Ec­cle­stone agrees with driv­ers amid calls for gover­nance changes

The Herald - Herald Sport - - ICE HOCKEY - PHILIP DUN­CAN

For­mula One’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Bernie Ec­cle­stone has sided with the driv­ers who de­clared the gover­nance of the sport “ob­so­lete” and “ill-struc­tured”.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary let­ter, signed off by Bri­tain’s Jen­son But­ton and four-time cham­pion Se­bas­tian Vet­tel on be­half of the Grand Prix Driv­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (GPDA), the grid took aim at the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process which they feel is harm­ing their sport.

But less than 24 hours later, Ec­cle­stone, 85, is­sued his re­tort in which he urged CVC, For­mula One’s own­ers, as well as its stake­hold­ers to con­sider an over­haul to how the sport is ruled.

In a let­ter seen by the BBC, and which has sub­se­quently ap­peared on so­cial me­dia, Ec­cle­stone wrote: “It is not al­ways easy to agree with you but you are cor­rect in stat­ing that the de­ci­sion­mak­ing process in the sport is ob­so­lete and ill-struc­tured.

“We must, as you have stated, urge the own­ers and all the stake­hold­ers of For­mula One to con­sider re­struc­tur­ing its own gover­nance.”

Ec­cle­stone, who com­posed the re­sponse to the driv­ers at his Lon­don of­fice in Prince’s Gate on Thurs­day morn­ing, then poked fun at the open let­ter penned by the GPDA.

“I have been in For­mula 1 for nearly 50 years,” he wrote.

“You state that ev­ery in­di­vid­ual acts with the very best in­ten­tions. I am not sure if this is a mis­print. If not, it should read ‘with their very best in­ten­tions’.”

Ec­cle­stone’s re­ply emerged af­ter Sky Sports an­nounced an exclusive con­tract to broad­cast the sport un­til 2024. The deal which starts in 2019 is thought to be worth in the re­gion of £300mil­lion and all but ends the sport’s fu­ture on ter­res­trial tele­vi­sion.

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view, Ec­cle­stone also re­vealed that the new elim­i­na­tion­style qual­i­fy­ing for­mat which made its dis­as­trous de­but in Aus­tralia is set to re­main for the next race in Bahrain.

Team bosses agreed to ditch the for­mat, but in yet an­other em­bar­rass­ing u-turn, Ec­cle­stone, who was speak­ing to Au­tosport, said: “They’re go­ing to do what I pro­posed, which is leave things as they are for this race in Bahrain.

“Af­ter that we will then have a good look and de­cide whether what was done was the right thing to do.

“This was an FIA idea, so I’ve said we’ll sup­port what­ever they think is the right thing to do. But as no­body knows what the right thing is, we’ll stay where we are and have a look af­ter this race.”

EC­CLE­STONE: ‘You are cor­rect’

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