Former grand prix winner Gerhard Berger thinks Formula One has become so perfect and clinical that the crucial element of unpredictability has been removed from the sport entirely.
The Austrian adds that near-flawless reliability has made current dominant periods less enjoyable to watch compared to previous all-conquering campaigns.
Berger’s career in the top flight spanned from 1984 to 1997, which allowed him to see McLaren-Honda steamroll the field with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1988-89, and Williams dominate a massive chunk of the 1990s.
However, the 56-year-old claims these were more entertaining than Mercedes’ hegemony in the latest turbo era, which has resulted in 32 wins and 36 pole positions in 38 grand prix weekends.
“There are several differences to McLaren’s winning streak from my time,” Berger told German publication Auto Motor und Sport in a wide-ranging interview.
“First, the fans were still entertained by what happened on tract. This was like taking a ride on a cannonball.
“Then, the races remained unpredictable because there were so many failures or mistakes. Who runs out of fuel today? The sport is now so perfect that a dominant car affects the entertainment value more.
“Thirdly, if you were driving too fast, you’ll end up in the gravel or in the barriers. Now, you can run wide and you don’t get punished because you have huge run-off areas. The driver can rejoin the track and he does not even lose any position.
“[The sport] has become too clinical, too controlled, too nice and too regulated.”
Despite engine manufacturers recently agreeing on cost-capping measures, Berger thinks F1’s payment structure – whereby five teams receive a bigger share of the sport’s revenues – still needs to be addressed.
“For me, cost control is cardinal, and the money should be equally split. Ferrari and Mercedes want other teams to compete, but they prefer them not to be competitive.
“Because of that, the sport needs a police force that says everybody must have the chance to be competitive.
“There is no use in giving more to the teams that are always winning.”