David Coulthard has called for F1’s fans to be put first after the explosive fall-out from a controversial season’s finale showed no sign of dying down. Reacting to the drama of last weekend’s rain-affected race in Japan which ended with Max Verstappen securing his second consecutive world crown, the Scot believes clearer joined-up thinking will help the sport prosper.
The conditions in Suzuka dictated events that ended with Red Bull furiously thumbing-through the rule book as they attempted to work out if the Dutchman had won enough points to be crowned champ.
Verstappen himself was conducting trackside interviews when the decision was made and Coulthard, now a respected pundit with Channel 4, said fans had to be front and centre of any discussion to avoid such situations in the future.
He said: “There’s a much bigger picture here – I say that with all due respect to budget caps and conversations about whether GP cars can go racing in the rain.
“We are in the entertainment business. Last week, we knowingly sat waiting for the tide to go out before the boat was launched – we knew the rain was coming – that was a little bit silly.
“And, yes, what happened after the race keeps people engaged and gives us all something to talk about. But, in pure sporting terms, it’s bad.
“F1 has taken a step forward with the new regulations. The drivers are able to run more closely together – we are seeing better racing.
“That’s not always been the case historically in a sport dominated by aerodynamics. The more we continue down that road, I believe F1 will be in a better place.
“But I think there is still a disconnect between the teams, the commercial rights holder Liberty and the FIA. It still doesn’t seem as if that three-way relationship is as harmonious as it could be.
“And better communication among them is the way to serve our fans.
“Sometimes we have been waiting hours to get a result from the stewards. I know there has to be fair process.
“But people switched off their televisions and computers all around the world last week and went to bed before the official result was announced.
“That can’t be right.
“When the whistle blows at full time in a football match. There’s no appeals afterwards about the result. That’s it.
“Yes, there has to be an appeals process – if an engine was outside the regulations – that can be taken up afterwards. It’s not a sporting issue.
“The fans should be able to trust that the referee, assistant referee and VAR has got it right on the day.”
David Coulthard is presenting F1 Grand Prix highlights on C4