Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery has suggested the return of a one-make formula would be the best way to answer the age-old question of who the best driver in F1 might be.
Fortunately for F1 purists, the Briton is not suggesting that the top flight adopts a uniform chassis-engine combination, but he's not the first to wonder whether an all-star event should make a return to the grand prix weekend, particularly with the teams' development race steaming ahead at record pace.
“It is still very much a technology-led sport and, for some who have a different point of view, that's very much the way it should be,” Hembery noted, “The problem for me is that the driver is still not the star and that's the single biggest problem we have as a sport.
“We still have star drivers of course, but the most common question you get asked is 'who's the best driver?' because the public can't work it out. Maybe we could go back to when they had the BMW Procars, the M1s, back in the '80s. Maybe we could have a race on the Saturday… Ferrari and McLaren make some great sportscars, Mercedes make sportscars, so get them to do a Saturday one-make race series like they used to do back then.”
When asked why F1 drivers could not transcend the team in the same was as football's finest such as Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have, Hembery was quick to point out the two sports were very different.
“Football's a team sport in a very different way,” he confirmed, “You can see individual brilliance there, but I think it is very hard for the public to perceive individual brilliance [in F1].
“Yes, we have some extraordinary, amazing drivers at the moment, an amazingly good batch of drivers. If you look at the Red Bull and Toro Rosso young drivers we have, they're clearly four drivers with a big future. If you look at McLaren, if they bring [Stoffel] Vandoorne in, there's some very talented drivers coming through. That's good for the sport but, if you get into a debate about who is really the best driver, all we can do is compare team-mates, and that's a little bit of a shame.
“The drivers have to be the stars, they're the ones people look up to and idolise. People have dreams about owning these amazing cars, but I think the people watching the television screen are idolising about wanting to be the Kimi, Vettel, Jenson, Alonso of the situation, and that's a bit lost.”