Sir Jackie Stewart has wasted little time in getting back on the offensive in the New Year, calling for the broom ushering in a new-look rulebook to Formula One to also sweep out the 'old guard' currently overseeing the future of the sport.
Well-known for his verbal attacks on those he feels are dragging Formula One into the mire, Stewart waited just a few days into 2009 to renew his assault, calling for both FIA president Max Mosley and commercial ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone to relinquish their hold on the sport and allow themselves to remembered for what they brought to it rather than what he fears could be its ruination.
While admiring the way in which they turned F1 from a largely ramshackle affair into the highly-polished, big money sport it is today, Stewart blames both Mosley and Ecclestone for holding on to their share of power for too long, and has repeated his call for them to at least relax their grip.
“The era of big change is now essential because the sport has grown larger than either the governors or the commercial rights holders - and that's just a fact,” he told Britain's Times
newspaper, “It has taken too long to achieve the things it should have achieved years ago and that other sports have long ago matured to, and other sports have prepared themselves more fully for the opportunities that have come their way.”
Ecclestone, in particular, has become far too powerful for Stewart's liking.
“Having [transformed the sport], he now rules [it] and nobody is up for taking on a battle with him," the three-time world champion claimed, "Bernie has such power and influence that he could suffocate almost any performer who would dare to suggest that there must be change.”
The Scot, who has crossed swords with Ecclestone over the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone during his time at the head of the British Racing Drivers' Club, is particularly keen to see changes to the distribution of revenue, administration and commercial relationships in F1 in an effort not only to improve the spectacle, but also to allow the sport to see out the current economic climate.
“Nothing is coming back into the sport,” he explained, admitting that he is concerned about the amount of money that Ecclestone's side of the sport appears to pocket while teams and circuits struggle to meet the high costs of being involved in the top flight.
“The financial distribution of Formula One appears to have been sorted out by two people who have directed it in whichever way they have seen fit. Although this has been a significant benefit in some ways, it has also hurt the sport because the balance of contribution within Formula One is absolutely untenable.
“The teams have got all the capital investment, yet they get no more than 50 per cent of the revenues. The next largest capital investment is by the racetracks, who currently receive little or nothing from the revenues apart from what they get for bums on seats. Hardly any of them receive anything from TV revenues or the circuit advertising or the title sponsorship or the commercial hospitality. How can they reinvest when they have little or no income outside of spectator attendance fees?”