Formula 1 took the wrong path when it started listening to the fans in an attempt to improve the show, believes 1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve.
The Canadian was especially critical of DRS – introduced to grand prix racing in 2011 as a way to promote overtaking – which he believes has destroyed the art of setting up a pass.
He feels this has also detracted from the show, saying DRS has robbed races of drama as a faster driver no longer has to sit behind a rival trying to work out how to find a way through.
“Where F1 went wrong was, sadly, when it started listening to the fans, because the fans complained there was not enough overtaking,” said Villeneuve on stage at Autosport International.
“By listening to that, what did F1 do? Put in DRS. Because that way we’ll have a hundred overtakes in a race. But name me one overtake you remember since DRS. You don’t, because you don’t see the driver work.
“In a motorbike race, sometimes it takes a rider 10 laps to overtake another rider. But in these 10 laps you see the work that goes with it. When the overtake happens, wow. All these 10 laps you’re on the edge of your seat.
“Now you aren’t; next straight line, press a button, overtake. That’s it."
He added: “You want to see a great competition. You want boxers to really hurt each other, and see who the strongest one is.
“You don’t want them to have big gloves so they don’t hurt themselves. That’s a bit what DRS is like – let’s not take a risk, let’s press a button. It’s like overtaking on a highway.
“You don’t actually see proper racing because of that. You get tons of overtaking, but it’s boring. So it defeats the purpose.”
"F1 should be too fast and too expensive"
Villeneuve also lamented the fact that F1 has lost its “crazy” quality, criticising the fact that drivers have been forced to lap so far off the limit in races due to the nature of the tyres.
“F1 has always been extreme, pushing the boundaries,” said the Canadian. “It’s supposed to be too fast, too expensive, crazy. That’s not what we have.
“You see drivers getting out of the car without even breaking a sweat because they massaged the car the whole race and drove within eight seconds of what they did in qualifying. It’s wrong.”