Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner says that F1’s focus should be on entertaining the fans and spectators, with technology playing second fiddle to that requirement.
Having altered the rules to usher in the new hybrid engine era in 2014, to bring the sport in line with current motoring trends, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team have dominated the championship due to their superior power, which has seen “the F1 show” somewhat diminished.
In 2017, the FIA have switched the focus to aerodynamic efficiency in a bid to level the playing field again, but Horner believes that when the rules are up for debate in 2019, the focus should turn to doing whatever they can to provide a spectacle on track, as he explained to ESPN recently.
“I think the commercial rights holder needs to dictate that because he’s got to sell a product.
“For me F1 should be entertainment first and technology should play a secondary role. So for me, I would prefer to go back to a normally-aspirated, screaming V10 engine with a standard energy recovery system.
“That might not be what Mercedes or Honda would vote for, but would it be more appealing to the fans? I believe it would be.”
Although advances in F1 can often lead to improvements on the road, fans and especially newcomers to the sport can be left battled by the intricacies involved in the engine and technology battle, and Horner feels this needs to change if the sport is to grow and keep attracting new enthusiasts.
“I think the technology we have now is so complex that people don’t understand the complexity, and we don’t do a great job of advertising what these cars are currently achieving either.
“I think the sound is a key factor and a key part of the DNA of Formula One. You only have to listen to the McLaren-Honda V10 they fired up at the grand prix in Japan [last year].
“They did a couple of demonstration laps and every mechanic in the garage put his tools down to come and look and listen — that’s what Formula One should be. The commercial rights holder has to decide what it wants.”
According to Horner, in terms of Red Bull themselves, the technological side of F1 has never really struck a chord with their company ethos as an energy drinks firm, with customer satisfaction always being top of their list of priorities.
“Formula 1 is the biggest sporting platform outside of the Olympics and World Cup, so it’s a great global platform.
“For the Red Bull brand, the product needs to be exciting, accessible and aspirational. F1 needs to tick all those boxes, and for us, unlike a manufacturer, the technology is secondary to the entertainment.
“We want Formula 1 to be an entertaining show, and in many respects the technology is a necessary evil to be competitive. Of course, it can’t be all show and no technology — but it’s about finding that balance.
“As I say, we’d far prefer to have cars that have a strong emotional impact on the viewer and the spectator by making drivers the heroes.”