Earlier this week teams voted unanimously to trial ‘sprint-qualifying’ at three races this year instead of setting the grid via a more traditional qualifying session.
It’s an attempt by Formula One to spice up the show, ironically coming at a time when Red Bull appears to finally be a genuine challenger to the dominance of Mercedes.
“It’s good that they’re experimenting and at least they’re willing to look outside the box and see what they can come up with,” Johansson told Wide World of Sports.
“The sprint races will be fun, obviously the drivers will be conscious of how much damage they risk incurring for the race the next day, which is what really matters.
“But for the fans, it will be exciting, no question, because racing is definitely a lot more interesting than qualifying.”
But the Swede, who finished on the podium 12 times in his F1 career and won the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours, cautioned against expecting the move to cure all of the sport’s issues.
“Unfortunately, most changes that have been made for a long period of time are all band-aids. None of them get to the core of the problem, which is aerodynamics,” he explained.
“Aero kills racing, unfortunately. The more important aero is, the worse the racing is.
“How you fix it, that’s the dilemma we have. With these cars, they’re so unbelievably sophisticated, and so optimised, that until they back off from that, and focus on other areas of the car that will bring down the importance of aero, I think we’ll always have this problem.
“The sprint race is almost like an artificial fix instead of looking at the real problem.”
Formula One is introducing a long-awaited complete overhaul of its rules for 2022, in recognition of the fact that the modern cars make overtaking difficult, if not impossible at some circuits.
Drivers have been complaining for years that it’s almost impossible to follow another car too closely, with the trailing car losing almost half its downforce as the air is disturbed by the leading car.
It’s hoped the regulation changes will minimise the loss of downforce and promote better racing, but when asked if that was likely to be the case, Johansson was firm.
“No. I doubt it. I hope it will, but I can’t see how it will fix it,” he said.
“Granted, I’m an old fart now and I haven’t been in a Formula One car for a long time, but I’ve driven pretty high-level prototypes until quite recently, and when you have a car that purely depends on aerodynamics for grip and performance, I just can’t see how you can create an environment around the car where it doesn’t get impacted by the car in front of you.
“They are unbelievably smart guys who come up with the regulations, and if they all put their minds to it, maybe they have figured it out, but I just can’t see it.
“It will be miraculous if it’s fixed. I can’t see how they’ll make it work.”
Now 64, Johansson is an artist based in California, but stays in touch with the sport as the manager of IndyCar stars Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist.
His own Formula One career came at a time when tyre companies such as Goodyear, Michelin and Pirelli were in fierce competition to gain the upper hand, as opposed to the current situation where one manufacturer supplies the whole grid.
And that’s where Johansson would be focusing his attention to improve the racing.
“The biggest and easiest change would be the tyres,” he explained.
“It’s such an enigma, tyre wars are almost gone in every category. But if you look at the times when we had a tyre war, you get so much more performance out of the tyres.
“If you look at the cost factor, there’s no cheaper way to gain two seconds a lap than by bolting a new set of tyres on.
“In the bigger picture, they spend several hundred million dollars a year on aerodynamics, and you put a set of tyres on that costs a couple of grand, and you’re two seconds a lap quicker, just like that.
“If you wanted a quick fix to take away the dependence on aero, the tyres would be the quickest and cheapest way to do it.”
Johansson would like to see any change to tyre regulations give drivers the opportunity to drive flat out for the entire race, as opposed to the current situation that sees them trying to nurse their tyres for as long as possible.
“It’s so annoying, if you had a tyre which meant you could race at 100 per cent for the entire race, then that changes the dynamic of the race,” he said.
“You’d see who is really good, because when you drive to save the tyres the likelihood of making a mistake is a lot less. If you’re on the limit for the whole race, you’re likely to screw up sooner or later, and that’s the chance for someone to pass.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!