Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery thinks new F1 rules should help improve overtaking instead of making cars faster, arguing that speed cannot be fully appreciated on TV.
In the light of dwindling viewing figures and fan interest, the FIA is currently looking to give the sport a major overhaul in 2017, with F1’s Strategy Group asking for faster and more aggressive-looking cars to be introduced.
However, Hembery, who says a lap time gain of five seconds remains possible despite initial aero proposals being already watered down, feels the most pressing issue lies elsewhere.
“If you are in a circuit or watching on TV, you can't see the speed anyway,” he told Crash.net. “What you can see is overtaking and battles, and that is really what people need.
“I don't think people will watch the sport more because we are lapping five seconds quicker, what they will watch more are the images. If you go to a football match, you don't need John Motson telling you that Lionel Messi is doing something amazing on the pitch, you have the crowd with you - you are watching it and you understand what is going on. It is no different to a race. If you see an overtake, you don't need a commentator to tell you about it.
“Turn the volume down on the television and those are the images you see. We know that people go to bars and watch football and the volume is turned down, so what you are watching on screen is what compels you to decide if it is exciting or not. Lap times themselves, you don't understand that on a screen.”
F1's new rules have yet to be ratified, though engine manufacturers just agreed on cost-capping measures that will lower the price of customer power units in exchange for keeping the V6 turbos until at least 2020.
What’s more, it has emerged from this week’s key meetings in Geneva that teams bosses will ask race stewards to refrain from penalising too harshly drivers that engage in wheel-to-wheel battles.