Vettel sees red over F1 plan to razzle-dazzle 'em
Formula1 season leader Sebastian Vettel warned yesterday against tinkering with the sport to make it more fan-friendly under its new US owners, saying "too much change is wrong".
The Grand Prix circuit has entered a new era with its recent acquisition by the US's Liberty Media after decades under the whip of ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone.
There had been complaints that, under the 86-year-old Ecclestone, Formula1 failed to move with the times and has paid the price with plummeting fan interest.
But Vettel, a four-times champion who surged to a comprehensive victory for Ferrari in the Australia season-opener, said suggestions such as trimming the number of races or their duration were misguided.
"I am maybe old school," the 29-year-old German said in Shanghai ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. "I think that some things we shouldn't change. It's wrong to change too much."
The sport has been criticised for boring races, a lack of razzle-dazzle and the all-too-predictable dominance by the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.
Formula1 now hopes to appeal to a younger, global, social media-savvy audience, and this season has introduced wider, new machines and broader tyres that are expected to provide more noise and spectacle.
Vettel acknowledged that shorter races would be "more exciting" but reducing track time for the benefit of attention-deficit millennials would reduce the challenge of the sport.
"That's the Grand Prix. That's how it's always been. [Races have] been even longer in the past and it should remain a challenge.
"I think by making it shorter it would be more exciting but it's not a Grand Prix any more.
"I'm a bit sceptical about change for the sake of change."
Vettel's 11-second victory over reigning champ Mercedes and its star Lewis Hamilton in Australia put the German constructor on notice.
But Vettel warned that the season was still young.
"I think Mercedes still has to be the favourite. We had a very strong first race but the way we look at it on the team is that we go race by race," Vettel said.
At the weekend, Vettel will be back behind the wheel of "Gina", as he has named this season's car.
"It's just a bit of fun, to have a bit more of a relation [with the car] than just calling it 'the car'- but it is not like I stroke her in the morning."