Formula 1 needs to "excite the senses again"

Formula 1 fans need have their senses more 'excited' by cars if they are to keep coming to races, reckons Australian Grand Prix chief Ron Walker.

Formula 1 needs to  "excite the senses again"
Max Verstappen, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10 and Felipe Massa, Williams FW37 at the start of the race
Start: Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W06 leads
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06 leads at the start of the race
Max Verstappen, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10 and Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C34 at the start of the race
The start of the race
Fans
Fans in the grandstand
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 with fans
(L to R): Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing sign autographs for the fans
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 with fans
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 signs autographs for the fans
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As talks continue about changes to F1 for 2017 to make it more thrilling, Walker thinks that the fan experience needs to be key to any tweaks made to the rules.

In particular, he thinks how the cars look and sound should be a priority.

"Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and yet these cars that we have lap only slightly faster than a GP2 car," Walker told Motorsport.com "They need to be faster and ultimately more exciting.

"I don't count myself as a technical expert, but the turbo cars from the 1980's produced 1000bhp and were incredible to watch. We need to excite the senses again."

Noise important

Walker, who stepped down from his role as Australian GP chairman earlier this year, believes the noise issue should not be underestimated.

He says Australian GP officials deliberately use an old V10-powered demonstration car to grab attention over their Melbourne weekend.

"As a curtain-raiser to the Melbourne race, we still use a V10 Minardi two-seater Formula 1 car to excite people in Melbourne's CBD because of its ear-piercing noise," he explained.

"When the car starts, people take notice, which is great in that environment.

"We want our customers to enjoy the race and go home with a happy feeling that they were entertained and got value for money.

"It's why the Australian Grand Prix Corporation focuses on the whole show, from Thursday through to Sunday, to ensure we're providing the customers with the best possible experience. The on-track action is only one part of that."

Australia not alone

Although Walker has famously been outspoken about the current rules, he makes it clear he is not alone among race promoters in feeling that more needs to be done.

"As Chairman of FOPA (Formula One Promoters Association), our membership consists of all promoters jointly sharing the same view that something must be done to revitalise the sport," he said. "Competitive racing providing sporting drama is critical.

"Teams are struggling with the huge financial investment required to compete and we saw a team slip off the grid at the end of last year.

"The Australian Grand Prix Corporation does absolutely everything it can as promoter of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix to make the overall product as enticing as possible, but all promoters need support from the sport's governing bodies and the teams.

"This year we introduced the Melbourne Walk, a world first for Formula One that brought the drivers closer to the fans than ever before, and we also had driver Q&A sessions on the main stage.

"These initiatives are being embraced in Bahrain and Monaco and I'm sure we'll see more of it through the season.

"Ultimately our customers had more interaction with their heroes than ever before, and I can guarantee that next year we will continue to make F1 more accessible for the fans."

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