The European grand prix season is well underway and it would have been rather nice to have combined my visit to France with a trip to the French F1 event, of course that’s clearly impossible as despite being the most historic race of all -there is no French Grand Prix.
Why ever not you may ask? The answer is this : the formula one season is a tv event first and foremost. It is the tv companies of the world that pay money into Bernie Ecclestone’s F1 franchise and a race in France doesn’t fit into his the global tv vision of F1.
What does fit in then? The Abu Dhabi grand prix, with its multi million dollar circuit that is used only a handful of times per year? Where there is no local motor sporting infrastructure, no local race teams and no local race drivers, in fact no local interest at all! There is interest though in publicising this small Arab nation to the western world through the power of tv and the same holds for Bahrain, another new race in the F1 firmament where the primary focus is Bahrain, not F1. Similar events now crowd the F1 calendar, China, Korea, Russia, and Singapore. Speciality non events far from the hub of traditional formula one racing like Spa Francorchamps, Monza, Zandvort, Silverstone, and the Nurburgring.
Recently Bernie Ecclestone was asked about the return of the French race. No, he said we will be having a race in Azerbaijan next year! What? Can this man be serious? Clearly he is.
Ecclestone, who is currently facing bribery charges in a Munich court can clearly see the cash register jingling on the F1 till. Still, when you consider he has been accused of slipping someone a forty four million dollar bribe, well, the potential profits in that deal must presumably be in excess of, well, forty four million dollars!
The time has come for formula one racing to hand the managerial reins over to someone who is more interested in the sport than the million dollar pay check. OK, the sport has to make money, who would argue with that? After all, the costs of todays race machinery, cars, engines, race tracks, drivers and logistics, are fantastic and teams like Marussia are desperate for points in order to tap into the incoming TV revenue to stay afloat.Even though, we do need some semblance of a sporting ethos in our sport. It is still a sport not just a million dollar business, isn’t it?
My advice as a long time race fan; ditch Bernie, ditch the exotic locations and go back to basics. recruit a CEO like Jackie Stewart, a highly respected F1 elder statesman who loves the sport and from that one standpoint will be on a level field with formula one fans the world over.