Exclusive Q&A: Bernie Ecclestone on the 'new Formula 1' and his plans for the future
By Sky Sports Online. Last Updated: 06/04/14 5:54pm
The transcript in full as Bernie Ecclestone talked to Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle ahead of the Bahrain GP
Martin Brundle: Mr E - you have been openly critical of new F1 2014 style. What don't you like about it?
Bernie Ecclestone: What's new about it is the engines, and that's it. There's nothing else new. I don't like the sound. I think people expect when they're watching Formula 1 - it's a brand - and they know what they expect the brand to sound like.
MB: What do you want them to do to change it in the short term?
BE: I want them to try and get it back a little bit the way it was.
MB: But with the turbos and the fuel flow - they'd have to redesign, start over, start again. You can't do that mid-season?
BE: The noise comes from where?
MB: The exhaust pipe. But it's stuffed full of kit to extract as much energy as possible.
BE: All the air exits in the end out of what we call the exhaust pipe. So they can maybe do something there to make it sound a lot better. I think what we need to do now is wait to see how the public react to buying tickets to go and see races.
MB: So you've been openly critical as the promoter; are you trying to knock the price down and buy this back as some people are saying?
BE: Not really no.
MB: Do you want full ownership back if you can get it?
MB: You don't need that aggravation?
MB: It's not on the agenda at all. So that story is...
BE: It's all nonsense.
MB: Where are you on customer cars? Do you think it would be better to have say six teams with six 'B' teams to go with them, so there's some economies of scale and some structure to it - and the grid would be a lot closer too.
BE: Yeah, I mean I'd like to see that. Whether it would work or not, have to wait and see.
MB: So it's just as well then we've got a new team arriving, probably from the USA next year?
BE: Let's hope so.
MB: Any others on the horizon?
BE: Well there are another couple of teams which I think we are going to accept.
MB: Double points at the final race of the year - that went down incredibly badly with the fans. Does that make sense to you?
BE: Well I wouldn't have suggested it if I thought it wasn't the right thing to do. But I was concerned that the championship would still be - maybe - open with two or three races to go, and then somebody could catch up. Is it probably not fair that somebody's done all that work early on and got so many points and somebody could just pop in and do a couple of races.
MB: Dietrich Mateschitz the boss of Red Bull threatened to pull out of F1. Does that hold any credence with you?
BE: He is not happy with the way the sport is being run at the moment and this is the sort of thing that could tip him over. I'm sure Dietrich is there for the sport. What he doesn't understand are silly regulations - or which he's concerned are silly - which is what happened in Australia for a start. I think we've got a little bit too clinical. I think the stewards should think a little bit more about the sport.
MB: That's an interesting comment - you think they're getting too officious and too punchy. Because we've got drivers - I think it's at least four drivers already - who have got points on their licence. We've even seen a driver get disqualified this year from a race.
MB: You won the UK Civil case - which you said you would - even though the judge wasn't your biggest fan by the sounds of it. Later this month obviously the German case starts. How's that going to turn out?
BE: No idea. Haven't got a clue.
MB: So you've got your weeks of covering this year, then you've got to try and run F1 at the same time...
BE: Well we do our best.
MB: But how could it end up then. I mean if you were found guilty of whatever they're charging. How might that end up?
BE: I don't know. No idea. Haven't got a clue. To say to you I'm not concerned about something would be wrong. I'm obviously concerned.
MB: You mentioned a custodial sentence. I've heard you say that in the past. That's not on the agenda surely? They're not going to put an 83 year-old man behind bars?
BE: I've never said that. What would happen now in this case, is the reason I want it to come out, is the truth will come out.
MB: So you're pretty confident then?
MB: And succession in F1 then. We've seen lots of stories recently. Christian Horner, Justin King... you don't like succession still do you. You're not ready to have somebody there.
BE: I'm looking to have one or two people around me. We've got a decent sort of set-up at the moment but I'll be able to take a bit more time off.