Bernie Ecclestone says he is 'hoping upon hope' that Ferrari and Red Bull can take a challenge to the domination of Mercedes and ensure the 2016 F1 world championship becomes a memorable season for the fans.
After the recent rejigging of qualifying, with the new elimination format to be introduced for 2016, and F1 rule makers still searching for a decision on technical regulations for next year, F1 is about to begin its longest-ever world championship with 21 Grand Prixs which begins in less than two weeks in Melbourne.
Ecclestone, speaking to the Australian Grand Prix's Keeping Track
podcast, says he would like to see Ferrari return to fighting for titles as well as a resurgence from Red Bull to make it a three-way battle for the F1 world constructors' championship against the dominant Mercedes.
“The bottom line is a simple one, I am hoping upon hope that Ferrari will get back to where Ferrari should be, which is challenging for the F1 world championship, and that is the same for Red Bull,” Ecclestone said. “It depends an awful lot on how Ferrari perform, if they don't show that they can win the championship we are going to, fortunately or unfortunately depending on where you are, have Mercedes dominate again.”
Ecclestone also says he is still searching for a return to South Africa in the future and hails Australia's Daniel Ricciardo as a 'super' ambassador for the sport.
Assessing the season ahead, the F1 supremo feels if Mercedes has stolen a march on the chasing pack, which had been hinted at during pre-season testing when comparing race simulations, Ecclestone says there should still be an intriguing inter-team battle if Nico Rosberg can carry over his strong form from the end of 2015.
“Having said that, after Rosberg's three wins at the back end of last year maybe he is going to be in form,” he said. “If those two are challenging each other it will be good.”