Formula 1 needs to make rule changes to placate angry fans but leaders Mercedes must not be punished for doing a better job than their rivals, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Sunday.
“Mercedes, without any doubt, have done a better job and they shouldn’t be punished for doing a good job. We shouldn’t change the regulations to punish them,” he told reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The ditching of the ear-splitting old V8 engines and the ushering in of a quieter V6 turbo era, with an emphasis on fuel economy and hybrid technology, has upset some spectators and promoters.
Ferrari and champions Red Bull, both playing catch-up to the Mercedes-powered teams, have been outspoken in their criticism and demands for change – with rivals accusing them of playing politics to mask their failings.
Ecclestone talked to International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt at the Sakhir circuit and was also due to meet Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and other bosses.
“We have to (change), for sure. I don’t think the way things are at the moment are acceptable to the public,” he told reporters.
“People buying tickets to come here, or go somewhere else, are expecting to see what Formula One used to be.
“What is important is that the teams know the problem, and the engine manufacturers know the problem, and they’re trying to sort it,” added the Briton, who said that promoters are fretting about ticket sales.
Ecclestone ruled out a suggestion, that has been raised by Montezemolo in the past, for races to be shortened but said that the noise could be addressed and the fuel allowance of 100 kg increased to 110 kg.
“These engines, without any doubt, are incredible. The amount of power they produce from such a small amount of fuel,” he said.
“But I don’t think that’s Formula One business. They should do it in touring cars or something, but not in Formula One.”
He said that Mercedes, who have won the first two races from pole position, would lead the way off the track as well as on it without their performance being compromised.
“Mercedes are going to be behind it. I think they’ll be the leaders,” he said. “We can do these things without them particularly [losing their advantage],” said the Briton.
“I think everybody is complaining, even Mercedes. They don’t like people not being happy.”
Some senior team officials have accused rivals of talking down the sport, or ‘doing a Ratner’ – an allusion to the British jeweller who mocked his own customers in a 1991 speech and saw his business lose $829.50 million in value.
Ecclestone disagreed with that assessment: “People have an opinion, that’s all,” he said.
Meanwhile in a separate chat with media in Bahrain, Todt said, “Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari knew for five years what engines they would need to use this year. Mercedes has simply done a better job. Such is motor sport.”
“I can understand if people think that the sound is too quiet. So we will look at ways we can make them a little louder,” conceded Todt.
Subbed by AJN.