Bernie Ecclestone says 'Formula 1 is the worst it has ever been' and calls the F1 manufacturers 'a cartel' as he gives his view on how the sport can improve itself for 2016 and beyond.
The F1 supremo feels the sport he helped build into a multi-million pound business is currently at its lowest ebb for entertainment and feels it needs a drastic shake-up from its current format. In an open and critical interview with the Daily Mail
, Ecclestone feels the short-term view from the manufacturers has caused racing to become too predictable and only beneficial to those within its own circles.
“Most of the participants are only thinking about what's good for them in the short term,” Ecclestone said. “Long term for most of those people is two or three races. The result is that Formula One is the worst it has ever been. I wouldn't spend my money to take my family to watch a race.
"What's the point when you pretty much know, and the bookmakers know, that Lewis Hamilton will probably put the car on pole and more likely than not win the race, and the other Mercedes will be on the podium."
Ecclestone, chief executive officer of Formula One management, feels the change in decision-making three years ago is central to the problem as Mercedes and Ferrari have the power to veto any new regulations. The pair supply engines to eight of the 11 teams on the 2016 F1 grid and with a vote in the F1 commission requiring a backing of at least 18 out of 26 members to be passed, Ferrari and Mercedes hold the power between them.
Ecclestone has called the situation 'a cartel' and says he is willing to threaten change in order to get F1 back on track and make it more entertaining for the fans.
“This sort of thing is what is commonly known as a cartel,” he said. “And cartels are illegal. We are running something that is illegal. On top of all that it is anti-competitive. I don't get mad, I get even. I've had to take people out and show them a few graves. There's still room there.”
Ecclestone has also provided what he believes is a simple way to help F1 become more competitive during races by introducing a reserved top ten grid procedure similar to what is used in the British and World Touring Car Championships.
“We need more competitive racing,” he explained. “I would keep qualifying as it is. The guy who is quickest would still have his number of poles recorded for history. But then he could start, say, 10th based on his pole and where he stands in the championship. We are looking at exactly how we could do it.
“The guy who is third fastest in qualifying would start, say seventh or eighth. That is better than totally reversed grids because all you get with them is the man at the back getting past the slower guys at the start of the race. This way makes it competitive between guys of similar speed. It won't be easy to get past people.”
The first day of F1 pre-season testing is underway in Barcelona today (22nd February) with the majority of the grid unveiling its 2016 challengers.