When it comes to making Formula 1 more challenging, Jenson Button is also on board and believes that the input of fans will help the sport move in the right direction.
Recently, F1 legends Niki Lauda and Kimi Raikkonen used the word to describe what the sport needs to do to rekindle the imagination of a dwindling audience.
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘dangerous’ myself,” Button, the most experienced driver on the grid today who has raced in the V10, V8 and new ‘power unit’ eras, told Auto Hebdo.
“I don’t think that’s the appropriate word, but I understand what they mean,” he said. “No one wants, for example, to make the tracks less safe, but we have to make the cars more difficult to drive, and hopefully we can make them faster in the corners.”
The 35-year-old said a lot of the current criticism of F1 is justified, “The audience in Formula one1 is bigger than in many other sports. so there is always criticism.”
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve it. I think the fans will be satisfied when they at least feel as though the actual participants are happy with everything. And that’s not the case at the moment,” insisted Button.
To help, the drivers recently commissioned a global fan survey and over 200,000 fans from 194 countries responded. They proposed things like a tyre war and the return of refuelling, but both measures were rejected by the teams.
“In front of the camera, the team bosses say what the fans want is important, but to me it’s like a chef asking his customers what they want to eat and then cooking whatever he wants anyway,” said former F1 driver David Coulthard.
“So what can we learn from the fact that Kimi Raikkonen is the most popular driver?” asked Auto Motor und Sport.
“It’s that people want to see characters. Guys with rough edges. They want wins, losses, breakdowns, errors, accidents, controversies. Perfection is boring,” Coulthard said.
After Raikkonen, the next most popular drivers in F1 – the GPDA survey also found – are Button and Fernando Alonso.
1997 F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve commented: “Who? The three with the most experience. This speaks very much against the trend of younger and younger drivers. I’m surprised the teams don’t understand that. Don’t they do their own market research?”
Damon Hill, however, thinks the fact the drivers are commissioning fan surveys is a worrying sign for F1, “Have you ever heard of the Rolling Stones doing a survey? I’d like to think that the sport knows for itself what it needs to do.”
“If you always aspire to power by popularity, you will spin in a circle,” warned the 1996 F1 world champion..