Fernandes: F1 needs to be road-relevant

Lotus backer and team principal Tony Fernandes has said that F1 needs to be more relevant to the road car industry in the coming years.

The Air Asia boss told Autosport that he was a supporter of the proposed change to 18-inch tyre rims that tyre companies would like to see in order to bring the sport closer to road technology.

“I do think F1 is incredibly expensive and at some stage that has to be addressed. I also try to encourage people that F1 should become closer to the car industry. It is important that we are a good provider of knowledge to the road car industry.

“That is why I am a supporter of 18 inch rims because it makes the tyres more relevant to the car industry. I am a supporter of KERS, although I think we have to do it in the right form and not spend 10 million bucks on something that is not going to be commercially used.

“In some ways, F1 is a sport that is so similar to the aviation industry. It’s something that should really be quite simple, but every little process is made phenomenally complicated. I will continue to put my views across that we should make it simple, and make the sport more fun,” he said.

The Malaysian added that he thought his team was going the right way to becoming a fixture in the sport by getting their heads down and working hard.

“I still think we are a way from being a McLaren or a Ferrari, but that takes time as well. With all the early negativity, people were saying: Will they survive? Will they do this?

“If you are a sponsor, you think about going with a guy who is more established, but I am convinced things will come through to us and I am sure we will do a very good job on a marketing and branding aspect. Just look at our pits it looks like we have been there for a long time.

“In the same way, we have to earn the respect of the other teams. We have to earn the respect of sponsors and fans and unfortunately time is the only way to do that. But I am beginning to see more people coming on board with us and more interest, and hopefully we will be able to sustain this for a longer term.”