Sebastian Vettel: Formula 1 "has to remain dangerous" to stay popular with fans
Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 needs to maintain an element of danger to remain popular, but says the sport cannot ignore developments in safe...
Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 needs to maintain an element of danger to remain popular, but says the sport cannot ignore developments in safety.
The Ferrari driver was speaking on the first day of the FIA’s 2016 Sport Conference, which is taking place in Turin this week.
The themes of the meeting are passion and innovation, with the governing body planning to discuss motorsport’s past, present and future.
When asked how he would shape the future of motorsport, Vettel outlined his belief that keeping people captivated by high speeds and the element of danger would maintain interests in the sport.
He said: “What fascinated me as child was speed and I think racing should keep the core pillars and speed is one essential one. I think the passion for speed – you have it or you don’t, it’s exciting.
“The sensation of speed [and] the cornering speeds we can do is incredible and I think that has remained one of the main pillars throughout [motorsport history].
“Speaking to drivers such as Stirling Moss, at the time a Formula 1 car was the best car you could drive and the most exiting one. I think to some extent the ingredient danger as well, that makes it exciting.”
Vettel acknowledged that F1 cars have became much safer for the drivers in recent years and described how the sport needs to strike a compromise between protecting the racers and keeping the exciting aspects that appeal to fans.
He said: “The fact that the cars have become a lot safer, obviously it’s a lot nicer for us, because knowing a little bit of the history and reading a little bit [you learn] that many years ago the drivers weren’t as lucky, the cars weren’t as safe as they are now, so I think you need to find the right compromise.
“The ingredients for passion, speed, danger [and] noise are very important. Equally, we want to make the sport safer – we can’t shut our eyes if bad things happen – [and] I think we need to react. I think we have [learned] over the last years and still [do] now and I think that is the right approach.
“It is [a difficult balance to find], and ultimately it might sound wrong initially, but I think the sport in some way has to remain dangerous because that is what is appealing to people.
“[If] you lose that ingredient people don’t sense anymore that it’s something out of their reach [or] out of this world and it becomes less exciting.”
The four times world champion described how he hopes the 2017 F1 regulations, which have been designed to make the cars look and perform faster than they are currently capable of doing, might help keep the sport exciting to the fans.
He said: “Obviously [you have] to package it the right way, which they’re trying very hard to do. Next year’s regulations should be a step up for at least us, the drivers, for us it’s always great, the faster we go. We’re not stepping back in any regard. It’s a step forward.”
Vettel also praised the design of the new street circuit in Baku, which hosted the European Grand Prix last weekend, as he felt the high-speed nature of the walled track created an exciting and challenging venue.
He said: “Coming from Baku last week, the circuit got a lot of criticism for being too dangerous, [but] I disagree. The FIA and the people in Baku have done a hell of a job fitting that racetrack into a place where arguably it’s not made for racing but it’s fantastic. It’s spectacular and there is very little room for error.
“That’s what makes racing so exiting and I think that’s what made it exciting in the past and what still makes it exiting.”
Vettel confident Ferrari has “a bright future”
Vettel, who joined Ferrari at the start of the 2015 season, also believes the Italian team is moving in the right direction and he described the progress the squad has made since he arrived.
He said: “We still have a long way to go, I think the moment I joined the team there was a lot of things changing so it still takes some time but we don’t allow ourselves to take that time.
“We have very, very ambitious targets and obviously great competition, but ultimately we want to prove the point that we are the best, we want to win. So naturally after a great season last year when we finished second in the world constructors’ championship we want to step up already this year.
“Currently we’re still lacking a little bit of speed here and there but it’s getting better, I think the car has great potential. The people are coming along so the whole project starts to move in the right direction so I’m confident we will have a bright future.”
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