F1’s future: Clean up in aisle 9!

The lingering debate on a potential successor to Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone continues because, quite bluntly, no one lives forever and the venerable ring leader is 82-years-old. If you’ve followed F1 for any length of time, you’ve no doubt seen many names thrown about in possible association with the series. The latest is an executive at a supermarket chain called Sainsbury’s.

Justin King, father of Formula 3 racer Jordan King, has been mentioned as a potential successor and Ecclestone is his usual, charming self when asked by Christian Sylt about the possibility:

“I’ve no idea whether the boss of a company like Sainsbury’s could do my job. Maybe he could, ” said Ecclestone.

Then again, maybe he couldn’t. The simple fact is that no one will be able to run F1 like Ecclestone. He is a massive part of the sport and most responsible for it’s success and even its failures but in the end, he may be as close to an indispensable man as you might find. While that is the reality, the future reality of the sport may look very different than the one Ecclestone created. So much so that Ecclestone would actually be an impediment to the progress and future success of the series. In that case, perhaps King could run the future F1 along with many other potential candidates.

No one could really envisage the FIA without former president Max Mosley. The galvanizing barrister of the sport’s governing body was ousted after an embarrassing sex scandal and was replaced by Frenchman Jean Todt. Suffice to say, the FIA is fairing well and may have better financial footing than it has in many years. With new formats coming in 2014 and new series like Formula E, Todt has been a busy beaver in Paris. The FIA, sans Mosley, has done quite well. A new era and new approach to the regulation of motor sport the world over.

F1 could be facing something similar. Sure, no one will know the intricacies of F1 like Ecclestone and yet the support staff and infrastructure is all there. What’s needed is a visionary for the future, not a steward of the past.

The closest analogy I can think of, in the moment, is America’s reluctance to the Metric systems due to our insistence that we convert everything to the English standard. Why would I need to know that 100kph is really 60mph? Why not change the signs on the road and look at your speedometer. When it says 100, you’re going the speed limit. Why the conversion? We already have two-liter bottles of soda and no one is converting those.

The same holds true to insisting that the new head of F1 is converted to the Ecclestone standard. There is really no reason or need for that because the new person won’t be trying to manage F1 backwards or holding it to standards from 1992. They will be spending most of their time trying to create the new F1 and even Ecclestone isn’t quite sure what that will look like… the bigger questions might be, is he capable of creating and discovering what that future should be in the first place?

My hunch? Yes, he is but I may be out-numbered there. He’s a brilliantly sharp man (even at 82-years-old) and his support staff have a tremendous command on the sport and what it takes to succeed… DRS aside.

What do you think? Could King fit the bill?

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