Cyril Abiteboul has said what many in Formula One have been thinking.
In a brutally honest assessment of F1, the factory Renault team's managing director has hit out at several key aspects of the sport, calling for changes. That, or forget the whole thing.
In a candid chat with the German press (including the influential Auto Bild and Auto Motor und Sport), Abiteboul insisted: "Formula 1 needs strong management and a strong FIA." He has also dismissed the decision-making strategy group as "a joke".
"It is a must to reduce costs, otherwise F1 will disappear,” Abiteboul warned, suggesting the commercial rights holders are chasing "short-term" financial returns via deals with pay TV broadcasters.
Abitetoul said that the teams were investing heavily and yet “fewer and fewer people can watch our sport”.
He added that in France, the switch from free-to-air TV to pay TV on Canal Plus has killed interest in F1.
He went on to say that Renault was a French manufacturer looking first to French sponsors, but because F1’s profile in the French media had shrunk dramatically, it was impossible to bring local commercial support to the team.
Abiteboul pointed to the 24 Hours of Le Mans as an example of how to sell the sport with lower costs, cheap tickets and the race on free-to-air TV.
He believes budgets should be capped at 100-150-million euros and the income distribution system should also be changed, as: "It would be good if everybody got more or less the same."
"At the moment we're struggling to find sponsors at all, not because F1 is not interesting, but simply because it's too expensive. And there are no new manufacturers who want to come in," he concluded.
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