Ecclestone: Subscription- only F1 would be “suicidal”

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Ecclestone says Sky’s approach to broadcasting is wrong for F1.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Bernie Ecclestone on News Corp, engines, Bahrain & more (F1)#

“I don’t think that it was all a rumour because Murdoch hasn’t got anything really big to drive their TV audiences and Formula One would be good for that. They have been trying to buy the TV rights from us for a long time, but we won’t because they are not free-to-air television broadcasters. They are a subscription service. Very recently they wanted to do something in Germany, in the UK and in Italy, where they are, but we couldn’t do it. Sky is doing an incredible job but if you look at their audience they are nowhere. With these figures it would be almost impossible for teams to find sponsors. That would be suicidal.”

Ecclestone sceptical over News Corp bid (Autosport)

“There have been enough times that people wanted to do a breakaway but they haven’t succeeded up until now. We’ve had five or six Concorde Agreements and there is always these sorts of discussions going on before. It is normal foreplay before these things happen.”

News Corp approach hails new era for F1 (FT)

“News Corp has said only that its interest in F1 is exploratory, but its executives see it as a sport that has struggled to attract younger viewers, and believe they could do a better job.”

GP2 Series 2011 Turkey – Start Crash

Williams chief Sam Michael ‘will stay in Formula 1’ (BBC)

“It was my decision to leave Williams. I thought it was the right thing given that the board wanted to review the technical structure of the company and that was going to involve some changes in the staff that work for me and are employed by me.”

Fiat boss Elkann wants to make F1 ‘younger’ (Adam Cooper)

“Whoever is into motors will obviously be tempted to be part of this world. We are interested in making this sport more modern and younger. We’re still going through a preliminary phase but we’re trying to understand if there are the grounds to carry on.”

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Comment of the day

Steph reflects on further defeats for Mark Webber and Felipe Massa in qualifying:

Congrats to Sebastian who put in an incredible performance after all of his troubles this weekend (same with Alonso to a lesser extent) but his success unfortunately only highlights his team mate’s failure for me.

Mark was pretty much handed pole it seemed as Sebastian sat out practice but once again Vettel just dominated him. I hope Mark can pull something back like Rubens did in ’09 but right now it seems like there’s a gargantuan gap between the pair. Mark’s not just being beaten by Sebastian but he failed to deliver at all in China qualifying and I know he’s had car troubles but he really has to step up.

Massa saw an open goal and decided to run into the post this weekend. He’s had some good momentum, was close to Alonso in qualifying last time out and this is a track he knows so well so he had a great chance to put in an impressive performance but for some crazy reason decided to throw away his tyres.

From the forum

A debate over moderating F1 Fanatic Live.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Miguel and Tororosso!

On this day in F1

Kimi Raikkonen scored his first win of 2005 in Spain.

But Fernando Alonso retained a huge advantage in the championship, with 44 points to Raikkonen’s 17 in the days when a with was worth ten.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Ecclestone: Subscription- only F1 would be “suicidal””

  1. Yep look at how poorly subscription TV worked out for the football

    It doesn’t have to be one or the other – there are plenty of fans who would pay money online or to a cable provider to get good coverage. What sucks at the moment is that you have awesome coverage in the UK, and pathetic coverage everywhere else

    1. Let’s just hope they don’t try pulling a Super League on us if they don’t get their mitts on the rights to the sport. It didn’t end well last time. It could lead to a CART/Indycar-like schism (assuming they lure teams across). Then again, Formula 1 is much more expensive than rugby league, so it would be very difficult for them to establish a rival series. Especially since Formula 1 holds all the aces (teams, circuits, support races, etc.).

      1. That said, if Bernie thnks pay-per-view is suicidal and the teams agree that it’s a silly idea (Whitmarsh has already said the sport must remain free-to-air), then I don’t think it will be a problem. Especially since News Corporation would not be able to control the sporting and technical regulations – they’d only have power over the broadcast distribution and season calendar.

    2. I dont think you can say that because subscription TV works for football it could work for F1.

      They are very different. Football fans tend to be loyal to one team and have always had to pay for season tickets, shirts, travel to away matches etc, so a sky subscription is just be seen as an extra expense to follow your team, and football gets a lot more coverage than F1 ever would. Where as with F1 fans tend not to have such loyalty to a specific team or driver and arent used to paying to watch the sport.

      Also in the UK every other pub shows football, and they attract loads of people for the ‘big’ matches, and they tend to be on at the same tine as F1 on a sunday afternoon. I cant see a pub dissapointing all their football fans and losing custom to show an F1 race for people who choose not to pay for their own sky.

      1. Well that’s just it, people who are as passionate about football as we are of F1 can’t watch it because of SkySports and ESPN taking it, so they watch highlights of it on MOTD.

        It would be the same for F1, watching the highlights on a free channel. F1 isn’t different to any other sport.

        I for one couldn’t care less if Sky got the rights provided the adverts only appeared before and after the race, never in between like ITV.

        1. One of the enjoyments is watching F1 live, and anyway, the highlights don’t include all the overtakes: the BBC highlights of Australia didn’t include Webber going off, and Vettels overtake on Button.
          keep F1 on the BBC

    3. Oh yes. I remember Premiership Plus…shudder.

    4. Yesterday AC Milan won the Italian Serie A but the match against AS Roma was broadcast only on Sky and I had to see it on streaming from my PC.

  2. You know, for a guy who gets to carry the number one, that wasn’t very number one-like of Leimer. I’m aware he carries the number because Rapax won the title with Pastor Maldonado, but at the same time, he has to be highly-rated to join the team in the first place. Especially since they have the rights to the number one.

    1. Seems a bit redundant to have a numbering system based on championship order in a series where the champion is barred from competing ever again.

      1. True, but it would be equally strange to have a highly-regarded international series run a field with no number one car 95% of the time. The number is not awarded to the driver, but to the team. The driver who carries it simply faces extra pressure.

        1. Made me to check other #1s in GP2.

          2005 – Speed (first season so numbering was done by pre-season test session. Didn’t win a race but got many podiums, 3rd in standings)
          2006 – Prémat (won one race, regular podiums, 3rd in standings, team-mate Hamilton won the title)
          2007 – Ammermüller (injured early season and got only one point). Buemi and Alyoshin served as replacements, with six and three points respectively
          2008 – Chandhok (one win and 10th in standings, while his team-mate Senna fought for the title)
          2009 – Petrov (2nd with two wins)
          2010 – Bianchi (3rd but no wins)

        2. Moto GP did fine for all those years when Rossi won.

          1. Because Rossi has the right to use the number one, but chose to keep his forty-six, which is different to having a championship where no-one can ever use the number one.

    2. To be fair to him, from what I could make out in that replay the crash wasn’t his fault, the guy in front of him got squeezed and he was in the way.

      1. The other car crossed his way and he crashed into him.

  3. graham228221
    8th May 2011, 11:08

    Do we know the reason for Massa not setting a time in Q3? I half suspect that they purposefully stayed in the garage to save a set of tyres and give themselves a free choice on tyre strategy.

    1. Well he set his Q1 time on softs so he was most likely saving those.

      1. graham228221
        8th May 2011, 12:10

        Massa’s one to watch today I think.

      2. Well he set his Q1 time on softs so he was most likely saving those.

        I’m fairly certain you cannot simply not go out in qualifying. If Massa stayed in the pits simply to conserve his tyres, I should think the stewards would have something to say about it, because there would be another driver – Barrichello – who would have been willing and able to go out in Q3 had he made it. If Massa did it simply to save his tyres and have free choice as to which compound he started on, he’d probably get a grid penalty. And while I probably wouldn’t put something like that past Alonso, Massa seems to be too genuine a person to consider it. So I’d say his problem was mechanical.

        1. graham228221
          8th May 2011, 12:59

          Really? I’ve don’t recall anything in the rulebook to that end.

          According to the BBC he did go out in Q3 but didn’t complete a flying lap as he made a mistake.

  4. That interview with Bernie and the FT article are very interesting. Indeed Bernie gives some clues as to what a potential bidder has to show before getting serious. And the FT puts it all in a larger perspective.

    Certainly the background is the new Concorde Agreement and distribution of money. But even more important for the teams (and important for both Slim and News Corp) is that the sport is doing a miserable job of its coverage.

    The FOM feed often misses the best action, the sports presence in the internet and on modern media like Twitter and FB is virtually non existant except for the teams themselves and media interest. And the possibilities to view through the net exist only for a few countries or illegal for most of the world.

  5. Enjoy a great race on your birthdays Miguel and Tororosso, I hope you have fun today!

  6. I think you missed the obvious “on this day” for today. On the 8th of May 1982 Gilles Villeneuve was killed in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. For me he was the most talented driver ever to sit in an F1 car, and without doubt one of the most inspirational figures ever to have graced the sport.

    Also congrats to Steph on the COTD. When I read that comment it just screamed of COTD material, especially the “Massa saw an open goal and decided to run into the post” line.

    1. Thanks for posting the thought on Gilles Villeneuve. One of the greatest drivers ever.

      Fully agree with you on Steph’s COTD, I felt the same way.

      1. Thank you Ads and BasCB and obviously thank you very much Keith! :)

        . For me he was the most talented driver ever to sit in an F1 car, and without doubt one of the most inspirational figures ever to have graced the sport.

        I absolutely agree. I don’t think there’s ever been a natural talent or character like him and even though I wasn’t even born when he was racing he’s still managed to be an absolute inspiration for me and one of my favourite ever drivers.

    2. Andrew White
      8th May 2011, 11:54

      I know Keith tries to vary the ‘on this day’ features each year. He probably used Gilles Villeneuve’s death last year, so did something different this year. That said, thank you for reminding us.

    3. I don’t always pick the obvious ones, for obvious reasons :-)

    4. Mark Hitchcock
      8th May 2011, 12:35

      Loved that open goal line. Great COTD Steph.

      1. Thanks Mark! :)

        Thanks Ads I’ll watch them after today’s race

  7. On this day in F1:

    Salut, Gilles!

  8. Todt pushing for limited testing return

    No. Just no.

    It doesn’t allow young drivers to test, it doesn’t give the opportunity for young drivers to learn some experience in F1

    There are already emergency testing rules for replacement drivers. Many teams also run third drivers on Friday. Paul di Resta is a prime example of the rules being just fine. It’s not about young drivers though, is it? It’s a smokescreen.

    1. I think the testing ban is like a hostage-taking of the championship. You don’t need 20 races to figure out who has built the best car during the winter.

    2. Like the teams are bringing in young guys to do testing if theres a few days of it.
      Only at teams like HRT that might happen.

      I guess we now know what Todt was talking to Dominicaly to on friday: “don’t you worry, I will bring in something to help you lot”

      Not to mention, where are they going to fit in testing days in a 20 race calendar. Would they have done that between China and Turkey now, or in during the summer?

      This is just a recipe to make the fridays boring with the teams staying in their box to save the precious tyres.

      1. It won’t make Fridays boring since the teams lose the tyres whether they use them or not.

        In terms of where they would do the in-season testing probably between Hungary and Spa (I think there’s a months gap between them).

    3. Why not just go back to unlimited testing?

      If HRT, Lotus and Virgin can’t afford it then it’s too bad.

      RBS is a fairly new team and they have figured out a way to pay Newey. Williams had Newey and they cheaped out at the pinnacle of their success, hence they are consequently paying the price.

      Budget limitations and testing bans are not where F1 should be honestly, and it’s not where it should ever go.

      I’d rather see a race with 10 competitive cars that with 24 charity cases.

      1. than that*

  9. Yarp… I think Bernie got it right on this one.

  10. in the days when a with was worth ten


  11. I’m not worrying about the News Corp thing to be honest. I can’t see it happening. BE has hit the nail on the head with regards to sponsorship. Exposure is key.

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