We should be plan­ning for life post-Bernie, says Fer­rari boss

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

NO one in­di­vid­ual can re­place Bernie Ec­cle­stone at the helm of For­mula One and teams must start plan­ning for a very dif­fer­ent fu­ture af­ter the 83-year-old even­tu­ally leaves the stage, Fer­rari pres­i­dent Luca di Mon­teze­molo has said.

The Ital­ian, who has been in the sport since the mid-1970s, wants to in­vite team prin­ci­pals to a meet­ing at Fer­rari's Maranello fac­tory in Jan­uary to dis­cuss where For­mula One is head­ing and what should be done.

“We are ar­riv­ing a lit­tle bit at the end of a very, very im­por­tant cy­cle and era of For­mula One,” the 66-year-old said.

Ec­cle­stone is fac­ing a se­ries of le­gal bat­tles linked to a deal that brought pri­vate eq­uity firm CVC on board as the largest share­holder eight years ago.

The bil­lion­aire Bri­ton has no plans to stand down but what hap­pens if he is no longer ca­pa­ble of run­ning the sport or dies is an unan­swered ques­tion that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly asked.

Ec­cle­stone runs the com­mer­cial side of the $1bil­lion sport very much as a fief­dom, with no des­ig­nated suc­ces­sor and an un­will­ing­ness to del­e­gate.

Mon­teze­molo raised the pos­si­bil­ity of teams, con­tracted un­til 2020, one day set­ting up their own com­pany and re­peated a fa­mil­iar warn­ing that Fer­rari could leave if For­mula One's own­ers used the sport solely to make money.

“We have to dis­cuss, be­cause at the end of the day this is our busi­ness,” said Mon­teze­molo. “I think that af­ter Bernie, who is unique, it's nec­es­sary to ap­proach a dif­fer­ent gov­er­nance for the sport.”

Mon­teze­molo said that while the Bri­ton was “for many rea­sons not in the best mo­ment of his life” he would not be the one to take ad­van­tage of those dif­fi­cul­ties and in­deed hoped Ec­cle­stone would be around for some time to come.

“While Bernie is here, Bernie knows and Bernie is in­tel­li­gent,” he said. “Some­times he is too con­ser­va­tive but he's Bernie.

“I will never ac­cept that in­stead of Bernie we find a one man show...We have to cre­ate a group of gov­er­nance in which you have a CEO, and then you have one in charge of mo­tor rac­ing.”

Ec­cle­stone re­cently pointed to Red Bull prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner, who is only 40 years old, as a pos­si­ble suc­ces­sor but Mon­teze­molo said that was out of the ques­tion.

“We need man­agers, we need peo­ple that know the money, that know tele­vi­sion, the mar­ket­ing, a lot of things,” he said.

The Fer­rari chief also feels that For­mula One's de­ci­sion to award dou­ble points at the last race of the sea­son could be scrapped af­ter next year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, if not be­fore. Mon­teze­molo said that he was no fan of the con­tro­ver­sial rule change that has got fans up in arms and been branded “ab­surd” by Red Bull's world cham­pion Sebastian Vet­tel.

“I am not en­thu­si­as­tic about it, be­cause for me it looks too ar­ti­fi­cial. We will see,” he de­clared.

Mon­teze­molo said Fer­rari had not ve­toed the mea­sure when it came to a vote be­cause they felt it was not an im­por­tant enough is­sue to war­rant such ac­tion. How­ever, it would be dis­cussed fur­ther.

“I think the best way to find out may be to do one year as a test,” he said.

Fer­rari team prin­ci­pal Ste­fano Domeni­cali in­di­cated the dou­ble points de­ci­sion was far from def­i­nite.

“I think, con­sid­er­ing what is the sit­u­a­tion, it would be not wrong to re­con­sider it,” he said. “That means you are lis­ten­ing to all the in­ter­ested par­ties.”

Mon­teze­molo cited the ex­am­ple of qual­i­fy­ing, which had an un­pop­u­lar and short-lived phase of each driver per­form­ing a solo lap against the clock, as an ex­am­ple of the sport get­ting it wrong and hav­ing to back­track. – Reuters

BERNIE EC­CLE­STONE

LUCA DI MON­TEZE­MOLO

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