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F1 needs more flat-out races like Qatar - Wolff

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff believes Formula 1 needs more flat-out races like the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix amid concerns a lack of overtaking and spectacle will continue next season.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing leads at the start

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Drivers have increasingly complained about needing to manage overheating from the Pirelli tyres, with the rubber prone to thermal degradation, which forces them to back off in search of cooler air.

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Pirelli is aware of an issue it said it is down to teams developing the aerodynamics of their new ground-effect cars far more than forecast to create more turbulent air.

While it is investigating altering the compound, the research and construction required means any new tyres may not feature until 2025.

Given teams are now focused on evolving their cars for 2024, there are concerns that processional DRS trains may dog F1 and detract from the spectacle even more next season.

Wolff believes the solution is to chase more flat-out races like the Qatar GP in October, where 18-lap tyre stints were mandated due to kerbs cutting the rubber.

Asked by Autosport about the concerns, the Austrian replied: "I wouldn't see it negatively here in November in Abu Dhabi. We have got to wait and see what happens in Bahrain next year, and how the season is going to pan out.

"Let's wait to see how it goes, and I think let's see how the Pirelli tyres are going to handle next year's cars. But, at the end when you're looking, overtaking has gotten worse.

"It's all about thermal management. So, I'd like to have races like Qatar where you just go flat out."

Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola has warned against creating too durable a tyre. He predicts drivers will push at 100% for entire races, meaning there is no divergence to lead to overtaking.

Isola added: "We need to take the right time to discuss it properly, involving the teams and their strategists because, when you change, for example, the level of degradation, the risk is that we have all the races on one stop, all the teams doing the same strategy."

Up to Red Bull's rivals to stop F1 fans turning off

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: James Sutton / Motorsport Images

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

On top of concerns about tyres, there are fears another season of Red Bull domination may lie ahead since it stopped developing its 2023 car early to focus on the RB20.

Wolff said Max Verstappen's domination is yet to deter F1's audience but rivals must step up to ensure healthy competition to keep the championship entertaining.

While there is a belief F1 has turned to highlighting its social media engagement due to a dip in TV viewers, Wolff said: "The numbers that we're seeing, they are strong.

"We are growing on social; we see races that are packed and sold out [although promoters acknowledge any impact on sales from Red Bull's domination will be felt harder next year].

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"But as a matter of fact, it is all around the spectacle. If the spectacle is not good, our fans are going to follow us less.

"But what I always say in the sport, I like the honesty. The spectacle follows the sport and this is a meritocracy. Whoever is doing the best job wins…

"You can't stop that as a matter of fact, so it is us and Ferrari and all the other teams that have to do a better job in order to compete with Red Bull Racing.

"Of course, there is the risk that with a certain lag, people are going to say, 'Well, I know the result anyway'… but we have just got to do a better job."

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