F1 needs to be 'quicker' and 'louder'. That was the conclusion reached by the sports big players at a meeting at Biggin Hill last week. We're clearly not talking about ground-breaking ideas here and that is probably where the biggest issue for Formula One lays at the moment.
Speed and sound are, for many fans, the appeal of F1 and for the governing body to suggest that there isn't enough of this indicates something, somewhere has gone seriously wrong. Fans are beginning to turn away with worldwide viewing figures falling from the 500 million mark to nearer 350 million in recent years.
During yesterday’s rain affected 2nd free practice session booing could be heard from the stands. With blue skies expected for the remainder of the weekend, the teams stood to gain nothing from sending their cars onto the wet Monaco streets - the series' most challenging track at the best of times. Slow motion replays of seagulls did little to calm a crowd whose discontent has deeper roots than the lack of action in one session.
There’s a feeling that fans are not being listened to. A move to V6 hybrid engines seems to have stripped the cars of their identity. They’re too quiet. On top of this Mercedes' have an advantage over their competitors (at most circuits) that is unlikely to be bridged without a rule change leading to fairly processional races at the front end of the pack.
Alienating of small teams such as Sauber and Manor Marussia has angered fans who love to see those teams challenging their bigger counterparts and Bernie Ecclestone, the man in charge, explaining at the end of last season how Formula 1 doesn’t need younger fans because “they haven’t got any money” has done little to enhance the sport’s fan base.
In a much needed effort to reach out to fans, a survey has been launched by the Grand Prix Drivers Association which is headed by Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. The fact such a survey has not been conducted by those in charge of the sport before this point speaks volumes. In the words of Button this survey “might” have an impact on how the sport is run. For the good of Formula One it must have impact.