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2016-02-23 08:17

TESTING IN SPAIN: Lewis Hamilton drives the 2016 Mercedes ahead of Sebastian Vettel's new Ferrari during a testing session at the the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo in Spain. Image: AP /Siu Wu

Barcelona, Spain - Formula 1 bosses will meet in Geneva on Tuesday in a bid to agree regulations for the 2017 season amid dwindling television audiences and claims the sport has become boring.

Outspoken F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone claimed the sport is "the worst it has ever been" in a bombastic interview with the Daily Mail on Monday in which he also hailed Russian president Vladimir Putin as the "guy who should run Europe."

Dealing with the 85-year-old Ecclestone's outbursts have become commonplace for team bosses, but as testing began for the 2016 season in Barcelona on Monday, there was hope of significant change for next year to help end Mercedes' domination in recent years.

'Vent our frustration'

Mercedes have won 32 of the 38 races since the last major overhaul of the regulations for the start of the 2014 season.

A strategy group and the F1 commission will meet in Switzerland on Tuesday in a bid to thrash out an agreement on changes to the rules.

However, should common ground not be found before a March 1 deadline, changes are likely to be delayed until 2018.

McLaren racing director, Eric Boullier, said: "We will see where we can vent our frustration to make the sport better, which is what we all want.

"Everybody has their own opinions. We are in favour of making the sport more exciting, faster. Drivers would be happy to have a faster car.

"We have been talking about this for a long time, so if we can't agree that is a failure in my opinion."

'Biggest danger is temptation'

The key to changes would aim to reduce the importance of engine performance in success.

That could meet opposition from Mercedes and Ferrari, who supply engines to all but three of F1's 11 teams.

Adrian Newey, Red Bull's chief technical officer said: "The biggest danger is the temptation for teams to vote for self-interest rather than what is best for the sport."

However, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff claimed they aren't against changes to the rules if adhered to safely by tyre suppliers.

Wolff said: "We are not against change, but we wouldn't want to throw it all away by rolling the dice."

"There are diverse opinions from stay where we are to making the cars aeroplanes. There has to be balance, but the outcome is unknown."

One area where there is widespread agreement on the paddock is the need to reduce the trend of reduced TV figures, which endangers the financial future of the sport.

Boullier said: "He (Ecclestone) is the commercial leader of the sport so if you see your TV figures going down it is concerning."

Newey said: "Every year there is more and more competition for TV audiences. We need to be careful we don't be left behind in that regard."


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