Fans, teams, the EU…seems like everyone has an opinion, concern or at least high hopes regarding new owners Liberty Media and the direction of the sport. It’s also only natural that the drivers would have strong opinions about their occupation as well and Lewis Hamilton is the latest to offer his thoughts in a BBC 5 Live interview.
“I don’t feel Formula 1 is winning – it’s not been for a long time,” he said, in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live.
“That’s to do with rule changes, it’s to do with not helping or not engaging the fans enough.
“There is still a great following in Formula 1, and I’m excited for the new owners that have come in. I’m hoping they do something new.
“New blood. New ideas. New ways of engaging the fans in a unique way.
“F1 is a bit outdated, if you look at other sports they’re further ahead in the entertainment factor.
“Formula 1 is catching up, and they have a lot of catching up to do.”
Lewis paints a relatively honest picture of the situation and as far as digital options, broadcast distribution, fan engagement through these mediums and some other on-event features go, F1 has been a little remiss in not at least deploying some mature products to sate a ravenous, cord-cutting fan base and younger generation of viewer.
For Lewis, the lack of sound from the current V6 hybrid power unit has a large role to play in the lack of appeal.
“I’ve said time and time again that I think it’s terrible,” said Hamilton.
“Most people are like, ‘oh, it’s not that bad’. But my opinion is that I think it is.
“When I first went to a grand prix at Spa in 1996, got into the paddock and Michael [Schumacher] came past in the V10 [Ferrari] and it literally rumbled my ribcage.
“I was hooked even more than I was when I’d watched it on TV.
“It was like a fighter jet – I was like ‘what the hell?’
“It’s not the only thing the fans love, but it’s an addition to smell, to the roar of awesomeness that Formula 1 is.
“Take that away and, jeez, it’s just sad to see the cars come by now, sound-wise.”
While I’ve made a meal of complaining that the press are still trying to direct the narrative of the FIA’s engine regulations by using an incorrect word to describe the engine note when they call it “noise”. IT’S NOT NOISE! It’s sound, check the dictionary for crying out loud! Thankfully, Lewis, in a very common-place conversation, doesn’t resort to carrying water for a hybrid engine and uses the term “sound”. Good on him.
If pressed, I believe Lewis would also say that the pendulum has swung too far toward F1 being an engineering Olympics in which the most complicated and technically superior car wins the gold medal but that leaves very little of the driver in the equation and I think we all know where Lewis stands on getting back to real, aggressive, hard racing and driver impact. The more a race relies on him, the more confident he is in winning such is his complete reliance on his skills.
Lewis has often called for more driver impact on the sport and the 2017 regulations were designed to do just that so I will be interested in seeing what Lewis and other drivers think of the new cars.
As for Liberty’s new model going forward, I suspect that even tech-savvy Lewis will be happy in the years to come. I think Liberty knows very well what it should be doing but it will take time to iron out all of the assets, contracts and product revenue streams it feels it can achieve with its series and historic content.
Hat Tip: BBC