Ex-Formula One driver says F1 has become too artificial and current set of machines are not challenging enough for drivers leading to a dwindling fan base for the sport
Spielberg (Austria): On the eve of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix straight-talking former Red Bull driver Mark Webber added his voice to a growing chorus of critics concerned at the state of the sport.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg negotiates a turn during the second practice for the Austrian GP in Spielberg, Austria yesterday. pics/AFP
In a video interview for Red Bull, he said: “F1 is not in great shape. We’re disappointed. We, the drivers talk, we’re disappointed where they’ve gone with the cars, lap-times. They’re just not stimulating for drivers and fans can see this. Over five-six years, they’ve got many things wrong. It’s become a sniff too artificial.”
‘DRS is an issue’
In the interview, the 38-year-old driver, who raced for Porsche at last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours, was particularly critical of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) overtaking aid and Pirelli tyres. He said modern F1 cars appear to be too easy to drive, an idea that is disputed by defending British world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
Webber said people want to see their sporting heroes performing feats that appear to be beyond normal reach. “We’ve got to turn on the TV, or go to the race track, and see something that you’re hardly going to see. “MotoGP... Oh, my God. Not many people can do that. That’s what people like to go and see... Messi, Ronaldo, this is what people love to switch on a TV for.”
Webber’s comments come after another week of public debate and introspection as F1 struggles with an identity crisis and falling attendances. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes boss Niki Lauda had said F1 was no more spectacular enough. This was rejected by Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams and by Hamilton, who said: “Anyone who says F1 is not rewarding or demanding for the drivers is wrong. I’m still massively challenged every weekend.”