Stefan Johansson says most people he has spoken to within the racing industry say they will not watch F1 again after the Abu Dhabi controversy.
Almost a calendar month on from the 2021 season finale, Michael Masi’s decision not to follow standard protocol under the Safety Car, in order for Max Verstappen to be right behind Lewis Hamilton at the final restart, is still being hugely discussed and debated.
Many feel so strongly that Hamilton was unfairly robbed of his eighth World Championship by the race director that they have expressed a reluctance to watch the sport next season.
Former driver Johansson says most people within the industry that have contacted him feel that way, although he does not expect that to be the case with standard fans too.
“I just wish the season could have been decided in a fair way,” he said in his blog.
“I’ve had messages from so many people within the racing industry and they mostly say that was the last F1 race they will ever watch.
“We all love the sport but it’s hard to get enthusiastic when stupid things like that keep happening.
“There is a definite split though. The people watching that are more fans than actually in the business, they all loved the way it finished, and all the people that are in the business are really upset and are all talking about tuning out and not bother watching anymore.
“From the point of view of Liberty, I think it’s quite clear who the winner of the two will be. I just hope there will be a sensible balance going forward.”
First pre-season test: 45
Second pre-season test: 61
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Whether the 2022 title fight consists of the same contenders is very much unclear, with the widespread regulation changes potentially shaking up the pecking order considerably.
Johansson does not expect that to happen though and is instead predicting that, after winning his first title, Verstappen will kick on and dominate with Red Bull.
“When McLaren and Honda went separate ways and Honda went to Red Bull, I said Max, Honda and Red Bull would dominate sooner or later… maybe for the next 10 years,” he said. “I think we are seeing the start of that now.
“Max won the championship at his first real attempt, where he had a car that gave him the opportunity to win. That should worry the rest of the field as he will only get better and better and he’s got at least a 10-year runway to get it done.
“I believe this is the start of a new era.”
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