Ecclestone refuses to panic after dismal F1 opener

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Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has called for patience in the wake of the negativity that has surrounded yesterday's boring start to the new season.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was expected to herald the beginning of a new era for the sport, with four world champions on the grid and the hope it would yield exciting racing.

Instead, the new regulations - with a ban on re-fuelling and with nearly all the teams able to limit themselves to one tyre change - are likely to have had the armchair fan turning off in droves.

Drivers and team chiefs were of the same mind after the race, that it was a bore and will continue to be so unless this latest crisis to rock the sport is rapidly addressed.

One possible quick fix is to introduce two mandatory pit stops, although F1's problems are more deep-rooted than that as the issue regarding a lack of overtaking has long been a thorny one.

It could be introduced soon, but only if all 12 teams are in agreement - which was not the case when it was most recently debated, with just McLaren, Red Bull and one other, thought to be Mercedes, in favour.

Ecclestone has suggested, rather than a knee-jerk reaction now, the sport would be better served to adopt a calm, rational view and address the matter after the next three 'flyaway' grands prix in Australia, Malaysia and China.

"I don't think it (the Bahrain GP) was much different to some of the other races we had last year to be quite honest with you," Ecclestone told Press Association Sport.

"It wasn't the sort of race that would excite most people I would suppose.

"But I think we ought to judge these things a little later on. It's a bit early. We ought to wait until we come back from China."

If those races serve up similar tedium then that would be the time to act, with a three-week gap to the following grand prix in Spain.

"There are lots and lots and lots of things that could happen to make the racing closer and better. It's a case of getting all the teams to agree," added Ecclestone.

"If everybody agrees (to two mandatory stops) then we could change it (the regulation) immediately."

Another Ecclestone proposal, one he aired recently and has again revisited, is the possibility of creating short cuts at each track.

"A driver could use it so many times a race so that if he really gets stuck behind somebody he could still get past," said Ecclestone.

"I'm pushing, but sometimes people don't understand these things too well, they don't see the advantages.

"It would be good for TV, and you'd get a lot of excitement out of it."

Again, that would require the unanimous agreement of the teams to be introduced for this season, although as Ecclestone also points out "it would be difficult for all the promoters to alter their circuits to make that happen."

However, he has not ruled out the prospect of such a scheme coming into force at a later date, potentially even for next year.

For now, introducing two pit-stops appears to be the most logical suggestion, as proposed by McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, Mercedes GP managing director Nick Fry, and Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

"We were one of the teams that voted for a two-stop strategy," said Whitmarsh, who is also chairman of the teams' body, FOTA, that could push for change.

"I was a bit worried we were going to get this (kind of race). But it's reviewable in my view."

In support of Whitmarsh, Horner remarked: "Personally I have always endorsed that there should be two mandatory stops."

Fry feels F1 cannot ignore what happened in Bahrain, insisting: "It would be bad if we didn't react.

"We have to look at this and establish what do we need to do.

"Technical changes are very difficult to make, and expensive, but we should look at both the technical and sporting sides with Bernie and the FIA and see what we can do about it.

"The most important people are the customers, and they are the fans who pay and the people who watch on television.

"We are beholden to them to put on a good show. So we will see what we can do."

Like Ecclestone, though, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali also believes there is no need to jump on any bandwagon just yet.

"Let's wait and see how the other races develop," said Domenicali.

"We may have a different situation, different conditions. We need a fresh scenario before we can say if this (Bahrain) is the real situation or not."