Ecclestone: Scrap rules, ditch hybrids…let’s race!

As is usually the case, when you want to take a blunt look at an issue in Formula 1, you call F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and that’s what Bild (via Autosport translation) did and they got an ear full.

We’ve known for some time that Mr. E isn’t a big fan of the current rules but now he says they all need to be scrapped.

“The rules must be changed – all of them,” Ecclestone said. “They are too complicated.

“We are in the entertaining business, but how are we supposed to entertain people when the audience doesn’t understand a thing anymore?

“Even the drivers don’t know anymore what they can and cannot do on track.

“Sometimes I think the rulebook just says: ‘don’t race!’ Let them touch from time to time, so what? Let the drivers handle it themselves.”

I’ve found the rules more complicated over time and some of that is due to the complex nature of the cars and attempts to smooth a few wrinkles the new technology has brought to the sport. Some things needed refining and the FIA managed this through regulations. That happens but I also find the Sporting Regulations to be very onerous these days in trying to micro-manage every action on track and the outrage culture of fans has driven some of this if I’m honest.

I’ve written before about the trinity of trump cards played by the outraged F1 fan—Safety, Cost, Social responsibility. Anything that occurs in F1 is quickly ran through the trinity of trump cards and should it be deemed short of the mark on any or all three cards, it’s lambasted on the mobocracy that is social media.

Ecclestone believes that the entertainment should be front and center and he’s even bought in to the concept that Boomers and Gen X should embrace two shorter races over the weekend because Gen Y is said to have the attention span of guppies.

I don’t believe that but maybe making all activity over a race weekend count toward the championship and having more action is a good thing? I believe Gen Y is fully capable of paying attention for 1 and half hours but like their elders, they tend not to get jazzed about things that aren’t exciting or entertaining.

“Two times 40-minute racing is more attractive to a TV audience than a boring Grand Prix,” he said.

“We have to introduce new engine rules as soon as possible.

“The important thing is to rule out the hybrid engines.

“[FIA president] Todt thinks they are the spirit of our times, and this may be true for normal road cars, but in F1 people want to see something special.

“They want to have noisy, powerful engines that can be managed only by the best drivers in the world.

“You don’t put orthopaedic shoes onto pro football players, only because these kinds of shoes are trending in everyday life.”

Maybe I’m a dullard but that analogy works for me. Orthopedic shoes=hybrid engines, fair enough. It’s not that I protest the march of technology evolution, I just think F1 has to have a balance and that must include the waypoint between tech and entertaining racing.

Is it a sports entertainment product or an R&D lab for road cars? If you say both, then I would argue the pendulum needs to be centered and right now it is too far to the left side focused on road car “innovation” which I’ve always considered a bit of a slap in the face to real road car engineers who are brilliant people on their own terms.

Hat Tip: Autosport