Fernando Alonso admits it would be difficult to imagine Formula 1 without Bernie Ecclestone at its helm as he sounded optimism for the sport's new owners Liberty Media ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.
In a deal worth upwards of £6.4bn, American firm Liberty Media – which owns Virgin Media – will assume a controlling influence in F1, with 86 year-old Ecclestone set to remain in his current role as chief executive for the time being.
The new deal has been met with positive feedback across the sport, with many viewing Liberty Media's arrival as an impetus to improve F1's reach to fans with a greater emphasis on social interaction and entertainment, both on track and across media formats.
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As one of the longest-serving drivers on the F1 grid, McLaren-Honda driver Alonso is optimistic about the sport's future with an American company in charge.
“I think it's good,” he said. “They have good experience, they are American, the sport there is quite popular, they seem to give to the spectator on the television and also to the fans close to the sport quite good coverage. Everything that comes from American sport normally is attractive.
“I think their point of view and their ideas will be very welcome in our sport and I see a good future, a good thing for Formula One. We are all hoping the best and we are all ready to help as much as we can, if we can do anything.”
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Even so, Alonso admits it would difficult to see F1 function without Ecclestone, with the Spaniard praising the F1 supremo's vision to get the sport to where it is today.
“It's difficult to see Formula 1 without Bernie so I think hopefully he will stay and we will see him every weekend as we have been doing for the last 16, 17 years in my case but forever in Formula 1. He's experienced as well and his knowledge is very, very important for any decision that Formula 1 makes in the future.
“The name of Formula 1 now, the brand of Formula 1, is thanks to many, many decisions in the last 30, 40, 50 years whatever. So I think all of us that are here now, us drivers, the teams, the manufacturers, journalists, you know everything that Formula One created in the last 30 or 40 years was thanks to many, many small decisions, or big decisions, that they were making in the past. I think the vision that Bernie had was fantastic.”
Meanwhile, Alonso says he would be keen for the Grand Prix Drivers' Association to meet with the new owners to forge a working relationship straight away.
“We will do for sure even if GPDA is just in the end is more about safety. As long as the cars remain in the safety standards that we have now or always in a search for even better safety, I think GPDA is a different thing, so let's say the drivers will meet the new owners sooner or later. As I said before I think we are all very happy and ready to help in anything we can do.”
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