A former Formula One driver hit out at the sport referencing the title-decider in Abu Dhabi in 2021.
The late decision by stewards to allow a number of drivers to overlap the safety car for a final lap of racing between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen has sparked widespread outrage, and Stefan Johannson has even suggested Formula One could become motorsport’s WWE.
The Swedish driver, who competed for the likes of McLaren and Ferrari in Formula One during a 10-year career, wrote on his personal blog that the level of drama arising throughout the 2021 season put the sport’s reputation in “dangerous territory.”
He said he believes that the integrity of Formula One is being sacrificed for the sake of entertainment and attracting a new realm of fans.
“They both drove at such a high level and both their teams operated at equally high levels, and it would have been such an incredible ending to the year to have it decided fair and square on the racetrack,” Johannson wrote.
“Instead, we now have this endless controversy and polarization. I’m sure the folks at Liberty are not complaining as this has lifted F1 to a whole new level in terms of people following.
“But, if this is the direction it will continue, where the entertainment comes before the sport, I think we’re getting into a very dangerous territory, I would hate to see F1 turning into the Motorsports version of the WWF [now known as WWE], where it’s just a show and the sport is secondary to the entertainment.”
Speaking about the rise in viewership, which is down to the Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’, Johannson said:
“The Netflix show has obviously helped lift the profile of F1 immensely, especially in the US. I know how many of the teams and drivers feel about it, but you still can’t deny the impact it’s had. Personally, I had to tune out after 15 minutes.
“I think it’s important to find a good balance going forward, I appreciate social media and marketing from every possible angle is important, but I would hate to see the drivers turning into some sort of comedians and clowns rather than brave young men doing their thing on Sunday afternoons.”