Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene says that Formula 1's biggest threat going forward will be video games. The Maranello boss believes that more people will be increasingly entertained going forward by virtual racing rather than real racing out on the circuit.
F1 eSports was launched last year and was successful, with high numbers tuning in to watch the best simulator racers go wheel to wheel. It is taking place once again this year, and Arrivabene says that F1 needs to be looking at it over its shoulder.
"Our competitors today - and this is my personal opinion - they are the PlayStations," he told Motorsport Week. "If you look at Gran Turismo, most probably we need to switch our minds and focus our attention on our competitors.
"Today we have a broad offer of entertainment and we need to look at everything, not only certain sports or trying to equalise everything. Is the PlayStation our competitor? In my opinion yes. What do you have to do to beat the PlayStations? You have to do something that is more interesting, most probably.
“It’s not a detailed answer to the question. But we need to direct our attention to the entertainment industry. And today what they offer is bigger than many many years ago," he added.
Arrivabene says that Formula 1 is suffering a big drop in popularity when compared to years gone by: "We need to be honest with ourselves," he declared. "How is the level of interest in F1 versus yesterday?
"You need to ask why other sports - and let me underline football, they still have big numbers even if they sometimes face crisis - versus us. How can you tell Real Madrid 'I'm sorry, if you play with the small team, don't play with your best team, play with your middle-sized team'. Come on, it's ridiculous."
Arrivabene was linked in recent weeks to a senior job at Italian football club Juventus. However, he clarified that his future is with Ferrari and he will aim to dispose of the threat to F1 that he believes is emerging from video games.
"To increase the interest in the sport, we need to analyse the mistakes of the past, to look forward for solutions in the future," he said. "If at a certain point you have an audience that is becoming older, older, older and you work to retain what you have [and] your attention is less focused on acquiring the young generation, this means that you have a problem.
“We never focused our attention on the audience and the audience, little by little, became older. This is the exercise that we need to look at. We need to go back and to re-launch the sport. You have to find a solution."
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