Sport Motorsport The radical shift Formula One is considering to engage fans

The radical shift Formula One is considering to engage fans

The 2016 season has been dominated by two drivers. Photo: Getty
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Just one race remains on the 2016 Formula One calendar – and the world title is still up for grabs.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg leads the standings by 12 points but ‘teammate’ Lewis Hamilton – the pair’s frosty relationship is famous – has won the past three races and is hot on his heels.

It sets up a fascinating season-ending race under lights in Abu Dhabi and is surely a promoter’s dream, but Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone says his sport needs to make changes to combat the “shorter attention span” of society.

His solution? Two shorter races instead of a lengthy one.

“A lot of sports are looking at introducing shorter forms of their games,” Ecclestone told Britain’s Sunday Times in an honest and revealing interview.

“All American sports have timeouts built in – mainly because American audiences can’t concentrate.

“They grow up with everything in 15-minute segments on TV. People are the same everywhere now.”

Ecclestone said that this month’s Brazilian Grand Prix was the perfect example of how Formula One could change its format.

Heavy rain lashed the Interlagos circuit, as a multitude of crashes and incidents made for an enthralling race.

The race was also stopped for a brief period, time in which Ecclestone’s eyes opened up to the possibility of two shorter races.

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The wet weather made for an exciting race in Brazil. Photo: Getty

“The television audiences went up for Brazil,” he added.

“We had a long race with the heavy rain and a couple of crashes but that meant we had two starts because of the red flags and people tuned in.

“We need to look at the traditional concept of one long race.

“Two 40-minute races with a 40-minute break in the middle when the drivers could be interviewed, cars worked on, would be attractive to viewers, the TV companies, the sponsors and advertisers would love it.

“Cars would qualify on a Saturday as usual for the first race and that would set the grid for the second. It would shake things up with lighter, faster cars.

“But I don’t know if we have the courage to change. Times change though and it is something we must look at.”

‘Proper drivers are frustrated’

Ecclestone continued to blast the current state of Formula One and said the current rules are confusing and do not promote exciting racing.

“The regulation book should be retitled ‘Don’t Race’,” he said.

“They are written in such a convoluted way and there are so many that nobody, including the drivers, knows the right thing to do.

“The proper drivers are frustrated, so are the viewers, and so am I. It is crazy.

daniel ricciardo formula one
Ricciardo celebrates his Malaysian success. Photo: Getty

“We need to make it easier for drivers to race fairly.

“I don’t think they should deliberately bang wheels but if they are racing each other and they go close and touch, so what?

“I often wonder if some of these guys want to race or just be out there in an F1 car.”

Rosberg (367 points) and Hamilton (355 points) are the only drivers who can win the world title, but Aussie Daniel Ricciardo (246 points) is guaranteed to finish third in the 2016 standings.

The result matches his best year in the sport, achieved in 2014 when he won three races to finish third behind Hamilton and Rosberg.

He has won just one event in 2016, in Malaysia and, apart from Max Verstappen (Red Bull), is the only non-Mercedes driver to claim a race win this year.

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