Jun.21 (GMM/Inautonews.com) As the hybrid power units whirred, Bernie Ecclestone’s “crap” comment echoed around the paddock of the Red Bull Ring.
“That’s a good sales strategy,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said ironically, when told that the sport’s supremo had used the four-letter word to denounce formula one.
But even Ecclestone was surprised when told that he had described the increasingly out-of-favour pinnacle of motor sport as a “crap product”.
“Really? I don’t know who said that. Bad quote,” the 84-year-old told reporters in Austria.
Actually, Ecclestone had uttered the words recently to the respected AFP news agency, but he was clearly referring only to the quiet, expensive and unreliable turbo V6s for which he has never hidden his disdain.
So on Saturday, he denied that formula one itself can be described as “crap”.
“The product which we produce at the moment is a bit top heavy with one team winning a lot of races, probably too easily,” he said.
But “In the end there is nothing more wrong than there has ever been,” Ecclestone added.
What does need some attention, he agreed, is the regulations, particularly after McLaren-Honda was slapped with a draconian and incomprehensible 50-place grid demotion in Austria due to poor engine reliability.
The FIA’s explanation of the complex reasons for the penalties was described by one F1 insider as “gobbledygook”.
Ecclestone agreed: “I think we need to have a very, very good look at all our sporting regulations.
“They (the fans) don’t understand, and when they do understand they don’t care basically.”
And in that respect, the diminutive Briton is not alone. McLaren boss Eric Boullier had to laugh when he joked that all the penalties mean Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button might logically be starting Sunday’s race “in India”.
“We have to respect the rules but I find it sad for formula one to have two world champions sat at the back of the grid,” he added.
Spaniard Alonso agreed: “These rules are made by engineers and mathematicians — but grandmas at home don’t care about these things.”