Bernie Ecclestone likens F1 to an 'old house' that needs repairing
But sport's supremo says he can't knock it down and start again
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 30/03/15 11:52am
Bernie Ecclestone has likened F1 to an "old house" that always needs repairing, although the sport's commercial supremo says he cannot simply knock it down and start again.
The 84-year-old was speaking to British reporters at the Malaysia GP amid mounting concerns about F1’s finances and how they’re affecting ‘the show’.
Even though the sport has an annual income estimated in the region of £1.5bn, one team – Caterham – went bankrupt late last year while several others are in financial trouble.
Both the distribution of income among teams and the amount taken by F1’s owners have come under scrutiny, while the biggest teams reject the idea of a budget cap.
Ecclestone, who agreed individual terms with teams, with Ferrari and Red Bull receiving more prize money than the rest, suggested the situation was beyond his control.
Asked whether F1 should start again, he replied: “I agree [but] we can’t. We’ve signed contracts, we can’t tear them up, unless they all agreed. The trouble is we’ve got an old house and we keep repairing it. It’s not really the way to go.”
It has been suggested that Red Bull might consider withdrawing from F1 but Ecclestone thinks they'll stay on.
“It’s difficult for Red Bull because they’ve been used to winning and they’re in a situation now where the power unit Renault are supplying certainly isn’t up to Mercedes and that’s their big problem," he told Sky Sports News HQ on Saturday.
“They won’t walk out. They’re racers.”
There have even been rumours that Red Bull might buy the sport outright from majority owners CVC and Ecclestone said he’d be “delighted” if the latter - now his employers - departed.
He added: “They [CVC] would be as well. Their business is buying and selling companies, so if somebody comes along with a good offer then I’m sure they’d sell. They’d have to.”
Ecclestone also said the Strategy Group, which allows the biggest teams to make and veto rules with smaller outfits unable to get a look in, was “completely wrong” - even though he helped set it up.
Mercedes current domination might be a concern to some, but not Ecclestone. “I’ve no complaints or problems about Mercedes. The complaint I’ve got is the others not doing the same.”
He also warned that the German GP, which disappeared from the calendar last week, might not return next year even though it has a contract. “It doesn’t make a difference,” Ecclestone replied. “A lot of people have a contract.”
And Ecclestone warned that the Italian GP could be next to fall by the wayside. “It would be terrible, but if it goes, it goes.
“It’s funny how these people dig up money for things like the Olympics, European athletics and God knows what else.
“People say we charge too much for a race, and they are probably right. But teams get 62 per cent of the profit the company makes, so if we make less money, the teams make less money.”
Ecclestone added that he’d like to see double points back, even though it was seen as unpopular when used in last year’s Abu Dhabi season finale and dropped soon afterwards.
“I’d like to see double points back,” he added. “Last year we didn’t know who was world champion until the last corner of the last race. I’d like to see it extended to the last three races.”