F1 drivers launch fan survey

Formula One drivers launched an extensive survey in 12 languages on Thursday as part of increased efforts to make the sport more exciting by seeking input from alienated fans.

The initiative was officially presented at the Monaco Grand Prix by the Grand Prix Drivers Association, a group which includes four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, former champion Jenson Button and retired F1 racer Alex Wurz, the chairman, who said the survey will take two weeks.

Questions cover every aspect of F1 – the sport, the rules, and whether fans are more into the glamorous side of F1 – glitzy races like the Monaco GP – or prefer technical innovations and the racing itself.

Slower races, less noise and a lack of overtaking are among the current problems affecting viewers’ enjoyment of the sport.

“We understood that fans want to be integrated, so we drivers wanted to connect with the fans around the world,” Button said. “We want to listen to what they think, why they follow the sport, how they see us and the F1 industry.”

The Spanish GP two weeks ago highlighted some of the problems: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won almost unchallenged from pole position, and Vettel – who drives for rival Ferrari – crossed 45 seconds behind him in third place.

“I am looking forward to see the survey results and understand what the fans think,” Vettel said. “I hope it helps us drivers, and F1 as a sport, to influence decisions.”

F1 also is also viewed as being less welcoming to fans than other sports such as Moto GP racing and the world endurance championship, where fans have greater access to riders and drivers.

Although F1 interest remains high in Britain – with Hamilton chasing a third title – television audiences have dropped in other countries.

Last week, F1’s strategy group, consisting of Ferrari and Mercedes, governing body FIA, and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, agreed on new measures for 2017 such as refuelling, more aggressive-looking cars, louder engines and faster lap times.

Despite major advances in technology, lap times have dropped as drivers prioritise tyre management over driving at full throttle.

All changes still need approval by the F1 commission and the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council, and it is not known whether the FIA will take the survey into consideration.

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