Sir Jackie Stewart, former world champion and team owner, has launched a scathing attack on Formula One’s commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone. Speaking to The Times newspaper, Stewart said that time for change is now essential in the sport’s senior management. Stewart, who often goes on the offensive against FIA president Max Mosley, feels that it is taking too long for important changes to be implemented.
The era of big change is now essential because the sport has grown larger than either the governors or the commercial-rights holders. And that’s just a fact. It has taken too long to achieve the things it should have achieved years ago and that other sports have long ago matured to, and other sports have prepared themselves more fully for the opportunities that have come their way. Jackie Stewart.
Jackie Stewart clearly believes that all the changes the FIA are now rushing through in an act of almost desperation should have been in place years ago, making a smoother and better planned journey into the future. The Scottish champion also believes that Bernie Ecclestone controls too much power over the sport.
Bernie has such power and influence that he could suffocate almost any performer who would dare to suggest that there must be change.
He [Ecclestone] has been so used to total control that if you look at his structure you have to ask yourself ‘is there a successor?’ and you would say ‘no’. That is wrong. The commercial reality has to be recognised… and there has be continuity that the aging process makes necessary. Jackie Stewart.
Ecclestone is now 78 years of age, and Jackie Stewart is right to ask about the future of the sport and it’s commercial aspects. While Max Mosley has hinted that he will not run for president again when his current term expires in 2009, there is no obvious structure to Ecclestone’s side of the sport. What would happen if Ecclestone could no longer function in his current role? Presumably CVC would appoint someone, but is that the best thing for Formula One?
Last month Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo attacked Ecclestone saying that the way the revenues are distributed needs looking at again, which in turn caused Bernie to fire back and admit that Ferrari get more than the other teams when they win the titles. Now, following on from this, Stewart has decided to back Di Montezemolo and ask for change.
The financial distribution of Formula One appears to have been sorted out by two people who have directed it in whichever way they have seen fit. Although this has been a significant benefit in some ways, it has also hurt the sport because the balance of contribution within Formula One is absolutely untenable. Jackie Stewart.
Stewart went on to also mention the fact that the circuits see little to nothing of the revenues, and all they have to re-invest with are the sales of tickets. It is no wonder that many tracks are struggling in the current economic climate.
The interview conducted by The Times is likely something Stewart has wanted for a while. The Times don’t often back Formula One chiefs, certainly not after Mosley tried to take Martin Brundle to court of the use of the word “witch-hunt” in an article of his. But what Stewart speaks of is certainly true, if perhaps not the best way to put your views forward.
Ecclestone will undoubtedly have to respond to Stewart, and it will be interesting if anything else comes of the cupboard, as did last time when Bernie rebutted Di Montezemolo. However, with Stewart being only indirectly involved with Formula One now, it is hard to see how his voice can be silenced.