Sebastian Vettel fears the Austrian Grand Prix will resemble a computer game as Formula One’s rulers desperately attempt to jazz up the show.
Lewis Hamilton heads into the ninth round of the championship at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg 14 points clear of Vettel in the standings, and having topped both practice sessions he will start as the favourite to extend his advantage.
The sport’s officials have introduced an extra Drag Reduction System (DRS) zone in Austria which allows drivers the luxury of pressing a boost button on their steering wheel to help with overtaking.
The move comes after processional races in Spain, Monaco and Canada, while last week’s spectacle in France was saved only by a first-corner crash caused by Vettel.
“There are a lot of people who like Mario Kart, but F1 shouldn’t be artificial,” Vettel, who finished behind the two Mercedes cars in practice, said. “I don’t know if it is a solution to put in an extra DRS zone.
“Maybe it helps with overtaking, but if you end up just driving past another car, that isn’t very exciting either.
“There is more tension and excitement if the car is behind, and something happens, rather than if you just sail past.”
F1 overhauled its technical regulations last year in order to make the racing more entertaining, but increased downforce on the cars has made it harder to follow.
The more durable tyres have also contributed to a lack of strategical unpredictability with one-stop races becoming the increasing norm this season.
Indeed, qualifying is as vital as it has ever been with the last four rounds won from the front slot on the grid.
Hamilton believes he must put his Mercedes car on pole.
“Position on the grid is proving to be more and more crucial because it is harder for us to overtake,” Hamilton, 33, said.
“Here, they have gone from one, to two, to now three DRS zones to try and make the racing more exciting because it hasn’t been that up until now.
“I hope this weekend is better for fans to watch, but it just highlights that there are fundamental things that need to improved and rectified for the future.”
F1 has pushed through another series of changes to the cars for next year in the hope of improving the show, but one leading figure in the paddock disclosed privately that they will not make a difference.
Away from the track, Hamilton has insisted his new-found pop career will not get in the way of his championship bid.
Hamilton appears as a featured artist on American singer Christina Aguilera’s new song ‘Pipe’, although, somewhat mysteriously, he is listed under the pseudonym ‘XNDA’.
Mercedes are set to make Hamilton F1’s first £40million driver – with his contract extension due to be announced before next week’s British Grand Prix – but it is understood they are not worried by their star driver’s contribution to the song despite its raunchy lyrics.
“I’m here to focus solely on trying to win this championship,” Hamilton said. “That’s really where all my energy is at the moment.”