There was a time not long ago when being associated with Formula One was a huge marketing advantage. Under the steely eyed gaze of impresario Bernie Eccletone, the sport became one of the great marketing machines of all time. But that was before Ecclestone passed into senility and let good management slip from his grasp,
Here is a man who insisted Singapore install millions of dollars of lights just so his cronies back in Jolly Olde England could enjoy their steak and kidney pie at the usual hour on race day. He dashed around the world crafting lucrative deals with potentates and tin pot dictators anxious to lure tourist to their oppressive regimes. He turned his nose up at racing at traditional race tracks which were often not close enough to major urban markets for his tastes.
As a result, such iconic racing venues as Spa, the Nurburgring, Monza, Melbourne, and Mt. Fuji have all been discarded or pushed to the brink of financial collapse. Instead, they have been replaced by a number of cookie cutter race tracks all designed by Hermann Tilke. Many of them, such as India, Turkey, and Korea folded after one or two races, leaving developers with massive indebtedness.
Le Grand Bernard has said repeatedly he does not like or even understand social media. He opposed HDTV broadcasts and making the races available on mobile devices until the bitter end. Bernie is so enamored of the past, he still thinks people read newspapers. He continues to ratchet up his race sanctioning fees regardless of what the world economy is doing or how much fan interest in Formula One declines.
For years, the first race of the Formula One season has taken place in Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia. One technique race promotes use to sell tickets to a race weekend in lining up support races. They give the fans something to watch while the teams are beavering away massaging their cars behind privacy panels in the garages. In Australia, the V8 SuperCup series is every bit as popular as NASCAR in the US. The SuperCup series has been part of the Formula One weekend in Melbourne for years. But that may be coming to an end.
Its current contract forbids the Melbourne racing to count toward the official series standings, thanks to some cockamamie idea by Ecclestone. Not only that, he managed to talk series officials into accepting $1,000,000 less for their appearance than in their prior contract. Bernie is famous for taking money in. He is also notorious for not paying any of it out, unless it is to buy his daughter the most expensive home in America as a wedding present.
V8 SuperCar CEO James Warburton tells GrandPrix.com that the series has multiple offers from other race venues to run their cars o their tracks. “It’s a big expense any time our teams go to a circuit and we can have much more profitable weekends elsewhere, especially a new event,” Warburton said.
The season hasn’t even started yet and there is already dissension up and down the pit lane. The proposed new qualifying format, which most drivers have labeled as “stupid” or worse. was cancelled then suddenly reinstated. As of now, it will be used in Melbourne next weekend. The V8 SuperCars will be there as well. But after 2018, they will be gone, leaving fans nothing but Black Eyed Peas concerts and go kart races to amuse themselves with while waiting for the Formula One cars to take to the track.
Formula One is circling the drain and it can thank Bernie Ecclestone for pulling the plug. For the record V8 SuperCup racing is far more entertaining than anything seen at a Formula One race since Justin Bieber was in knickers.