Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff believes Formula 1 is in a healthier state than it is currently portrayed - and is optimistic that it can grow “bigger and bigger” under new ownership.
F1 has come under fire in recent years for a variety of reasons, while falling TV viewership has also raised concerns.
Much of the criticism has come from within the sport, with former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone slamming the hybrid engine regulations which were introduced in 2014.
While Wolff admits that there is scope for improvement, he has urged F1’s stakeholders not to demean the sport.
"We mustn't talk the sport down, as it is not broken,’’ Wolff said in an interview for Mercedes’ official website. “There are ways to optimise it and there are areas which are blind spots in which we haven't done a lot of work -- for example the digital environment and social media. But we need to understand them."
"There has been a lot of talk about F1 not doing well. Actually, we have been doing pretty well considering that the market has changed tremendously.
"The last couple of races we had record-breaking audiences in some markets in terms of TV spectators.
“We need to embrace the future and we shouldn’t be too nostalgic about the past. This sport has a huge opportunity for growing bigger and bigger and we could all benefit from this. We need to push in that direction.”
F1 has made several knee-jerk reactions over the recent years without assessing the true impact of such changes. A perfect example of this is the elimination qualifying which had to be withdrawn after just two races in the 2016 season.
Wolff wants F1’s new owners Liberty Media to bring an end to this regime, saying the sport shouldn’t serve as a “test bed” for changes.
"I think we need to acknowledge that Formula One is a technical sport, so it will always polarise," he said. "There are people who will say that they hate it and others will say that they love it. That is okay. But one thing is for sure -- we shouldn't make it a beta test.
"We shouldn't mess with our loyal fans and our audiences by implementing rules and regulations that we haven't assessed properly. We should use data in a scientific approach and see what works in other sports and other entertainment platforms, then combine that with the great strengths and assets of Formula One."
by Rachit Thukral