will do that."
One improvement might be to make the sport more affordable for struggling teams but reports last week suggested Mercedes and Ferrari were fighting against the International Automobile Federation's plans to cap engine supply costs.
Lauda said: "We must support those who have not enough money. We have to make available cheaper engine and Mercedes is very much involved in this discussion. It has the same interest as everybody else in making the racing more interesting."
Finally, Lauda had an idea to spice-up the action dramatically through a relaxation of the current pits-lane speed limits.
"They should be allowed to do 150km/h in the pits lane," he argued, "because, with the exception of Monaco or Singapore, these days they are as wide as a motorway.
"Everything needs to be reconsidered to make F1 more attractive, faster and simpler."