July 02, 2015

SILVERSTONE, England (AP) Much of the recent intrigue in Formula One has been over who will run the championship in the future after Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari investors linked up with the Miami Dolphins owner to explore a takeover bid.

On the track, the 2015 title race itself is offering few thrills, with Mercedes the supreme force in the first half of the season.

There's little doubt the constructors' crown will be retained by Mercedes, with Ferrari 136 points adrift already.

For Sunday's British Grand Prix, it seems to be just a question of which Mercedes driver triumphs: Series leader and defending champion Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg.

In eight races, Sebastian Vettel is the only man without a silver Mercedes to top the podium in a largely frustrating season for Ferrari's four-time world champion.

When a series seems so predictable, captivating fans becomes more challenging - however much the glamorous series, currently controlled by investment fund CVC Capital Partners, seems to be a takeover target.

''It's not for us to make the sport more exciting,'' Hamilton said on Thursday in the Mercedes motorhome at Silverstone. ''It's for some of the other people that make those decisions.''

Such as the F1 strategy group. It agreed at a pre-Silverstone meeting to increase restrictions on driver aids and coaching during races from the Belgian GP next month.

''The measures will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing races, excitement, and unpredictability,'' the FIA governing body said.

The meeting also discussed ''several exciting and innovative'' changes to qualifying and races, which could be introduced next year if approved by FIA and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

New regulations are also being assessed by teams, intended to achieve ''faster and more aggressive looking cars'' from 2017, FIA said, including wider cars and wheels, and ''significantly increased aerodynamic down force.''

For now, Rosberg is providing an internal threat to Hamilton's pursuit of a third championship crown, winning three of the last four races to cut the Englishman's lead to 10 points.

''The battle is going to go on for a long time anyway, whatever happens this weekend,'' the German driver said. ''The sport is putting on a great show anyway, as it is. There is a lot of overtaking, a lot of action, a lot of things happening. The wrong answer?''

Certainly in the eyes of some F1 fans.

The series needs to be more competitive, according to 89 percent of 217,756 people who responded to an unscientific online poll by research company Repucom for the Grand Prix Drivers' Association. The survey found that the top three attributes used to describe F1 are:




Unsurprising results perhaps given Mercedes has won 23 of the last 27 races.

''We go out there because we've got a job and a task,'' said Hamilton, chasing a third triumph in his home race on Sunday. ''The task is to win the races and the championship.

''When you are out there you are not considering how good the show is. Unfortunately, we don't have time to think about that. You are thinking about the guy behind or ahead of you, and how you can get the points.''

Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, has collected points only once this season through an eighth-place finish in Monaco in May.

With his McLaren contract expiring at the end of the season, the 35-year-old Briton could be facing his last shot at finally finishing on the podium on home soil at his 16th attempt.

''Confidence is high within the team,'' Button said. ''You might say `Why is that?' as the last two races have been very difficult ... there is a lot in the pipeline.''

McLaren has struggled since making the transition back to Honda engines, and Button received a 25-place penalty at last month's Austrian GP for having a power unit change ahead of the race.

But the F1 strategy group, which features six teams and the series bosses, agreed at Wednesday's meeting that each driver would be allowed an extra fifth power unit in the first year of a new manufacturer entering the championship. And FIA said ''for the sake of fairness'' the measure applies retroactively to Honda.


Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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