Ten… Jobs for Ecclestone to do

Bernie Ecclestone, Indianapolis, 2007 | GEPA / Franz PammerBernie Ecclestone is looking into buying football team Arsenal – one can only assume it’s because he doesn’t have enough F1 business to occupy his time.

Well I’ve got some good news for him! Having sat down and given it some thought I’ve easily come up with ten tasks for him to get on with to make F1 even better…

High-def advert-free F1

The state of F1 broadcasting on television is appalling. What other live sport is regularly interrupted by adverts? Only Ecclestone can change this by making it mandatory for F1 to be broadcast without interruptions. Without that, F1 television coverage will always be third-rate.

Last year’s football world cup was broadcast in high definition in Britain – but glamorous, colourful, high-speed F1 would benefit far more from that technology. Why not leave the adverts and interruptions to the standard feed, and let us real fans pay a few quid per race for an uninterrupted, high definition broadcast?

F1 online video

The official F1 website hasn’t got any video content worthy of the name, yet Formula One Management busy themselves ripping down F1 videos from Youtube. More needs to be done to harness the power of the internet in advertising F1.

Get short clips of footage available to view on the F1 site and let viewers subscribe to a live online video feed on race weekends.

F1 in America

How on earth has Ecclestone let F1 get into a position where it no longer has a race in one of the most lucrative and important markets in the world?

After the farces F1 served up in Indianapolis in 2002 and 2005 Ecclestone should be bending over backwards to get an F1 race in the States at a decent venue every year.

More teams

Assuming Prodrive gets on the F1 grid next year, and Super Aguri and Spyker don’t go under in the meantime, there will still be only 24 cars on the grid. That is pitifully small.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise more cars equals more racing and more money. There are plenty of talented drivers out there who deserve a shot. Given the enormous size of F1 tracks like Shanghai, it’s clear the venues can accommodate more cars.

Hit Mosley with the rule book

The sporting and technical regulation have grown ridiculously complicated in recent years. Qualifying is now wrapped up in refuelling strategy, which practically dictates who is going to win the race before it has started. Too much grip and too little power is making overtaking all but impossible in dry conditions.

So whack Max Mosley on the head with the rule book. That should focus his mind on trimming it back a bit…

Decent F1 racing game

Flogging the exclusive rights to the F1 game to Sony was a lousy decision – especially as the PlayStation 3 has failed to capture anything like the market share the PlayStation 2 had. There’s no sign of a 2007 game, and even if there was it would be shackled to a machine that has sold poorly in F1’s biggest market, Europe.

Besides which, the official game is rubbish and has been so for years. Let other developers produce F1 games so we can have arcade style racers and hardcore simulations for different groups of fans.

Sort out Silverstone

The preposterousness of a British billionaire whingeing every year about the lack of investment going into Britain’s Grand Prix track has gone on long enough.

If anyone can make Silverstone turn a profit while running the British Grand Prix, Ecclestone can. Hell, he’s doing it with Istanbul, he can do it with Silverstone.

Calendar with over 20 races and some regularity

Everyone knows when the football season begins and ends, everyone knows when the matches will be on. F1 needs that kind of regularity.

So lets have a decent sized calendar of 20 races as the absolute minimum (NASCAR has well over 30), with regular events happening at the same time each year, and no silly five-week gaps like there was at the start of this season.

Promote F1 and bring more fans in

In recent years F1 has been taken to far-flung countries that have no motor sports heritage and struggle to fill half a grandstand on race day. Meanwhile audiences in F1’s traditional heartlands plummet because the racing is terrible – this is not building a secure future for the sport.

Sort out the basic product first – then start selling it to people who don’t know they want it yet.

Succession plans

As much as he may hate it there will come a time when someone other than Ecclestone has to run Formula 1. It’s time that got sorted out.

Photo: GEPA / Franz Pammer

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11 comments on Ten… Jobs for Ecclestone to do

  1. [b]Warning! Long comment alert![/b]

    Sony having the sole rights to the online game is particularly strange given the superior product Microprose came up with in the 1990s (the Grand Prix series). In fact, if the rights went to someone prepared to make a PC version, that would be an improvement in itself. Oh, sorry, that would a) put the game at risk of piracy and b) mean that it has to directly compete with a wide variety of games of differing ages, including easily-modded driving games like rFactor…

    In fact, that underlines the biggest problem of Ecclestone’s reign – the assumption that the highest bidder always provides the best product. Even in those cases where money is tied to good knowledge of how to create a game/run a race/broadcast a race, it is the case that Ecclestone’s crippling fees for doing these things prevent the collection of resources and, crucially, reduce the use of imagination. Unfortunately, Max Mosely agrees with him and lets him get away with it.

    I would say that this defect in modus operandi is largely responsible for items 1-3, 6 and 8-9. That’s over half the list, but then Bernie rarely admits to making errors.

    The “more teams” problem is in fact down to the teams, who decided in the 1998 Concorde Agreement that, to prevent things like pre-qualifying, there should be no more than 12 teams on the grid. That may yet be sorted in the next Concorde Agreement, but if it isn’t, blame the teams and possibly Max Mosely.

    The FIA has inadvertently delegated its agenda to the manufacturers, but the mess prior to that belongs to it. Bernie should get Max to simplify things, but Max’s obsession with power makes change there unlikely.

    Silverstone is very easy to sort out. If Bernie charged it less money (along with all the other circuits), then the BRDC would have enough money to make improvements. Britain is already the only circuit that doesn’t lose money on the F1 race through Bernie fees alone – that would indicate that it is the best-managed circuit financially.

    Bernie hasn’t had Turkey long enough to see whether he’ll make a profit on the place, but when he bought Spa, he simply sold it on a couple of years later when it needed additional work. It might have made him a lot of money, but it was at the expense of the next circuit owner, the race’s place on the schedule and F1.

    As for the succession, Bernie claims he doesn’t care what happens to F1 after he dies. So I can’t see much happening there – though there should.

  2. Excellent post!

    As a starting point from a fan’s perspective I would say the hi-def, ad-free racing is a must but probably unlikely while ITV still have a contract to show the races. Which is a right kick in the teeth.

    Online videos should be available on YouTube, what do they have to lose from not having them on there when they don’t have a competing alternative like a subscription service on their site?!

    The calendar issue is supremely annoying and plain stupidity – why it has to be arranged on a year-by-year basis just doesn’t make sense. I understand why sometimes they may want to swap a couple about due to a city hosting the Olympics or whatever but to do it every year is crazy!

    Of the 10 items mentioned, there are probably only a couple which even have a chance of gaining Bernie’s approval – unfortunate, as all 10 are requiring attention.

  3. Keith Collantine for president of the FIA! And Alianora for Bernie’s job. :D

  4. Dan M said on 16th August 2007, 15:09

    All great ideas, if we can just convince Bernie that it will make him more money….

    I especially like the ideas behind the HDTV and video game issues. Such complex and interesting cars should be seen in the best possible clarity, I can deal with the ads (if need be), as long as they are placed at better times. There is nothing worse then anticipating a pass and right as he it is about to be made, BOOM, commercial. There is only about 10 minutes of actual racing and about 20 minutes of commercials.

    Sony’s stranglehold of the F1 license was a disaster from the start on so many levels. Firstly Sony has next to no experience making a decent racing game. On top of poor game design there are even poorer controls. When did The Shu race with a controller? (I know there are probably steering wheels for the console but they are awful, just buy Rfactor and a race wheel for the computer. There is nothing like a 32 car online F1 match….. If you don’t get speared on the first corner).

    Video games are one of the most influential tools to the younger generation. If you want them to understand and be interested in your sport, make a video game they can relate to. I’m not saying remove the side pods and add machine guns, just add some immersion. I always loved racing, but I first became interested (and finally understood all the rules and drivers, albeit 1998 rules, when I first played an F1 game, I’ve been hooked ever since.

    Pipe dreams I guess…. Bernie doesn’t care about how clear our viewing picture is or how the next generation will take to F1.

  5. Fer no. 65 said on 16th August 2007, 17:13

    A new official F1 game (not very different to rFactor) would be awsome…

    And onboard laps instead of the boring Circuit Map with only few small pictures. Also some more videos, like the one that is on the main page at the new website…

  6. Wesley said on 16th August 2007, 21:21

    I wish I would have started watching F1 sooner than two years ago because, it sure seemed much more competitive when the FIA didn’t stick it’s nose in so much.I am glad that I came to this site,I am getting educated by these insightful posts and comments.If Max Mosley gets thwacked with the FIA rule book do you suppose they could post that on youtube?

    KEEP F1 IN THE U.S.A.!!

  7. verasaki said on 17th August 2007, 2:21

    oooooohhhhh! i like you!

  8. HD and ad free races on TV, that sure should be done sooner than later. Many of us watch the races in pubs and spend more money on beer there than what the pay per view ad free race would probably cost :-)

    More teams would be great, but if we are to see Prodrive branded McLarens, or Toro Rosso branded Red Bulls etc or more teams that would be 4-5 secs of the pace, with more not too good pay drivers, than better have 10 or 11 …

    The every year Silverstone bashing from Bernie gets a bit boring, there are tracks like Hungaroring that for some reason seem to safe forever, and great place like Silverstone is under the threat of axe all the time. This just one of Bernie’s mind games. Sometime is really difficult to read his mind … Like when he decided to criticize Sepang for things that do not seem to be a problem, but did not mention at all the horrible food and bev situation there (I went to F1 race there for past 3 years). Same with Shanghai – great track from spectator point of view, but try to get some decent food there … No word from Bernie on that … So I would add another point for him – “Do not pick on 1 track, make sure that all the tracks are up to standards, no matter how much they pay to your pocket …”

    Calendar – I think it is not that important, whether we have 18, 19 or 20 races. But is annoying that this figure is different every year … Set it for 18, 19 or 20, but keep it at that for a while. Do not ever repeat such a stupid start to the season as this year with that massive gap between 1st and 2nd race.

    As for Mosley – that man definitelly needs some whacking for airing way too many stupid ideas that way too often turn into stupid rules.

    Another extra from me – Try to make sure that when they broadcast 16:9 picture on the on track TVs, they do not squeeze the picture into the 4:3 screens … The screens are of horrible quality already, when you distort the picture further, the TV feed on track is totally useless … (Sepang 2007).

  9. Im glad to see Im not the first person to mention Geoff Crammond’s excellent Grand Prix series when it comes to the video game side of things, I don’t believe theres been a better set of F1 games and am saddened to see them fade into obscurity

    Obviously, I’d love to see ultra hi-def ad-free racing, but I think we can all but forget about it for the forseeable future :(

    As for increasing the number of teams, I think that your proposing a means of masking the poor racing rather than adressing the root problem itself, although some of the other points would probably help.

  10. Number 38 said on 17th August 2007, 15:26

    Too bad friends, neither Bernie or MadMax are listening. Bernie is trying to set up GP races in Iceland and Mongolia and MadMax is adding 2350 new pages to “THE BOOK”! Welcome to F1.

  11. steve Thompson said on 16th April 2008, 22:19

    Bernie is out of touch. His F1 is the corporate, clean entertainment vision that most other sports (even NASCAR) have long since left behind in the 1990’s. Bring on the authenticity of a real sport.

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