Ecclestone slams teams for double points criticism

07/01/2014
NEWS STORY

At the end of last year the FIA dropped the bombshell that double points would be awarded for the last race of the season from 2014. It attracted widespread criticism with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel saying that it "is absurd and punishes those who have worked hard for a whole season" whilst Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo added "I'm not enthusiastic. For me it looks too much artificial." One person who strongly disagrees with them is Bernie Ecclestone.

Speaking to me in today's Wall Street Journal, Ecclestone launched a stinging attack on F1's teams for criticising the controversial plan.

The decision was made in early December after a vote by the Strategy Group, a body comprising Formula One Management, six leading teams and the FIA with each having equal weight. "The people that were against it were some of the teams," says Ecclestone adding that the critics "don't know why it's a bad idea. They have no idea why."

This year's F1 finale is the twilight race in Abu Dhabi on November 23. Doubling the number of points available there makes the often-processional race worth twice as much as classics like the British or Monaco Grands Prix.

Ecclestone says he initially proposed awarding double points at the final three races but "it didn't go through so I said, 'I know, let's do one race' and everybody went along with it." He says he came up with the idea in a bid to end the domination of F1 by Vettel and Red Bull Racing which has won the title for the past four years running.

Last year Vettel wrapped it up three races before the end of the season and Ecclestone says that it dented interest in F1 from then on.

"It was a non-championship. It lost TV interest, it lost a lot. If the last three races were double points the teams would say, 'let's see about this'. If Fernando wins two out of the three, then even if Sebastian is second, the championship is still going to run until the end."

Alonso would have replaced Vettel as champion in 2012 had double points been awarded in the last race. Likewise, Lewis Hamilton would not have been crowned champion with McLaren in 2008 nor Michael Schumacher for Ferrari in 2003.

Ecclestone says the reason the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the last race is that the original date for the race clashed with the Islamic holiday of Eid in October. However, he adds that it may be replaced as the finale in future since the date of Eid changes.

"Abu Dhabi is the last race for religious reasons because when the race was going to take place they are closed. It is because of this holiday business which changes all the time."

He adds that the plan to award double points could be torpedoed if the teams and the FIA vote against it at the next Strategy Group meeting. However, Ecclestone says he is still driving for the scheme to be extended. "The idea is to move it to three races maybe before 2015." Time will tell whether that happens.

Christian Sylt

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Published: 07/01/2014
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