In the eyes of many, Bernie Ecclestone is a fool whose time has come and gone in Formula One. Though underestimate Ecclestone’s ability to fight back – and you risk a big surprise.
Bernie has been fighting the new V6 Turbo Hybrid engines for years – even before they first appeared on track.
The Ecclestone polemic against the new F1 powertrains, varies for each audience he addresses. Lack of noise was his first big push to pump out negative propaganda via the race prompters. Bernie played on their fears there would be a collapse in F1 race attendees.
Yet this slide in attendance has been marked for some while at many circuits, and now a number of promoters have realised the reduced noise is good for a new audience – families with children.
Another supporting pillar of the Ecclestone propaganda, is the cost of the engines. Most people will agree with this and the fact that the cost manufacturers charge to teams should have been capped prior to them beginning their R&D.
SP why did Bernie not flag this up to the FIA prior to the regulations being finalised, years before the R&D even began.
Worse than this, Ecclestone signed commercial contracts with the teams following the agreement for a new engine. This inadequate arrangements now sees the smaller teams unable to afford to compete for a year, without substantial begging bowls being filled.
Ecclestone even now admits these contracts are inappropriate and the bigger teams should ‘tear them up’.
Speaking to Italy’s Autosprint magazine, Ecclestone states: “I want to change a number of things. Today we have a formula where engines are dominating. I don’t think that F1 should have engines that are so complicated.
A friend of mine, who will remain nameless, works for a big auto manufacturer. He tells me that the technical solutions of the current F1 hybrids will never be used on road cars.
These engines don’t help Formula 1 in any way. They do not help the show, they don’t help teams to find sponsors and investment. The teams are having to pay much more for them than they did before. ”.
Ecclestone is an opportunist and feeds off the dissent between others, forming alliances based on negativity and self-interest. Engine cost is now the flak sent up by FOM’s ack-ack guns, often hoping to score a moderate hit. This is a distractionary manoeuvre say when the issue of redistributing Formula One’s income more fairly is raised – or when its suggested FOM give up some of its total share of the F1 income pie.
In the strategy group, the teams’ are united together with the FIA in resisting Ecclestone’s demands for substantial changes to the new F1 engines (possibly with the exception of Bernie’s appointed heir – Christian Horner).
Bernie knows this is a lost cause, but is still fighting this battle without a glimmer success on the horizon. But Ecclestone understands the power the engine manufacturer’s hold, and any negative perception he can continue to create, will sometime stand him in good stead.
By keeping this topic in the public domain, with some persistence, Bernie is carving out a bargaining tool for further down the line.