With continuing complaints about the dulcet tones of the new 1.6-litre turbocharged engines and faced with free-falling television numbers, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso wants Formula One fans to help the sport improve its appeal.
“The show that probably we’ve put in this year is not good enough in some of the races,” Alonso said last week.
“Also, when one team is dominating so much as Mercedes, probably the spectators prefer some more action, as probably they like Canada Grand Prix that everyone seems to enjoy. Yeah, we will try to put on a better show in the next races and if the teams or the fans or whatever, they have any ideas, they will be welcome to have a better show.”
Although the Williams of Felipe Massa knocked the Mercedes off pole at the A1-Ring for the first time in eight races this year, Mercedes took their sixth 1-2 finish in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix. Mercedes has won seven of eight races in 2014 and only a mechanical issue with both its cars in the Canadian Grand Prix prevented a clean sweep.
Two-time world champion Alonso’s request came on the heels of Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo’s call for a summit among the sport’s insiders to figure out its course for the future. That meeting is expected to happen just before the Italian Grand Prix in September.
With one of F1’s marquee drivers wanting fans to speak up, it’s time to get some ideas together, so here are a five suggestions to get the conversation going.
1. Take grands prix off pay channels
In many Formula One-mad countries, its ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone continues to sign deals to broadcast the races on pay channels rather than free-to-air ones. There’s no doubt that this is good for the bottom line of the sport’s commercial arm, Formula One Management, but on the other hand, it’s not good for fans who have obviously balked at the idea of paying to watch grands prix. Pay TV is short-term gain, long-term pain equation for the sport.
2. Stop adding artificial everything Fake sparks coming from titanium plates bolted to the underside of cars during Austrian Grand Prix practice and the failed megaphone exhaust tried out earlier this year are two of the latest in this long line of devices the sport has used to try to fool fans into thinking the racing is good. Also falling into this category is the drag reduction system which has made passing a yawn-inducing experience, the new points system that falsely boost the drivers’ scores, and double points finale that threatens to reward a driver with a title essentially based on his performance in one race. Instead of trying to come up with new gimmicks, F1 should concentrate on coming up with a rules package that makes for good racing.
3. Drag the rights holder into the 21st Century Anyone who posts an F1 video on YouTube knows the drill. Put just about anything F1 on the video sharing site and you’ll likely see it pulled down within hours or days at the most. And then in its next breath, the sport wonders why it can’t attract the younger audience – you know, the kids who want to post selfies of everything they do and can’t help sharing every moment of their lives on social media. Do that with F1, and the rights holder will usually make sure it’s erased promptly. And when that happens, it will also wipe out any reason those young fans had to pay attention to F1.
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