Ecclestone: Scrap rules, ditch hybrids…let’s race!

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As is usually the case, when you want to take a blunt look at an issue in Formula 1, you call F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and that’s what Bild (via Autosport translation) did and they got an ear full.

We’ve known for some time that Mr. E isn’t a big fan of the current rules but now he says they all need to be scrapped.

“The rules must be changed – all of them,” Ecclestone said. “They are too complicated.

“We are in the entertaining business, but how are we supposed to entertain people when the audience doesn’t understand a thing anymore?

“Even the drivers don’t know anymore what they can and cannot do on track.

“Sometimes I think the rulebook just says: ‘don’t race!’ Let them touch from time to time, so what? Let the drivers handle it themselves.”

I’ve found the rules more complicated over time and some of that is due to the complex nature of the cars and attempts to smooth a few wrinkles the new technology has brought to the sport. Some things needed refining and the FIA managed this through regulations. That happens but I also find the Sporting Regulations to be very onerous these days in trying to micro-manage every action on track and the outrage culture of fans has driven some of this if I’m honest.

I’ve written before about the trinity of trump cards played by the outraged F1 fan—Safety, Cost, Social responsibility. Anything that occurs in F1 is quickly ran through the trinity of trump cards and should it be deemed short of the mark on any or all three cards, it’s lambasted on the mobocracy that is social media.

Ecclestone believes that the entertainment should be front and center and he’s even bought in to the concept that Boomers and Gen X should embrace two shorter races over the weekend because Gen Y is said to have the attention span of guppies.

I don’t believe that but maybe making all activity over a race weekend count toward the championship and having more action is a good thing? I believe Gen Y is fully capable of paying attention for 1 and half hours but like their elders, they tend not to get jazzed about things that aren’t exciting or entertaining.

“Two times 40-minute racing is more attractive to a TV audience than a boring Grand Prix,” he said.

“We have to introduce new engine rules as soon as possible.

“The important thing is to rule out the hybrid engines.

“[FIA president] Todt thinks they are the spirit of our times, and this may be true for normal road cars, but in F1 people want to see something special.

“They want to have noisy, powerful engines that can be managed only by the best drivers in the world.

“You don’t put orthopaedic shoes onto pro football players, only because these kinds of shoes are trending in everyday life.”

Maybe I’m a dullard but that analogy works for me. Orthopedic shoes=hybrid engines, fair enough. It’s not that I protest the march of technology evolution, I just think F1 has to have a balance and that must include the waypoint between tech and entertaining racing.

Is it a sports entertainment product or an R&D lab for road cars? If you say both, then I would argue the pendulum needs to be centered and right now it is too far to the left side focused on road car “innovation” which I’ve always considered a bit of a slap in the face to real road car engineers who are brilliant people on their own terms.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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12 Comments on "Ecclestone: Scrap rules, ditch hybrids…let’s race!"

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The Late Idi Amin
Member
The Late Idi Amin

Run whatever hybrid, turbo V12s air brakes, driver adjustable wings . as long as its not like the Brabham Fan car spitting all sorts of crap at the drivers behind or wheels flying off that should be consideration safety wise like the HANS device.

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl
Dada, I’d agree you on having an anything goes approach to the tech in F1, but I’ve got to defend my beloved Fan Cars (Brabham and Chaparral). The concerns about them ‘spitting all sorts of crap’ are widely reported as being the other teams playing the ‘safety card’ to try to get a superior car banned. If it was a significant issue it would have been an issue with any ground effects car. Part 2 – most of the crap on the circuits is tyre marbles, I’d want the tyre compounds changed so marbles don’t make most of the track… Read more »
longshot
Guest
longshot
If I recall right, and I probably don’t as my memory is long but hazy, the Brabham’s fan was supposedly only for cooling purposes, which was the team’s feeble attempt to hide its true purpose from other teams. Didn’t work, as the fan did indeed spit crap over following cars as a result of sucking the air from under the chassis, hence the other teams cried foul. I still think it was a brilliant concept, its a pity they couldn’t have devised it in a more subtle way that would have let them get away with it for a whole… Read more »
MIE
Editor
Gordon Murray demonstrated that the fan’s primary purpose was cooling (51% of the volume of air moved by the fan came through the radiator). That the other 49% helped to suck the car to the track was a secondary purpose and so the car obeyed the letter of the regulations. The team withdrew it as Ecclestone wanted unity among the team’s to help in negotiating better deals with the circuits. As for spitting stuff out of the back of the car, look at how much water gets sucked off the road by any F1 car over the last four decades,… Read more »
jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl
Thanks Longshot, MIE’s response below also covers it, but…….. The cars was legal, the concept was subtle (primarily cooling, and “hey! it causes a vacuum under the car too”), the other teams cried foul because they were so far behind that they were out of range of any fan ejected crap. Bernie E was owner of Brabham at the time, and despite the car being ruled legal, decided to withdraw the car to prevent teams withdrawing from Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA). Bernie had just become President of FOCA, and was on his path to World Domination – something the… Read more »
jiji the cat
Guest
jiji the cat

Onya Bernie

Member

Now is Bernie saying this just to be Bernie and stay relevant in the 24-hour news cycle or to soothe unspoken fears and misgivings by Liberty Media?

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

It could easily be a bit of both, signalling to outraged fans and Liberty that he’s up for change, if only those reactionaries at FIA would stop holding things back.
My concern is that the ‘outrage culture’ isn’t unique to F1, it seems to be a feature of social media, so responding to the outrage won’t reduce the outrage, just change the points of attack.

jimjimmy123
Guest
jimjimmy123

I’m so sick of these new fans that started watching F1 5 years ago.

No one remembers the 80’s.

No rules, no driving infringement penalties.

Drive how you want.

But cause another driver to crash or go off track; defaults in a standard 3 race ban.

Simple, effective.

Holym4n
Guest
Holym4n

Yes the 80’s the only thing that needs to be done to get back to that is lose all the money involved and make F1 a fringe sport again. Just for the purists, you know the people over 50 years old.

longshot
Guest
longshot

Check the TV ratings & attendance figures. F1 is fringe sport already.

Zachary Noepe
Guest
Zachary Noepe

The man who decided his personal greed requires most races to be held in uninhabited wastelands and the teams and tracks to bankrupt themselves paying him is going to lecture us on fan appeal and sports purity and cost control? What needs to be scrapped is the jerk at the top, thankfully that seems finally to be happening, perhaps too late to do any good.