The new managing director of Silverstone Circuit, Patrick Allen, has launched an outspoken attack on Formula 1 – saying the sport needs to be “a bit more exciting”.
Allen, the former head of marketing at the retailer Co-op Group in the UK, has called on the governing body, the FIA, and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone to “improve the product”.
“I wonder if the product is right for the fans,” he said in a media briefing on Tuesday. “Fans come to F1 to see racing, not people looking at data screens. When it gets to that, we’ve lost the very soul of the sport.
“I’d rather the FIA would give us a better product, using the rules. If we start seeing numbers falling away, fans losing interest, things can unravel pretty fast.”
Processions not good for business
Allen remarked that the current level of dominance held by Mercedes is also unhealthy for the sport, even given the fact it has produced a reigning British world champion.
“It is great to have the Lewis Hamilton factor,” he said. “But my only concern is that if he wins everything by a country mile between now and July, if it becomes a procession, it damages the sport. So it would be great if Sebastian Vettel could stir things up a bit.
“If I can predict, before I get out of bed, that Lewis will win by four seconds, followed by Rosberg followed by Vettel, followed by Raikkonen, followed by Bottas, followed by Massa, and that’s every race, then the product isn’t good enough.
“My opinion is we need a sport that’s a bit more exciting than that. We mustn’t lose sight of what the fans come here for, and they come here to watch their heroes in a gladiatorial sense.
“If it is always about technical expertise and reliability, then we might as well have the technical directors up on the podium.
“I don’t know what the answer is, but my feeling is that it’s not as exciting as it could be. It’s more about the technical development of the car and not about the drivers’ skill.”
Protecting the classic venues
Allen believes that the FIA should also do more to protect the historic venues on the F1 calendar, and not allow traditional events to fall by the wayside.
“Unless the FIA stand up, then the march will go on for the mighty dollar in the East,” he added. “I’d like to see more bite from the FIA; if you have a governing body, then it should govern.
“[Silverstone] is a heritage site, so it strengthens our hand. But you can’t rely on it.
“As you get fewer and fewer, it becomes like the World Wildlife Fund – you need to protect it.”