Formula 1 fans have made clear that they do not wish to see a radical overhaul of grand prix racing to make it better, but do want more 'pure' changes to improve the sport.
The first results of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association Global Fan Survey, which was conducted in association with Motorsport.com, have been revealed and have delivered a fascinating insight in to what fans currently think of F1.
The Executive Summary of the Survey can be downloaded at gpda.motorsport.com.
Although F1 has faced calls for a revolution over recent weeks, the record number of respondents – 217,756 took part – suggest that more considered response is all that is needed.
With the Survey having been weighted to encompass all types of fans – from the hardcore followers to those with a passing interest – the representative sample has delivered some key indicators.
There was overwhelming support for believing that F1 needs to be more competitive (89 per cent), needs to attract more fans (85 per cent) and that its business interests are now too important (77 per cent).
No gimmicks wanted
However, to address the situation, fans do not want to see gimmicks introduced in a desperate means of delivering more entertainment.
There was not much support for reverse grids (18 per cent), success ballast (26 per cent) or customer cars (44 per cent).
Only a few liked the ideas of teams using the same cars and engine (16 per cent), a standard engine (16 per cent) or having fewer teams running more cars (14 per cent)
Instead, 74 per cent of fans believe the rules should be relaxed to allow greater diversity of cars and technology. They preferred to see a tyre war (80 per cent) and the return of refuelling (60 per cent).
A slim majority were also in favour of a budget cap (54 per cent) and points being awarded for fastest lap (51 per cent)
Compared to the results of the last major global survey, conducted by the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) in 2010, there are some indications that the sport has not moved forward.
Less than 10 per cent of fans believe F1 is healthier now than then, and key word attributes produced by fans to describe F1 now are 'Expensive, Technological and Boring', compared to 'Technological, Competitive and Exciting' five years ago.
There are also indications that F1 is not attracting a new or younger audience, with more than three-quarters of respondents having followed the sport for more than 10 years – with a clear trend for supporting it less because of the move to pay TV.
Power to the drivers
A vast majority of fans – 88 per cent – believe that F1 needs to feature the best drivers, but only 45 per cent think grand prix racing currently does that.
They also want drivers to be honest with fans (86 per cent), take a role in implementing changes to improve the sport (78 per cent) and work to bring fans closer to F1 (75 per cent).
Fans listened to
GPDA chairman Alex Wurz said the drivers would be analysing the results imminently so they could speak to F1 chiefs.
"Formula 1 may need to ask itself some important questions, but that's why we wanted the fans to have their say," he said.
"Through the survey the fans are clear: they don't want a radical overhaul of grand prix racing that takes it away from its historic roots.
"It may sound simple, but the best drivers and teams fighting on track, in the most exciting cars is their priority. And we, the drivers, passionately share that view.
"They want competitive sport, not just a show, and they think that F1 ´s business interest has become too important, jeopardizing our sport.
"The GPDA will be looking at the results in closer detail over the next few weeks, and from there we intend to work with F1's key stakeholders to put fan feedback at the centre of our sport's future."