Tag Archive | Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie steps down from Formula One Group

Bernie Ecclestone has left his post as a director of the F1 Group’s board. It comes after the announcement this morning from a Bavarian court in Germany that Ecclestone has been indicted on corruption charges with regards to the sale of Formula One to CVC in 2005. He will now stand trial in Germany at the end of April this year.

It has been decided that Ecclestone should leave his post as a director on a temporary basis until the proceedings have been completed. Ecclestone will still remain the CEO of the Formula One Group, and continue to run the business in the usual and normal manner.

A statement from CVC said: “After discussion with the Board, Mr Ecclestone has proposed and the Board has agreed that until the case has been concluded, he will step down as a director with immediate effect, thereby relinquishing his board duties and responsibilities until the case has been resolved.

“It is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day to day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control by the Board. Mr Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements.”

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2012 Pirelli’s – Help or Hindrance?

Ever since the Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli was drawn into the sport at the start of last season, they have either been lauded or critisised for creating a confusing and highly complex tyre, which evolves and degrades in abnormal patterns.

Praise tends to come from the Team Principles, the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and of course the fans, as the tyres allow for unpredictable races and results, none more so than this year, with 4 different drivers from 4 different teams winning the first 4 races. This increasing unpredictability allows for a much highers global TV audiences as well. More racing, more fans. I mean who wants to remember the US Grand Prix in 2005?!

2012 Pirelli Tyres

However the criticisms are slowly beginning to creep in, and mainly from the drivers. Many of which, welcome unusual results, but not at the cost of actual driving ability. The problem that has become apparent this year is that to make a soft tyre go a few laps longer on the first stint, you have to drive off the limit, taking every corner smoothly and sacrifice perhaps up to 2 seconds per lap. Thats not racing now is it?

As Fernando Alonso rightly put it last week, “It’s like Real Madrid, Barcelona and AC Milan suddenly playing with the budget of Cesena.”

Normally racing in a 60 lap Formula One race should consist of 60 laps of F1 drivers, proving their worth as the finest in the world and driving the cars on the absolute limit of adhesion. But today’s Formula One consists of a driver trying to preserve a tyre and run around slightly conservatively so he wont have to make an extra pit stop during the race. It appears that losing 15 seconds saving a tyre is better than losing 20 seconds in the pit lane.

But Pirelli are only doing the job they were asked to do. It is not their fault, it is now up to the drivers to determine whether to run at maximum race pace or to run conservatively. No one can argue that the first 4 races, which have offered up to 4 different winners and results are great for the sport. But has it become somewhat artificial?

Marbles

Another issue with the Pirelli’s is the sheer amount of marbles going off-line on the track throughout a race. It is ruining the racing. Drivers are now no longer wanting to overtake in certain areas, in fear that they will damage their tyres by going  over the marbles. We saw it in Bahrain, where Kimi Raikkonen decided not to take to the inside of Sebastian Vettel at Turn One for the victory, as it was too slippery due to the excessive marbles on the track.

Paul Hembery of Pirelli summed it all up perfectly, “Racers are winners; they’re not happy unless they’re winning.”

Why Bahrain should not happen

It may seem like an obvious statement, but with a little under three weeks until the Bahrain Grand Prix is due to start, its a statement yet to be resolved.

As of Monday 2nd April 2012, the Bahrain Grand Prix is still due to go ahead. Yet the issues in the country from last years ‘Arab Spring’ are still apparent. The politics surrounding Bahrain’s unrest are not for a sport such as Formula One to delve into.

Instead F1 now needs to take a look at what is happening and realise that the country is not just unsafe for drivers or people at the racetrack, but for all the corporate hospitality including team members, TV crews and journalists. Where are these people supposed to sleep or go about their work in a nation ravaged in conflict?

On Saturday a man was killed when he was open-fired upon, whilst filming protests. Another, Ahmed Amir (photo below) a 15 year old was photographed on Twitter lying in ICU. He was hit in head with a tear gas canister and suffered a serious skull fracture. There was also a harrowing statement from Twitter user @VendettaBH who posted:

“Dear #F1 driver, This man just got killed by regime’s thugs in #Bahrain with live rounds! U still feel safe?!” They then gave a link to a graphic photo.

Picture of 15 year old Ahmed Amir - Courtesy of Bahrain Human Rights Twitter page @BahrainRights

People in Bahrain have stated that they do not wish for F1 to take place in their country this year, with a petition (http://www.avaaz.org/en/f1_dont_race_bahrain_teams/?cl=1513814427&v=12046) in place to write to all the F1 teams and urge them to turn away and not to return until there are verifiable steps towards democracy.
“Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims,” was a warning from a Bahraini in an online video. The social-networking site Twitter has also become a place to campaign against the race, with people using these hash-tags to voice their opinion: #BloodyF1 #NoF1

'No F1' Banners in Bahrain, courtesy of @GrandPrixDiary

For Formula One, a decision will definitely be made by the Sunday evening of the Chinese Grand Prix, a little over 4 days until first practice at the Sakhir Circuit, although there may be an announcement as early as Thursday 12th April. Bernie Ecclestone is expected to fly to the country to deem whether it is feasible for the race to go ahead, but contingency plans are already in place if the answer appears negative. Most teams intend to fly to Abu Dhabi, where they can either head back to their European bases or continue to Bahrain, creating a logistical nightmare.
The worry is that team members and guests themselves may be subject to attack. It has been noted that some Mclaren members are concerned about going to a country, which owns 50% of their team, making them a vulnerable target for protest.
This is no simple matter to solve though. The race costs £25 million ($39 million) and whoever is first to blink essentially pays that cost. Last year, the Bahraini Government realised that it couldn’t hold the race, so cancelled the race themselves and payed the fee to Bernie. If Bernie should be the person to pull out of the deal, he does not get the money from the race organisers. It is a tough and costly call to make.
Formula One will not progress financially or as a sport by going to a country with such a massive unrest. F1 will be frowned upon if it is seen delving in such murky and bloody waters. Bernie Ecclestone said in November 2011: “We’ll be there [Bahrain], unless something terrible happens to stop us”. Well Bernie, something terrible is happening.
Links of Interest
Al Jazeera’s Bahrain Blog: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/liveblog/Bahrain
Bahrain Human Rights on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/BahrainRights