F1 ‘experimenting too much’ with sport’s traditions

Tue, 12 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.12 (GMM) Formula 1’s new owners are “experimenting too much” with the tried-and-tested weekend race format.

That is the claim of long-time colourful German broadcaster Kai Ebel, who has returned to the paddock in 2024 after RTL struck a deal with pay-channel Sky Deutschland to put some grands prix on free-to-air German television.

When asked by web.de what changes have irritated him the most during his absence from F1, he answered: “The fact that they’re experimenting too much.

“They are even changing the broadcast times in order to create artificial tension, which I think is over the top. Liberty Media has achieved a lot, but somewhere, a bit of Formula 1’s DNA is being taken away.

“It’s becoming like a popcorn cinema,” Ebel added.

So far this year, both grands prix – in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – have been held on Saturday rather than the traditional Sunday, officially because of the Islamic period of Ramadan.

However, Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi automobile federation, has now put a bomb under that official explanation.

“The idea actually came to us last year from the Las Vegas GP, which took place on a Saturday,” he explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“So when the 2024 calendar was taking shape, we put forward the proposal. Consequently, given that it is mandatory to leave a week between one race and another, Bahrain GP was also held on Saturday,” the Prince added.

Kai Ebel admitted he is also uncomfortable with the amount of rule tinkering F1 has been doing in the past few years.

“The rules are already complicated enough,” said the German. “The viewer often doesn’t even notice this, but you have to teach them little by little.

“But that only works well if you don’t constantly keep changing things.”

As for the drivers, Ebel says one of the easiest interviews is with Max Verstappen, as he is “always good, always funny. Very authentic. He says what he thinks”.

Lewis Hamilton, however, “can be a diva”.

“He’s a brilliant entertainer when he’s in a good mood, but when he’s not, he quickly becomes very monosyllabic or breaks off the conversation,” said Ebel.

“But the way I see it is that if you give it out, you also have to be able to take it. However, I always remain above the belt with my questions.”

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