Bernie Ecclestone: Formula One rulebook needs ripping up and starting over

Published: Monday 19th October 2015 by The News Editor

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Bernie Ecclestone has called for Formula One’s rulebook to be torn up in a dramatic overhaul of the sport’s regulations.

In a wide-ranging interview with German broadcaster ZDF, Ecclestone, flanked by former FIA president Max Mosley, believes Formula One has become an “engineer’s championship” with little emphasis on the driver.

Lewis Hamilton will clinch his third championship in America on Sunday if he claims his 10th victory of the season and Sebastian Vettel finishes third or lower.

But Ecclestone, the sport’s chief executive who turns 85 later this month, hinted that the Briton’s achievements pale in significance to those of yesteryear.

“When people say to me who do I think was the best driver, the name I come up with – and most people do not agree with me – is Alain Prost,” said Ecclestone in reference to the four-times world champion.

“Prost had to look after his brakes, his gearbox, everything. He did a good job so he finished more races and he finished in a better position.

“Whereas today they don’t have that problem. They sit there on the starting grid and there is an engineer that starts the race. It is not on. When the lights go off they should be on their own. It is an engineer’s championship.

“We are not saying that Lewis is not a super driver but he is given a hell of a lot of help. I’d like to see him in a GP2 car with GP2 drivers. I am not saying he wouldn’t win but it would be interesting.”

Asked how it could change for the better in the future, Ecclestone replied: “Tear the rulebook up. Get a few competent people together and say ‘let’s rewrite Formula One regulations’.”

Faster and more challenging cars are to be introduced in 2017 in a bid to make the sport more appealing.

But Ecclestone, a member of F1’s rule-making Strategy Group, which also consists of Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams, as well as FIA president Jean Todt, appeared uncertain as to what impact they will have.

Ecclestone said: “I sit on the Strategy Group and I would like to know what the changes are going to be. They are like all the other rules – like an old Victorian house, people keep doing things to it – but it needs pulling down and starting again.

“You cannot cross the line and add that, put this in place of that. We need to rip it up and start again.”

Mosley, succeeded by Todt in 2009, added: “It is supposed to be a double competition – men and machine – but if the engineering competition starts to take over from the human competition, Formula One, in my opinion at least, loses an essential element.

“I think there is a big argument for back to basics, where the driver has a steering wheel and maybe even a gear lever, and brakes and an accelerator and a very powerful engine and he has to get on with it.”

Published: Monday 19th October 2015 by The News Editor

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