Formula One Teams, TV Black Outs And Bernie Ecclestone
The controversial TV blackout for Mercedes during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix saw Bernie Ecclestone deny (twice) that it was done deliberately so. For those who know the sport and Ecclestone, this was yet another questionable answer and tactic. After all, how would Mercedes AMG Petronas justify to their board (Mercedes Benz – the car company) a six minutes coverage (out of a possible ninety!) on global television for a race where they scored yet another 1-2 – basically were unbeatable yet again? (Read: Hamilton’s Bad Hair Days Are Here To Stay)
Force India faced a similar issue at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix when the team deemed the race ‘unsafe’ after a few team members were attacked. While reasons for the recent TV snub at Suzuka will never be clear, one could imagine that this was in some way linked to Mercedes refusing to supply their hybrid V6 power plants to rival team Red Bull Racing for the 2016 Formula1 Season. (Read: Bernie I Shrunk The Grid)
If that’s really the case, will Ferrari face a similar snub in the upcoming 2016 Russian Grand Prix? While Ferrari hasn’t refused to supply engines to Red Bull Racing, they’ve reportedly offered their 2015-spec engines for use in 2016. While Ferrari’s reasons seem obvious, it would be imperative to state here that it is Formula1 that needs Red Bull Racing and not Ferrari. (Read: Help, Red Bull Needs Energy)
But this post isn’t about Red Bull Racing’s search for energy for their cars for next season. It is about how a former second hand car dealer and team owner who is now the CEO of the sport is holding teams and fans to ransom. The irony is that the world’s largest (and most known) car manufacturers are being played upon by a man who has no standing otherwise in the global automotive industry. (Read: Is MotoGP Really Better Than F1?)
At the upcoming Russian Grand Prix, there’s a chance that four teams could face a blackout. Mercedes and Ferrari – for not assisting Ecclestone to keep Red Bull in the sport and Force India and Sauber for lodging a complaint with the European Union against Formula1’s rule-making and revenue-sharing mechanisms. With nearly 8 out of 20 cars facing a possible black out, one won’t be surprised if Vladmir Putin gets extended TV coverage! (Read: Russ-yawn Grand Prix)
On a more serious note, if Formula1 is expecting newer investments in the form of sponsors, partners and manufacturers, the sport can’t be run on whims and fancies – it needs to have a far more professional approach; one that doesn’t hold the two most important stakeholders – the teams and fans – to ransom, ever.
And while you’re on my blog, here’s an invitation to tune in to the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast where Mithila and I wonder if Fernando Alonso is Formula1’s unluckiest double World Champion.