After Bernie Ecclestone on Monday shattered F1’s pre-season optimism, his old friend Flavio Briatore agreed that the sport he once loved is “broken”.
“This formula one is broken, it’s a broken business platform,” the former Renault chief told Italian radio Rai Gr Parlamento.
Ahead of a ‘last chance’ meeting in Geneva where proposed sweeping rule changes could be nixed, F1 supremo Ecclestone had declared that he would not currently watch the sport as a spectator.
“One of the biggest problems of formula one today is that it has no more appeal to the audience,” Briatore agreed.
“The more the budgets increase, the more the technology increases, the more you have races that are not interesting,” he added.
“F1 is incredible technically, but I do not think about F1 as a race but as a technical exercise and that is not of interest to the viewer.
“It must be entertainment, about the gladiators, but it is a world championship for engineers now.
“In my time there were 10 to 12 recognisable drivers, now only 2 or 3 would walk into a restaurant and be recognised.
“We have lost the stars and the glamour,” Briatore continued.
The flamboyant Italian’s solution is to wind back the clock to when F1 was more about the drivers who decided “who wins and who loses”.
“You have to change the rules and make them more simple, with cars that are 90 per cent similar, costs 70pc lower, and stop giving 70 per cent of the revenue to the top teams with the rest getting the crumbs.
“We need to return to formula one as it was 20 years ago,” he concluded.
As for any hopes that a fully-competitive Ferrari could inject spice into 2016 by taking Mercedes on for the title, Briatore has bad news.
“It would give interest to the championship,” he agreed, “but it is difficult to beat Mercedes: it can be reduced but you cannot recover a gap like that in two months,” he said.