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Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley join forces to call for an F1 revolution

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Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley join forces to call for an F1 revolution
Oct 19, 2015, 4:06 PM

Formula 1 is stuck in a negative spiral, where the sporting element has been replaced by engineers controlling everything while fans are turned off...

Formula 1 is stuck in a negative spiral, where the sporting element has been replaced by engineers controlling everything while fans are turned off by engines and rules that are too complicated. It is time for a revolution, where the F1 rule book is completely torn up and a fresh start is made.

This is the contention of Bernie Ecclestone, 84 and his long time ally and partner Max Mosley, 75. The pair were speaking to ZDF television in a small meeting room in Ecclestone's offices at Princes' Gate, London.

These two revolutionaries rose to wealth and prominence in the 1970s, when F1 was like the Wild West, compared to the highly regulated and tightly controlled world it is today. Frustrated by the current predictable racing, dominated by Mercedes today and Red Bull for the four years before that, the ageing revolutionaries want to start with a clean piece of paper, putting at the heart of it a cost-controlled formula, where manufacturers' power is limited, no team can spend its way to success and the driver is completely in control of the cars.

"If the engineering competition starts to take over from the human competition, F1 in my opinion loses an essential element," argues Mosley.

"Tear the rulebook up. Get a few competent people together and say 'let's rewrite Formula One regulations," cries Ecclestone.

How would they do this? By "rigorously enforcing" the rule that "a driver must drive alone and unaided" - the anti driver-aids clause - which Mosley inserted into the F1 rules in the 1990s and which he believes gives the FIA today the right to make F1 whatever it wants it to be.

Ecclestone and Mosley

For many years Mosley and Ecclestone used to run things the way they thought best. Ecclestone is the brilliantly spontaneous thinker, Mosley the long term strategist. It is rare for them to appear in public like this together these days, since Mosley retired as FIA president in 2009.

So the question arises: why this intervention and why now?

Possibly part of the strategy is to put some strong content out there today to deflect from Ecclestone's shocking declarations on Friday about democracy, Vladimir Putin, Sepp Blatter and disparaging comments about the USA, ahead of the US Grand Prix this weekend.

Also Mosley has a book out and this is the peak Christmas market sales period..

But there is a bigger play here. A lot is going on behind the scenes with the sport at the moment; Ferrari and Mercedes, as the competitive engine makers, hold too much power; Red Bull is threatening to leave; majority owner CVC is looking to sell the commercial arm of the sport and a consortium of US/Qatari investors is seriously bidding for it, against possibly one other bidder. And two teams have lodged a formal complaint with the EU alleging anti -competitive practices. It's clear from the interview that Ecclestone supports the move by Sauber and Force India as he says that "there are many other things in F1 that are anti-competitive."

Ecclestone and Mosley thrive at being the only ones in the F1 ecosystem able to pick their way through chaos. Although we have a mess, we don't have chaos at the moment. But if it could be contrived for chaos to be unleashed, then they would be able to restore the sport the way it should be run, rather than the version we have today, created by the democracy involving FOM, teams and the FIA, which Ecclestone dislikes so much.

Start Russian GP 2015

Asked whether the 2017 rules aren't going to be an opportunity to do what the pair are proposing, Ecclestone smiles, "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 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."

The finger of blame for F1's current malaise is pointed at the F1 teams for acting out of self interest, while current FIA president Jean Todt is referred to only fleetingly, where Ecclestone criticises him for avoiding confrontation with the teams," he always wants everyone to be happy," he says.

Mosley argues that the only way to regulate in F1 is by being strong and getting things done, being prepared to "call their bluff" if powerful teams like Ferrari threaten to quit the sport or start up a rival series, both of which happened in the final years of his FIA presidency.

He adds that F1 needs a commercially available engine supply, such as Cosworth, to offset the power and influence of the leading manufacturers Ferrari and Mercedes.

There is a final cameo where Ecclestone talks about the imminent sale of F1. CVC has to sell, in fact they are past their sell off date, he says, adding that the prospective new owners want to keep him on as CEO. "They've asked me if I will stay on. And the answer is yes. But they may decide that they don't want me to later on, who knows?"

Do you agree with Mosley and Ecclestone's statements? Leave your comments in the section below
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