Tag Archives: Bernie Ecclestone

Ecclestone to cut older races

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has said that he is ready to cut older race venues from the Formula 1 calendar, in order to make way for the new proposed races in New York, Moscow and Rome.

The Korean Grand Prix joins the list this year, and India in 2011. With New York, Russia and Rome all tipped for places in 2012 and 2013, Ecclestone has said that older races will have to be cut. In an interview with Autocar, he said:

We’re going to lose some races for sure, there are some races we can afford to
lose without too much problem. I’ve spoken to the countries to see what we can
come up with.

This was to be expected. With 2 races joining in the next 2 years, without other races being dropped the calendar would be raised to a record-breaking 20 races per season. If New York, Russia and Rome all get through scrutineering, that means there must be around 4 or 5 venues that must be dropped.

I like change in Formula 1, and there’s a few circuits I’d like to see go. Valencia is the most obvious, as it simply cannot produce anything interesting, and also had difficulties repaying their contract to Ecclestone, because of low ticket sales last year. Barcelona could well be a target because, though attendance is high, it is not the most characteristic of circuits.

Another one is the Hungaroring. While it is the only race in Eastern Europe, the circuit is neither a challenge to the car or the driver, apart from the high temperatures. Overtaking is also extremely difficult, and I doubt there’s much cash in the hands of the race organisers. Now personally, I’d like the Shanghai circuit to go, since the races aren’t great, the organisers cannot keep up the payments either, and attendance is very low, with empty grandstands littering the circuit.

After this, the Bahrain Grand Prix should go, since the racing is terrible, and the circuit organisers were pure arrogant earlier this year, by claiming the new sector would increase overtaking, when they knew bloody well it wouldn’t. Also, the German Grand Prix should be either the Hockenheimring (old one please) or the Nurburgring, not alternating between them.

I would hope that at least 3 of those races will go in the next few years. But what do you think?  Have a say in the new poll:

Ecclestone wants F1 in New York by 2012

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Since 1982, Bernie Ecclestone has been chasing a Grand Prix to be held in New York. Today, in an interview with Gazetta Dello Sport, he has renewed fresh rumours regarding a race in the city.

While Formula 1 once raced in the New York state, Ecclestone has always wanted one in the middle of the city. He said:

[It would be] in front of Manhattan in New Jersey, with the skyscrapers in the
background. Fifteen minutes from the centre of New York to the circuit would
be marvellous.

F1 last raced in America in Indianapolis in 2007. Ecclestone has said many times that he didn’t like the circuit, nor the people he worked with:

It’s all the wrong crowd and the wrong people and they didn’t really… nothing
worked there really, we’d have to have a big change round. But we’d like
to get back there.

I can’t really see how that makes sense. There’s no such thing as a wrong crowd, because attendance has always been high ever since Indianapolis first appeared in the calendar in 2000. The wrong people might be more accurate, in Ecclestone’s mind. It is well knows that Watkins Glen was dropped in the 1980′s because the organisers coudn’t keep up the payments, and the Indianapolis organisers didn’t want to pay Ecclestone’s increased demands for the next contract. So, we can conclude that Bernie has no real excuse, and just wants more money.

My question would lie in the fact that the wouldn’t be many people in America who would want to invest in a New York race. Most new Grands Prix are hosted in Asia and the Middle East, because there are people who are willing to invest huge sums of money in the races. I’m just not sure that there will be enough investment in the New York race, if it ever becomes a reality.

Having said that, I would love the idea of a race in New York, a creative street circuit especially. The one problem is that there would be too many street circuits on the calendar if this race started, which is ample reason to kick Valencia away and never to be seen again.

If you want, you can start designing your own New York street circuit on www.gmap-pedometer.com. You home in on New York, click “start recording”, and double-click on the next part of your course as it unfolds. If you want, you can save the link of your idea and post it here.

Monza keeps Italian GP until 2016

The famous high-speed Monza track

The famous high-speed Monza track

Countering current speculation that the 2013 Rome Grand Prix would replace the current Monza race, the BBC are now reporting that the Italian GP will remain at Monza until 2016.

Last week, we heard from Bernie Ecclestone that Rome eould hold a Grand Prix from 2013 onwards, meaning that there would be two Italian Grands Prix for the first time since 2006, with Monza and Imola. Ever since the Rome GP was confirmed by Ecclestone, the organisers of the Rome GP have been hinting at a battle with the Monza race. However, this news should calm the matter.

If this is the case, the race in Rome will almost certainly be referred to as the Rome GP, while Monza should keep the Italian GP status. Monza has hosted all of Italy’s F1 races since 1950, except 1980, when Imola took the honours.

Rome Grand Prix confirmed for 2013

Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that there will be a Rome GP from 2013 onwards. This will see the F1 calendar expanding to 20 races, the highest ever.

Last year, it seemed that Ecclestone was drifting away from the idea of having a street race in Rome, but a deal seems to have been made, according to Ecclestone:

"Rome will come into the programme for 2013. We will have 20 races 
and the teams will be happy with it."

Another street circuit, oh goody. That was Monaco’s idea, now we already have 4 imitations (Canada and Australia technically count), and there’s another one on the horizon. Only 2 of these races are any good, and Ecclestone doesn’t seem to like either of them. I’m sure you’re wondering will this circuit be able to match Canada and Australia, and here’s your answer: It’s being designed by Herman Tilke. You know what that means.

Even if the tifosi come out in force (almost definitely), I can’t see this circuit having any heart in it, and I’m saying this a year before we will even see drafts of the track design.

But, there’s a much more serious problem. The organisers of this race, and many others, seem to be implying that this is an attack on the Monza race. I can’t find a link for this, but I will add it as a separate post in due course. In summary, the organisers want only 1 Italian Grand Prix,and of course it’s the Roman one. I’m telling you now, if Monza if thrown off, Ecclestone is a dead man. Not by me, of course, by the thousands – millions, even- of livid Italians living in the north. This will hardly end well.

Silverstone confirms “Arena” circuit for 2010

Silverstone's layout for 2010

Silverstone's layout for 2010

The “Arena” version of Silverstone circuit has been approved by Formula 1 Managment, meaning the new layout will host the British Grand Prix in 2010.

Silverstone is currently undergoing redovelopment to coincide with the new circuit, and will be completed in the next few months. It is believed that it was the redevelopment of the facilities of Silverstone that convinced FOM to allow the circuit onto the calendar. We all know that Ecclestone has been complaining about Silverstone’s poor facilities for quite a while now, so he must have been eager to take up this opportunity. However, the new paddock and pits will only be completed for the 2011 race.

As I have previously stated, the corners Bridge, Priory, and Abbey, replacing them with two straights separated by a slow corner. There will be 17 corners, instead of the previous 18, and there will be probably 52 laps instead of 60.

Last year’s pole position was set by Sebastian Vettel, a 1.19.509. It has been predicted that this year’s pole lap will be around 1.23.130. This is mainly because of the increasing of the track’s length from 5.14km to 5.9km.

The managing dorector of Silverstone, Richard Phillips, said:

“The new sections of circuit were initially brought in to comply with Moto GP safety regulations, but the ‘Arena Complex’ was always designed with both two and four-wheeled racing in mind. We have been very careful, working closely with drivers and riders, to make sure we are improving and enhancing what Silverstone already has to offer – from a drivers, riders and spectators point of view.”

“Some will miss not seeing modern day F1 cars accelerating through Bridge, but we have to move with the times and continue looking at ways to improve the overall experience. The new layout will bring an extra dimension to Silverstone, a new challenge for the drivers, and will enable fans to get closer to the action. We have a very exciting year ahead of us, with F1, MotoGP and World Superbikes all coming to Silverstone, and I can’t wait to see how the drivers and riders tackle the new circuit.”

The overall cost of the redovelopment of Silverstone is estimated at around £5m.

Renault set to unveil Petrov

Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov

Renault are ready to reveal Russian Vitaly Petrov as their second driver, alongside Robert Kubica, for the 2010 season.

He apparently had his seat fitting in Enstone yesterday, and signed his contract today.

The Russian is known to have around €10m in backing from sponsors such as Gazprom and the Russian government, who are keen to have their first Russian in Formula 1.

It seems, however, that there was more than sponsor backing that may have helped this deal. Gazprom, his main sponsor, is owned (50%) by the Russian government. It is understood that there was a deal between Gazprom, the Russian government, and Petrov, regarding the Renault seat. To give you an idea of how powerful Gazprom is when it comes to these negotiations, their little-known chairman from 2000 to 2008 was Dmitry Medvedev, who then became president of Russia. Why Gazprom is so interested in Petrov, I don’t know. However, it is rumoured that the Russian government and Bernie Ecclestone were (supposedly) looking for a Russian Grand Prix in the future.

But back to Petrov. He finished 2nd in the GP2 championship last year, behind Nico Hulkenberg. He may be good, but he certainly is nowhere near as good as Hulkenberg, in my opinion. Having said this, it’s good to see him given a chance. Kubica will almost certainly beat him, but that’s not the point, as it will be his first year, and it’s only an indicator of how good he will be in the future.

Also, I hear that he will be a great addition to the paddock. Unlike so many other PR robots in F1, Petrov speaks his mind and has a wicked sense of humour.

Petrov will probably be unveiled tomorrow, at Renault’s launch of their 2010 R30 car in Valencia.

Why don’t they just leave the rules alone?

This time in 2009, Bernie Ecclestone unveiled his new idea for F1: the medal system. Cue outrage around the world. The idea was dropped two weeks before the season opener in Melbourne, but the controversy over it never really left. This stupid idea from Ecclestone was eventually left alone, but still revealed the Achilles heel of Formula 1: inconcistency.

At no point over the last decade have the rules and regulations been left alone for a long period of time. So many pointless changes, like the horrificly awful qualifying format for 2005 and the difference in tyre compunds in 2009 show how Formula 1 never learns.

At the moment, we are inundated with F1 leaders talking about “improving the show”. What’s this all about? Formula 1 isn’t a show, it’s a sport. In 2009, we saw one of the biggest overhaul of the technical regulations in recent history, to improve overtaking, which, after all the mad changes we saw, failed. This year, the F1 teams want to force the top ten qualifyers to keep their tyres into the race. They say that this will create a mix-up in the field. The crucial word in that last sentence was “create”.

Great racing isn’t created by constantly fiddling with the rules until it happens. Unfortunately,  everyone in FOTA, the FIA, Overtaking Working Group, and Technical Working Group seems to think it works. This means that, for years, we will be seeing more and more rule changes, to try and create artificial racing.

Just look at the tyre compounds at the start of 2009 for example. Here, Bridgestone decided to have one compound in between the ones they would be using each weekend (eg super-soft and medium, soft and hard). Since both compounds had to be used in a race, it would mean a huge difference in performance over stints. In Australia, we saw the super-softs disintegrate after 8 laps, and the medium tyres struggle to get heat into the rubber. What we ended up with was lots of action, as the field was constantly struggling with the tyres. Then, near the end, the inevitable happened: Vettel, who was struggling for grip, crashed into Kubica, and took them both out.

This is not only unpure racing, it’s just dangerous. It took Bridgestone nearly half the season to get the message, and finally reverted to the old tyre compound procedure. But, even though its gone, it simply guarantees my thoughts that these sort of rule changes are terrible for the sport.

Of course, the leaders of our sport never learn. So, for 2010, let’s go back to the Q3 “same tyre for race” rule. It hasn’t been approved yet, but almost certainly will be. This means that we will see a mix up in the grid, between drivers who go slower on more consistent tyres, or drivers who go quicker on fast-wearing tyres.

Isn’t this what we just banned with the refuelling ban? We wanted an end to seeing light-fuelled cars on pole, and the faster cars penned back because of a heavy fuel load. So what the hell is the point of ditching that, and introducing something which will end up exactly the same?

At the end of it all, it simply makes no sense. Maybe it’s too early to complain about the tyre rule changes, but seeing how other changes have gone down, I’m not confident. However, at some point, the Overtaking Working Group will get their wish. We will see a season filled with overtaking, action and incidents. The tv audience will be glued to their seats. And it will be hollow, because we will have artificially ruined Formula 1.

Alonso to have new helmet with Ferrari (new pictures added)

Felipe Massa, Bernie Ecclestone and Fernando Alonso

Felipe Massa, Bernie Ecclestone and Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso is to have a new helmet, as he joins Ferrari this year.

At the Wrooom Ferrari event, a few days ago, he was pictured holding his new helmet. There may be another sponsor logo added to it, however.

New pictures have been added:

Mosley: Briatore affair far from over

Former FIA President Max Mosley

Former FIA President Max Mosley

Former FIA president Max Mosley has said that, despite Flavio Briatore’s lifetime ban being overturned, the affair is far from over.

In a French court on Tuesday, the judge found that Briatore’s and Symonds’s bans were past the limits of the FIA’s power, and that the bans must be overturned. The FIA’s legal team are currently considering an appeal.

It would be unimaginable to see the crimes of crash-gate go unpunished, and Mosley agrees, saying that the FIA could even change the rules, so as to be able to ban non-licence holders.

In an interview with the Telegraph, he said:

“The suggestion that we can’t penalise anyone who doesn’t have a licence is very serious because, for example, we wouldn’t be able to ban those people who blacked up their faces and upset Lewis Hamilton (Barcelona in 2008) from coming to a race.”

“But in any case the FIA can easily change its rules so that it takes account of what the court said. They said we weren’t allowed to ban non-licence holders. Well obviously you can bring in a rule which does allow you to, if you wish.”

“One thing’s for sure, it’s very far from over.”

The fact that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds do not have to hold licences to be in F1 is the reason they cannot be banned, since there is no legal authority to remove them from the sport. However, the FIA still have the power to refuse superlicences to drivers who use Briatore as their manager. Also, they may not put a team on the entry list if they hire him. It remains to be seen whether they will use this power or not.

One other problem the FIA has is Bernie Ecclestone, who said that he had no problem with Briatore returning to the F1 paddock. Both he and Briatore agree that Flavio would be working in driver managment, rather than with a team. However, it is very doubtful that the FIA would allow this to happen.

Whatever happens next, this is definitely the first big test of Jean Todt’s role of FIA president. If he can find a way of keeping Briatore out of F1, then he can prove that he is the man for the job.

The Noughties in F1- Turbulent yet enthralling

The brilliant: Hamilton's epic victory in Brazil 2008

The brilliant: Hamilton's epic victory in Brazil 2008

As I am writing this sentence, we are already 2 and a half hours into the next decade. Throughout the Noughties, Formula 1 has undergone massive changes, the likes of which we have never seen before. Safety was radically improved, which has certainly saved many lives.  We have seen Schumacher completely dominate, retire, and return. Battles between the FIA, FOTA, Mosley, Ecclestone and the world raged on, as the fans of the world looked on in disgust and anger.  It was certainly a decade to talk about.

There is much to debate about here. The Schumacher domination, aided hugely by the impeccable F2002 and F2004, bored many F1 fans. But, when he left, we got 4 new champions in 5 years.  Not boring in the slightest, especially when we saw new stars like Hamilton and Alonso rise.

As it was the start of the millenium, technology was going to soar out of proportion. Constant rule changes shifted the field on many occasions, but failed to solve the original problem: overtaking. The use of pit stops to overtake came into force, but hopefully this has been shut out with the refuelling ban next year.

However, the political side of F1 reared its ugly head, as money often spoke above the true sport. Indianapolis 2005 is the perfext example of this. About 100,000 spectators, and hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, were cheated and ridiculed, because politics and money ruled. Also, it proved that Max Mosley couldn’t give a crap about his FIA president responsibilities, and waas more interested in the politics (and sado-masochism) than anything else.

The ugly: Indianapolis 2005- When politics rules in sport, you end up with a farce.

The ugly: Indianapolis 2005- When politics rules in sport, you end up with a farce.

Then, most of the way through 2009, the FIA/FOTA war started, nearly ending in a breakaway series. Once again, the fans were pushed aside as politics ruled.

It is a wonderful thing, however, that Formula 1 was still able to provide pure, on the edge of your seat racing after all this. Brazil 2003/2007/2008, Suzuka 2005 and Belgium 2008 all proved that the sport was still enthralling and captivating. Lewis Hamilton’s last corner, last lap victory to win the championship was probably the greatest sporting finale ever.

So, F1 proved to be as unpredictable as ever. But, this always had to bring out the ugly side in the sport. Enter Nelson  Piquet Jr, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds. The crashgate scandal rocked the sport, disgraced figures, and probably cost Massa the 2008 championship (this is very debatable though). Mosley was right- race-fixing is worse than cheating.

The really ugly: Piquet's abandonment of sportsmanship in F1

The really ugly: Piquet's abandonment of sportsmanship in F1

This leads to a difficult question: Was the noughties a good decade for F1? I would not blame you for a second if you said no, because the constant turbulence is simply harming the sport’s image. If you said yes, it was because of the brilliant spectacles that we were sometimes treated to. No matter what your answer is, I have little doubt that 2010 will change F1 for the better.  I dont think the politics side can ever be fully shut up, but the return of a legend, better technical changes, and many brilliant drivers pitted against each other speak for themselves.

The noughties changed F1 forever. Now to see can we make it epic: bring on 2010!

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