Formula 1 negativity no disaster, says Wolff

Formula 1 may have faced a barrage of critical headlines this year, but such negative exposure may have actually boosted the sport, says Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff.

Formula 1 negativity no disaster, says Wolff
Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 Team and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 Team
(L to R): Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W06; Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W06; Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF15-T; and Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF15-T at the start of the race
Bernie Ecclestone, CEO, Formula One group
Toto Wolff, Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director

On the back of concerns about single team dominance, lack of driver challenge and boring races, F1 has found itself facing widespread criticisms about the state in which it finds itself.

The situation eventually prompted F1 chiefs to get together and agree a raft of changes that are set to come for 2017 to make cars faster and improve the racing.

Although some have been frustrated by the negativity around F1, others, most notably Bernie Ecclestone, believe that a priority is keeping the sport as a talking point for both good and bad reasons.

In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, Wolff said: “Maybe Bernie's motto is valid: you have to keep the sport in the news.

“Sometimes it's positive, sometimes it's negative. But it's often controversial, and therefore polarising, and that keeps it exciting.”

Viewing figures up

A good justification for the stance that negativity has been a help is that television viewing figures have recovered this year – perhaps through people tuning in to see what people are complaining about.

“F1 is in a good position because we are managing to increase TV figures in many important markets,” added Wolff.

“In the ones we don't, there are reasons: Spain is a good example because the local hero is not competitive.

“We are doing this [increasing viewership] in a declining market. Traditional TV has a declining market share against the digital world, but we are able to maintain a stable or even slightly upwards slope, which is encouraging.

“So it [F1] is not all wrong. It doesn't seem it is all wrong what we are doing, but also you need to question yourself and the sport always, in order to improve.”

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