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F1 must restore ‘credibility’ – Villeneuve

F1 must return to its glorious roots or risk collapsing, according to 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The French Canadian is just the latest in a long line of insiders, experts and pundits who are exasperated at the current off-track goings-on at the pinnacle of motor sport.

The turmoil reached its peak last week when the F1 drivers’ body, the normally safety-oriented GPDA, issued a rare letter blasting the status quo.

“I can only share the opinion of the drivers,” F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Italy’s Sky Sport News HD.

“What is going on in formula one is not good,” said the Austrian.

“Everyone is taking his own position, each the blocking the other, so there is no agreement,” added Lauda, just hours after the astonishing decision to stick with the hated ‘musical chairs’ qualifying format for Bahrain was taken.

Reports suggest that not only some teams dug their heels in amid the need for unanimity, but also the sport’s authorities.

“The FIA and Jean Todt say they will not be dictated to by the teams on the issue of who makes the rules,” Lauda said.

But Villeneuve, an avowed F1 ‘purist’, says that when rule changes have been made over the past decade, the obvious ‘Hollywood’ factor is steadily eroding the sport’s appeal.

“It’s going the wrong way with trying to add more ‘show’,” the outspoken former Williams and Honda driver told French newspaper Le Figaro.

“We are trying to be the X-Games, appealing to teenagers who spend their lives doing something different every ten minutes on the internet,” Villeneuve explained.

“But formula one will never be a show like that with exploding cars and drifting and 10,000 overtakes. F1 is not artificial Hollywood and going in that direction will destroy it.

“What is needed is to restore F1’s former glory and prestige and, above all, its credibility,” he insisted.