Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton says Formula One needs to focus on encouraging wheel-to-wheel racing above all else if it is to improve the sport next year.
Hamilton raised his concerns about Formula One's proposed changes for 2017 earlier this year, arguing the sport is getting its priorities wrong by targeting more downforce and heavier cars. After struggling to overtake Toro Rossos during Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton reiterated his belief that the sport should be focusing on overtaking rather than reducing overall lap time.
"I felt today [Sunday] was no different to any race that I've generally had in the last years in terms of how we follow here in Albert Park," Hamilton said. "It's such a great circuit, but you can't get close.
"I was looking at a cool picture of the old cars, I think it was Estoril, the start at Turn 1, I think the Williams might be ahead and the two McLaren's I think it was [Ayrton] Senna and [Mika] Hakkinen maybe.
"Wide cars, the wheels look great -- the rear wheels should always be way bigger than the front wheels I feel -- but we need more mechanical grip and less weight so that we can get close. At the minute you just see us sliding around because we don't actually have a lot of grip as it is on these tyres and then we lose with the weight, there's just nothing you can do.
"We are all capable of racing much closer if we were able to get closer so there needs to be changes to enable us to do that and we don't seem to be making those changes. If you give us five seconds more downforce it will be exactly the same just five seconds faster, but they won't listen to what I say on that or what us drivers say on that, they'll make something else happen.
"They'll probably give us more downforce and the tyres won't be any better and you'll see the exact same race next year."
Hamilton said the main problem stems from losing downforce while travelling in the turbulent air of the car in front, which in turn puts more stress on the tyres and forces drivers to back off until their next pit stop.
"For example, look at my first stint [in Australia]. I just wanted to attack and attack the guys up front and spend the 12 laps or 15 laps or whatever just going for hell to get pass the guy in front but I couldn't do that because I would damage my race, so then I had to back off and just look after my tyres to get to the target, but then people don't get to see a race and that's always the same.
"When we did the restart I couldn't afford to go and spend the life of the tyres trying to get past [Carlos] Sainz because then I won't see it until the end of the race on the strategy. The closer I get I am sliding around so it's a domino effect and they do get hot and you slide around and burn rubber."
Pirelli has agreed to make more resilient tyres for 2017 and the wider cars that have been proposed should offer more mechanical grip, but Hamilton is concerned the changes have been proposed by people who do not fully understand the limitations the drivers face.
"It's interesting, [FIA race director] Charlie Whiting has called for some meetings, and generally I didn't go because at the time I was just focused on doing my work with the engineers but also it's very rare that in any our conversations that any of what we say really gets taken notice of.
"Most likely if I go, Sebastian [Vettel] is the only one really going to be doing the talking, so there is no point of me being there. I feel that it's only a benefit to the hierarchy who are making decision to at least ask the driver 'what is your issue in the car?' 'Does making one paddle for the start make it harder or less?', because it makes it no harder for me.
"Things like that, because we know the ergonomics of the car, we know what's happening in the car. They've never asked us what our limitation is when we are behind another car, but they can rely on us for those things.
"In terms of making decisions and coming up with ideas, that's not our job. At the top end, there are probably way too many people making decisions, who, for one, probably don't have a lot of understanding of what it's like in the car.
"But the problem is as it is right now, all the people making the decisions have different opinions and if they don't all agree then something doesn't get done. My understanding is that there are teams with more budget and more say than perhaps the lower ones and the problem is for us drivers, half of us will say one thing and half will say another, will all have different opinions. I don't know what the answer is but there needs to be less people making the decisions and hopefully making the right ones."
Hamilton made clear that he still loves F1, but after a weekend in which the sport's new qualifying format failed to deliver, he is praying the sport makes the right decisions for the future.
"When you report or however you've interpreted what I've said, I love this sport, I love racing and in the car I've just had so much fun this weekend. Today I had a race, I was behind people and I had to race, I had to strategise and that's what I live for and ultimately I don't know all the changes that should be made but whatever decisions have been made, it's definitely not making the spectacle better, and not making the racing better from the drivers point of view.
"How we are going to come to that, I don't know, but I really hope and pray for the sport that eventually they will take the right turn, but I can't see that happening at the moment."