Johansson: F1 'dangerously' putting entertainment before sport

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Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson fears that F1 could turn into motorsport's version of professional wrestling's WWE, where entertainment usurps sport.

In his latest blog entry on his website, Johansson heavily criticized how F1's title decider in Abu Dhabi unfolded, emphasizing the crucial played by FIA race director Michael Masi in the race's outcome.

Johansson said that Masi' handling of the event's restart at Yas Marina "made no sense on any level".

The Swede now fears that a dangerous element of manipulation has been introduced into the sport for the pure sake of entertainment.

"In the end, I think both Max and Lewis deserved to win the title this year, they both drove at such a high level and both their teams operated at equally high levels, and it would have been such an incredible ending to the year to have it decided fair and square on the racetrack," Johansson wrote.

"Instead, we now have this endless controversy and polarization. I’m sure the folks at Liberty are not complaining as this has lifted F1 to a whole new level in terms of people following.

"But, if this is the direction it will continue, where the entertainment comes before the sport, I think we’re getting into a very dangerous territory.

"I would hate to see F1 turning into the motorsports version of the WWE, where it’s just a show and the sport is secondary to the entertainment."

Johansson is also circumspect regarding the success of the popular Drive to Survive series on Netflix that takes a behind the scenes, fly-on-the-wall approach to chronicling the F1 season, insisting the series needs to find a better balance in the future between the sport's reality and how it's being portrayed to the fans.

"The Netflix show has obviously helped lift the profile of F1 immensely, especially in the US," he said.

"I know how many of the teams and drivers feel about it, but you still can’t deny the impact it’s had.

"Personally, I had to tune out after 15 minutes. I think it’s important to find a good balance going forward.

"I appreciate social media and marketing from every possible angle is important, but I would hate to see the drivers turning into some sort of comedians and clowns rather than brave young men doing their thing on Sunday afternoons."

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