Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said that Formula One’s controversial double points system is “unfair” and that the sport’s team should not have allowed its introduction.
In a post-Hockenheim debrief, Wolff continued his weekend comments on the low turnout at the German GP (where a crowd of approximately 50,000 watched the race), saying that the sport needs to heed the opinions of fans regarding certain developments in F1.
“We have to understand the fans and their criticism of certain aspects of the sport,” he told Mercedes’ website. “Should we have agreed to double points? No, we shouldn’t have.”
Expanding on the theme, Wolff said: “I would be very surprised if [the championship battle] didn’t come down to the infamous double points race in Abu Dhabi. Even if one driver is 30 points behind, he can turn that deficit around if the other car retires.
“I don’t think it’s fair and I don’t think we should be doing it from a sporting perspective. But from the view of the commercial rights holder, whose interests lie in selling sponsorship and growing TV audiences, the system works.”
The Mercedes boss added that should the title be awarded thanks to the controversial system, it may affect the championship runner-up badly.
“Of course, if a driver wins the Championship on double points he won’t care how it happened,” added Wolff. “But the one who loses may need psychological treatment afterwards!”
Wolff said that the low crowd figure for the German GP was “a real shame”, but he insisted that Formula One “is getting it right” in terms of the spectacle being offered to fans.
“To be honest I’m not really sure [why the figure was low] because this is not the first great race we have had this season,” he said. “The last couple of rounds in particular have been great to watch, with lots of overtaking everywhere on the circuit. It’s been mega sport, with some spectacular moments and great racing. I think this shows that Formula One is in really good shape.
“It’s important we understand the big picture, as from the sporting side I think all of us are getting it right,” he added. “We have to properly analyses why there were not more spectators in Hockenheim, as it was a real shame. I’m not a marketing expert in terms of why we may or may not have a particular moment behind the sport or a particular sportsperson. Having a local hero definitely helps a lot. Viewers switch on because they want to see their heroes compete – for them it’s all about the drivers and this is one of the appeals of the sport.
“The situation is far more complex than that, though. I think people have far more options in terms of how they can follow the sport than they had 10 or 15 years ago. Back then you wouldn’t open up the internet and have everything available to you instantly like you do now. Perhaps this has an influence, but unfortunately I don’t have the answer.
Regarding taking fans’ concerns into account, Wolff insisted that Formula One “does not need a revolution”.
“As team members we must be careful with out opinion on these things,” he said. “We are running teams and this is what we understand. Bernie is running the show and there is nobody better out there to do this [than him]. We’ve had good conversations about it over the last few days and we are going to have more opportunities to give our input but it is not our role to give an opinion on matters such as ticket prices and we shouldn’t try to interfere.
“There are many things to look at but Formula One definitely does not need a revolution. This should be an evolutionary process. We need to be open to all opinions and help to shape the direction of the sport moving forwards. As a group the teams talked the sport down at the beginning of the year, so in a way many of us are to blame.”