Bernie Ecclestone took some time to speak to the press at Barcelona on Saturday and answered questions on various topics. Ranging from the problems with the tobacco advertising ban, the British Grand Prix and the never ending qualifying debate,...
Bernie Ecclestone took some time to speak to the press at Barcelona on Saturday and answered questions on various topics. Ranging from the problems with the tobacco advertising ban, the British Grand Prix and the never ending qualifying debate, here are some of Ecclestone's opinions.
The threat to races in Europe due to tobacco legislation:
"It's a pity each country can't make its own decision on tobacco -- they decide whether it's good for the country or good for them or whatever. What I'm looking at is, imagine a country, like here in Spain for example, where they have three very important motorcycle events and a Formula One event. If they just said 15 days a year there should be an exemption for just inside the circuit, nowhere else, it's however many people, 100,000 or so, who are going to be exposed, if that's the right word and they're exposed anyway with TV. It just seems a little bit silly, that's all. It's up to the governments in each country but losing European races would be a shame. It's the last thing we want."
Why he won't be promoting the British Grand Prix himself:
"Because I run a business that's not used to losing money! I'm absolutely sure that a promoter will come forward and be the promoter of the British Grand Prix. I know the BRDC (British Racing Drivers' Club) will be extracting a large amount of money from Interpublic so they can do all the building work that they want and I hope they can build something that is a lot better than has been proposed. They've got a circuit that people were offering £40m to buy and they've been getting £10m a year rent. They'll have to have a think. We made a contribution to the car parks. Super car parks -- you could park tanks on those. They haven't really run things very efficiently from a business point of view, and the government have been good enough to put the roads in."
The FIA proposals for 2008:
"The proposals are things that Max (Mosley, FIA president) and I have discussed over quite a period. As usual some of the things I don't agree with and some of the things I want to put forward Max doesn't agree with. In general the teams nod, which would seem to be approving things. They'll go away and think about it and talk to the people inside the company. They have a re-think and then we need another discussion. But don't forget, these regulations which have been put through are for 2008. Technically, nobody needs to be asked. If you want to be in the FIA Formula One World Championship, these are the regulations you have to build a car to."
Changes to qualifying:
"We're going to try and get it through mid-season if we can. I'd like to go back to having one hour, 2 to 3pm, split into two half-hours, with a minimum of six laps for each car to run in each half hour and aggregate the times. We stopped it because nobody ran for the first half hour so people were sitting in the grandstand seeing nothing except the Minardis going round, and the same for TV, which was disgraceful."
Individual deals with teams as opposed to a new Concorde Agreement:
"It's what they want to do. We'd agreed the finance with GPWC and if they'd have continued with what they said they were going to do we wouldn't be talking now. So if the teams want a Concorde Agreement or to sign separately, we don't mind. Max believes we should make a contract with each team, and he's probably right. I'm looking at all the possibilities."
The possibility that Ferrari or other manufacturers may decide to quit F1 in the future:
"They (Ferrari) are probably the most important brand we've got that is competing. I'm more worried about them stopping. In fact I'm more worried about any of the GPWC people that come out with these statements of what they are going to do. I'm not worried about them doing a new series, I'm worried about them stopping. Not worried, but concerned that they may stop."
"Companies that large can have a board meeting, decide they are stopping and that's it, they stop. Renault did before, BMW, Alfa Romeo, it's always happened. I honestly, genuinely believe that all the people currently in charge of those companies are keen and want to see F1 survive and get better and better. The trouble is that the positions change and maybe the guy that comes in thinks differently."
And finally, a succinct answer to the question of wouldn't it be good for F1 if Jenson Button beat Michael Schumacher?
"It would be good for the sport if anybody beat Michael."