Chinese F1 race promoters look to “Post Bernie Era”


Despite allegedly receiving bi-weekly blood transfusions, Bernie Ecclestone appears to be going nowhere fast. Though his grip on F1 appears to be slowly diminishing as with any autocratic regime in decline.

Ecclestone was forced by CVC to apologise in November 2014 following his remarks that the sport’s smallest teams were “beggars” and “idiots”.

The previous month Ecclestone had stated, I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash. So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, then maybe they should advertise with Disney.”

The team principals refuted his assertions at the FIA press conference in Austin and explained how they are trying to engage the next generation of F1 fans.

Since then, Ecclestone has lost the German GP at Nurburgring due to the extortionate hosting fees he charges on behalf of CVC, failed in his bid to force a return to the V8 engines and resorted to accusing Toto Wolff and Mercedes of killing Formula One.

Mr. E has self styled himself as F1’s Supremo, yet his ability to control the sport has ironically been weakened with the advent of the F1 strategy group. The teams now have a formal voice on proposals for the sport and with the FIA in most cases refusing to act unless there is unanimity, the commercial rights holder’s one third of the vote in this forum continually fails to push through ideas Bernie would have previously imposed.

The PR machine that works for Ecclestone puts out every couple of months a news item about a possible new GP venue for the future, but the reality is that Ecclestone is struggling to hang on to the races he currently has.

Monza is in it’s final year of contract, and the lack of cash the promoters can raise combined with the new Italian unhelpful tax system means they have no more to offer Bernie in terms of a hosting fee than Nurburgring.

The latest race promoters to voice their displeasure are those who run the Chinese GP. Shanghai has been on the calendar since 2004, though continued falling attendances despite a previous reduction in the hosting fee indicate the race may not survive beyond its current contract, which runs out following the 2017 event.

UBS have in recent times sponsored the race, which usually contributes over $1m to the promoters coffers. This year they withdrew their name and cash from the event.

Yang Yibin from the Chinese race promoters told the Shanghai Daily, “Changes have to be made to the sport. UBS was the title sponsor of last year’s Chinese GP, but they didn’t extend the contract this year, and there must be a reason for it”.

Surprisingly, they are not backing Ecclestone’s calls for change and in fact Yang suggested, “Maybe we can expect something new when we go into the post-Bernie era.”

Clearly unimpressed with Ecclestone’s ability to deliver, Yang sets out the reasons he believes Formula One is dying a death.

“There are various reasons, like one team dominating several seasons and smaller teams finding it hard to challenge the bigger constructors

“The races are not as brilliant as they were a decade ago.”

This kind of public criticism of Formula One’s once indomitable Emperor is becoming more frequent.

The constant negative stream of publicity Formula One attracts year in year out together with Ecclestone’s inability to get things done any more, surely means it has to be a matter of time before CVC seek to replace the F1 chief executive.

19 responses to “Chinese F1 race promoters look to “Post Bernie Era”

  1. Surely Mr E is only a part of the problem. Those who designed the current engine/aero/tyre rules are the architects of the loss of a spectacle/entrants hence the declining audience both trackside and on TV. With a passive FIA in place to expect an octogenrian to solve all the problems given modern media is looking up the wrong alley.

    • Sorry, but you are wrong. F1 has been going down the pan for more than the 15 months that the current engine changes. The problem is greed. The little man can’t resist screwing everyone for their last penny.
      Half of the teams don’t have enough money to keep up with the rest. That’s no surprise when those teams receive less than 10% of the total income. An income that, from what I can gather, doesn’t produce accounts to show where the money has gone.
      Tracks are not only forced to give Bernie more than they earn at the gate, but he takes all the advertising and paddock income too.
      That any track without government money can be arsed to run a GP is beyond me.

      • No not wrong. If the “old” tracks cannot pay then the income is coming from the “new” tracks and the association with them so if not dealing with them there would be even less money in F1. Having tyres that go off running behind your team mate in the hotter air so that you cannot pass has nothing to do with greed but design as stipulated by the regulations. “The rest” who have the money currently includes teams who cannot even run currently with back markers who don’t have enough money…………..go figure. Just saying that if not for Mr E. despite all his faults where would F1 be as its unlikely anyone else would have had the grasp on the business or chutzpa to build it to the peak it had and its a shame that the current combination of factors seem to make a solution impossible.

    • Absolutely. But the business model is clearly past its best… Which was the point of the article… Further BE’s ability to effect change has been diminished.

    • “Surely Mr E is only a part of the problem. ”

      Good point. While Grandpa Bernard is blissfully pushing all into bankruptcy, Little Jean has merely accelerated things by pushing for improving… his “green” credentials. For those with short memory spans, our impotent Little Jean got elected on a cost-cutting mandate. Yet HE has overseen the death of two teams, and a near-death of another, along with astronomic cost increases…

        • I was thinking in the race that if Manor hadn’t survived that Red Bull and McLaren would have been fighting over last place after about 10 laps!

          • My thoughts exactly! The intertemporal immortality of 50% of F1’s manufacturers fighting it out for 14th place, which is essentially last place given that Manor is eons off-pace… THAT was a fun thing to watch. 🙂

            Heck, they were dicing it out *behind* the Force India, which is using a 2014 design with a nose-job!!

  2. Well O/T for this article but it only occurred to me during the Chinese race that Bernard has totally gazumped Jean’s road safety campaign…….

    • I still get nightmares from seeing weekend-in weekend-out Bernie’s “Think before you bribe” persistent propaganda campaign…

      • Well it struck me race just gone that there’s a whole lot more exposure being given…..Maybe it’s because cameras are trying not to focus on Manor……;-)

    • Nothing that couldn’t be sorted by putting a few cloves of garlic in the coffin Bernie sleeps in.

      • I move that F1 cars be subjected to a garlic treatment prior to making it to the grid. Maybe THIS will finally drive Grandpa Bernier away from F1…

    • There needs to be new “blood” in #F1! The younger generations understand the business better than Granpa Bernie does! There’s a need for modernization & better marketing! Otherwise the sport will soon die. 😪

  3. Having been to the Chinese GP, in 2012, I have to say, attendance looked bigger this past weekend, just by judging how crowded the banks at the hairpin appeared. The tix were sold out in 2012 except for the farthest grandstands which were miles away on the other side of the hairpin. Now Friday and Saturday looked rather light, but race day looked more crowded to me.

  4. I haven’t watched the first three races live for several reasons. I don’t have cable TV anymore but last year I would look for streams for the races. This year I can’t be bothered. I’ve finally given up on Bernie and the teams and their dirty laundry. I can’t believe that Bernie actually blamed Mercedes for the demise of F1.

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