Bernie Ecclestone’s punk phase a reply to F1’s failure to get things done

时间:2019-11-16  作者:向寨  来源:pk10计划网页计划  浏览:53次  评论:71条

Punk rock rarely informs Formula One, a sport that positively recoils at the idea of a spot of anarchy. Yet here in Russia the sport is convulsing yet again, not pretty but definitely vacant. Formula One’s chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, had long wanted to hold a race here and after the fall of the Soviet Union Vladimir Putin shared his vision, realised in 2014 with the . The pair clearly got on and in February this year . “He’s the guy who should run Europe,” he said of Putin, adding: “I speak to him when I need to. I like to do business with the people who switch the lights off, not the assistant’s assistant. That’s the only way to get things done.”

Indeed. But it is very hard not to perceive Ecclestone, as seems increasingly to be the case in many of his statements, as simply playing the role of both Bill Grundy and the Sex Pistols, . “Say something outrageous,” prompts Bernie Grundy to himself, who duly replies, as the Sexllestone Pistols, with his version of guitarist Steve Jones’s expletive-laden reply.

Thus Ecclestone went on in the same interview in which he had praised Putin: “I’ve said before that I don’t much like democracy. .” Which seems infinitely more disturbing a statement now than any amount of effing and jeffing the Pistols managed in 1976. If outrage and attention is the goal, some of Ecclestone’s relatively recent pronouncements have been succeeding admirably. Statements include: that he has no interest in attracting young fans to F1; a positive disdain for social media and its relevance to F1; and describing the sport he runs as the – so poor he would not pay to take his family to watch it.

In 2008 that Grundy interview was still the most requested clip, as recorded in a survey of TV companies. If Ecclestone were trying, as the Pistols were, to gain notoriety, this would all be grist to the mill and it is, in its own way, entertaining and Ecclestone knows it when he lets loose. It garners more attention than F1’s internal politicking, where the serious decisions about the sport’s future are being made. Ecclestone on Putin makes for far better headlines than “strategy group discusses tyre widths” after all, but sometimes behind his version of the filth and the fury there may be a point.

On Tuesday the were due to be ratified, before the current deadline set for this Saturday. It is a complex procedure that requires the World Motor Sport Council, F1’s strategy group and the F1 commission to agree by following a specific process. While the changes to the cars, largely aimed at making them faster and increasing downforce are understood to be going forward, the engine regulations were not passed.

These have proved more troublesome and were reportedly not agreed because not enough members of the F1 commission, which consists of representatives from the FIA, Management (which Ecclestone runs), the teams, sponsors and promoters, were at the meeting to ratify them.

A proposed e-vote will now take place this week, no simple task in itself given there is the small business of a race meeting in Sochi to attend to. Nor is it a matter of little import. and these changes, centred on the cost, supply, noise and crucially, imposing a performance convergence to within 2% on engine manufacturers, should address some of these issues. Getting these decisions right will be key for F1 in the future.

Yet the wrangling continues. , the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, said he believed “time will run out at the end of the month and nothing will be achieved and nothing will change”. As things stand he is on the money. Mercedes’ executive director, Toto Wolff, this week questioned again whether the changes were necessary, while his technical director Paddy Lowe joined in, arguing that engines should remain as a performance differentiator in the sport.

Even the changes to the cars – to make them wider, with wider tyres, more downforce from the underfloor and a lower, wider rear wing, allied to a wider front wing, which are set to go ahead – remain contentious and in a way that will matter far more to fans than engineers. The cars may be harder to drive, and they will certainly be faster but the increase in downforce will make it harder to follow and consequently harder to overtake. More mechanical grip from the tyres will mitigate this to an extent but if the new formula reduces overtaking entirely to DRS-assisted moves it will have singularly failed in the entertainment aspect of its remit. Going faster and looking more aggressive will mean nothing if drivers cannot put their car in the right place at the right time.

Behind all of which might lie Ecclestone’s goading comment about democracy. He remembers only too well the time when he and the then president of the FIA, Max Mosley, would simply, as he would have it, got things done. The current process, befouled by complexity and vested interests that has allowed designers is not only arcane and torturously slow but has absolutely no guarantee of reaching decisions that will necessarily benefit the sport.

Nor, despite the anti-autocratic structure that irks Ecclestone, does it take on board the wishes of the drivers, , or even the fans – the two groups in whose name surely this interminable dispute ought to be being made.

The Sex Pistols ended their original, short-lived career with John Lydon staring balefully into the audience at San Francisco’s Winter Theatre in 1978 and inquiring: Let’s hope no one will be asking that question come the end of the opening race in 2017.