Formula One teams have a last chance to agree major changes for 2017 at meetings on Tuesday and must seize the opportunity to make the sport more exciting, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters at the start of pre-season testing, Horner said the meetings of the core Strategy Group and broader Formula One Commission in Geneva needed to act decisively in the sport’s interests.
Under Formula One rules, changes for 2017 can be passed by majority vote until March 1 but must be unanimous after that.
With team bosses rarely agreeing unanimously on anything, that would mean any changes being kicked down the road for another year.
The agenda includes new concepts such as awarding points for qualifying, with the top 10 reversed for the race, and technical changes aimed at producing closer racing with more spectacular and aggressive-looking cars.
“We have got an opportunity to do something really good and hopefully that is not missed,” said Horner, who also cautioned against artificial measures to liven up the sport that could damage its heritage.
Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone limbered up for the meetings with highly-critical comments about the way the sport had evolved.
In an interview published in Monday’s Daily Mail newspaper, the 85-year-old billionaire said Formula One was “the worst it has ever been”.
Horner, who is close to Ecclestone, understood his frustration but suggested Tuesday was “an ideal opportunity” to do something about it.
“It needs to be constructive and positive so we have a clear direction for the future, because sitting here right now I am not sure what that direction is,” he added.
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier, speaking separately, suggested Ecclestone was reacting to declining television audiences as the sport moved increasingly towards pay per view and away from free-to-air.
“I got amused at first, but I understand his frustration,” he said of Ecclestone’s comments.
“Tomorrow is an important F1 Strategy Group meeting in Geneva, so we will see where we can vent our frustration as well to make the sport the best — or better definitely — and that is what we all want I guess.”
The Frenchman agreed with Horner that the meetings represented a last chance for 2017.
“We have been talking about this for a long time so if we can’t agree that is a failure,” he said.