Former Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has shared his thoughts on the current state of the sport, particularly concerning the expansion of the F1 calendar and the shift in focus towards prestige. Ecclestone, who left Formula 1 when Liberty Media acquired the sport in 2016, has expressed concerns about the direction the sport has taken under its new ownership.
One of Ecclestone’s primary concerns is the growing number of races in the F1 calendar. In 2016, the calendar exceeded 20 races, and in the seven years since, it has expanded to include 24 races for the 2024 season, with the possibility of even more being added in the future. Ecclestone believes that such a busy calendar is unsustainable and could lead to adverse consequences for the teams and their staff.
“My opinion is that 18 races is enough,” Ecclestone remarked. “We did 20, and I often thought that that was a bit too much. Because you have to think of the teams. Before long, they will have to employ double staff. With 22 or 23 races, there will be too many divorces. It is a matter of when.”
He emphasized the importance of striking a balance between the commercial interests of the sport and the well-being of the teams and their personnel. Ecclestone acknowledged the allure of long-term agreements for commercial entities but expressed uncertainty about their sustainability in the long run.
Ecclestone also revealed that Singapore, one of the established races on the calendar, had contemplated pulling out of their contract with Formula 1. He advised them to continue and even expanded their race from 18 to 20, a decision he made when Formula 1 was transitioning from Europe to a more global stage.
With Liberty Media steering Formula 1 towards a more American direction, introducing new races in Miami and Las Vegas, Ecclestone expressed his reservations. He believed that these developments departed from the essence of Formula 1 as he envisioned it during his tenure.
“I think you can see with the races in America that they are doing — which I think is completely mad,” Ecclestone said. “The one in Miami — the way they ran that was mad, trying to be American rather than the way I did it, which was trying to be pure Formula 1 as it was, rather than as it could be.”
Ecclestone also noted the influence of entertainment platforms like Netflix on the sport’s presentation, suggesting that Formula 1 may be veering away from its traditional broadcasting style.
“Maybe they are completely right; maybe I was wrong trying to keep it more F1. I watch every practice session and every race and I look and I think, ‘My God are we trying to show Formula One or are we trying to show other things?'”
Ecclestone’s perspective serves as a reminder of the ongoing debate within the Formula 1 community regarding the balance between commercial interests, tradition, and the overall well-being of the sport. The future of Formula 1, as it continues to evolve, remains a topic of passionate discussion among fans, stakeholders, and former leaders like Bernie Ecclestone.