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Todt blames dull circuits for contributing to TV decline

ESPNF1 Staff
April 7, 2011 « Austin circuit on track for June 2012 completion | »
The gloves are off ... Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone have been openly at odds over the last week © Getty Images

Jean Todt , the FIA president, has criticised Formula One tracks where there is little chance to overtake, saying they are partially to blame for falling television audiences across the world. He singled out Yas Marina, often held up by Bernie Ecclestone as the most appealing circuit, as an example of all that is bad about the sport.

"Races like Abu Dhabi in 2010, where you cannot overtake, are unacceptable," Todt told Auto Motor und Sport. "Recent data indicates a fall in the numbers of spectators. People have many choices in how to spend their leisure and every day we must ask ourselves how we can improve the entertainment".

Richard Cregan, the chief executive of the Yas Marina circuit, said the problem was not limited to new tracks. "You can see it around the world that you have tracks equally as good as Yas Marina, many of them with a longer heritage and still F1 becomes a procession," he said. "We are looking at various track modifications that we have to do for MotoGP and also what impact they would have on Formula One. We want to be active in terms of increasing the spectacle."

Todt said the lack of visibility of the drivers was another contributing factor. "On television I can hardly tell who is at the wheel of each car. Only the experts know the helmets and many drivers change their design race to race. NASCAR does a good job. A driver, getting a starting number that he keeps for all his career, is immediately identifiable by the fans."

He also defended Formula One's new 'green' engine rules for 2013 which have so angered Ecclestone.

"One day governments will prohibit certain types of cars or engines. The FIA needs to demonstrate it is moving forward, even if it brings us no new fans," he said. "The bigger you are, the greater the role model you have to be."