Juan Montoya

F1 News: Montoya defends F1, says sport has ‘outgrown Europe’

(GMM) Critics of Formula 1’s modern direction need to accept that the sport has “outgrown Europe”. That’s the view of popular former grand prix winner Juan Pablo Montoya, responding to those who are critical of the way Liberty Media has run F1 for the past several years.

Many of the active race drivers have also been critical of the way Liberty has ‘Americanized’ and supercharged the Formula 1 ‘show’, including pushing into new, non-European markets at the expense of traditional races.

“I hear the criticism and of course it is a sport,” Montoya told the Dutch magazine Formule 1. “But what many Europeans forget is that we have sponsors. And fans. The sport is obliged to put on the best possible show that makes everyone happy.

“Drivers tend to complain a lot, anyway, especially before something happens. ‘This is bad, this is not nice, why do we have to do this? It’s distracting’,” the Colombian said.

“But once it happens and they notice that there is nothing wrong with it, you don’t hear them anymore. Drivers just like to complain. It’s apparently second nature to them.”

Criticism of the Liberty Media era, however, has also been widespread across the traditional media and audience base.

“I have something to say about that too,” said Montoya, 48. “People in Europe need to understand that Formula 1 has become a global sport. It has outgrown Europe.

“It used to be a European sport with a few other races, but times have changed,” he added. “There are different demands today.

“If our contemporaries had to choose between Spa or Miami, most would choose Spa because of the history and the nostalgia. But what Miami does to the sport is much better in the bigger picture.

“The racing is better, the overtaking is better, the show is better.

“Don’t get me wrong, Spa is a beautiful place and a fantastic circuit,” Montoya continued. “But you also have to put yourself in the shoes of the fans.

“You don’t see much there because it’s full of trees. Spa is a beautiful race to watch at home on TV, but not to attend live.

“Again, I love Spa and I’m not saying it’s a race that should be taken off the calendar, but these days it’s about the experience. And I think the people at Liberty Media understand that very well.”

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