As F1 speeds towards its next battleground, the debate about the very future of the sport will also resume in Malaysia.
After the Melbourne opener, Red Bull furiously slammed the current regulations and threatened to pull out if they are not changed soon.
“According to our research,” Dr Helmut Marko told Speed Week, “the television viewing decline in 2014 was 26 per cent.
“So if that keeps happening and the regulations stay the same, then we must ask: what is the sporting and commercial value of formula one?”
The Austrian insists he is not just railing against Red Bull’s performance deficit in 2015, but the appearance that the cars are “easy to drive”.
“This is an argument not only we are making,” Marko insists. “Any rookie can now be immediately competitive because the cars are easy to master on the limit and also in terms of power the GP2 cars are almost the same.”
Red Bull has proposed a standard turbo and KERS package capable of 1,000 horse power.
But the sport will not take a sharp turn with the rules unless Red Bull finds allies willing to vote with them.
“Do we need new formula one cars?” Williams’ Pat Symonds is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
“First, we need a set of rules that is sustainable and sufficient for teams to survive. I’m not so sure that cars with a new look or 1,000 horse power will help formula one too much.”
Not surprisingly, the dominant Mercedes team agrees with its customer.
“My personal view is that the sport itself does not need anything drastic to change,” said team boss Toto Wolff.
“Nevertheless, we must remain open and participate in the discussion and see what we can do to improve formula one.”
Marko, however, is not only critical of what he describes as Mercedes’ “understandable” defiance in the face of its dominance.
He also blames the FIA.
“Only when no one watches formula one anymore will they (Mercedes) question the value of their victories,” said Marko.
“We need a leadership in formula one that can force decisions,” he insisted. “Just as it was under FIA president Max Mosley.” (GMM)