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Ecclestone: Scrapping hybrid formula only way to derail Mercedes

NEWS STORY
05/01/2017

Bernie Ecclestone believes the new regulations for 2017 will not stop Mercedes domination of F1.

Never a fan of the new hybrid formula, Bernie Ecclestone believes that scrapping it is the only way that Mercedes domination of the sport will come to an end.

Aware of the ever increasing push towards 'green' technology, the FIA and manufacturers were the driving force behind the introduction of the new formula in 2014, indeed manufacturers such as Renault threatened to quit the sport unless it was implemented.

Three years down the line and Mercedes has totally dominated, winning all but 8 of the 59 races contested to the formula, and despite the introduction of new aero rules aimed at shaking up the order this season, Bernie Ecclestone is convinced it will take more than this to stop the Stuttgart steamroller.

"Red Bull believes it can beat Mercedes with better aerodynamics, however, I'm not so sure about that," he told Sport Bild.

"Mercedes' advantage on the engine side still is large," he continued, "and because of this we have to introduce new engine rules as soon as possible. It doesn't matter what kind, the important thing is to rule out the hybrid engines.

"Jean 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 football players, do you, just because these kinds of shoes are popular in everyday life?"

Fact is, though the new formula, impressive as the technology might be, isn't sparking the imagination of race fans, who are tired of seeing one team rule, it is difficult to see a way out that won't see the sport taking a massive step backwards and thumbing its nose at environmental concerns.

Furthermore, as in the era when Ferrari and Schumacher ruled, it is up to the opposition to raise its game, not for the pace-setters to be handicapped. Indeed, it is the constant manipulation of the sport in an attempt to create the results the powers-that-be want that is hurting, even more so than Mercedes domination.

Ironically, insistent that fans are sick of the over-regulation of the sport, Ecclestone wants the rules changed.

"The rules must be changed: all of them," he said. "They are too complicated.

"We are in the entertainment business," he added. "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 rule book just says: "Don't race!" But let them touch from time to time, so what? Let the drivers handle it themselves."

The Briton also repeated his call for the race weekend format to be shaken up, believing that two shorter races will be more attractive to fans than one longer one - a proposal that has the support of our very own Mike Lawrence.

"The attention period of young people is shorter than in the past," said Ecclestone. "Therefore it makes more sense to divide the race into two sprints.

"Two times forty minute races is more attractive to a TV audience than a boring grand prix."

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1. Posted by scf1fan, 06/01/2017 18:36

"@GrahamG "The blind alley that is hybrid . . . " is that anything like the "blind alley" that was disk brakes in the 50's or mid-engines in the 60's, aerodynamics in the 70's, carbon fiber, computational dynamics, etc., etc.? Hybrid tech, all things being equal (as possible) is the fastest way around a race track; just like all the other technologies that proved successful. A few have been banned I realize; such as sucker cars and active suspension, etc., and I won't argue the reasons for them being ruled out. (There are no "road cars" using suction down-force, and very few with significantly active suspension. Though "active" components on road cars are becoming more common.) I will argue whether those changes substantively "improved" the sport.
.
One thing you say is true though, the development cost on a road car item can be spread over the larger number made. But that is equally true about every piece of F1 kit. And in the end, none of that has every really meant anything. F1 costs have always been high and there have always been "marginal" teams falling out of F1. If you want lower cost racing, why not just revert to F2 or F3? At one point in time, that is how the system worked.
.
If you (Bernie, the "sport" or whomever) want to have a more competitive grid in F1, race by race, then F1 is going to have to start handicaping teams race by race. SCCA TransAm did this very successfully with the Audi Quattros by adding weight to the race winners. Audi still won, but the handicapping (I think they were carrying about 500 lbs extra by season's end) made the racing a lot closer. This potentially gave the back markers a better chance of earning prize and sponsorship money. There is a cautionary tale on this though, Audi finally decided to go to sports car. (LeMans)
.
This is not the first time I've suggested this approach, but I've heard none better. Spending caps and technology limits, to me, are the most egregious ways of meddling with the sport, and the most easily circumvented by the more established teams. Weight is weight! It is something that is already part of the dynamics of the sport, and it is extremely hard to cheat! (Even though Ken Tyrrell tried too . . . really hard! :-)"

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 06/01/2017 12:34

"Another provocative comment emanating one presumes, from Ecclestone's nether regions: though one doubts he can actually tell these from his elbow...

Ignoring the plethora of Merc powered cars on the grid, it is obvious that Renault & Ferrari are much closer than before, a deficit likely to reduce again this year. As Hobgoblin remarks: it's not the PU, its the whole package."

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3. Posted by Hobgoblin, 06/01/2017 8:13

""Mercedes' advantage on the engine side still is large," - so why aren't the likes of Wiliams et al doing better? The fact is Mercedes are doing a better job all round. It is up to the others to step up.

Allowing in-season testing would help level the playing field, not adding more restrictions."

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4. Posted by GrahamG, 05/01/2017 18:55

"What the fans and the wider public want is a simpler, clearer race meeting without the plethora of endless grid penalties and artificial aids like DRS and daft tyre rules. The blind alley that is hybrid should have been abandoned after the idiotic KERS experiment, it was always going to massively increase cost.
You can spread roadcar R&D across millions of units over several years, here it is being spread across a dozen engines in one year, it's never going to make sense to go down a route of ever increasing sophistication which is actually moving further away from current road car technical trends.
"

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