Tag Archives: Bernie Ecclestone

Ecclestone gives Bahrain GP decision extra time

Bernie Ecclestone has given the Bahrain GP organisers more time

Bernie Ecclestone has given the Bahrain GP organisers more time

Formula 1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone is set to give more time to the Bahrain Grand prix organisers, who are trying to reschedule the race after it was cancelled earlier this year.

Political turmoil and civil unrest caused the event to be called off, and with tension in the region still high, the Grand Prix is still in doubt.

With this in mind, Ecclestone has said that he is willing to allow another month to the organisers:

"We need to wait a little bit to see exactly how progress is made. I suppose we'd be 
safe by early June or something like that.

Things can change in a couple of weeks...so you don't know. All of a sudden everything 
might be peaceful in a month's time and they are happy to run the event and so we are 
happy to be there."

In March the World Motor Sport Council set a deadline of May 1st for the event. However, with a state of emergency in place until the 15th May, and travel offices warning against travel to the Gulf state, there appears to be no end in sight yet to this debacle.


Bahrain GP decision delayed until May

The 2011 Bahrain GP is still in doubt

The 2011 Bahrain GP is still in doubt

After the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was due to take place this weekend, the race organisers have been given until May 1st to decide the future of the 2011 event.

Speculation over the past few weeks has been mounting over if the 2011 race can actually take place, as the 20-race calendar contains very few empty slots for Bahrain to fill. Only two choices are currently being discussed. The first is to host the race during the summer break, in early July. However, the searing temperatures (up to 40 degrees) has discouraged this date.

The second option, and the better one in my opinion, is to move the race one week before or after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. However, this poses logistical problems to the teams, who would have up to 3 races in 3 weeks.

With a difficult decision on their hands, the Bahrain Motor Federation has been granted time to make their call, according to an FIA statement:

"The World Motor Sport Council asked the Bahrain Motor Federation to communicate by 
May 1st at the latest if the Bahrain Grand Prix can be organised in 2011."

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has also stated that he will look for every opportunity to host the race:

"I don't know how likely it is that there is going to be peace in Bahrain. But if 
there is, we will find a way.

The people there have been very big supporters of us, and are becoming bigger and 
bigger. We have much more support in Bahrain than we did when we first started 
there, and if they want the race we want to supply it for them."

Rome gives up on Grand Prix plans

The planned circuit for the Rome Grand Prix

The planned circuit for the Rome Grand Prix

The speculated Rome Grand Prix has officially been ditched by the city, who now claim that they will be concentrating on hosting the Olympics instead.

From the end of 2009 onwards, it became apparent that Bernie Ecclestone was in negotiations to bring Formula 1 to the Italian city. However, in recent weeks, he has been making remarks that there is not space for two races in the same country.

A long-term contract until 2016 for Monza was another hint, until the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, finally admitted defeat:

"We formally and definitely give up on the hypothesis of a Formula 1 Grand 
Prix in Rome. This move represents a step backwards because we have always 
said we would have done so, should the FIA have posed an alternative between
Rome and Monza.

However, we have an Olympic dream that is still going on: so let's make
clear to Italy and to the world that we want to stage the games in Rome."

With Bernie saying that only one race is allowed per country, surely this also spells concerns for one of the two Spanish races as well?

Russian Grand Prix confirmed at Sochi for 2014

It has been announced today by Bernie Ecclestone and Vladimir Putin that the Russian Grand Prix has been confirmed to take a place on the Formula 1 calendar, from 2014 onwards. The race will take part at a circuit in Sochi, which has yet to be built. This city also happens to be the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The track will be designed by Herman Tilke, at a cost of $200m, and Bernie Ecclestone is charging $40m to host the race. However, it cannot be confirmed at this time if that payment will be the same each year.

Vladimir Putin confirmed the deal today to Reuters, saying: “We have reached an agreement with the principal owner of Formula One that Sochi would host the Russian Grand Prix from 2014 to 2020.”

With this, the Indian GP next year, US GP in 2013, and the Rome GP to be announced whenever the deal is signed, this could mean that the Formula 1 calendar could be extended to up to 23 races by 2014.

Russia has become heavily involved in Formula 1 this year, with most of the credit going to Vitaly Petrov. New sponsors such as Vyborg Shipyard (which just so happens to be Petrov’s home town), Flagman, and Lada have been brought on board at Renault, which owns 25% of AvtoVAZ, the parent company of Lada. This huge commercial interest sparked rumours several months ago about a race in Russia, and Bernie Ecclestone has not made it a secret that he wanted a race there.

As always, I look forward to new races, but with Herman Tilke on board you can never be sure what you end up with. I was hoping that the track would be made by Populous, the company that worked on the Silverstone redevelopments (and are working on the Sochi Winter Olympics sites very close to the proposed track), but unfortunately this has not happened.

The main concern would be about the fact that several races now must be dropped, as the F1 calendar surely couldn’t stand 23 races per year. Personally, I think Catalunya, Valencia, Hungary, Germany and Bahrain could be dropped, but we will have to wait and see over the next few years.

Korean GP will break rules even if it goes ahead

It has emerged today that even if the Korean Grand Prix event does go ahead this year, which is slightly doubtful to say the least, the FIA would be forced to break its own rules to allow it to do so. While the track organisers are releasing new photos of developed buildings, it still isn’t enough to quell the doubt of many F1 fans and the teams.

One of the new Korean GP buildings - just in time?

One of the new Korean GP buildings - just in time?

It has been accepted that if the venue fails to host a Grand Prix this year, it will be barred from doing so in 2011. To be honest, the chances of it going ahead this year are still doubtful. Karun Chandhok’s demonstration run in a Red Bull, scheduled to take place on the 4th-5th September in only a few days time, is in serious doubt, with a trusted source saying that an FIA official said that there was “no way” this could happen.

Even more worrying is the FIA’s Appendix O to the International Sporting Code, which states that the final inspection of the track must take place 90 days before the opening of the venue. With the race weekend beginning on Friday (possibly Thursday, depending on whether it is an official opening day or not), then the final inspection should have taken place on July 23rd.

Clearly, the track wasn’t developed back then, and FIA rules state that an inspection would be very stringent, and therefore the track couldn’t have passed it, even if it took place. The rule reads as follows:

"...Inspection all work relating to the track surface, permanent 
features and safety installations should be completed to the 
FIA’s satisfaction.”

An incomplete track surface can’t exactly be up to the FIA’s satisfaction can it? Never mind “permanent features and safety installations”, which wouldn’t seem to be in place either.

While all the officials and FIA heads will insist the race will go ahead, you can’t help but feel that they are delaying the inevitable. Bernie Ecclestone would never throw in the towel early, and is probably pushing the FIA to get this race done, but financial (and sporting) implications will be severe if the Korean GP is scrapped with days to go. Having said that, the organisers will still have to pay up if it doesn’t go ahead, so Bernie’s pocket is still covered.

It is understood that if the Korean GP fails to materialise, the job of handing out the punishments goes to the World Motor Sport Council and not Jean Todt. Either way, this isn’t the last we will hear of this story.

Mallorca circuit bidding for F1 race

Recently, the future of the European Grand Prix has been in doubt, as the organisers of the Valencia circuit have been struggling to pay the contract. Because of this doubt over the long-term future of this event, representatives of a planned circuit in the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca have met with Bernie Ecclestone to try and snatch the F1 rights off Valencia as early as 2013.

The first draft for the proposition for a circuit in Mallorca

The first draft for the proposition for a circuit in Mallorca

The circuit is in its early design stage, although Spanish architects Mateo Palmer and Biel Arbona are already working on the track layout. Federico Gastaldi, one of the men who brought Argentina back on the F1 calendar years ago, is currently in discussions with Bernie Ecclestone over this plan. Joan Jaume Mule, the the mayor of the Llucmajor municipality of the Balearic Islands, has already thrown his support behind the project also.

Valencia has a contract to hold F1 races until and including 2014, but rumours a few months ago speculated that the circuit orgainisers were struggling to keep up payments to Bernie. If this is the case, then the Mallorca circuit may be allowed to enter negotiations.

Mallorca itself is completely centered around tourism, seeing as half the population work in the tourist industry. Economically, the island could be capable of hosting an F1 race, but it’s the track itself that worries me. While it is only the first proposition, it appears to be a mess of heavy left and right-handers. This 3.6 mile track has no exciting corners, and only has 1 realistic overtaking opportunity. More though is required if these designers even want to start to think about a proposition to host an F1 race.

Ecclestone snubs HD until 2012: “More interest needed”

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed the idea of HD broadcasting in Formula 1 in the near future, saying that more interest is needed and more broadcasters must be available for it first. This is despite the recent FOTA survey saying that increasing amounts of F1 fans want the sport available in HD.

At the moment, Bernie believes that the cameras and equipment are up to the job of filming Formula 1 in HD, which was shown by the announcement that F1 was to be filmed in HD this year. However, he also argues that not enough broadcasters are currently available to show it, and many F1 fans wouldn’t be able to watch it in HD at the moment. He said:

"We don't want to broadcast unless people want it. I asked in 
England, the BBC, about it - how many people can receive it? They 
said about 20 per cent of the viewers who watch F1.

Then I want to make sure that what we produce is top quality. Before 
we start seeing the top-top quality that we want, I would say it will 
probably be 2012 before we can guarantee it.

I said to the broadcasters, are you going to get more viewers, will 
more people watch F1 because it is HD or will less people watch it 
because it isn't? They really need to have a check and see who has 
got the right televisions.

I don't think the average public realise that it is not the 
television, they have to have something to receive it as well. It 
is like producing a colour signal when people only have 
black-and-white sets."

You know what? Bernie is making quite a bit of sense here. First of all, I feel that only the BBC would take up the opportunity to broadcast Formula 1 in HD at this time, as the other channels wouldn’t have the capabilities for it. This wouldn’t be viable for the cost of bringing in HD in the first place.

Secondly, many people who watch the BBC coverage don’t have HD televisions, as Bernie said. If only 20% of viewers would watch F1 in HD, then there is little to no point in broadcasting in HD – not for the moment anyway. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to watch F1 in HD, even if it was made available.

The advantages for HD, at the moment, aren’t enough to convince Ecclestone to switch, and the notion of 3D is well off as well. When questioned about this future technlogy, Bernie stated: “So many people are saying the future is 3D. It is not 3D at all. It is one-and-a-half D.”

Ecclestone working on new 10-year deal for Turkish GP

The Istanbul Park circuit is working on a new 10-year contract for the Turkish GPa

The Istanbul Park circuit is working on a new 10-year contract for the Turkish GPa

Bernie Ecclestone has said that Istanbul Park will continue to hold the Turkish Grand Prix, despite having a very poor attendance rate since it started in 2005. Ecclestone also revealed that talks are underway to renew the Turkish venue’s contract, which expired after last week’s race.

Despite poor attendance to the venue in the last few years, Ecclestone was adamant that the situation had improved this year, and was certain that Formula 1 would return next year, saying: “We’ll be here again next year”.

This is excellent news, as the Turkish Grand prix is my favourite of the new circuits, and can certainly throw up an exciting race, as we’ve just seen. Having said that, the attendance is still a big problem, as we have seen. For example, at the Turn 1 grandstand, the crowd for Friday Practice 1 increased this year by 250% – from 4 to 10 people.

However, Turkey still needs to learn how to host an F1 race properly. There are constant complaints from visitors, such as bus drivers and taxi drivers not knowing the way to the circuit, or exorbitant prices for even the cheapest of food. Also, everything that isn’t bolted down after the race is stolen and sold, apparently, even the safety car signs from the marshal’s posts.

Still, if they can provide great racing, then I’m sure problems like that can be sorted easily. The main problem is that most of Istanbul isn’t even aware there’s a Grand Prix on, so it’s just a matter of advertising it around the country.

Formula 1 to return to USA in Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, the location for the USGP from 2012 onwards

Austin, Texas, the location for the USGP from 2012 onwards

Bernie Ecclestone has announced that from 2012 to 2021, Formula 1 will race in Austin, Texas, as the host of the United States Grand Prix. A brand new facility will be built for the event.

While more details will be announced, the circuit will almost definitely, lets be honest here, be designed by Herman Tilke. Full Throttle Productions, the promoter of the United States Grand Prix, said:

“We are extremely honoured and proud to reach an agreement with the 
F1 Commercial Rights Holder. We have been diligently working together 
for several years to bring this great event to Austin, the State of 
Texas and back to the United States. All parties involved have a great 
amount of trust and confidence in each other and are committed to 
establishing the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas 
as a prestigious global event.
This is a case of the right timing in the right place. As many 
Americans know, Austin has earned a reputation as one of the ‘it’ 
cities in the United States. Austin features that rare combination of 
ideal geographic location and beauty. Its fine dining, world-renowned 
hospitality and excellent transportation infrastructure make Austin 
ideally suited to host and manage an event of this magnitude. Few 
cities if any in America could rival the connectivity of all the key 
elements needed for hosting a Formula 1 event as well as Austin. Now, 
many people around the world will have the opportunity to experience 
a world-class event, facility and city.”

Bernie Ecclestone explained further:

“For the first time in the history of Formula One in the United 
States, a world-class facility will be purpose-built to host the event. 
It was thirty years ago that the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ 
was last held on a purpose-built permanent road course circuit in 
Watkins Glen, NY (1961-1980), which enjoyed great success. Since then, 
Formula One has been hosted by Long Beach, Las Vegas, Detroit, Dallas 
and Phoenix all on temporary street circuits. Indianapolis joined the 
ranks of host cities in 2000 when they added a road course inside the 
famed oval. Lewis Hamilton won the last Formula 1 United States Grand 
Prix™ in 2007, signalling the end to eight years at Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. This however, will be the first time a facility is constructed 
from the ground up specifically for Formula One in the US.”

Well, that was quick wasn’t it? The fact that it is in Texas surprises me, but Austin doesn’t seem too bad a location. What we do know about the circuit so far is that it will be in close proximity to the hotels, downtown and the airport. It will also be well located to accomodate North, South and Central American visitors. 250,000 hotel rooms are available within 180 miles, so it seems that spectators won’t find this location a problem.

The Austin skyline at night

The Austin skyline at night

Austin itself is regarded as the Live Music Capital of the World, the Greenest City in America (MSN), and Least Stressful Large Metro (Forbes). It is also considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.

So, the city looks good, the only worry will be regarding the circuit. If Herman Tilke is designing it, then we can only pray that he doesnsn’t throw in 90 degree corners everywhere. Formula 1 has raced in Texas once, back in 1984, but only on a temporary circuit, and the sport never visited again.

Korean GP in doubt as project reportedly not on time

There are reports that construction may not be finished in time for the Korean Grand Prix

There are reports that construction may not be finished in time for the Korean Grand Prix

Reports are coming through that the Korean Grand Prix, scheduled for the first time later this year, may be in doubt, as the project has fallen behind schedule.

This new race is planned to be the 17th of the 19 races this year, so as to give the organisers more time to finish off the circuit, like the China circuit in 2005 and Abu Dhabi last year. However, construction at the Jeonman circuit has fallen behind schedule, leading to reports that the race may be cancelled.

Bernie Ecclestone travelled to Korea right after the Malaysian Grand Prix  to inspect the circuit. It is expected that he will decide in the next few days whether the race will go ahead this year or not. In an interview with German magazine Focus Magazin, Herman Tilke, mass murderer of promising circuits, said:

"For the first time, I'm afraid that a project is not finished
on time".

The circuit organisers say differently, claiming that plans are ahead of schedule, and the track will be completed on time, according to Chung-Yung-Cho:

"The construction progress is well ahead of its schedule and 
we have absolutely no issues with completion."

Eh, sure. Remember last year, when the USF1 team was founded, and a certain duo wouldn’t shut up about being ready on time? Now we face the same situation this year, with people who will continue to pretend everything is fine, right up to (and beyond) the point where everything collapses.

Interestingly enough, many top sites have taken Chung-Yung-Cho’s quote and used it in a “everything is fine” story. Here’s my counter-argument: No site who ran that story can produce photos of the work being on time. I don’t have any photos at the moment either, but if I get them, I’ll put them up here straight away.