Bernie Ecclestone says F1 is like 'Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger'

Rolling Stones

Bernie Ecclestone says Formula 1 is "cheating" its fans because the quality of the show is poor.

The 85-year-old F1 supremo likened the sport to a rock concert at which the band turned up but could not perform.

"We are not putting on a very good show," he said, in the build-up to Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

"Imagine if people turned up to watch the Rolling Stones and Mick (Jagger) couldn't sing and the others couldn't play their instruments."

In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Radio 5 live, Ecclestone also:

  • questioned the motives of the drivers in writing their open letter criticising the governance of F1;
  • refused to criticise the controversial new qualifying system that is still in place for Bahrain, despite the teams agreeing to drop it;
  • said the new turbo hybrid engines introduced in 2014 were a "disaster".
Has technology made Formula 1 less exciting?

Last week, the drivers wrote an open letter saying the decision-making process in F1 is "obsolete and ill-structured".

Responding the following day, Ecclestone said he agreed with the drivers.

But he told BBC Sport he thought the drivers were saying "probably what their teams had told them to say".

Alex Wurz, the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, was not immediately available to respond to Ecclestone's claims.

Ecclestone added the governance of F1 was "nothing to do with me".

On the issue of qualifying, Ecclestone blamed governing body the FIA for the new format, which was supposed to spice up race weekends.

It did the opposite at the season-opening race in Australia, prompting teams to call for a return to the 2015 system.

However, the move was blocked by FIA president Jean Todt.

Bahrain Grand Prix latest
Rosberg fastest in first practice

Asked if the new qualifying system worked, Ecclestone said: "Depends how you looked at it. The whole idea is we were hoping one or two of the hot shoes would be in trouble in Q1 and Q2. It didn't happen."

He added the idea "wasn't mine at all" but the FIA's. However, he rejected calls for a return to the 2015 format because he felt that did not work well either.

There will be a meeting of team bosses on Sunday before the race in Bahrain to discuss the qualifying system again.

Ecclestone has said he would like to switch to a different system that either decides the grid by ballot or shuffles the order by adding "time ballast" to drivers' times based on either the result of the previous race or the championship order.

Ecclestone also discussed the new fuel-efficient turbo hybrid engines, arguing he would prefer a return to the naturally aspirated V8s in use until 2013.

"I said this engine would be a disaster and was criticised for that," he said, claiming the lack of noise meant F1 had lost some of its appeal.

He also claimed only one engine manufacturer - Mercedes - managed to adapt well to the new engines, which meant competition had suffered.

Mercedes have dominated F1 since the new engine came in, winning both the drivers' and constructors championships for the past two years.

"Mercedes have done an incredible job with that power unit," he said. "It is unbelievable. but it is not F1."

Asked what F1 should be like, he said: "Like it used to be. I didn't find anything wrong with the V8s and neither did anyone else."

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