1 June 2014
Prost: F1 has lost the emotion
Alain Prost argues F1 needs to strip away some of the rules and regulations and let the fans 'see the emotion' again
Alain Prost believes F1 has become too restrictive and too regulated and has now lost the 'emotion' really needed to engage new fans.
Prost, who won the F1 Drivers' title four times and who is now an ambassador for Renault, added that the sport has become too complicated for the casual fan and this is also one reason it is not attracting new blood.
“I was commentating on a race last weekend for the first time this year,” he told reporters in Monaco, including Crash.net. “Obviously you have all the lap times and the number of laps for tyres and fuel, you have all the information. I know F1 and with all the information you have you find the race very interesting. But I was thinking if I didn't know F1 very well and I saw it on TV is this something I would like to watch? I'm not quite sure as a newcomer [if I would].
“[Also] if I have the experience of F1 and I am a fan for a long time, let's say, I really might have had enough of all the information we give to the drivers on the radio and the strategy. When we hear the drivers say: 'He touched me, call Charlie [Whiting, the race director]!'. That is really too much. If you ask me that is the part I don't like.
“We have a lot of restrictions, a lot of regulations and lots of different things - maybe we went too far. I still say we because I still feel like we are part of the game but maybe we went a little too far.”
Quizzed further on this, the Frenchman added: “Just take the example of the tyres. Okay it would be better if you have two or three manufacturers because it is a competition. But we know that cost is also a problem. But why are you obliged to stop for the tyres?
“If you give instead of two, hard and soft, you have another one, so hard, medium and soft. You start the race with the one you have qualified with and then it is open, you leave the freedom. Then you have something different because you have an interest.
"If you look at what happened two years ago, if you remember Mark Webber was leading the race and he had to stop on the last lap because he had to. All these kinds of things [are too much]. People I think don't want to see too much. They need to see the emotion as we have no big risk now. We have lost the big emotion of when you are watching the race and thinking something could happen. You need to understand what is happening. But not the fact it is all written in advance.”
Meanwhile, Prost noted it is difficult to say if the changes this season have been a success or not. Prost thinks the changes made were important and that it was good F1 replaced the V8 engines with new greener turbo-charged V6s. However, he added that the sport has failed to communicate properly why it made this change.
“I could not say it is a full success because there is a lot of criticism, especially about noise. I still think the noise is sort of an excuse though, because a lot of other things are not going well. And it is not a success in my opinion because the challenge is not technical. We know it is going to be difficult [for the teams and the engine manufacturers' technically and so on]. The big challenge is to be sure that the people, the public, the fans and so on, they need to understand why we have done this change and in this case it is not all good. They see there is a big change but they don't understand very well why we have done that.”
So who's fault is that?
“If you look at the last two years we have already had a drop in [TV] viewers,” he continued. “So, that means more or less, the fans are still the fans and maybe they don't like the change and maybe they don't like what Formula 1 is compared to the past.
“But on the other side we did not get a 'new' public, a new younger public [engaged]. Maybe it is more difficult to explain that to them than it was when we had the turbo era in the past. So maybe it is different and we don't know how to approach that.”
“I don't want to pick out anyone in particular, but it is not good. I don't think people should criticise. You are in a boat and you have to make it work,” he added.
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