Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief executive, has revealed that he is no longer pushing for a repeat of his controversial scheme to award double points at the last race of the season.
Formula One personalities and fans opposed the innovation – which will decide the world-title battle between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the season-ending final race next weekend in Abu Dhabi – from the moment it was announced in December last year.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel said it was “absurd and punishes those who have worked hard for a whole season”. More recently, Mercedes’ executive director, Toto Wolff, said: “Nobody likes the double points... I don’t think Bernie even likes them now. It’s going to be something that we should probably be getting rid of for next season.”
Ecclestone created the plan but had actually pushed for the last three races to be worth double, which would have put less emphasis on the season-ender. “One race is stupid but imagine if it was the last three races,” he told The Independent. “It means that somebody would have to have a 150-point advantage minimum to be sure they will win. The teams have not accepted it because they are bloody idiots. They are all mechanics. They think of their team in the short term.”
Repeating the scheme requires consent from all of the teams and Ecclestone added: “I’m not going to propose the three races again. I’m going to let them get on with it. I don’t know what we’re going to do next year.”
The double-points plan was not just criticised because it would skew race results but also because it favoured Abu Dhabi, which is often one of the most processional grands prix.
It makes the race worth twice as much as classics like the British Grand Prix and Monaco, with the winner receiving 50 points instead of the usual 25. Rosberg trails Hamilton by 17 points ahead of the Abu Dhabi GP so awarding double at the finale increases his chances of taking the title.
In a separate interview published on Friday, Ecclestone railed against the younger generation and said Formula One would rather cater for rich over-seventies than chase fans who cannot afford luxury watches.
The 84-year-old Briton told Campaign Asia-Pacific magazine that teenagers were uninterested in the sort of high-end global sponsors his series was promoting.
“Young kids will see the Rolex [watch] brand but are they going to go and buy one? They can’t afford it. Or our other sponsor UBS – these kids don’t care about banking. They haven’t got enough money to put in the bloody banks anyway. That’s what I think,” he said.
“I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’.
“Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money. I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash.
“So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, they maybe they should advertise with Disney.”
Ecclestone was also dismissive of efforts to widen Formula One’s demographic, with all the teams now employing social media specialists to raise their presence at a time when some television audiences are declining.
Many drivers, not just those who made their debuts as teenagers but also the older ones, are also avid users of Twitter and other social platforms.
“I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is,” said Ecclestone. “I tried to find out but in any case I’m too old-fashioned. I couldn’t see any value in it.
“And I don’t know what the so-called ‘young generation’ of today really wants. What is it? You ask a 15 or 16-year-old kid, ‘What do you want?’ and they don’t know. The challenge is getting the audience in the first place.”
The Briton said nobody would miss the Marussia and Caterham teams, which went into administration last month. With typically controversial language, Ecclestoone suggested other struggling teams should simply spend less.
“These teams don’t need to be in financial trouble,” he insisted. “They need to think about what they have got to spend and do the best they can with that... it’s the same problem with ladies and credit cards.”
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