Speaking exclusively to Autosport.com, seven-time Grand Prix winner and two-time Indy500 Juan Pablo Montoya discussed the future of Formula One and what Liberty Media have been doing since they took control of the sport.
The former Williams and McLaren driver believes that sprint races are going to be the play a key role in Formula One as younger fans don’t have the attention span to sit down and watch a race for two hours.
''It's going to be interesting with Liberty Media and F1,’’ said the Colombian. ''You're going to start realising that the attention span of people gets smaller so you can’t hope people sit down and watch one race on TV for two hours. People like us that love the sport, we do it. The younger generations are going to struggle. I think what F1 is talking about is sprint races and this is the way forward.''
Montoya also thinks they’re starting to work out that Grand Prix weekends don’t need to be stretched out like they are currently and suggests fans are only truly interested in the race and ‘maybe’ qualifying. He added that the sport needs to be entertaining to attract the general public, using the example of the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix when Perez, Ocon and Stroll filled the podium places.
''The other thing they’re realising is you don’t need to be there for three or four days for a race weekend,’’ he said. ''People just really care about the race and maybe qualifying in F1 but other than that, what people need to remember – especially people in F1 what they need to learn – yes, it’s a sport and it’s serious and everything, but at the end of the day, it needs to be entertaining.’’
You look at last year, people would probably say Bahrain was probably one of the best races of the year – and crazy enough, Lewis wasn’t there and it was a shame wasn’t there, but it brought a lot of drama and if you ask anybody, the general public, about last year, they’ll probably remember that race more than any other race last year.''
With the budget cap and restrictions on aero development for the top teams brought in to attempt to bring the field closer together, Montoya is hopeful that they will work and the sport can control it. However, he still expects the better teams like Mercedes will win.
''Yes (the changes putting F1 on the right track for the future), as long as they can control it,’’ he said. I'm sure people will find loopholes like always, but as time goes on it is going to get better. The top teams really have no limit, they do whatever they need to do to win. Getting everybody closer together is going to be better for the show. I believe the better teams will still win; the guys with the best ideas if you give them half of the time they will probably do an even better job, that's the problem!’’
On his trips to the paddock since Liberty came in, Montoya has been impressed with how much friendlier the paddock has become since his F1 career finished in 2006.
''Formula 1 has been very interesting since Liberty came in and there have been a lot of changes and honestly, when you go to the paddock it's shocking how much nicer it is nowadays than it used to be. It’s just nicer, people are way friendlier.’’