Bernie Ecclestone, 2011

Hembery: F1 must plan for life after Ecclestone

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bernie Ecclestone, 2011Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery says F1 needs to plan who will run the sport after Bernie Ecclestone.

The Formula One Group boss is the subject of several court cases at present. Among the most serious of which is an investigation into whether he paid a bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was sentenced to eight-and-a-half year in prison in June.

In October Ecclestone will go on trial in the UK on charges he undervalued Formula One when it was sold to current owners CVC Capital Partners in 2005.

Ecclestone said last month he may be forced to leave his position in charge of the sport due to ongoing legal action.

Hembery praised Ecclestone’s work in charge of F1 and said it was important the sport was prepared for a time when he was no longer able to run it.

“I think anyone involved in the sport would like stability,” Hembery told F1 Fanatic. “I think Bernie’s done an incredible job for the sport and he continues to do some amazing things for the sport.”

“His push to get the sport into all parts of the world was visionary. Like many sports it was very European-based and it’s become a global sport. It’s the only sport I can think of that’s genuinely global and goes around the globe every year which makes it a unique proposition.

“I don’t think that if there’s going to be ever a change, Bernie talks about sometimes maybe there will be, if that does happen I think the only question we’d have is is there another ten little Bernie Ecclestones to take over because it probably will take ten people to replace him.

“So that’s our question mark. If something happens we’d be disappointed and we’d be concerned because we’d like to know what the plan would be.

“But as long as Bernie’s there then, despite what some people say, a lot of good still goes on.”

Asked about his forthcoming court appearance Ecclestone told The Telegraph: “I wish they would bring it forward. It’s going to be amusing.”

“We’re in the entertainment business”

Pedro de la Rosa, HRT, Buddh International Circuit, 2012Hembery said Ecclestone deserves credit for making a success of Formula One while other forms of motor racing have struggled. “It’s maybe not appreciated,” he said.

“We’re fortunate in the sense that, we get involved in all sorts of motorsport around the world, and I can assure you that trying to get the media, television channels, to even show motor sport is difficult. To get them to pay to show it is extraordinary. It’s almost unique. Many other categories try it and it doesn’t happen.

“You’ve got to be careful, not a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water type of thing. So our only concern if it comes up is what happens.”

Hembery endorsed Ecclestone’s view that F1 provide entertaining racing to keep people watching. “We’re in the entertainment business,” said Hembery.

“A lot of people don’t like that word and they think it’s degrading Formula One. It’s not. We’re competing with – particularly when we’re talking about going to Asia, to India, to Russia – people will watch it as long as it’s good to watch.

“People will not watch a procession. They will not watch races where there’s only one or two overtaking manouevres. If we have races like that they will watch football, they’ll watch cricket, they’ll watch basketball, baseball and everything else.

“We want it to be a valuable sport. We want to be attractive to a huge, wide audience. They only way you’ll do that is making racing exciting. Exciting racing is, by and large, about overtaking.”

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images, HRT F1 Team