Though some observers have warned that Formula 1 is on a dangerous path towards self-destruction following the series of salacious scandals that have rocked the paddock in the last few years, commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone is adamant that just as it has recovered before, so will it do so again.
The Renault 'Singapore-gate' controversy is only the latest in a catalogue of incidents to have heavily damaged F1's credibility and global reputation since 2007, beginning with the well-documented espionage row that ended up with McLaren-Mercedes receiving an unprecedented, sporting record $100 million fine and taking in along the way FIA President Max Mosley's infamous tabloid sex éxposé, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton lying to race stewards in Melbourne and the bitter and very nearly divisive FIA/FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) stand-off that threatened for much of this summer to tear the top flight irrevocably in two.
On top of that, the withdrawal of both Honda and BMW against the backdrop of the international economic crisis and falling car sales has left F1 reeling, and the potential expulsion or voluntary withdrawal of Renault at season's end has poitioned the sport, some argue, teetering on the brink of disaster. Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone, however, insists it will all ultimately be swept under the carpet, as these things invariably are.
“It (F1) has recovered from so many things when people have said it was finished, and it will recover from this,” the 78-year-old told British media. “It was supposed to be finished when Ayrton Senna died. It was supposed to be finished when Michael Schumacher retired.
“It has been finished so many times that it's difficult to know when it really will stop, but I don't think it will be now.”
Ecclestone added that even had his Queens Park Rangers co-director Flavio Briatore not ignominiously relinquished his role of managing director of Renault F1 earlier this week [see separate story – click here
], the Italian had for some time been contemplating retirement in any case.
“He told me recently he didn't want to finish up like me, playing with racing cars at my age,” joked the British billionaire, “so at least he's been saved that embarrassment.”