FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has stated that simplifying Formula One to grasp a younger audience demographic is unfeasible, given how sophisticated the sport and the cars have become and the clarifications on rules that are constantly required.
Speaking to JA on F1 after his briefing in the Silverstone paddock yesterday, the sixty-two year old Briton who has acted as Race Director since 1997 believes that it is not possible to take Formula One back to a less technical time for the sake of allowing the casual fan to have a better understanding. There have been calls this year from figures like Bernie Ecclestone and Ferrari’s chairman Luca Montezemolo to make the sport more accessible, particularly as there is widespread evidence that its audience has an ageing demographic.
At last week’s FIA Sport Conference, attended by national federations of 109 countries, there was widespread agreement that the sport needs to simplify in order to remain accessible to new generations of fans.
“I don’t think it is very feasible to simplify Formula One, unfortunately,” said Whiting. “Unless we can dramatically simplify the cars, which I think would be the wrong thing to do then they will inevitably become more and more complex. Although, having seen this year’s cars it is hard to imagine how much more complex they could be but I’m sure they will find ways.”
By its nature, F1 is a fast evolving sport; regulation changes like the introduction of hybrid turbo power units have introduced many new parameters to the racing, complicating the narrative of what is going on.
Whiting believes this need to be adaptable to change makes for a high level of rigour, filtering through all levels of the engineering and operational side of teams and means that clarifications of rules are inevitable. This inevitably adds extra levels to the complication.
“The teams are demanding more accuracy with everything so it just filters down,” added Whiting.
“It becomes our operation, our humble checking operation is huge now compared with ten years ago, so that is just the way it is. I don’t think you can unwind time and say ‘let’s go back to the more simple times’. I think Formula One should be the pinnacle of technical innovation in motor sport and I believe that it sincerely is.”
Ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, much of the discussion between drivers has been regarding a new rule put in place for 2015, in which standing restarts after a safety car will replace the rolling start that we currently have.
The reasoning behind this change is to provide a better spectacle for fans as the start is considered the most exciting part of the race. It increases the likelihood of position changes and can spice up a race.
Whiting said that the idea was suggested by one team and quickly reinforced by others.
“It was suggested by a team and was embraced by the rest of the teams, so we didn’t think of any reason why it should not be done. I think it will add excitement, drama and spectacle to Formula One so I think it is a good thing. “
Whiting spelled out that the standing restart would not involve a new grid procedure, rather the drivers would line up as they do at the end of the formation lap at the race start.