Ten jobs for Ecclestone – one year on

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bernie Ecclestone at Indianapolis in 2007. Hopefully he\'ll be visiting again soon.
Bernie Ecclestone at Indianapolis in 2007. Hopefully he'll be visiting again soon.

Last year I wrote an article suggesting ten things Bernie Ecclestone should do to improve F1.

He probably doesn’t read this site (although Max Mosley does read F1 blogs) but I wondered how many of the problems he had tackled in that time.

When I looked back at my original post I was surprised how many points Ecclestone has turned his attention to. But I still think there’s a lot more work to be done.

High-def advert-free F1 coverage

Those of us in Britain should be able to see live F1 without the interruption of adverts next year, thanks to the BBC taking the rights from ITV. Rumours suggest BBC will offer high definition coverage as well.

That?s fine for those of us in Britain but what about the rest of the world? Other motor sports such as NASCAR have been available in crisp, clear, vivid HD for years. All F1 fans should have the option to watch Formula 1 without adverts, even if it means paying a subscription for it.

Online F1 video

Again, those of us in Britain are lucky as ITV has begun covering the sport online this year and that is expected to continue with the BBC in 2009. Hopefully they will expand it to include free practice three as well as one and two.

But the large numbers of people who join in the F1 Fanatic Live Blogs during race weekends looking for hacked versions of the ITV feed they can view from outside Britain shows the rest of the world wants to watch F1 live online as well.

F1 in America

Last year I asked:

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?

Unfortunately that still applies. The United States is missing again from the 2009 F1 calendar. Even F1 drivers like Nick Heidfeld are saying it should be brought back and it’s clear from feedback on this blog fans inside and outside America want the sport back in the States.

More teams

The shortage of teams in F1 has gotten worse in the past 12 months.

This time last year we were looking forward to Prodrive joining to make a 24-car grid. But the FIA failed to get the customer cars rule passed so Prodrive couldn?t enter, Super Aguri collapsed and the future of Toro Rosso is in doubt.

Admittedly the quality of the ten teams in F1, which includes six manufacturers, is excellent. But it?s far too few. A miserable grid of 20 cars in the vast setting of Shanghai or Sepang looks awfully small.

Hit Mosley with the rule book

The point of this suggestion was that Formula 1?s rules have become far too complicated and need simplifying.

Unfortunately as we all know Mosley is rather too fond of being hit by things, so I?m not sure walloping him with the technical regulations would have the desired effect of concentrating his mind on making them briefer.

Decent F1 racing game

Full marks to Ecclestone for not continuing the contract with Sony to produce the official F1 game. I have a few reservation about how good a job Codemasters will do but I?ll wait until I?ve played the final game before passing judgement.

A lot of fans are very keen to see Codemasters make a good job of the official 2009 F1 game ?ǣ just look at the exhaustive list of suggestions left on this article.

Sort out Silverstone

There?s been progress on the British Grand Prix but not really what we were all expecting. Ecclestone claims the race will be held at Donington Park from 2010 but can it possibly be ready on time?

If it isn’t, Ecclestone insists the race won’t go back to Silverstone, which would mean no British Grand Prix. That would be just as poor an outcome for F1 as there being no American Grand Prix.

Calendar with over 20 races and some regularity

The omission of the United States aside, Ecclestone made some notable improvements with the 2008 and provisional 2009 F1 calendars. The five-week gap between two races in last year?s calendar was closed, and next year there will be 19 races.

He?ll have a tough job getting the teams to agree to an even longer calendar, but I hope he does.

Promote F1 and bring more fans in

A glance at F1.com makes it pretty clear that Formula One Group does not give an awful lot of thought to how to engage with fans and bring new viewers to the sport.

Race audiences at popular venues have visibly fallen this year as promoters have to raise the cost of tickets to meet Ecclestone?s fearsome prices. And there?s little sign of crowd growth at F1?s new venues such as Bahrain or Turkey.

Promoting F1 will remain difficult while the quality of racing in the sport is poor – something the changes to the aerodynamics and tyre regulations next year will hopefully improve.

Succession plans

Presumably when Ecclestone moves on (or passes on) control of F1 will be taken up by CVC Capital Partners. But how will commercial decisions be taken? It’s not clear.

Do you think Ecclestone has done a good job of managing F1 over the past 12 months? What about things he has done that aren’t on this list, such as pushing for the formation of the Formula One Teams’ Association? And what should be his priorities for the next 12 months?

Read the original post: Ten things for Bernie Ecclestone to do