Formula 1 - Briatore to work on F1's popularity

Former Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore is to be involved in a new working group being set up by Bernie Ecclestone to looks at ways of making the sport more popular.

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Formula 1 - Briatore to work on F1's popularity
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Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore (Reuters)

Pressure has been growing on Ecclestone to try to arrest a decline in television audience and spectator numbers this season amid concerns F1 is not embracing a new generation of fans.

Ecclestone met with team principals at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday morning and informed them that he plans to host a summit meeting over the next few weeks with a few outfits, plus Briatore, to consider ideas.

Briatore has not been involved in F1 since he had to step down at Renault in 2009 due to his part in fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff, whose team will be one of those involved in the group, thought it important that only a few teams would be involved in the talks.

He also suggested that the media should be consulted too, to avoid the situation of earlier in the year when team proposals like double points received widespread criticism.

"A couple of guys will sit together [to work out what to do], because it's difficult to do when you invite everybody and come up with priorities and solutions," said Wolff.

"We'll probably get you guys involved to avoid the situation last time when you found our ideas really s***! So that's the procedure."

He added: "Bernie expressed a wish to discuss with teams about how we can improve the show of Formula 1.

"It wasn't a negative meeting, we have seen some great racing and some packed race tracks, at Austria, Montreal and Silverstone.

"But then we have seen smaller audiences here and at Hockenheim - why is that? So we're going to come together and come up with ideas."

SHARING BLAME FOR NEGATIVITY

Red Bull boss Christian Horner caused a stir on Friday when he accused the media of being too negative about F1.

But McLaren racing director Eric Boullier believes that the teams have to take some of the blame for the downbeat assessment of F1 because of criticisms voiced earlier this year by leading figures.

"A lot of people in the paddock have been negative about the change and everything that F1 is trying to do," he said.

"Obviously if we give you material to write negative then you will write negative, so we have to share the blame all of us.

"But by spreading negativity around we distract people from being passionate and watching us, and actually we stop people who could be potentially interested to watch because we are negative.

"The negativeness is part of the problem as why we have an audience which is going down."

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