Formula 1 is in danger of ‘destroying itself’ if it becomes too safe says ex-F1 driver and Mercedes executive chairman Niki Lauda.

The Austrian, who raced in F1 for 13 years, has been particularly vociferous about the changes made to safety amid the introduction of the Halo closed cockpit concept implemented into the 2018 regulations.

The device has divided opinion with drivers and fans, and Lauda is concerned fans will lose interest in the sport if it continues to push for safer racing.

“Don’t continue trying to make Formula 1 completely safe because people will lose interest in the end,” Lauda told Graham Bensinger.

“These Formula 1 drivers should be the best drivers in the world. This is what people aim for. People do sometimes like to see accidents to see where the limits are.

“But as long they’re able to get out safe, I think this is what we have to achieve. If you go too far, I think Formula 1 destroys itself.”

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The three-time champion has experienced the inherit dangers of F1 when he almost lost his life in an accident at the Nurburgring in 1976.

Lauda admits if he had the choice, he would have preferred to compete in the modern era of F1.

“The drivers of today, they come with their wife and kids, with the dog, and watch the race because there is no more danger,” he added.

“We were always alone, we didn’t want our wife to come to the race and bring us home in a coffin.

“This was a different era and thank god Formula 1 got much safer that this problem is reduced to nothing and I think it’s good for the sport.

“[Today] I would not have burned my ear, I would not have damaged myself at all, and I would have 50 times more money. I would prefer to race today if I had the option, but I don’t have the option.”