Berine Ecclestone has been Formula One’s supremo for more than forty years but could his future as the sports ringmaster be number following the takeover by Liberty Media?
Ecclestone faces uncertain future
Berine Ecclestone’s long term future in Formula One is not guaranteed following the takeover by Liberty Media, he has admitted. The US media giant was yesterday given permission for its takeover bid by shareholders and the FIA.
When the initial bid was agreed, Ecclestone said he had been asked to stay on board for three years, but that has now been thrown into doubt. Berxit would be a huge shock for the sport as Ecclestone has been the sports ringmaster for over forty years, building his empire on the control of the commercial rights and marketing rights.
There are suggestions that Liberty want former ESPN executive Sean Bratches as the man it wants to take control of marketing, sponsorship and media rights of F1. Ecclestone says now that his future now rested on Liberty. “We will have to see how we set the company up.”
“It is not a case of my terms, it is a case of let’s have a look and see which way they would like to go. It is something that would have happened anyway. We need to put something together if I am not here because I have become deceased or something, and it is about time we did that.” Said Ecclestone.
Liberty have suggested making changes to the calendar, making grands prix bigger events and a push to expand its presence on digital platforms, something Ecclestone has long been against
Speaking about his comments last year that he would stay for three years, Ecclestone said: “That is what they asked for.
We already know that cars will have a radically different look and be difficult to drive. But what changes will need to be made to the circuit in terms of safety?
Changes at every circuit – Mekies
The FIA says that every circuit will be required to make changes to accommodate the faster cars that are being introduced this season. New regulations have brought in revised aerodynamics and bigger tyres, which are expected to reduce lap times and increase cornering speeds.
Organisers of the opening race in Melbourne have already announced changes on safety grounds. Over the weekend FIA deputy race director and safety director Laurent Mekies, said that all tracks are required to make changes.
Speaking at Autosport International Show he said “Every single team has been asked to provide simulations for their 2017 cars. We used these simulations to feed our simulation software.
“We simulated every single track with the 2017 car, so there is much higher cornering speed. It’s up to 40 km/h faster in high-speed corners. Every single track is receiving from the FIA a request to upgrade based on that.”
Mekies added that not all tracks have received the upgrade requests and its being done in championship order.
Orange McLaren cars bring up images of the golden era when Formula One was a man’s game and names such as Jody Sheckter, Denny Hulme and Bruce McLaren himself. So why now are the team returning to that branding?
McLaren set to revive orange branding
McLaren looks set for a return to the orange branding. The team are heading into a new era following the ousting of the Ron Dennis at the end of last year, with executive director Zak Brown eager to revitalise the Woking-based outfit.
Brown expertise is in marketing and sponsorship, with it becoming clear that he will be doing things differently. Speaking at Autosport International show, Brown said the team’s 2017 livery had been signed off, and he dropped a big hint about visual changes.
“We’ve shown it to the guys and girls at McLaren and we’re very excited for our future. We’ve just signed off on the car livery and I think the fans will be excited to find out what the car looks like both technically and visually” Said Brown.
Sources and a Tweet suggest that the team could be returning to its iconic orange branding. It’s unclear, if only sections of the car will be orange. The car will be officially launched at their base in Woking on the 24th February.
There were suggestions following their return to Honda power, that they could switch a red and white design, but in the end it stuck with the traditional chrome and dark grey concept that it had used since 1997.
At the time then boss Dennis said he saw no reason to change just because fans wanted the car to look better.
Earlier this month, Formula E made new ground introducing a eRace putting drivers against gamers. But should Formula One follow suit and what impact could it have for the sport?
Tost proposes eGrand Prix’s
Toro Rosso team Principal Franz Tost says that Formula One should follow Formula E by introducing eGrand Prix’s. There has been calls for F1 to improve the show.
Changes have been made with varying levels of success including 2016’s controversial revamped qualifying format and subsequent U-turn. The sport ditch FP4 in 2002 and while a two-day aggregate qualifying format was used briefly two years later.
eRacing is nothing new, as a major race was held a fortnight ago in Las Vegas with Formula E. eRacing has been part of the championship since the formation of the championship in 2014. Tost believes similar initiatives could be added to Sunday schedules to boost interest in F1 and appeal to a new audience.
Tost told Autosport “We must improve the show itself. We must bring in the young peoples’ interest, for example with E-games. Why not have Sunday morning an eGame with a big broadcast where people worldwide are involved to increase the interest?”
“The eGame would work simply in that there’s a game and companies would be involved in eGames and say look.” Tost says young people are not so much interest in the cars and we must find a way of engaging with them.
Tost said promoters must also do a better job at getting the message out that the country is hosting an F1 race. “Promotion must start earlier, maybe three or four months before a race, with some drivers coming for autograph sessions and show runs.”
Tost gave the example of Austin whose approach is to bring people in for a concert and Melbourne he described as a family race because “You see historic cars, you see new cars, you see fantastic races and this is what people want to see.”
That’s all from Reporters for this week