Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says the sport has become ‘too clinical’ with not enough risk being taken in races, while teams now have too much say on how drivers conduct themselves.

Never one to shy away from a controversial comment both when he was in charge of the sport and in the years after he was removed from his position by Liberty Media, Ecclestone has long fought to improve the entertainment aspect of the sport at times at the behest of the FIA’s bid to make the cars more high-tech or relevant.

With the sport currently on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis, Ecclestone believes now is the time for the sport to shake things up with new rules that would move away from the expensive technical regulations in favour of promoting the sporting side of it.

“We need to make sure that F1 remains an entertainment package,” he said in an interview with Autocar. “I’d go back to normally aspirated engines that make a bit of a noise and look exciting.

“I don’t see how the engines that we currently have, which are the best bit of engineering that has ever been done, are of any interest to the public. What gets people excited: how much fuel an engine uses or how much power it produces?

“The sport used to be able to embrace engineering progress and still be exciting. Today, the level of engineering is superb, but is it good for entertainment? I don’t think so.”

Calling out the way some races are decided more by the length of pit-stops than drivers taking risks in case they drop points, he says F1 should go back to basics.

“It’s too clinical. There are the rules too: don’t touch the white line, whatever you do. Don’t risk not finishing, as you’ll never make the points up. You used to have at least six cars failing to finish every race, with mechanical problems or risk-taking. Now races are being decided by how long a pit stop takes.

“Somebody needs to tear up the rulebooks – and really write new rules. We need to keep the basics of F1 but just get away from all these super-high-tech things.”

He also wants to see drivers off the leash more in the public eye without team marketing departments intervening to prevent them from being controversial.

“I look at the sport and criticise it a little bit, if I’m honest. Not so much the racing, but the way the teams and drivers operate. I get really upset when I see a driver walking along and standing beside him is a young PR [person] with a microphone or something, waiting to see what he says. If the guy wants to explode and say something, let him. It’s like they have minders to keep them out of trouble.

“We need to stop telling drivers what they can’t do. I want to see sportsmen over the edge. Not to the point of an accident, but proper wheel-to-wheel racing. And if it goes wrong? Remember when Nelson [Piquet] got out of the car and whacked Eliseo Salazar after they crashed into each other? The people loved it. It’s human.”