With changes looming, calls to reconnect with F1 fans

Author: Associated Press

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) – Bumper-to-bumper traffic queues just to see the practice sessions on Friday at Silverstone, and a record 350,000 expected this weekend present a vision of Formula One being in robust health.

Not all the teams share that positivity.

And changes are coming to F1 as smaller outfits lead the charge for a future where they can thrive on the track without requiring the deep pockets that can thrust the wealthy outfits to the front of the grid.

The debate has been recurring for years but F1 is going through another round of deliberations in an attempt to level the playing field.

The FIA governing body has described changes to qualifying and races that are being considered for 2017 as “exciting and innovative.” But it won’t tell anyone just what its strategy group, which features six teams, has conjured up in private.

The teams are also staying silent about their seemingly positive vision for F1’s future, while at the same time some bemoan the current negative tone of coverage about the pinnacle of motorsport.

Force India owner Vijay Mallya, who sits on the strategy group, would only say that he is fighting to ensure even the smallest outfits can be competitive and that F1 income is more fairly distributed.

“If all teams are strong enough to be sustainable and can focus on producing a competitive car rather than worrying about how to survive that will be the best thing for Formula One going forward,” Mallya said Friday.

Sitting with Mallya, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn responded by bemoaning how “miracles don’t happen” in a sport which can be overcomplicated too much of the time.

“We have to reach out to the people again and have the connectivity which we don’t have,” she said.

Sauber has collected only 21 points so far in the constructors’ championship, which is led by Mercedes with a mammoth 328.

Only eight more points have been amassed by Lotus, whose chief executive Matthew Carter is frustrated that to “win or get near to the podium, it’s pretty much related to how much money is spent.”

Carter wants teams to be allowed to come up with innovative ideas that aren’t immediately overruled – or copied by rivals.

Claire Williams, the Williams deputy team principal, thinks people within F1 are too quick to disparage the show.

“I don’t think we should forget that this is still an amazing sport – it’s one of the most visible, most watched sports in the world,” Williams said. “These cars are rocket ships and they are the pinnacle of technical innovation … and we have to remember that.

“I would really like to hear more people talking more positively about our sport and the great things about our sport, not just the negatives that we are trying to deal with as a strategy group.”

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