Saturday, December 6, 2008

JMO - Chasing Money

I've been a fan of Formula One since the early 1960's when Dad took my brother and I to several races in Germany in our British Commer camper (introduced before the VW Westphalia camper). That's a whole other story about travels in this camper. But it hooked me then and has kept me hooked even as the sport has evolved into an entertainment business and under the leadership (which he gets a large share of the revenues) of Bernie Ecclestone has evolved into chasing money.

Simply put Mr. Eccelestone has bled the traditional circuit owners and their sponsors who have been in F1 for decades dry while recruiting countries to build new circuits and venues for even more money to cancel contracts with former circuits. And he has pushed the cost of the racing into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually spent by each time, now totalling about $1.6 Billion. For what?

And now Honda has announced it's pulling out of F1 because it siimply can't afford to stay in at the cost of $220M annually for team operations, not count research and development for cars and engines, which some say doubles or triples the annual cost of F1 teams. The prices of competing has become too steep. And now this will reduce the number of teams to 9 with 18 cars, of which less than half are competitive, the rest there just for show.

So, in trying to personally profit from fans, teams, circuit owners and sponsors, and some nation - who provide some resources and money as a national event, he has bled it dry to where it will only go downhill for the next few years as the global financial crisis increases causing even more hardships to continue with F1 teams. Now it has no more money to give Mr. Ecclestone, and for what?

If anything Mr. Ecclestone has proven is that chasing money has its own rewards, and while some can say wealth, I will say hate toward the very cause of the problem, the person. He chased money for the sake of money and not for the sake of the sport, and now everyone will be hurt and pay the price, and Mr. Ecclestone will simply fade into the background with his wealth, knowing money can't by you respect and love, only fear and hate.

The best thing F1 can do is jettison Mr. Ecclestone and Mr. Mosley and get back to the sport of racing, and find solutions where all the teams, preferably more than 10, are all competitive and still individual, as is now, designing and building your own chassis. We don't need a common engine, the problem with the IRL, because diversity builds competition, but we do need to find ways to contain the costs of engine development programs.

We need to return to what made F1 great, competitiveness, drivers, cars and tracks. And get just enough money for that and not for personal profit. I watched the best at German Grand Prix races 1963-64. I miss it and know we can't go back. We have to go forward, but not with egos in the way. Chasing money isn't the answer.

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