Niki Lauda

WHAT’S WRONG WITH FORMULA ONE?

Photo: Getty Images

There is a lot about Formula 1 that gets on legend Niki Lauda’s nerves, and he’s not afraid to say it. 

There’s a lot about Formula 1 that gets on my nerves, but let me start with something positive. The cars have got a bit louder again. You could really hear that in Monte Carlo. The Ferraris, Hondas and Mercedes sound proper once more. The Renault is still a bit quiet, but then it is a less powerful engine.

Formula One has basically been regulated to death down the years. Everyone sticks their oar in. The drivers can’t go beyond certain limits. This over-regulation is no good for any sport. All these superfluous regulations need to be repealed, which doesn’t mean that Formula One should become unsafe, obviously. 

But everything shouldn’t be so severely regulated, monitored and automated. The drivers practically have all the decision-making power taken away from them by the technology these days. Even the start is fully automatic. How the clutch engages and the way the car starts are both regulated. The teams get the most out of that technically, while the driver is left sitting there on the track. The ideal from my point of view would be for things to be how they used to be – release the clutch manually and off you go. Then if there’s a problem, it’s the driver who’s to blame for whether the wheels get going or not. The drivers should have greater responsibility again in future. And they have to be able to make more mistakes again too, so that we can distinguish who’s good and who’s bad.

Formula 1

We’re currently working on a completely new concept for 2017. We will have completely new cars that are six seconds quicker, look completely different and are harder to drive again. Not just anyone should be able to get into a Formula One car and drive off in it. In the past you used to wet yourself the first time you got in a Formula One car. 

As for the races themselves, and whether we have too many… 20 is the right number. I’m also completely OK with races at new circuits, because Bernie is obviously trying to conquer new markets for Formula One. He also has to make sure it’s as interesting as possible, so that people will pay to come and see the races. But it’s also important to leave heritage races like the ones in Germany, England and Italy on the race calendar. So keep the core as it is and experiment around it.

“People want to see real men who make mistakes and say things they shouldn’t”

Whatever happens in future, Formula One has to focus on its clients/fans. The world would keep on turning even if there was no Formula One, which is why we have to focus on what interests the consumer and what they want. The drivers are much too nice nowadays, too. None of them has any quirks now and they all make sure they never put a foot wrong. People want to see real men who make mistakes and say things they shouldn’t. There’s not much time left, so I hope we’ll be able to make all these changes as quickly as possible so that people will still have every motivation either to come to the races themselves or to watch them on TV.

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06 2015 The Red Bulletin

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