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F1 boss calls radical overhaul

Press AssociationPress Association 20/11/2016

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says the sport needs to consider introducing two shorter races in place of one long one as part of a radical overhaul to help appeal to modern audiences.

Ecclestone believes F1 needs to follow the lead of other sports that are looking at ways to bring in shorter formats, and feels that having two 40-minute races with a break in the middle where drivers could be interviewed would be a hit with television viewers, sponsors and advertisers.

However, the 86-year-old has questioned if there would be the "courage" to make such a significant change to the sport's traditional weekend schedule.

"People have a much shorter attention span and a lot of sports are looking at introducing shorter forms of their games," The F1 chief executive told the Sunday Times.

"The television audiences went up for Brazil. We had a long race with the heavy rain and a couple of crashes but that meant we had two starts because of the red flags and people tuned in.

"We need to look at the traditional concept of one long race. Two 40-minute races with a 40-minute break in the middle when the drivers could be interviewed, cars worked on, would be attractive to viewers, the TV companies, the sponsors and advertisers would love it.

"Cars would qualify on a Saturday as usual for the first race and that would set the grid for the second. It would shake things up with lighter, faster cars.

"But I don't know if we have the courage to change. Times change though and it is something we must look at.

"All American sports have time-outs built in, mainly because American audiences can't concentrate. They grow up with everything in 15-minute segments on TV. People are the same everywhere now."

Ecclestone is also critical of current F1 rules, saying they are preventing drivers from being able to race properly.

"The regulation book should be retitled Don't Race," he said.

"They are written in such a convoluted way and there are so many that nobody, including the drivers, knows the right thing to do.

"Too many drivers hit the radio at the first sign of pressure or contact.

"The proper drivers are frustrated, so are the viewers, and so am I. It is crazy. The rules are like bollards now, slowing everything, stopping drivers from doing what comes naturally. Let them sort it out. If it is dangerous we can deal with it.

"We need to make it easier for drivers to race fairly.

"I don't think they should deliberately bang wheels but if they are racing each other and they go close and touch, so what?

"I often wonder if some of these guys want to race or just be out there in an F1 car."

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