Ecclestone no longer attending F1 races

<i>Image: AP / Luca Bruno</i>
<i>Image: AP / Luca Bruno</i>

London - Bernie Ecclestone says he may no longer attend grands prix.

The former F1 supremo began his first year as nominal 'chairman emeritus' in 2017 whilst still attending some races.

But towards the end of the year, Ecclestone was conspicuously absent, and he now tells Auto Motor und Sport: "I have the feeling that my successors do not want to see me at the track anymore."

In his annual Christmas card, the 87-year-old poked fun at his successor Chase Carey, but he denies he is "bitter" about the new Liberty Media era.

"On the contrary.  I'm proud of formula one and I want it to be good," he said.

F1 TV figures rise

He applauded the fact that newly-released figures show that TV and spectator figures rose in 2017.

Ecclestone said:"The Ferrari against Mercedes duel mobilised the fans. I actually apologised to the promoters, because they paid for the old formula one and all they got was Mercedes winning.  Now, they're getting value for money again."

Asked why he thinks Ferrari is suddenly more competitive, the Briton answered: "They were smart enough to look at the other teams and bring on board good people.

"Mercedes supplies three teams.  Whoever does what Mercedes is doing is successful," Ecclestone added.

What about Liberty Media?

As for Liberty Media, he admits he doesn't like that the American company is heavily investing in F1 marketing.

"It is important that the teams market themselves, and that the promoters promote their event," he said.  "If FOM competes as a third party, that's only confusing."

Ecclestone also sided with F1 manufacturers who are railing against Liberty Media's proposed engine changes for 2021.

"I would have scrapped this (current) engine.  It was a disaster from the date on which it was introduced.

"But two years ago I told the teams they could keep the damn engine if they increase the fuel flow and the fuel load," he said.

Finally, Ecclestone warned Liberty to take Ferrari's threat to quit F1 after 2020 seriously.

"You didn't have to take Luca di Montezemolo seriously, because motor sport was his life," he said.

"But Sergio (Marchionne) can live without F1.  He is only interested in the business.  If Marchionne doesn't like what he sees, he will stop.

"I'm afraid that Ferrari can live without formula one, but not vice versa," Ecclestone concluded.

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