Mark Webber has asserted that F1 needs to have 'more racing and less strategy', as he dreams of an era of 'big engines and big noise', in which pit-stops are fewer and refuelling is reintroduced, in which there is a grand prix in downtown San Francisco and in which there is 'more attacking and pushing cars to the edge'.
With the sport having swanned off on its prolonged annual summer break, its drivers have been left to relax, recharge their batteries – and perhaps daydream a little. Webber was put on the spot by the official F1 website as the Red Bull Racing star faced a variety of questions about his personal vision for the future of the top flight – and what, in an ideal world, he would resurrect from the past. It makes for interesting reading.
“I would demand less pit-stops,” he underlines. “More attacking and pushing the cars to the edge; more racing and less strategy. Bring back refuelling; it is better to drive cars that are lighter – [and engines with] 1,300 horsepower. Big engines and big noise – that is what fans relate to F1.
“The 1980s [were] dangerous, so drivers needed big balls – it was the era I watched on TV when I was little. To be honest, the 1950s and 1960s were a little bit extreme; the 1980s were the right time – the right balance between safety and extreme.
“I always liked going to Imola, but of course the memories of many in F1 of going there are probably not so good. In some ways, it is a bit of a 'dark track' after what happened there. Obviously, it is not the luckiest venue, but I think a lot of drivers would love to go back there for the atmosphere.
“To be honest, I always liked going to Magny-Cours, too. Even though many complained that it is in the middle of nowhere, the track layout was very nice – and I liked it because there were no groupies and no clowns walking around in their suits, it was just racing!”
Of the current circuits, the Australian rates Malaysian Grand Prix venue Sepang as his favourite – 'It's a tough race, with the conditions that are always there, but I love the track,' he enthuses – whilst his first choice for a new addition to the calendar would be San Francisco, contending that 'all those hills and jumps...would be very good, and great to watch for the fans'. And his dream track? “Eau Rouge from Spa, Copse from Silverstone – the old first corner there – and the first chicane at Magny-Cours, after the hairpin.”
Confessing that team-wise, 'it would be great to see Brabham back, if only for patriotic reasons', Webber admits he would have loved to have been able to race the ultra-dominant 1992 Williams FW14B – 'the most sophisticated grand prix car ever' – and that his ideal team-mate would have been Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio, albeit closely followed by current Red Bull stable-mate Sebastian Vettel.
The 34-year-old reflects that his ultimate dinner party guests would be Roger Penske, Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark and Mario Andretti, whilst he rates Fernando Alonso as the best of the current crop on the grid, describing his Ferrari rival as 'incredibly complete, experienced and fast'.
Watching Senna and Clark go wheel-to-wheel, he adds, would be a transcendent experience, given how 'both were extraordinarily quick' and musing that 'I think we saw a bit of this when Senna and Alain Prost were racing against each other...I think Prost was a bit similar to Clark, in terms of being tacticians'. And how, finally, would Mark Webber celebrate were he to clinch his maiden F1 drivers' crown?
“I would go directly to Australia, invite all my friends from Europe down there and of course all my friends in Australia, and order maybe some junk food,” he ponders. “It doesn't have to be caviar. It is all about having a good time.”
Spoken like a true, plain-speaking, no-nonsense Aussie.