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Formula One planning to launch masters series

NEWS STORY
17/04/2014

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that Formula One is planning a masters series for former drivers. Several have already signalled their interest in getting involved according to articles in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes by Christian Sylt.

"A series with former drivers is a good idea," says Ecclestone. "We have talked about it and it is something we ought to do. Many of these old drivers are still absolutely good enough. You would put them in the cars they used to drive."

It is one way of dealing with the controversy surrounding the quieter V6 engines which have been introduced to F1 this year. Ecclestone of course has been one of the most vocal critics of the new engines so a return to the V10s or V8s from yesteryear would obviously please him. Former driver turned television commentator Martin Brundle believes it would also go down a storm with fans.

"A well structured F1 masters series would be very popular with drivers and fans, and therefore TV and new media channels and sponsors too," says Brundle. "Whatever the format I'd want to be part of it especially if it was supporting the F1 calendar."

Ferrari race-winner Gerhard Berger adds "I am sure that it will be successful and that all former drivers would like to participate."

One big question is whether the former stars would be prepared to take the risks that come with a return to racing. "To attract the household names of decades past I suspect the cars would need to be safer and less physical to drive," says Brundle. Britain's 1996 world champion Damon Hill adds that "most old drivers want to get home to bed early with a good book."

The core of a solution to the problem comes from Eddie Irvine, who almost won the title for Ferrari in 1999, and says that the format of the series could be "along the lines of Goodwood or a handicap system."

Fans aren't the only ones who would welcome a masters series. It would also boost F1's income which would no doubt please CVC, the private equity firm which controls the sport.

The plans came to light through a European trademark application which was filed in February by Formula One Licensing to protect the name 'Historic Formula One'. The application covers the category including sporting events which is an important step in the preparation of a race series as it gives ownership to the name.

It isn't the first time that a trademark has revealed plans for a new series. In September 2008 Pitpass revealed that F1 would launch GP3 and the following month it was officially announced.

There is good reason why the concept of an F1 masters series may not sound completely new. A similar series, known as Grand Prix Masters, was launched in 2005 and featured ex-F1 drivers over the age of 40, competing against each other in 3.5-litre spec single-seaters. It held three races - in South Africa, Qatar and at Silverstone, which was won by Eddie Cheever. The series was shut down in 2007 after failing to pay its bills. With F1's resources behind it however it isn't likely that its masters series would share the same fate.

There is also somewhat of a more successful precedent than Grand Prix Masters which shows the interest in the concept.

Although there is no masters series for former F1 drivers, there is a series called Masters Historic Racing which allows the owners of classic F1 cars to compete against each other. They visit ten historic tracks including Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Spa and the Nurburgring. Its championship is known as the 'Historic Formula One Championship' and F1 licenses the name to it.

"Historic Formula One is us," says Ecclestone. "We license them to use the name." As the license is under his control he could use it for his series once the agreement with Masters Historic Racing comes to an end.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Paul C, 07/05/2014 2:37

"Why not the new F1 Masters Series presented by Jaguar, Mercedes Benz or some other major sports car manufacturer? As long as the cars raced have the well known paint schemes and do not duplicate another touring car series it would be great. That would also solve the challenge of fitting slightly overweight drivers in old F1 cars. Old F1 cars also may have difficulties with aging components."

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2. Posted by Essexv6, 19/04/2014 0:07

"Fantastic idea but if it is to happen the drivers should be driving proper period F1 cars that's why it's a good idea not as in the last paragraph putting them in a one make series. I go to most of the historic F1 races but the overriding thought is always how fantastic to get the original superstar drivers in their old cars.
This combination would be amazing as I am old enough to remember the Mansell's, Piquets Bergers, Brundles and Alesi's of this world. I'm not saying it would be possible to get everybody on the wish list but I'm sure enough big names would be very interested especially the chance to drive a Thoroughbred F1 car again and hopefully they could still squeeze into them!!!
Here's hoping!!"

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3. Posted by Red Baron, 18/04/2014 1:16

"I can't see this getting off the ground, way too many issues to contend with..."

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4. Posted by ape, 17/04/2014 21:42

"

-YAWN - ZZZzzzzzzz"

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5. Posted by tekhawaii, 17/04/2014 20:51

"Or, maybe, to short circuit (no pun intended) the driver pool for Formula E...perhaps."

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6. Posted by emcomments, 17/04/2014 15:10

"There is already an F1 Masters company registered (since August 2007) in England:
F1 MASTERS LIMITED
69-73 NEW DERWENT HOUSE; THEOBALDS ROAD, LONDON WC1X 8TA
Company No. 06342035

They have also registered the f1masters.com domain (but not the .co.uk version) but are not doing anything with it."

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7. Posted by White Lightning, 17/04/2014 12:23

"I went to GP Masters at Silverstone in 2006.

The best bit was the Historic GP support race. Nobody was too interested in the actual GP Masters (well, neither of us there...)

I'd rather see historic cars than past it drivers."

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