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Gerhard Berger: fix Formula 1 to stop fans “falling asleep in front of the TV”
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Gerhard Berger
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  25 Jan 2016   |  5:58 pm GMT  |  174 comments

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.

Gerhard Berger

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.

Gerhard Berger

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.”

Gerhard Berger Bernie Ecclestone

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.

Gerhard Berger

“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.”

Sebastian Vettel Gerhard Berger

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.”

Gerhard Berger Lewis Hamilton

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.

F1 exhaust pipe

Do you agree with Berger’s ideas on how to improve F1? What would you do to improve the sport? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

You know. About the engine issues as of late. Don’t you think that the reason for this might be because of the fact that you have Engine Manufacturers that are also putting cars on the grid and racing?

Despite the long-storied history of Ferrari and Mercedes. The truth is that when you’re an engine manufacturer and a constructor, there is a definite conflict of interest in supplying engines to other teams there. Where you would give last-generation engines to teams so that you always keep them down a peg. So it becomes almost like you have 4 engine manufactures and 18 feeder teams. With the only addition to RBR as the team that had broken this trend and became an established, separate, team. And now we’re seeing the results of that with no other engine manufacturer (outside of Renault) wanting to create engines for them.

That’s completely, and utterly, messed up. I think this is one of the few great things IndyCar has right. They have effectively taken the engine manufacturers out of having a racing team, created the basis for the engine they wanted created, then if the teams want in, they purchase the engine from them. It’s a novel concept, but one that creates relative parity when you think about the fact that everyone has the same equipment. Engine-wise they either have a Honda, or a Chevrolet.

I feel that F1 could capitalize and make it better. The reason is because while IndyCar is doing a smart thing with this concept, they are also taking the Aerodynamic production and putting it with the engine manufacturers as well. F1 only has 4 engine producers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, and Honda…Tag is really a tester at this point). Why not make a Constructors, Drivers, and Engine Manufactures World Titles? Have the 4 main engine providers as strictly engine manufactures, with a set standard from FIA, and leave the Aerodynamic production to the teams?

They could easily sweeten the deal. Constructors could purchase the engines, the Engine developers get prize money per race win, and I could see no reason why the Engine Manufacturer Champion couldn’t get free air-time the next season to brag how great their engines/cars are.

I think this is the best of both worlds and the only real way I see of having good-great racing every year. Detach the engine manufacturers from the teams, let them worry about the engines, and let the teams worry about the Aero.

2

Formula 1 (wich is basicly not a sport its a bussiness) has been in terms of overtaking and other things that make it worth watching, become to artificial, big teams have to much influence over decisions regaridng regulations and the evolution of the whole “spectacle”while Bernie and the FIA influence have neen in decline for many years. The result is obvious to see; virtually no real overtaking (except lapped cars and fast cars that pitted trying to past cars on old tires on different strategy), few if any lead changes, one team dominating for years (Mercedes) and before that another for years (Red Bull). The championship is to predictable and so are races. Results are almost computerized predictable, with well over 90% of the last 20 races won by only 2 teams and only 3 drivers. Sounds silly and bissare, but it is true. What about qualifying then? Same story, more predictable than death and taxes. The biggest issue fo rme is the lack of driver skill impact versus machine impact, where the car performance takes to much of the overall impact of results, basicly unless two cars are nearly identical in performance it takes a mistake from a driver (unlikly) skill will not produce an overtake. This notion is confirmed in the steady decline in real overtaking and lead changes (massive decline since 1990s). This “sport”is failing and lack sleadership, drivers have zero influence of it’s direction and has abandoned its fans wishes for years and as results are losing fans by the minute. Anyone why wants real racing should tune into MOtoGP or even FOrmule E, for some real exciting racing, where there is no need for artifical fluff like “DRS” and the most disastrous qualifiation scheme ever devised (made to make fans fall asleep).

3
judy haynes (rob)

I have followed F1 since the mid 1950s, I still do, although I am getting an ominous feeling lately that my time could be better spent sorting my sock drawer. I feel that F1 has lost its way in a presentation sense. All this super technology is fine, but it has come down to the technology overriding the driver input, and created a situation where we have one team with a superior package, disappearing into the distance, with the alsorans trailing far behind. This may be pleasing for the boffins in the winning team, but it leaves the viewing public with a sense of underwhelming dissatisfaction. I fear that Formula one is in grave danger of enduring the fate of the mythical yaya bird, which is said to have flown in ever decreasing circles until it flew up its own backside, and disappeared.

4

F1 is boring because of the rules at present. DRS is a joke because of the way it’s used, name any sport were your penalised for leading an adversary. I’d rather watch a race with no overtaking but drivers trying to pass than the DRS drive byes. A better use would be to give the driver a set number of times it can be used and as many times per lap as they wish to use it(not restricted to once per lap as at present) at there discretion (no coaching from the pit wall)

All cars have a sensor fitted (should be all fitted in the same location), sensors should be imbedded on all track corners, if a car exceeds the track limits by more than half a car width an indication comes up on your display, do it again and you have a 10 second penalty added to your pit stop per infringement. Some may think this idea odd but overtaking opertunitys are brought about by drivers having to slow for corners, this doesn’t happen when they ignore the corner limits ”ohrouge” a case in point. When race tracks had gravel traps the penalty was much more severe, it makes me laugh when we’re told by race control that some corners exceeding track limits is acceptable because they haven’t gained any time, I beg to differ, if there had been a gravel trap or barriers they would out of the race or slowed much more than the .2 of a second they lose.

An idea to close up car development would be that for the first two races upto the start of pre qualifying for the third all teams could use some or all of there development tokens, from that point on no team leading driver or team championship can use any tokens until they are no longer leading either championship or it has come to the last three races of the season, when any remaining tokens can be used.

5

He”s right. I stopped watching mid year last year. Where has the drama and the passion and spectacle gone? The brute has been removed from the cars. The drivers seem more worried about their hair and ear rings.. If I want to see battery powered hybrids ill watch formula E [Mod]… Formula1 used to be tough stiff jawed warriors doing battle, taming the beasts. Now they are delicate flowers amongst a bouquet of [Mod]. The cars and drivers need a sharp rough edge. Its just not the same as it was.

[Please refrain from using that type of language at all times – Mod]

6

Fake engine noise with the waste gate pipe,

Fake tyre degradation with Pirelli having to produce a tyre that wears too quickly,

Fake overtaking with DRS,

Drivers driving like taxi drivers having been told 5 laps in to a race to turn everything down and lift & coast to save engine life / tyres.

And everyone is scratching their heads wondering why it’s gotten boring!

For the first time in 20 years I will not be going to a GP this year and I seriously doubt I will be tuning in on TV either. With the current state of F1 I have better things to do with my Sunday afternoons. I will get my race fix from MotoGP and WRC from now on I think. Shame really

7

I would like to see FLAT OUT RACING, with overtaking on track and not as a result of remarkably fast pitwork (fuel/tyres).

The cars and drivers are capable of so much more!

8

Errrm Gerhard, I fell asleep when you were racing too.

9

I believe in the KISS principle. Select a maximum amount for a team to spend per season. Retain same track safety rules and points. No more rules.

Call it “Formula Libre”.

10

@ james….is there any chance that we can get these anomalies fixed. this morning i have tried to reply to posts and they are just disappearing. some, mainly one liners get through but that is all. it is all very frustrating and has been happening for quite a long time now.

11

Me too. I just wasted 10 minutes typing out a reply, and now it’s gone. I hit “Comment”, the page reloaded, and my comment is gone.

I love this site, but the mechanics of the comments section is infuriating at times, especially when posting off a smart phone.

12

He makes a good point regarding MotoGP and the power / weight ratio. It’s really something watching those guys wrestle with so much power going through one wheel.

13

I’m still not getting suspicious when my comments don’t get posted, though I do take care writing them and checking them over. Just saying.

14

Obviously Gerhard is right. It’s puzzling how so many drivers and insiders can complain about these ridiculous tires and still the sport doesn’t change.

15

@ bernd….how very true. BE has now come out and said he agrees with the drivers but in the next sentence says he backs pirelli!!! who’s idea was it to build in thermal degradation to enforce pit stops and make drivers drive to a delta?

16

They should get rid of the flappy paddle gearboxes and give them a manual and a foot clutch.

17

They should go back to drum brakes too!!

18

How to improve the F1 spectacle?

1. More overtaking -Allow ground effect but reduce wings to 5 % – for trimming only

2. Remove all aerodynamic excrescences to make cars more attractive

3. Make tyres which can be driven flat out for entire race

4. cars should have 20kgs of fuel left at end of race – no refuelling

5. Pit radios for emergencies only

6. 5 points for fastest lap, 3 for second fastest, 1 for third fastest

7. Equitable distribution of money to all teams.

8. Large numbers on cars so we know who we are looking at and name of driver above steering wheel for those in car shots.

19

Now we need refueling and we need pit stops but…

Refueling should be back but just put a certain size tank in the car to make the cars lighter.

Pit stops need to be there for tires but there should not be a radio. driver presses button inside car when he feels he needs a tire change. BUT yes tires need to last longer and be pushed 100%

20

KISS – Keep it simple stupid! Just look back to the 70s and 80s when the racing was real exciting, there were no tire changes, no refueling and basic simple aerodynamics which allowed the cars to draft and pass. Also there was Bosworth supplying engines to all of the non manufacturing teams so engines did not play an issue.

21

I agree with Gerhard’s comment, cuz honestly I have fallen asleep too watching these season’s races and then when I used to woke up the race usually use to end as expected a day before, see the point is nowadays the car’s or u say manufacturers are racing, as a f1 fan and the viewer we want the drivers skill to be seen on track and honestly f1 needs a lot of alteration to make it competitive on track…

22

I’m tired of overpowered cars like Red Bull and Mercedes. 2013 was the most boring season I’ve ever seen. Vettel won 9 races in a row and pretty much lead every lap of those races. Qualify was also boring all Vettel had to do was do one lap. There hasn’t been an interesting Constructor’s championship since 2009

23

So tell the other constructors to get the poop in group. Such a loser attitude to blame the winner for being too successful:

24

First of all the radios need to come out of the cars so that the drivers are choosing when to come in for tyres. It would also mean that tweaks to this and that would need to be discussed with the team at the pit stop or on pit boards, it works in Moto GP !! . How many times to teams arrange for a driver to come in before the tyres are shot because they can slot them in to a clear bit of track, surley this is giving instructions to the driver. The only reason for a radio in the car should be for safety, where the clerk of the course can warn drivers of a hazard. The most exciting bit of F! these day’s is when it rains and the driver makes the decision to come in.

it has to be more the drivers ability rather than how good the car is in order to provide the entertainment, cause that’s what it is at the end of the day..entertainment !!

25

Ya, let’s continue to increase censorship of radio communication…because we all know censorship works so well in all aspects of life.

I know, the FIA could come up with list of appropriate phrases. Teams would only be allowed to say the words on the script, any deviation would result in a penalty. ya, that sounds fantastic….

26

The idea would be that none of the teams have radios. Only the safety guys would have any communication with the drivers.

I totally agree with Mr Burger. In the days of Senna et al I would be up at daft o’clock to watch the fly away races live, but last yearI record all the races, purely so I could fast forward to anything considered exciting, not because I have lost my love of motorsport, but it seems the cars and the drivers aren’t what they used to be……..both laking charisma. Soon I realised, that I only needed to see what order they went round the first to know who won the race result.

27
Clarks4WheelDrift

Berger is spot on with most of his comments. Don’t like the one engine per season though.

But, F1 doesn’t need to be portrayed as completely broken and change everything though, or very little will actually be done…

28
Clarks4WheelDrift

2nd improve car following, 2015 was worse than 14 for Ham Ros overtakes…

29
Clarks4WheelDrift

F1 2015 and now is under control of Merc and Ferrari, the racing for victory was pathetic and if Ferrari can’t match Merc, F1 will be in even deeper trouble with the FIA and Bernie powerless. Only recently, we had Merc V Ferrari V BMW V Renault V Toyota and Ford coming back in, plus there was no danger that a title sponsor wouldn’t be found for an F1 team like McLaren! It needs these small changes to bring back the sport and the racing ASAP

30
Clarks4WheelDrift

Finally, it’s ALL about improving the racing to improve the show on TV. The exhaust noise thing has nothing to do with the racing. It should be louder but shouldn’t be used by Paddy as some sort of concession to his dominance and is distracting from the real solutions to better racing

31
Clarks4WheelDrift

…Start with the easiest, make Merc and Ferrari supply the same spec engine to all customers, including making the latest software available, engine updates etc. Merc should never be allowed to control, say Williams, to ensure they can make their first pit stop and exit way in the lead, lapping all customers most races. They should never make a massive spec leap in the final third of a season without supplying customers as well, even if they may change engines like Lotus in 2015. No team should be allowed to sell a year old engine without updates like Max and Carlos in 2016 as a last ditched stay in the sport or quit option. Unlike before, all current customers look like they have zero chance at innovation to allow even a single race victory. This should be a done deal by Todt, if F1 is to remain a sport and not manipulated fully by Merc and Ferrari

32

Clarkes, do Mercedes lap most of their customers? Lets have a look, below is a list of all the races last year and the number next to it is the number of Mercedes customer cars that were lapped in that race.

AUS, 2

MAL, 3

CHI, 1

BAH, 4

ESP, 3

MON, 1

CAN, 2

OST, 2

GBR, 1

HUN, 0

BRL. 0

ITA, 1

SIN, 0

JPN, 2

RUS, 0

USA, 0

MEX, 0

BRA, 6

ABU, 1

So we can see that the number of races in which “most” customers were lapped is 2.

33

How about this for regulations …

The car should fit in this box. Then provide box dimensions 🙂

34

I think we only need rule stability, maybe with an engine equalization period, to let other teams catch up with Mercedes and get a competitive field. Continual rule changes lead to an uncompetitive field.

35

By the way, I seem to have real problems posting comments if I include blank lines. Has only started in last month or two. Never used to have the issues that others reported. Using Firefox on Linux if it’s any help in diagnosis!

36

James,

Like Gerhard Berger former Ferrari and McLaren driver Stefan Johansson recently suggested a lot of changes how to improve F1. There was a lot of good ideas he had in my opinion…

Have you read them?

And what are you’re thoughts about them?

Do you think there will be any big changes? Bernie and Todt seems to be powerless…

PS. As Gerhard I also often fall asleep nowadays watching F1. Actually I decided to not start watching this season until Monaco and that’s cause the raise in pay-per-view charge because I don’t think it’s worth the money anymore. And I think I’m not alone in that opinion…

37

Thanks for the heads-up on those articles, Mike – a good read

38

Thanks yes.

Out of interest what country are you in?

39

Sweden. And for your knowledge they raised the cost to watch F1 with over 40% for this season, so the tv-company aint making any favours for Bernie here 🙂

40

I definitely agree that the power should be taken out of the manufacturers hands but let them have a non voting rep on the council that decides the rules (a team member from every team with equal rights not based on prize money or budget), obviously no colluding between the teams.

It should be a case of here are the rules (with due consideration to the teams point of view, tyre supplier etc), comply with them or quit F1. What other motorsport allows the manufacturers to dictate the rules, I’m not sure.

I do not have any real solutions (some of the 2017 ones are a step forward) as to the problems in F1 but the following could help improve the spectacle:

– more mechanical grip could be great

– not restricting engine development, I think if they open that up for a period of 5 years, any new manufacturer would get unrestricted development within their first 5 years in F1

– remove driver aides or engineers telling them what to do, study the data at night in debriefs but not through FP 1, 2, 3 and race

– refuelling so drivers are not coasting to the finish or conserving engines

– force manufacturers to supply a min number of teams, sorry Honda, I mean Dennis

– provide incentives for new manufacturers to come in – would live to see Audi come in and partner with RB

– distribute money to teams evenly then extra based on number of points plus for every year in the F1 comp add 100,000

– have a single driver steward for every race so we get some form of consistency

– enforce track limits more aggressively even in FP 1, 2 and 3, penalise by adding 5 secs to race time or pit stop

– restrict radio to driver to only emergencies relating to the car and track plus when to come in for a pit stop, don’t give a commentary on other drivers whereabouts/going ons like we heard with ROS and HAM

– allow more practise time

I’m attending the Australian GP and hope Honda and Renault have made some significant horsepower gains so we have an entertaining race otherwise I’ll be content with the V8 Supercars and the speed comparison test.

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