Bernie Ecclestone, Interlagos, 2014

Ecclestone not to blame for F1’s popularity slide – Wolff

F1 Fanatic Round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

In the round-up: Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff defends Bernie Ecclestone’s management of F1 despite its falling popularity.

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IndyCar St Petersburg, 2016
IndyCar and F1 seem to be converging
Have IndyCar’s aero kits made it too much like F1?

I’m worried IndyCar is becoming like F1 with grip levels.

They should just up the boost of the turbos instead of these body kits, the last couple seasons have been great with overtaking, this season with higher grip and dirty air might not be as good – it might be like F1.

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62 comments on “Ecclestone not to blame for F1’s popularity slide – Wolff”

  1. I had dream last night which gave me an idea i thought was so good i wrote it down. Im not a fan of any sort of closed cockpit, but i am not one to oppose safety. How about something like the Merc Halo Ferrari tested, but made out of a transparent material of sort. This is Formula 1. I’m pretty sure the engineers are capable of designing something with carbon fibre strength that you can see through. This could help compromise with those like me, who dont like to see the driver hidden away. A problem however could be some serious glare issues at dusk in Abu Dhabi. What do you guys think?

    1. Aesthetically, I like the RBR concept, it reminds me of 1950’s Le Mans cars.

      1. I advocate this option for a while as it’s looks the best and probaly protects the best against debries.

      2. Agree completely. Red Bull’s solution looks infinitely better than the previous halo tested by Ferrari. If the actual protection provided is as good, it’s a no-brainer.

    2. like claire williams says managing in rain can be an issue if using any kind of glass protection.
      lets see what they come up with.
      go pats baby!!

      1. Wipers!!

      2. Rain is not an issue any more than it is for the drivers’ helmets. Put a superhydrophobic coating on the surface and the airflow will remove any water droplets easily.

        The real potential problem is oil, but that’s unlikely to become an issue suddenly. More likely is that you’ll get a gradual buildup, and if it gets bad enough — well, stop in the pits and have them clean it. It is, again, pretty much going to be a non-issue, and a coating which is also oleophobic would help ensure this cleanup takes just a couple of seconds.

        1. Rain is not an issue any more than it is for the drivers’ helmets. Put a superhydrophobic coating on the surface and the airflow will remove any water droplets easily.

          In some ways, you are right.

          However, I ride a motorcycle and, in the rain, I rarely have to wipe my visor. The drops are so close to my face they don’t obscure vision (mostly). A similar amount on a car’s windscreen really does affect vision.

          I’ll agree, though, that the airflow will definitely help to clear it. I find that it does at higher speeds on my bike, and a slight turn of the head will clear anything “stuck” in the middle.

          I’d still suggest some form of wiper would be a good idea.

    3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      16th March 2016, 8:40

      @kcampos12 I actually really like the look of the Red Bull design, because as @hohum says, the child in me starts thinking of things like the Aston Martin DBR-1.

      1. I’m a bit surprised there isn’t more talk about the big aero changes that I would think would be needed to accommodate this design. Would enough air still be getting into the air box? How does this affect air over the rear wing? How about visual distortion due to the curvature? Too much curvature for a wiper blade? They could use tear-offs but those would have to be torn off by the crew during a pit stop. Otherwise I personally don’t mind the RBR look as well as the Ferrari concept. But I can certainly see why Ferrari’s has already seen a day on track…no aero concerns therefore relatively bolt on.

  2. How else are you supposed to feel when you are visiting a casino? Just glancing at one from the outside makes me depressed. I always saw them as a really nasty dive bar, but with a shiny coat of paint and with everything nasty just masked over.

    1. A place where immoral people buy the experience of being loved and respected by laundering their ill-gotten money.

    2. Isn’t New Zealand the favorite laid-back holiday destination of Billionaires and the Mega rich?
      Apparently Lewis is not yet rich enough for them.

      I personally see casinos as relics of the 60s and 70s.

    3. As an NZ’er I can safely say that visiting New Zealand for the Casino is like visiting London for a nature walk: kinda missing the point! Thankfully he then flew to Queenstown and actually experienced some of this stunning country (and tweeted about that too!).

      1. @bigwilk – Always wanted to visit NZ, just haven’t made it there yet. Won’t be stopping by any casinos when I do get there though. Have a couple of US friends who have lived there and a few more who have visited. They all loved it.

    4. Casinos are disgusting places made to tax people with more money than brains.

  3. This PR talk and political correctness is getting on my nerves. Not Bernie’s fault. While, I’d say it definitely is his fault, it’s still debatable for some people. On the other hand, one thing that is not debatable is that sport’s popularity is Ecclestone’s responsibility. He might or might not be personally at fault, but as a head of FOM it’s his RESPONSIBILITY, and he failed big time.

    Now if he would just go away, that would be great…

    1. Actually, he only said he didn’t blame Bernie for the 21 race calendar, noting that he needs the money can be interpreted as implied criticism or not.

      1. Exactly @hohum, it is important to read what Wolff really said:

        If we were playing Wimbledon 21 times in a year people would not go there to watch it any more. But I don’t blame [F1 CEO] Bernie Ecclestone. He has to increase income. We are living in a different environment, when not everybody turns on the TV on Sunday lunchtime any more. Digital audiences are going through the roof, but how do you make money out of that? Aren’t newspapers having the same problem?

        If anything there is a veiled accusation towards BE in his comment. Toto recognises that it’s important to capture the (money of) digital audiences. And we all know that Bernie has done nothing in that area, mostly talks negative about that internet-thing, and certainly is running (digital) ages behind other sports which are ‘digital audience active’.

        1. And probably why Button’s concern regarding more than 21 races in a season is apropos. Since harvesting the digital audience potential totally escapes the grasp of Ecclestone’s understanding, the only way he can think of to bring in more money for his interests is with increasing the number of races. So, how many races does Bernie want in 2017? 23? 25 maybe?

          1. 16 was enough. more than that just devalues the individual races within a season. in a 16 round season, the points for a win meant more than they do in a longer season. also, i think having the sport on for more than half the year is asking too much of fans whose attention is being assailed on all sides by other sports.

            football is on pretty much all year except june and july, cricket is on pretty much all the time in one form or another, big events like the summer/winter olympics and football/rugby world cups are slotted around each other so you are never really away from them, same with annual events like wimbledon or the tour de france.

            i love sports of all types (except golf for some reason…just never got it) and i believe there is room for F1 – but not a 21 race calendar.

        2. Simple, digital audiences buy cars, dream of Ferraris, drink energy drinks. Every time digital audience member watches an F1 races, they associate Mercedes with victory, technical supremacy, each Mercedes car gets 1000 imaginary horespowers attached to them…

          So they would be in good shape.

          Bernie however lives of selling TV time and Race rights. Video can hardly be monetized to a digital person. Everyone with internet connection can get a free TV stream.

          Not everyone however can get sexy onboards, awesome options. Different points of view. Maybe someone only wants to watch Manors.. This option should be avaliable online and sold.

          I hazard guess, people would pay for it.

          More importantly, teams get paid from sponsors, they get exposure for their brand. TV bubble is slowly deflating, TV audiences are droping in general. That part is not Bernies fault.

          He was there for TV boom, he is now late for digital media explosion.
          We can argue when digital media will overtake traditional TV, but we cannot argue If it will.

      2. Bernie NEEDS the money???

  4. Regarding COTD, I don’t think people should be too concerned about the new Indycar aero kits affecting the quality of the racing because while they are now generating a lot of downforce from the wings, Winglets etc.. They are generating just as much from the floor so they are able to run just as closely to one another as they could a few years ago.

    A year ago when these new kits were 1st introduced there was a lot of the same concerns about the increased aero hurting the racing but I thought the quality of the racing in 2015 was just as good as it had been since the DW12 was 1st introduced in 2012.

    Yes racing-wise the St.Pete race over the weekend wasn’t brilliant but the racing on that circuit rarely is & its one of the circuits that tends to need a lot of cautions to really mix things up. When we get to the circuits that have more racing/overtaking opportunities I expect the racing to be fine & I think were in for a really good season.

    If anything what Indycar is proving is that done the right way you can have high downforce cars that are capable of racing & its in my view showing what direction F1 should be going in (Using the floor to generate downforce, a.k.a ground effects).

    1. Makes sense to me. If anything, in St. Pete some of the drivers had no problem following too close. ;-)

      Would also like to see F1 pursuing more ground effects rather than some of the other nonsense they have proposed.

      1. Yeah Indycar is a bit more of a spec series too, with more cars more similar to each other than F1. The tires are not the designed to degrade type either.

    2. @gt-racer

      Yes racing-wise the St.Pete race over the weekend wasn’t brilliant but the racing on that circuit rarely is

      My sentiments entirely. When I think of all the great IndyCar races I’ve watched in recent years, not a single one of them were at that track.

      1. Barber & Road America, anyone..?

        1. Road America is great! I am very excited to see Indy return to this very special track. I think that this year’s season is shaping up to be very interesting. I am glad that Montoya is as hungry as ever, and it was exciting to watch Dixon slice through the pack in the last third of the opening race. Also, it is encouraging to find that Surge Karom couldn’t find a seat; maybe NASCAR next year? (No offense to NASCAR). He is not what Indycar needs, despite the outspoken support for him from the peanut gallery. I would love to see F1 at Road America. It would be such a break from Sochi or Bahrain.

  5. LOL Toto… If your team failed massively like McLaren did last year, you’d be the first to get the blame. It’s not the people that work for you, it’s the head in charge that’s mainly responsable for the outcome of any project.

    If such person already blames his product for not being worth watching or attending, then something is wrong. It’s not the people that work to make it happen, nor the people that watch it or switch off their tellies because they’ve had enough, who are to blame, it’s that very same person, the one who runs the business that’s the weak link here.

    Bernie is out with the times, that’s a fact. Maybe he’s the only guy in the world that can run such a massive thing like F1. as many people in the paddock seem to believe, but one day, like it or not, he’s not going to be there. And what are you going to do? you won’t be able to point your finger at him for taking our beloved sport to where it is now… and you’ll have the enormous task of fixing it.

    That being said, the teams are the least capable of taking things back to normal. They are pushed by their own interests. And they allow Bernie to get away with everything, as long as they are paid whatever special bonus they agreed on.

    It’s FIA’s job to keep this in good shape. They are the ones that make the regulations, they are the ones that had to write that pointless change in qualifying, the clusterhell of engine regulations, the DRS use and the designed to degrade tyres. They are the ones that chose the weakest teams: Manor, Lotus, HRT and US-F1 over prominent projects like Prodrive and Epsilon Euskadi. Among other things…

    One day FIA will have to respond accordingly towards the interested ideas of each F1 team and Mr. Ecclestone.

  6. Michal (@michal2009b)
    16th March 2016, 1:11

    I agree with COTD, these new aero kits since 2015 are very bad looking and looks like I also think they made quality of racing worse. And they are only a few tenths faster than before.

  7. Oh & since it seems everyone missed it, F1 opened a facebook account yesterday & have put up some exclusive video content.

    You can thank Marissa Pace for F1’s improved presence on social media, FOM hired her last year to work on that side of things & I gather there is more to come, Especially given some of the new stuff they have on the networking side of things for this year courtesy of tata communications which will allow for more live content sharing between FOM’s circuit & Biggin Hill operations via tata’s fibre network (Which is leading towards a live streaming platform, Broadcast contracts depending).

    1. @gt-racer – First I’ve heard of it, thanks for the heads-up.

      I would say it’s about time, etc., etc., but this is the best F1 news I’ve read lately. I do web design, development, consulting, SEO and social media. Part of my daily job is convincing some of my business clients of how foolish they are (in a very diplomatic way of course) for not being on Facebook. And F1 certainly has more to offer and more to gain from this avenue of exposure and marketing than my typical clients.

      1. Hey @bullmello,

        I’m honestly interested in why you think your business clients should be on Facebook. I’m assuming they already have websites that provide the information that customers want – products, contact details, ordering, etc – so what does a Facebook presence give them that their website doesn’t?

        I understand that there are quite a few tragics in the world that regard Facebook as the web, but there are more people who don’t use it than do, so you still need to maintain your traditional website that doesn’t require a Facebook login to view the content and/or contact the company. If you’re going to cater for both then you’re going to be – at a minimum – doubling your web maintenance costs. Indeed, from the impact I’m seeing at several businesses that I deal with, once a company engages in “social media” it will require at least one full-time employee to maintain the Facebook presence (mostly monitoring and responding to – often negative – posts) as opposed to the very part-time maintenance of a traditional business website.

        Having seen how expensive a social media presence is, I’m feeling very undiplomatically foolish in thinking that businesses waste time and money on Facebook presence. Can you tell me what advantage your clients would gain by engaging in a “social media” campaign that is outweighed by the costs?

        Further, what does a company like FOM gain from social media other than losing control of the message and a dilution of control of one’s image? has always provided a gateway to FOM’s services. I agree the content has been very lacking but there is nothing Facebook provides that couldn’t – except loss of control.


        1. @juan-fanger – I’m glad you asked. I recommend that almost every business should be on Facebook. I have met very few clients that just would not benefit in some way. Most of my clients are small business and organizations, also professional services providers (attorneys, etc.) artists, photographers and musicians. Most of the reasons to be on Facebook apply across the board.

          • Your competition is already there
          • Exposure – As of the last quarter of 2015 there were 1.59 billion active monthly Facebook users
          • Free Presence – A Facebook business page is free, any business person can make one. That gives every business the reality of a presence on Facebook.
          • Develop at your own pace – Obviously big corps throw a ton at the internet including Facebook. Smaller businesses can develop their presence on Facebook at their own pace and budget. I do social media at different levels for different clients.
          • Facebook ads are economical and targeted to your customer demographics and area, local or global. Great analytics from Facebook, you choose how much your ad budget is and no pay per click ad surprises. Believe it or not a $50 (or less) ad campaign can reach thousands of people. Facebook scrapes data to target most likely potential customers within parameters set by your demographics and chosen geographical area. Compared to when I ran my own brick and mortar store for over twenty years and had to spend big money to be in yellow pages phone book adverts every single year, this is genius.
          • Some folks on the internet never or rarely do Facebook, this is true. On the other hand there are many folks on the internet that only do Facebook, almost exclusively. Having a Facebook presence feeds more traffic to your website. Having a website feeds more traffic to your linked Facebook page. Let people find you whatever there preference is. Why exclude potential customers?
          • Facebook business pages are searchable. This can help your SEO
          • Facebook provides interaction with customers and potential customers. There are many controls on business pages to control what may or may not be posted there. It provides an avenue for business owners to provide a higher level of customer service if they choose to. This may actually be more cost effective for small to medium sized companies that would have a difficult time buying enterprise software services for customer services on their website. Also, even bad reviews and comments can become opportunities if handled professionally.
          • On Facebook you are only limited to what you can present in video, images and words by your own creativity and imagination. The audience is already there. How do you reach them and keep them interested?

          That brings it back full circle for me to F1. Over 1.59 billion monthly users (probably close to 2 billion now) can now finally view exclusive F1 content on Facebook that you may not find anywhere else. Last night after I saw GTRacer’s post I immediately went and liked the official Formula1 Facebook page. There were only about 11,000 Likes by then. Less than 24 hours later, “1,310,679 people like this”.

          1. Reading your post I understand that for a small business or group that may not have the skills or money to set up a dedicated website then a Facebook site may make sense – at least potential customers or members can view the site if it is made public. However, for a medium to large business then I’m still not seeing that it makes sense. Ordinary websites can serve up everything, and more, than Facebook can. There is nothing I saw on the F1 Facebook page that couldn’t have been done better on a dedicated website.

            That brings it back full circle for me to F1. Over 1.59 billion monthly users (probably close to 2 billion now) can now finally view exclusive F1 content on Facebook that you may not find anywhere else. Last night after I saw GTRacer’s post I immediately went and liked the official Formula1 Facebook page. There were only about 11,000 Likes by then. Less than 24 hours later, “1,310,679 people like this”.

            So less than a 1/3rd of the population can view this “excluslve” content. Why would you restrict your potential customers and give control of your content to a third party. Still doesn’t make sense to me. But I’m not making money out of selling it.

          2. @juan-fanger – Many companies have in house people doing their web and social media. It all goes together. I used to do this when I was working for a small grocery store chain a few years back I was in management, was also their web designer and social media manager. Very efficient for them since I was entrenched in the day to day operations, products, etc.

            When Facebook had their IPO people asked how are they going to make money? FB is free. Well, they have figured out how to do it by providing a huge meeting place with a captive audience, a marketing system that is responsive, scalable, cost effective, targeted specifically through voluntary data scraping and it is efficient while lending itself to individual creativity. Love or hate FB, it is one of the biggest forms of human communication ever.

            Facebook marketing utilized properly is different than your website marketing. I encourage clients to have your most important permanent information on your website. The website is fairly static with regular updates. FB is where you put your more frequent updates, events, ads, offers, etc. Because people are already on FB all day long. They are not likely to go to your website every day, but they are likely using FB every day.

            For example, I find the official F1 website rather tedious. They have improved some lately, but I still rarely go there. I get better F1 news here and a few other places around the web. However, now I can have official F1 news and content popping up in my FB news feed that I would not have seen otherwise.

            In regards to F1 only having the ability to reach about 1/3 of the population, that doesn’t really sound too bad from a marketing standpoint.

            Anyways, interesting discussion. One that I have frequently with some of my clients and potential clients. As in any aspect of business, marketing on FB, your own website or anywhere on the web, it’s how you utilize the tools at your disposal for the best results is what really matters.

      2. This…. Everyone and your Mama can get some social media going. But not F1.

        Imagine Views F1 would get if all old races would be on Youtube in HD…

        I bet people would subscribe.. Maybe have a sponsor for each Video… And release one race per week… Free to Air.

      1. 1.8M likes now. Id like to see what traditional media gets 1.8 M interactions in 24h

  8. “But I don’t blame (F1 CEO) Bernie Ecclestone. He has to increase income.” – Toto Wolff

    I would like to believe that Toto was joking when he made that statement. If not, maybe his thoughts may have been better expressed in German.
    It is certain that you cannot blame Bernie for the entirety of F1’s problems – an example being teams’ proposal, and massive support/approval of the idea to fix an unbroken and perfectly working qualifying system, but you can say that F1 would certainly be in a better state with Bernie out of the picture.

  9. Ecclestone should not be blamed for wanting to increase the number of races and I still do not think that 21 races make F1 boring. ‘Wimbledon’ is not a good example. For sure, people would not watch F1 if the calendar consisted of 21 Monaco Grands Prix. But F1 calendar consists of 21 different venues and Rafael Nadal also participated in 24 tournaments all over the world last year. A Manchester United fan has 38 Premier League games to watch every season plus all the matches at international tournaments. If the racing is good, then even 30 races are not enough; if the racing is bad, then one race is already one too many.

    Nevertheless, Ecclestone is to blame for a lot of other things that have weakened F1 over the last years, such as bad promotion, high ticket prices, unfair prize money distribution that ensures that only a few teams can be competitive, useless gimmicks that make things only worse (thank God, some of his ideas have been rejected), not making F1 attractive enough for manufacturers etc. For sure, ‘he has to increase income’ but that does not make his actions right.

    1. Hard to disagree with you there. It feels like Government. Their favourite tactic, raise taxes, because they need the money. Why? Because they’ve squandered and mismanaged the massive tax money they already get.

  10. I am perplexed by the fact that Bernie is still in Charge, regardless of the smooching that Wolff and all other team principals like to give him. Getting F1 behind the decoder has been the single most detrimental thing to happen to F1’s popularity. This is tied in directly to Ecclestone’s decision to not support social media, sit next to Putin, his remarks about women, the knee-jerk rule changes, his open attack on the sport itself, his corruption scandal, his continues attempts to milk venues and so on. The guy is bad for F1, simple. He replaced Balestre who was a former nazi, so Bernie was the best and only option they had at the time. But if your product has been sinking down the hole for over 10 years, you as a manager need to step down. But everybody is afraid of him for some reason.

    I can’t help but think that if darts can gain such huge popularity, simply by rethinking the format, the presentation and its accessibility to fans, then what is F1 missing? Good management for one, and team principals who apparently do not have the balls to say what needs to be said.

  11. I don’t believe that the IndyCar aero kits has been all that detrimental to the racing (especially as we are yet to see what the 2016-spec kits can do on the ovals) but they definitely do spring up a few other issues.

    Firstly they have been proven to be rather expensive for what little speed gain they have provided. Secondly the whole idea of the kits was to make the cars look different and to increase interest from manufacturers. Instead we have all of the cars looking identical this year because the kits have converged to one another. We also still have just two manufacturers. Finally the amount of debris produced by the kits concerns me.

    They just seem to be nothing more than an expensive flop to me. They’ve made the cars a bit quicker and a few records have fallen, but at that cost? It’s not really worth it to be honest.

  12. Nice try to score points Wolff. Make sure you suck up to the boss eh? Maybe they can tweak the rules to ensure you stay in first for a few more years?

    To pick apart your argument quickly, you said it’s not BE’s fault however that digital audiences are taking over from TV. Who has recently said F1 doesn’t need social media or young fans? Who has pushed F1 onto pay TV? Who is blocking any presence on social media or streaming?

    1. Maybe Toto is just being a little indirect @petebaldwin. He can’t openly attack Bernie. He has to say it’s not Bernie’s fault and then neatly lay out every way Bernie’s doing it wrong, with his big smile.

  13. Is Toto being serious when he asks how to make money out of the Digital audiences?
    There is a lot of cases of companies making their all business out of digital audiences!
    Even Keith quit his job to work full time on this site followed by digital audiences!

    F1 is going on the right way for making money, with the membership to their site to get access to new features. If they provide more content such as interactive fees, video on-demand, loads of historical videos, with some for free to gain interest, then they can make money out of it.

    1. I would pay to download races if it’s with the right commentary, HD and extra goodies. Doesn’t even have to be live.

      1. @balue Exactly. If they have good content on the site, they can make money, no doubt.
        They will not make money if they ask ridiculous sums of money for these contents though…

        1. There are so many sites that do this on the down low in real time, but I guess that is not what this discussion is about(?) Just narrow your search parameters and update your security. Maybe it is different in North America, where I view, but I doubt it. Man, I was mad when FOM shut down the F1archives, it was the best site on the web, aside from F1fanatic. I have watched Sky coverage for ages for nada, and don’t feel especially guilty for the service as I am inundated with the same commercial barrage as the next viewer.. Although I am still to purchase my first Rolex… my dirty secret as an F1 fan.

  14. Not a fan of casinos but I have an insatiable urge to visit the Sky Casino in Auckland and I had never heard of it until today.

    1. Put all of your money on 44…

  15. Of course Ecclestone is “not to blame for F1’s popularity slide” — nor is the FIA, pay-TV, the stewards, the strategy and technical groups, the Concord agreement, the teams, the drivers, Hermann Tilke or even David Coulthard.

    We, the fans, are responsible. We are the “population” that makes “popularity” … we don’t like what we’re seeing, we don’t like stupidity being rammed down our throats, we don’t like the most glorious chapter of motorsport being reduced to a wrestling spectacle.

    1. Guilty as charged!

  16. I started watching F1 because they sounded awesome and had the looks to match it. Now they sound like crap and in a year or two will look like crap with the halo/canopy. So enough for me to stop. And if I stop watching I don’t care what happens in F1’s future, they might aswell stop or go to 1000 kg weigth or lose many more viewers. I Wouldn’t care at that point. So to me and probably to many others, the looks and sound are the first concerns. The racing is allready poor, so what is there left besides looks and sound. Nothing.
    And most people wonder what is behind the falling spectator numbers. A bunch of geniuses.
    You might call me shallow, but who cares, a spectator is a spectator, whatever the reason. The money he pays is still the same.

    1. It used to be the drivers and the tracks that were the attraction. I feel for those who have no access to fine history of this sport. The magnificent courage of the drivers and the uncompromising dedication of the engineers is what attracted me to Formula 1. It is sad that this is being lost.

      1. I for one will watch every race until they run it into the ground.

      2. This really hit home for me, the courage and guts needed to drive in the old days is all gone now.
        Since around the mid 2000s the drivers have become spoilt smooth talking media managing blank faces.

        An ordinary auto driver on the streets of Bangalore has more guts and takes more risks than any of this useless lot.
        I just find it impossible to respect or appreciate them.

        1. Then you truly are ignorant.

          1. No I am correct.
            Try driving an auto on outer ring road and then tell me which is harder.
            No fancy trauma center, no crash protecting shell, no helicopter transport…nothing.
            Just guts and hard work to survive for another day.
            Previously F1 was over callous now its the other extreme cotton wool level safety.

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