Formula 1 has lost its gladiatorial edge with cars having become too easy to drive, says Adrian Newey.
Cars are wider and faster this year, but that has made overtaking more difficult as drivers struggle to follow each other through corners.
Newey believes the sport has been heading the wrong way ever since the V6 turbo hybrid engine era began in 2014.
“You don’t have that gladiatorial feeling that you used to have,” Red Bull’s chief technical officer said.
“If you go back to, for instance Ayrton Senna, on board footage of him at Monaco in 1990, you think ‘how on earth can he drive a car like that?’ You think you could never do that in a million years.
“Now if you watch on board footage you kind of feel – and you’d be wrong of course – that you would be able to do it yourself.”
Mercedes have once again been the dominant team this season as Lewis Hamilton secured a fourth world title in Mexico last month.
Ferrari threatened to challenge them with some competitive displays in the first half of the year but fell away after the summer break, while Red Bull have been playing catch up after a troubled start to the season.
However, Newey – speaking after the launch of a new book – fears it will always be difficult for more teams to fight for the title until there is parity between the three leading engines – Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.
He added: “For independent teams such as ourselves who can’t necessarily get hold of the best power unit then it is a struggle. That is in contrast with the V8 era, when the engines were much more similar to each other.
“If, for instance, the power unit difference was much less. then I think this year we would have had a proper four-way championship battle between ourselves, Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren, which is what we want really.”