JULY 13, 2015
Put everything under rule-change microscope says Lauda
Things are starting to look up in formula one, according to legend Niki Lauda.
It has been a period of immense criticism and introspection for the pinnacle of motor sport, but the Mercedes team chairman says television ratings are in fact up.
"The ratings this year, and especially since Melbourne, have risen in comparison to last year. There is a positive trend," Lauda told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
But that does not mean the so-called crisis is over, as Lauda says the sport as a whole is pushing ahead with plans to radically speed up the cars for 2017.
"And there will be other changes, in fact as soon as the end of August at the Belgian grand prix," he added.
Indeed, teams have now been informed about the details of immediate rule changes for Spa-Francorchamps, following the realisation that drivers must be put back in full control of the cars.
"On the formation lap before the race, communication from the box to the drivers will be minimal," Lauda explained. "The goal is that the driver will once again be the one who decides how best to bring his car to the finish.
"The role of the driver without manipulation or interference must be more obvious to the audience," he said.
And more changes before 2017 are also possible, Lauda said.
"In 2017 we will have an all-new formula one car, but whatever can be simplified and improved along the way, we will do that," he added.
One improvement might be to make the sport more affordable for struggling small teams, but reports last week suggested Mercedes and Ferrari were fighting against the FIA's plans to cap engine supply costs.
But Lauda said: "We must support those who have not enough money. We have to make available cheaper engines, and in this discussion Mercedes is very much involved.
"Mercedes has the same interest as everyone else in making the racing more interesting," he insisted.
Finally, Lauda has an idea to dramatically spice up the action, through the relaxation of the current speed limits in the pits.
"They should be allowed to do 150kph in the pitlane," he argues, "because with the exception of Monaco or Singapore, these days they are as wide as motorways.
"Everything needs to be reconsidered in order to make formula one more attractive, faster and simpler," said Lauda.