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Hulkenberg: F1 is becoming 'really sexy' again

After the climax of a 2021 F1 season pockmarked by drama and controversy, and with the sport's TV viewers on the rise the world over, Nico Hulkenberg feels F1 has reinvented itself following a fallow few years.

Nico Hulkenberg says F1 has become much more entertaining in recent years, noting that the sport had been in decline before it was acquired by Liberty Media in 2016. The current turbo-hybrid V6 power units that were introduced in 2014 drew criticism from many for not being loud enough, and three successive years of Mercedes dominance resulted in relatively little on-track action. "F1 is on its way to being really sexy again," the German wrote in his personal blog on LinkedIn. "Let's face it, a few years ago F1 was on the decline. "There was relatively little excitement on the track, sponsors were reorienting themselves, TV numbers were falling and in general the product was no longer as strong as it once was in the really great days around Prost, Senna or Schumacher."

Improving the show

The veteran of 179 Grands Prix reserved special praise for the way in which Liberty Media has grown F1's global media presence and sought to make the sport more appealing to viewers the world over. "Since the takeover by Liberty Media in 2016, things have changed," Hulkenberg said. "The Americans are simply experts when it comes to entertainment and they left no stone unturned, gave the series a new, much fresher look, overhauled the broadcasts, and created entirely new products such as F1 TV and the F1 App. "Over the years, they regained that glamour and star factor that has always made F1 special." Hulkenberg also noted that he felt Liberty Media had adjusted the interpretation of the regulations for the sake of entertainment, citing a red flag five laps before the end of the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and the subsequent restart as a prime example. "The red flag shortly before the end in Baku turned the whole race upside down," the German said. "A Safety Car through the pit lane would probably have sufficed. "In general, there have not been nearly as many restarts in Formula 1 as in the recent past."

New fans, new circuits

As F1 seeks to further increase its global footprint, new Grands Prix have joined the calendar, while some previous ones have reappeared. For Hulkenberg, F1's emphasis is very much on producing circuits that lend themselves to exciting racing, and tweaking existing ones to further improve the show. "It is obvious that F1 is focusing on spectacular tracks and changes on existing circuits are being pushed," he added. "For example, the addition of the race in Zandvoort with steep turns and festival character in the grandstands, the significant rebuilds in Abu Dhabi - from a bore to a cracker - the crazy street circuit of Jeddah or the future mega highlight in Miami. "Surely the money factor plays a big role everywhere, but the show does not suffer from it – quite the opposite." Though he has not raced full-time in F1 since the 2019 season, Hulkenberg also revealed he would continue in his role as reserve driver for Aston Martin in 2022, having appeared at three Grands Prix in 2020 as a substitute driver for the then-Racing Point team.

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