Friday, April 10, 2009

What Is Wrong With Formula 1? - Part 3 - Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone owns the commercial rights to Formula 1. This means he can sell the TV rights and advertising to whoever he wants as well as deciding on who hosts a race and how much they pay for the race. He also pays the F1 teams when they score points. Essentially he holds the F1 purse.

The first way he is ruining F1 is by whoring his shares in Formula One Management to a company called CVC to raise money for himself while promising CVC vast profits after a few years. To make good on his promise he only puts 50% of the profits back into the sport and he is continuously increasing the cost for a track to host a GP. This means that it is increasingly difficult for circuits that do not have government backing to host a race. He charges the circuits around £100 million a year for the race and the circuits take on the gates is around £100 million. They don't even get the advertising rights as they go to the FIA. The only profits they make are food and drink vendors paying for pitches and car parking.

He also seems to have some sort of vendetta against Silverstone. He has been threatening for years to take the race away from them unless they improve the facilities and how can they do that when they make no profit from the GP as he charges so much? I think he just does not like the people who run the circuit but then he seem to not like anyone. The facilities at Silverstone are not at all bad and I have heard that other circuits (Brazil) are much worse and he does not continuously threaten them with losing the race. Anyway, he has finally done it and 2009 is the last race at Silverstone. From 2010 it is moving to Donnington who really seem to be struggling with getting everything ready. If they fail there will be no British GP for the first time since F1 began.

Silverstone is not the only historic circuit to be dropped. France has lost it's race, Canada have lost their race and 2 years ago America lost their race. They are increasingly replaced by boring circuits in Asia and the Middle East. Bahrain, Singapore and now Abu Dabbi. Soulless circuits with no racing history and half filled grandstands. These countries pay Bernie the most money and so get the races at the expense of the classic circuits. The fans don't like this as the races are boring. The teams don't like it because the races are not held in their markets. The people in these countries are indifferent due to not following F1. Abu Dabbi only has seating for 30,000 people which shows how many people they expect!

There really should be an effort to protect the classic GP's.

Recently Bernie has also tried to make more of the races night races. The first night race was last year in Singapore. On the one hand the FIA are saying that F1 needs to be green and on the other Singapore is lighting 3.5 miles of track to be as bright as day for 3 days! Crazy.

The reason for this is that while Bernie is moving the races away from their natural home he also knows that the key audiences are in Europe. Therefore he wants these races to be held at peak viewing times in Europe. First we had Singapore and this year he wanted Australia and Malaysia to become night races. They refused.

Instead Bernie said that the races has to be started at a later time. This mean that the last part of the Australian race was too dark for racing and could have been dangerous and Malaysia was held at a time when it ALWAYS rains at the same time of day, the race halfway mark. The teams knew it was going to rain, the locals knew it was going to rain and I knew it was going to rain. Guess what happened? It rained. So much that the race has to be abandoned. Bernie will not however admit that he is wrong.

The funny thing is that the European fans don't mind the races being a funny times. We are used to getting up at stupid times to watch the race and we all have some method of recording them if we want a lie in.

I'll stop my rant now.

The only thing that can fix F1 of for both Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley to leave which I can't see ever happening. Therefore, and I know it sounds harsh, I am, shall we say, hoping they don't live to be 100.

I still love F1. The racing is as good as ever even with the evil troika of Mosley, the FIA and Ecclestone trying their best to spoil it I will still watch and enjoy it and look forward to better days.

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