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Mansell pushes for a spec F1

NEWS STORY
16/07/2010

Everyone has their own ideas on how to improve the F1 show and although they tend to differ, the one consistent message is that something needs to be done. Now Nigel Mansell has weighed in on the debate and as a former champion it is no surprise that he wants to see today's F1 drivers having more influence on the racing.

Writing in the Mail Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt and his colleague Caroline Reid report that Mansell believes the high level of technology in F1 today takes too much control out of drivers' hands.

"I'd like to see more things in the drivers' hands as opposed to technology," he says. It costs an average of 110 million to run an F1 team and the bulk of this is spent on design elements of the cars which spectators will hardly ever notice.

"It shouldn't cost as much as it does to compete," says Mansell adding that it would be better to have "a level playing field where you don't have to spend the amounts of money that you can spend in developing new technology."

The only real way to completely level out differences between teams is of course for all the cars to be identical but Mansell concedes that is unlikely to happen. "You can't stop people making new inventions and technology going forward," he says. However, he adds, "I think it sometimes can be slowed down."

Mansell says that not only does the emphasis on technology give today's drivers less influence but it also makes it harder for F1 fans to follow the sport. "I think it's very debilitating for a sporting fan to watch one team that's doing fantastic one year and the very next year they're nowhere [due to a drop in funding]."

He believes that this year's refuelling ban was "a good step forward," because it encourages drivers to manage their fuel loads which in turn affects tyre wear. "It puts a bit more input into the driving," he says.

He adds that the high costs of F1 also make it harder for drivers to get into the sport. Typically they now either require wealthy financial backers to get a drive or their talent is spotted at a very early age and nurtured as McLaren has done with Lewis Hamilton.

"People say Lewis came up the hard way but I don't see how you could say that," he continues, returning to a theme he first aired in May at the Hay Literary Festival. "I don't think he sold his house and various other things to do this. Lewis has been very fortunate, not lucky, and there's nothing wrong with that," says Mansell.

He adds that "Lewis is the first person who has been nurtured, pioneered, sponsored or manufactured...and I embrace the fact that it at least happened to someone British."

In contrast, Mansell says he "didn't have any sponsors, didn't have any manufacturer support and my career wasn't mapped out for me." He believes that the need for support on the level that drivers like Hamilton and Vettel have received "is changing the dynamics of getting into F1."

This trend could have serious repercussions with Mansell predicting that although Britain has two world champions driving in F1 now, there may not be many more who follow. "Very few people now are ever going to make it to Formula One without that kind of backing," he says.

Mansell says that even his own sons Greg and Leo, who currently race in Formula Renault and the Le Mans Series respectively, are not likely to repeat their father's feats in F1. "I don't think they'll have the opportunity," he says adding "you have to be supported from down here now so anywhere in the middle you don't get the support."

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