Jackie Stewart in broadside against Ecclestone
Jackie Stewart, one of F1’s most respected elder statesmen, has verbally attacked F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in an interview published in today’s Times newspaper.
Stewart is highly critical of the way in which Ecclestone runs the commercial side of the sport and suggests that a change at the top level of F1 management is due.
Stewart was again in the newspapers last year for his outspoken criticism of FIA president Max Mosley, but Ecclestone has up to this point escaped the ire of the three-time world champion.
“The era of big change is now essential because the sport has grown larger than either the governors or the commercial-rights holders. And that’s just a fact,” said Stewart, quoted in The Times.
“It has taken too long to achieve the things it should have achieved years ago and that other sports have long ago matured to, and other sports have prepared themselves more fully for the opportunities that have come their way.”
He added: “I don’t think Bernie can bring people in to help him in a transition phase. He has been so used to total control that if you look at his structure you have to ask yourself ‘is there a successor?’ and you would say ‘no’.
“That is wrong. The commercial reality has to be recognised … and there has (to) be continuity that the ageing process makes necessary.”
The topic of money has been a hot one in recent weeks, with the cost-cutting debates raising some old questions about the re-distribution of the sport’s profits. Stewart’s opinion is that the teams are justified in complaining.
“Nothing is coming back into the sport,” said Stewart. “The financial distribution of Formula One appears to have been sorted out by two people who have directed it in whichever way they have seen fit.
“Although this has been a significant benefit in some ways, it has also hurt the sport because the balance of contribution within Formula One is absolutely untenable.
“The teams have got all the capital investment, yet they get no more than 50 per cent of the revenues. The next largest capital investment is by the racetracks who currently receive little or nothing from the revenues apart from what they get for bums on seats.
“Hardly any of them receive anything from TV revenues or the circuit advertising or the title sponsorship or the commercial hospitality. How can they reinvest when they have little or no income outside of spectator attendance fees?”
Stewart reserved some ammunition for his old target, Max Mosley, saying that the time was right for him to go.
“I think Max should remove himself from the FIA completely and from motorsport and the motor industry,” he says. “The FIA should replace him with somebody not from within its organisation or even within motorsport.
“They should go out and headhunt a CEO who is going to rebuild the structure in line with modern practice to satisfy the investors in the sport and to give the FIA total transparency.”
Stewart is no stranger to controversy and has made a few enemies in his long tenure in Formula One. While still a driver, he waged an almost single-handed campaign to improve safety in the sport. Since then he has been outspoken on many important issues.