Tag Archives: Bernie Ecclestone

F1 sale not so close after all, says Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has downplayed the possibility of a chunk of the F1 business being sold, just a couple of days after suggesting to a televised business forum that a deal could happen before the end of this year.

CVC’s 35.5% shareholding is potentially up for grabs, although Ecclestone said today that its boss Donald McKenzie is still not keen to sell

I said there are three people that are interested in buying,” Ecclestone commented in Sochi today. “They have been talking a little bit, but now they are a lot more interested. If the shareholders want to sell, they will sell.

I am not selling. That is what the problem is. Mr McKenzie, who is the controlling shareholder, also doesn’t want to sell. If someone wants to buy and someone doesn’t want to sell it is difficult.”

Ecclestone also made it clear that a deal was no nearer than it has been in the past.

Anyone that does follow F1 will know we have been here a million times.”

He also scotched suggestions that he might retire and leave F1 any time soon: “I don’t need to leave it at the moment. But the three people who are interested in buying it asked me to sign a contract to make sure I stay with them.”

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Ecclestone rebuffs criticism of Japanese GP TV coverage

Bernie Ecclestone has downplayed the controversy over the apparent lack of coverage of Mercedes on the TV world feed of the Japanese GP.

After the race senior Mercedes figures, including Niki Lauda, expressed their frustration that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were hardly featured.

Inevitably some observers suggested that keeping the silver cars off the screens was a ‘punishment’ from Ecclestone, either because the Stuttgart manufacturer has refused to supply Red Bull, or for other reasons.

“People say there is no overtaking so what we showed is a helluva lot of overtaking,” Ecclestone said in Sochi today. “Actually if you look at the figures I think nearly all the teams got more or less the same amount of coverage.

“It’s no good just showing… We had the same with Michael. People don’t want to see one car alone on the track. If there’s some racing going on at the front, it’s good.”

Ecclestone also denied that Lauda had raised the issue with him.

“What’s it got to do with Niki Lauda? Lots of people were unhappy about things. He came and talked to me about something else.”

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Bernie Ecclestone: “I can’t make these people do something…”

Bernie Ecclestone said today that he doesn’t know whether Dietrich Mateschitz will follow through on his threat to withdraw from F1 if Red Bull cannot find a competitive engine package for its two teams.

The F1 boss insisted in Sochi that he has no inside knowledge of what direction the Austrian billionaire will take.

I am not worried because I don’t know,” he said. “I worry when I have to worry. If they leave? It is bad for F1, bad for the sport.”

Asked when he expected an answer from Red Bull he said: “They don’t have to give me any answers. They are in the championship. If they don’t turn up, we’ll know.”

Meanwhile Ecclestone made it clear that he’s frustrated that Mercedes opted not to work with Red Bull.

They are supplying other people with no problems. Mercedes made a deal with Marussia, although I understand that Red Bull had asked for an engine before they dealt with Marussia. But I guess they looked at it as, if we supply engines to Red Bull, maybe they can beat us. If we supply engines to Marussia, maybe they won’t.”

Bernie also admitted there’s a limit to what he can do to convince Mercedes or Ferrari to supply a competitive engine.

I can’t make these people do something. The only thing we can do is to stop them selling more than three teams with engines. That we can do. They can only have the right to supply three teams. We want them to supply more.”

Asked if Mateschitz was relying on his advice Ecclestone said: “He’s thinking about what he wants to do.”

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Teams ask Ecclestone to create room for 2016 summer shutdown

F1 teams have asked Bernie Ecclestone to adjust the 2016 provisional calendar in order to restore a longer summer break and incorporate a factory shutdown.

In recent years the calendar has left a gap of three free weekends between the Hungarian and Belgian GPs. Built into that is a two-week complete factory shutdown, and the teams are free to choose when they take it within that time frame.

The shutdown, during which teams even have to switch off their computer servers, is intended mainly to allow both race and factory staff to have a summer holiday. However, it also allows teams to conduct annual maintanance and work at their facilties, including wind tunnels.

However in the 2016 calendar approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council the break has been shrunk from three to two weekends. Adjusting it is complicated given that there are back-to-back races on either side of the break, with Germany/Hungary before it, and Belgium/Italy to follow. Some sources suggest that the Hockenheim race could yet drop out, which would allow Hungary to move – although given that advanced ticket sales for the German race start on Friday the race may be more secure than people think.

Team managers raised the issue of the shorter break with the FIA’s Charlie Whiting last weekend, and indicated that they don’t want to discuss ways of squeezing a factory shutdown into the shorter gap until the possibility of changing the calendar had been explored.

Later some team principals lobbied Bernie Ecclestone on the subject, making it clear to him that they now regard the shutdown as essential.

“I think the break is something that is important,” RBR boss Christian Horner told this writer. “F1 is such a demanding schedule for all people involved, not just technicians and people in the factory, but all the support staff, FOM, the media, and so on. It’s important to have that moment to catch your breath. So it’s something that has been raised with Bernie, and as we see sometimes the calendar does move around a bit before October.

“It’s nothing new in that the calendar does sometimes change a little, but obviously there’s a lot of races crammed into a shorter period. There’s usually a bit of fine tuning that goes on, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it did get tweaked a little bit.”

McLaren’s Eric Boullier agreed that the calendar could change: “We need to have a summer shutdown for the travelling people. We are discussing when we can do it and how long it will be. There are always some little tweaks to the calendar, so we should wait until later in the year.”

“From a Williams perspective the factory shutdown is important,” said Claire Williams. “The calendar is long and it’s arduous, and people put their blood, sweat and tears into going racing, and they sacrifice a lot to do that. Those two weeks, regardless of anything else, allows them time with their families, to have a bit of a normal life and a normal existence.

“To not have that is a concern. If I had I would have that conversation with Bernie I would put our arguments forward as to why it is important.”

Meanwhile Ecclestone himself says that that he does not anticipate any changes.

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Max Mosley: “I don’t really see Bernie’s role changing…”

Former FIA President Max Mosley believes that Bernie Ecclestone is likely to stay on and run continue to run F1 even if the sport is sold on by CVC.

US firm RSE Ventures has been linked with a joint bid with Qatar to buy CVC’s 35% shareholding.

“I think it’s still very early days for a possible takeover,” Mosley said in a BBC radio interview today. “Because before they actually move they will do due diligence, and that will take some little time. A lot will then come out about the current state of the sport, which may or may not encourage them.

“But I think whatever happens, if it is taken over, I don’t really see Bernie’s role changing – unless and until he wants it to change. Because he’s the person who’s managed to sell it everywhere. I’m sure CVC has had thoughts about an 84-year-old chief executive. The fact is that there’s nobody else that does the job as well. That’s my gut feeling.”

Asked about Ecclestone’s survival at the top of the sport he said: “I think the thing is he’s pretty amazing, the way he keeps going. Most of us, when we get to a certain age – and I’m quite a big younger than him but still old – you get tired. I said to him the other day, don’t you feel tired in the afternoon? And he said then the phone calls come in and the emails come in, and the adrenalin goes. I think the fact is that he’s really interested in what he does and does it very well. Age then tends to be flexible.”

Meanwhile Mosley said that the high spending by the big teams was F1’s major problem at the moment.

“I think there have been a few strategic errors, but the fundamental thing is because it’s become so expensive, and you’re allowed to spend as much money as you can get your hands on, then you have two or three teams at the top who spend a vast amount of money, then you have a succession of teams, like a tail end, who’ve got much less money. So they can’t compete.

“And that means then that the grid is relatively uncompetitive, and that of course interferes with the show. The key move would be to make the small teams competitive, and there are one or two ways of doing that. If Bernie and the FIA get together, they can overrule the teams. Put crudely that’s how it is.”

Mosley also reiterated his suggestion that teams spending less money should have more technical freedom.

“The way to solve the problem is to say to the small teams you can have more technical freedom on condition that you work within a cost cap. So then they for example would be allowed to have a moveable front wing. There are a thousand things that they could do to make their cars competitive with the very expensive cars at the front, but on a much smaller budget. The expensive cars at the front would say, ‘I can’t stand for that, I can’t get overtaken by one of the small teams,’ to which the answer is you could operate under the same regime should you choose to do so.

“Fundamentally the problem is soluble, but it needs a fairly determined attack on the current structure.”

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Bernie Ecclestone: “You know I don’t like democracies…”

Bernie Ecclestone suspects that very little will get agreed in Thursday’s much anticipated F1 Strategy Group meeting, where rule changes both for the short term and for 2017 and beyond will be discussed.

Ecclestone controls six votes, the FIA has six, and Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Williams and Force India have one apiece. Ideas that gain support are then forwarded to the F1 Commission, where all the teams are represented.

“I think we will spend probably four or five hours in that meeting,” Ecclestone told this writer. “In the end we’ll probably decide the date of the next meeting. The problem with us at the moment is we’re a democracy. It’s no good.

“You know I don’t like democracies, because you’re never going to get a bunch of competitive people to agree. The ones that are winning at the moment don’t want to change, and if they start becoming losers, they want to change. That’s how it is. So we’ve got to get in a position where we can make a decision and say, ‘This is how it’s going to be…’”

Ecclestone is still keen to see the introduction of a much cheaper spec engine for budget conscious teams. A V8/KERS package is one option, and a twin-turbo V6/KERS another – with the latter using the same 100kgs of fuel per race rules as the current hybrids, which the bigger teams would continue to run.

“Let’s see what we can do,” he said. “Constructors are here for whatever the reason they think they should be here for, and I think they should continue doing that. I think then we can possibly have the other teams running maybe with a different type of engine that will be the same performance, but a lot less money. I’m saying we’ll leave everything as it is for the constructors. Don’t touch it.”

The complication is that the works teams will be loathe accept a ‘low budget’ engine of equal competitiveness to their own expensively developed power units. One obvious conclusion is that the threat of a cheap engine which has parity with the current hybrids is being used to force manufacturers to cut the prices they charge customer teams.

A budget engine which does not have parity would in effect create a Class B, and would not be attractive to the teams that might use it. However, Ecclestone says that it won’t make any difference if the cheaper engine did have less performance.

“The people that are running eighth today will be eighth. It’s not nice what I’m going to say, but it’s probably true. If you give some of those teams the current Mercedes car and engine they will still be in that position – or probably just a little bit better off.”

Meanwhile Ecclestone does not sound hopeful about the chances of the fifth engine idea being passed for this season: “We agreed, or all the teams agreed, to have five engines during the year. We’ve got four in the regulations, and now people are saying maybe it should stay four. People who supply the engines don’t want to supply more unless they get more money, the teams can’t afford it.”

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The real Ecclestone is back, say F1 team bosses

F1 team bosses agree that Bernie Ecclestone has bounced back after the conclusion of his inevitably distracting German court case – and they say that his return to form is good for the sport.

Ecclestone hosted a meeting of team principals at Spa on Saturday, where ‘improving the show’ formed the main part of the agenda.

“It’s great that Bernie is full time again,” said Christian Horner when asked by this writer. “F1 needs Bernie at the moment. There’s a few issues that we need to get on top of, and there’s no better person to do it than the little man himself.”

“I think what is important is stability in F1,” Toto Wolff. “I have seen a very strong Bernie coming back from the shutdown, coming back after the court case has been settled. And this is good news. Whatever the governance, whatever the management of F1 is going to be going forward, I think the shareholders and Bernie are looking very much into how it can be done best for the future of F1. For us it’s important to have a strong guy, a strong leader, and good discussions.

“I’m sure there is lots of talking behind the scenes, what’s going on in the future, but for us it is very good that Bernie is fully concentrated, back in shape, strong, and leading the organisation at this stage.”

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