Formula One has already seen an upturn in popularity since Liberty Media took it over, according to its director of motorsport Ross Brawn.
Brawn said television viewing figures and ticket sales for grands prix had risen over the course of this year’s 20-round season.
“I think the sport’s turned a corner,” he told Channel 4 in Abu Dhabi. “Viewing figures are up, more fans are coming to races.”
Brawn conceded that the change is likely a result of the championship being more competitive this season than it has in recent years.
“Fortunately we’ve had some racing this year, which has been the big thing,” he said. “The racing is always core to what we do. But I’m happy with the year.”
However Brawn admitted the sport’s new owners are beginning to feel some push back in their attempts to overhaul Formula One. “I think it’s getting tough now because we’re starting to look at some fundamental changes,” he said.
In recent weeks the sport has revealed details of its plans to change the engine regulations in 2021 and reduce costs. However this has prompted complaints from some quarters and Ferrari has even threatened it could leave the sport.
Brawn, who guided Ferrari and Benetton to Formula One championship success, admitted he “misses the sharp edge of the racing” and “the adrenaline” in his current role.
“But I’m taking a lot of satisfaction from what I can see of the plans for the future,” he added.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised the new management for being open to different ideas.
“I think what’s been quite interesting and quite dynamic about that is that there has been a steep learning curve for the new guys involved,” he said. “But they have embraced ideas, concepts; they’ve come with a very fresh, unbiased approach.”
“While they have been going through a learning phase, a building phase over the last nine or ten months, a lot of things that may seem trivial have changed – just how we deal on a day-to-day basis.”
“I think what is going to be fascinating is to see the lessons that been made this year, the infrastructure that’s been put in place, the people that have recruited, how that’s going to affect future years, because it’s not going to be just next year, it’s going to be the next three to five years.”
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year