Anyone who has followed Formula One closely for more than a couple of years will come to the conclusion that the sport is run by either the greatest mind ever – or a bumbling fool who can’t remember what he says.
Less than two years ago, Bernie Ecclestone was asked whether the demise of HRT and the loss of the twelfth team would adversely affect Formula One.
“I’d rather have ten,” he remarked. “I never wanted 12. It’s just that 10 is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have 10… so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”
Roll the clock on a year, and Ecclestone has changed his tune.
Ahead of the 2014 Singapore GP, Bernie was asked what would happen if Formula One lost more teams from the grid. “It’s always been on the cards that if we lose up to three teams then the other teams will run three cars,” he said.
The so called F1 supremo then stated 3 car teams were his preference regardless. “I think we should do it anyway. I would rather see Ferrari with three cars, or any of the other top teams with three cars, than having teams that are struggling.”
Another year rolls by and during the 2015 Russian GP weekend, we were privileged to see the Martin Brundle try out for the part of ‘grand inquisitor’. The SKY F1 presenter interviewed Ecclestone who eventually cracked under the relentless pressure from Brundle, and revealed, “I want to see 13 – 2 car teams.”
Brundle appears to desperately be trying to steer the conversation, but Ecclestone is either not playing ball or has forgotten his lines.
In reply to Ecclestone’s 13 2 car teams comment Brundle suggests: “A Full house… franchise. Then they would have value, be something you could sell, If a manufacturer wanted to come into F1, they’ve got to buy a franchise.
Everbody’s got a business model, like you have in the normal business world.”
Ecclestone nods repeatedly, adding “It’s very difficult for a new manufacturer to come in today”
TJ13 raised ‘franchise’ style idea back in February 2013 in a tongue in cheek article entitled, “GLOBAL PREMIER RACING IN AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE”
The point Martin Brundle was desperate for Bernie to make was that by only ever creating say 13 F1 racing licenses – which can be bought and sold under supervision from the FIA, Formula One helps team owners protect their investment to some degree.
Had there been 10 F1 racing licenses only in F1 in 2014, Gene Haas would have been forced to do a deal with a team whose owners wanted to sell.
Whereas at present, the FIA appear to be happy to grant licenses to new applications – even from Romanian janitors et al.
Of course a franchise style ownership of F1 racing licenses would only work if F1 gets its house in order and becomes an attractive place where new teams want to come and race. The powers that be need to create the necessary conditions where demand to be in F1 should outstrip availability of opportunity.
This climate would mean that when international corporate gambling institutions like Genii get bored with losing money, or global fizzy drinks marketing organisations quit because they can’t win every race, F1 remains strong – less dependent and desperate to satisfy the whims of the competitors.
Maybe after wandering in the wilderness for years, finally Bernie is on the right track with 13 franchise style 2 car F1 teams – that is assuming he can remember the plan of course at the next F1 strategy group meeting.