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Ecclestone proposes blueprint for F1 revival
[SPIELBERG, Austria] Former ring-master Bernie Ecclestone would bring back refuelling, give all teams the same engine and introduce a new third world championship category to revive Formula One's flagging appeal.
Ecclestone, who was the sport's commercial boss and greatest influence for more than four decades, responded to claims that the sport has been reducted to a Mercedes procession, with Ferrari challenging, has become a 'turn-off' for fans.
The sense that Formula One's image was becoming tarnished by the predictability of Mercedes domination and Lewis Hamilton's supremacy in the drivers' championship came to a head at last weekend's French Grand Prix where Hamilton won with ease ahead of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
On top of that, Mercedes have won the drivers' and constructors' double every season since the start of the current V6 hybrid turbo era.
That translates as five double titles in a row, an achievement that has been followed this season by the decline of their rivals - Ferrari struggling to fight for a win and Red Bull reduced to two podiums in eight outings.
Mercedes have reeled off a record eight season-opening wins in a row and stretched their winning streak overall to 10 races.
In support of comments made last weekend, by Hamilton, Ecclestone agreed that any revamp should be managed without any involvement from the current contestants.
"Firstly, I wouldn't be talking to the teams," said Ecclestone. "It's like having a committee - and you don't need that when making decisions like this.
"I would be saying: We're going to have two championships. They're both world championships - one is the Constructors' World Championship and the other is the Teams' World Championship.
"The Drivers' World Championship would not be affected in any way."
Explaining his thinking in an interview with ESPN's Maurice Hamilton, the 88-year-old Briton, now 'chairman emeritus' of the sport, said his 'new' constructors' championship would be for the major engine and chassis manufacturers. This would include Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.
The team championship would be for other teams all using the same engine and a simpler less-technological car than those in current usage.
He said he would give these teams a complete car, a spare engine and US$30 million dollars annually, thus resolving budget cap problems.
These teams, he said, should refuel during races. He added that the constructors' cars may be weighted to help create a more level playing field.
Ecclestone suggested that this idea revived memories of bygone years in the sport when the so-called customer teams attempted to win against the mighty manufacturers, using great drivers like Stirling Moss.
"F1 has to get people's attention again. If you've got four friends going to a race, you want to have a situation where none of them can agree on who is going to win," he added.
"By having two championships - aside from the drivers' - we're helping the small teams while letting the manufacturers race the way they want," he said.
"If Ferrari want to stop, they can stop. Or they can join the team people if they want to. The choice is theirs."
"Everything is up for discussion. But the bottom line is having affordable entertainment rather than very expensive technology."