'WE'RE DISAPPOINTED': Mark Webber believes that drastic change is needed to improve F1. One suggestion is to make the sport 'less artificial'. Image: AFP / Guillaume Souvant
SPIELBERG, Austria - Formula 1 is failing fans as well as drivers and needs to be more gladiatorial, less artificial.
That’s former Red Bull racer Mark Webber’s warning as the sport considers its future.
In an interview released by Red Bull ahead of the Sunday's 2015 Austrian GP (June 21) Webber echoed calls for change made earlier by the fizzy-drinks company's billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Webber, a runner-up for Porsche in the recent 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours, said: "The championship and F1 itself are not in great shape. We're disappointed by it as F1 fans... all the drivers that I'm talking with, we're disappointed with what's going on with the cars, the lap times.
“It's just not stimulating for the drivers and this is rubbing off, the fans can see this. Over the past five or six years they've got many, many, many things wrong to try to make the sport better and its become a sniff too artificial."
Webber, who left F1 at the end of 2013 after winning nine races for then dominant Red Bull, was as critical of the direction the sport even before he moved to sports cars.
Red Bull, whose relationship with engine supplier Renault has soured through 2015 after winning four championships in a row from 2010-13, has also become increasingly vocal in calling for change.
The sport is now looking for ways to make cars faster and lighter for 2017, to allow drivers to race flat-out rather than coasting to save tyres and fuel but various proposals have yet to be finalised.
'GET FANS ENGAGED'
Webber added: "A lot of questions need to be answered and they need to act fast on getting the fans engaged again. MotoGP, not many people can do that and that's why people watch. Messi, Ronaldo - this is why people love to switch on a TV.
"We've a big chance here to keep F1like that but it's not like that at the moment. It's a shame, they've dulled it down."
Making cars five or six seconds faster was not enough.
He said: "The reference point we now have is horrendous in terms of pace. It needs to be on a different level. Heavy changes are needed to get the drivers stimulated and that'll wash off on the fans.”
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.