Formula 1 is not competitive enough, say majority of fans

Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was not voted among the top three most popular drivers
British Grand Prix on the BBC
Venue: Silverstone: Dates: 3 July to 5 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV. Full details here

Nearly 90% of Formula 1 fans want the sport to be more competitive, according to a survey conducted by the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

More than 215,000 fans from 194 countries took part in the survey, which ran for two weeks following the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was the most popular driver, while 60% wanted refuelling to return.

GPDA chairman Alex Wurz said the most striking result was a lack of new fans.

"We know that refuelling is probably not the answer to increase the action on track," Wurz told BBC Sport, "because we have other data from the teams.

"But it is interesting that we have people who followed F1 for the first time in the 2000s, when there was refuelling, and they hark back to that era as the best - as all of us do for the times we first became interested in a sport - and there are no new fans to counter-balance their views."

F1's stakeholders have been considering reintroducing refuelling, which was banned at the end of 2009, but this is likely to be overturned at a key meeting on Wednesday because data proves it reduces the amount of on-track overtaking.

Other key findings of the survey were:

  • After Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were the next two most popular drivers
  • Ferrari was the most popular team, followed by McLaren and Williams
  • 32% of fans said the 2000s produced the best-looking cars, with the 1990s the next favoured era for aesthetics at 20%
  • Ayrton Senna was voted the most popular driver ever, followed by Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost
  • 88% said F1 needed to feature the best drivers in the world, but only 45% thought it did
  • 74% said the rules should be relaxed to allow greater diversity of cars and technology and 73% said the sound of the engines was important
  • 80% wanted more than one tyre maker
  • 60% said in-race refuelling should be reintroduced
  • 86% wanted the drivers to be more open and honest with the fans
  • More than half of respondents were between 25 and 44 years old, with an average age of 37 and more than 75% had been following the sport for more than 10 years.
  • Twitter was the number one social media outlet for F1, with Button the most followed driver among respondents, even though both Lewis Hamilton and Alonso have more followers overall

Wurz said the GPDA would now spend some time analysing the detail of the data before meeting to discuss the findings and the next steps at the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend on 24-26 July.

A total of 217,756 people took part across 194 countries, with the UK, France and the United States the top three respondent countries.

The respondents voted F1 websites as their number one source for fan information, with 55% picking that medium and only 50% television.

And more than 50% of respondents said they had stopped watching races live since the sport moved to pay television.

In France, where the first grand prix was held in 1906 but which has not hosted a race since 2008, there has been no free-to-air coverage of F1 since 2013.

BBC Sport chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:
"Silverstone is one of the few truly iconic venues still surviving on a Formula 1 calendar increasingly dominated by antiseptic modern autodromes.
"Although comprehensively revised and updated for the 21st century, Silverstone is still recognisably the same place that hosted the very first F1 world championship race in 1950.
"And in the Becketts complex of sweepers and the ultra-fast Copse, it has some of the greatest corners on any race track anywhere in the world. To stand and watch there is to be awed by the capabilities of the cars and the skills and bravery of their drivers.
"The British crowd is as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as you will find and the ingredients add up to one of the best weekends of the season, no matter what the weather."

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