By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One fans want change but without gimmicks or knee-jerk reactions to a sport many now describe as expensive and boring, according to a survey carried out with the backing of leading drivers.
The Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) said in a statement on Wednesday that 217,756 fans from 194 countries had responded to the online survey between May 22 and June 8.
"The fans are clear: they don’t want a radical overhaul of grand prix racing that takes it away from its historic roots," said GPDA chairman Alex Wurz.
"It may sound simple, but the best drivers and teams fighting on track in the most exciting cars is their priority. And we, the drivers, passionately share that view," added the Austrian.
"They want competitive sport, not just a show, and they think that F1’s business has become too important, jeopardizing our sport."
In a separate statement to fans, in a summary published at gpda.motorsport.com, Wurz said they did not believe a revolution was required -- as Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene has suggested.
Nor did they want "an artificial show with gimmicks introduced to simply make it more entertaining."
The results came on the day of a strategy meeting in London, ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix, grouping the six top teams as well as the commercial rights holder and governing body.
They are considering changes from 2017 to make the cars faster, louder, harder to drive and more aggressive-looking.
Wurz said the GPDA would examine the data and work with key stakeholders "to put fan feedback at the center of our sport’s future."
The summary revealed fans wanted louder and more powerful engines, more emphasis on driver skill, a return to re-fuelling and competition between tire makers.
They were in favor of relaxing technical regulations and introducing budget caps.
Worryingly, the top three words used to describe the sport were "expensive", "technological" and "boring" -- in that order.
Respondents had an average age of 37, and three quarters had followed Formula One for more than 10 years. Kim Raikkonen was the favorite driver and Ferrari the top team.
Some 77 percent felt business interests had become too important and 89 percent said Formula One needed to be more competitive.
In contrast, only 32 percent said Formula One needed to promote increasing fuel efficiency and just 14 percent said it would be better served by fewer teams running more cars.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)