For years F1 has pandered to the TV audience over the trackside enthusiast, primarily because that is what sponsors want and it is sponsors who bring the money to the 'sport'. This year's terrible viewing figures in the UK (and presumably reflected across the rest of Europe, if not the world) suggest that TV audience is finding other things to do with their time.
The BBC recorded its lowest like for like viewer figures for eight years, whilst Sky recorded its lowest figures since taking over the rights to broadcast F1.
The race ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix attracted under 400k viewers. With Sky's F1 rights costing a minimum of £15m per year that's not looking like a good investment.
The problem for F1 is not just the Mercedes domination (although that, and the inbalance between the two drivers isn't helping). Drivers aren't racing anymore, a Sunday afternoon cruise with strategy and tyre/fuel conservation uppermost in the mind is enthralling nobody. Keeping tyres and fuel strategy in tact means there's barely any defending going on. DRS doesn't help.
In the good old days we used to see drivers racing wheel to wheel and battling for position. Who can forget Enrique Bernoldi's Arrows spirited defence against David Coulthard's Mclaren at Monaco. Or going back further into the mists of time, Andrea De Cesaris held off Arnoux and Alboreto's Ferraris for 14 tense laps of the 1984 British Grand Prix. And then of course there was the Villeneuve - Arnoux battle at Dijon in 1979.
It's racing like this that brings the viewers, not the artificial, processional and strategy driven drivel that the last couple of years has served up.
Time for a change if F1 doesn't want sponsors to follow viewers out of the door.