Gerhard Berger: fix Formula 1 to stop fans "falling asleep in front of the TV"
Former Formula 1 driver and team boss Gerhard Berger has said that he “sometimes falls asleep in front of the television” when watching races a...
Former Formula 1 driver and team boss Gerhard Berger has said that he “sometimes falls asleep in front of the television” when watching races and has put forward his ideas on how to fix the sport.
In an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, the former ATS, Arrows, McLaren, Ferrari and Benetton driver explained that F1’s regulations need to be completely re-written as the current problems could not be fixed simply by altering the current power units.
He said: "If you want to repair [F1], you will not get far with standalone solutions, and the engine is only part of the problem that we must solve.
“[F1] needs to be rethought from the ground up. But we are talking about the engine because it is current. The topic has multiple facets that demonstrates the problem.”
Berger believes that each engine manufacturer must supply a set number of F1 teams and that all customer outfits should receive an up-to-date specification of power unit to avoid a repeat of the long-running engine supply saga that occurred at Red Bull last season.
He said: “Each manufacturer would have to deliver a certain number of teams and also provide the capacity for being able to deliver this. How many teams depends on the number of manufacturers and teams. But the field must be covered.
“This would exclude the possibility that a manufacturer like Honda equips only one team. More importantly, all teams get the same specification by the manufacturer and homologation [rules]. The differences are then only in the fuel and the electronics, [which] is 20hp more or less, and can be compensated with a good car or a good driver.
“Then the sport remains a sport and not a controlled or put-up job. It was originally covered by the rules, but was softened again. It cannot be that Mr Marchionne says: ‘you get only a 2015 engine’ and you must prevent such a thing in the regulations.
“I understand the auto companies that they want to protect themselves against a team like Red Bull. But that's not in the interest of the sport.”
The FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and the teams recently agreed on ways to bring down the cost of the current V6 turbo engines to around €12m a year, in part, by simplifying the power units. But Berger believes this is the wrong approach and explained the F1 should keep the advanced technology and split the cost among the manufacturers and their customers.
He said: “I believe that simple is not the right word. It would be wrong to completely abolish the technology. The manufacturer must be able to prove their competence.
“Why not with a motor that runs for the entire season? That would technically be at least as demanding as a battery development at the high level of performance.
"[But] the motor and its ancillary equipment just cost too much in development. The customer team should carry only the cost of the material and working time. Development costs must be borne by the manufacturer that have to have some image of success if their engine wins.
“The engine itself could remain as it is, perhaps with a second turbocharger to improve the sound and performance. It would also be closer to road cars.”
The 10-time Grand Prix winner also reckons that any future changes to the F1 regulations should be shaped to make the cars more difficult to highlight driver skill and reward the better racers
He said: “The car must have more power than grip. The best example is the MotoGP [where] they have 270hp, weighing 160 kg, [and] have zero output and a limited contact surface of the tyre. So each viewer immediately sees what the guys have.
“This is pure motorsport [but] in Formula 1 we have the opposite. This, combined with the quiet motors, is neither a show nor challenge spectacle.”
The Austrian driver, who also led the Toro Rosso team between 2006 and 2008, also reckons that F1 needs a neutral organisation to make decisions on future regulations as the current arrangement means the governing body, promoter, manufacturers and independent teams are unlikely to readily agree on rule changes,
He said: “The question arises as to whether Bernie [Ecclestone] and Jean [Todt] can enforce a new regulation, [as] I believe, without the consent of the teams it will not go.
“That's the real problem. One participant always observes the subject through his own glasses. Of course, Toto Wolff, with the Mercedes star on his chest, says that Formula 1 is really interesting.
“In reality it is so that I sometimes fall asleep watching television because I already know after the first round, who will win the race.
“Therefore, it needs a neutral body, which represents the fan and the sport to make the final decision. In democratic elections with the teams, there are way too many bad compromises.”
Sound poll results
Following the announcement from Mercedes technical boss, Paddy Lowe, that 2016 F1 engines are set to be louder than their predecessors thanks to rule changes that allow a second exhaust pipe, fans of the sport have been voting on whether the engine noise levels need to be improved.
In a poll conducted by this website, 36.5 per cent of the 2,474 people who voted said that that they would like F1 to return to the level of noise produced during the previous V8 engine era.
But the second most popular choice revealed that 30.88 per cent of voters are happy with the current levels of sound produced by the V6 turbo power units.
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