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Coronavirus: Bernie Ecclestone says F1 season should be called off

By John Skilbeck

London, April 4: Bernie Ecclestone believes the 2020 Formula One season should be abandoned.

The former head of the motor racing series says the coronavirus pandemic is likely to make it too complicated to allow a world championship to go ahead.

Races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands, Spain and Azerbaijan have already been postponed, while the flagship Monaco race has been cancelled, with no prospect of that race being run this year.

The Australian Grand Prix was due to be the opening race but was cancelled hours before first practice, and there has been no action since.

Long-standing former F1 chief executive Ecclestone, who passed control to the Liberty Media group in 2017, fears the sport's current bosses may struggle to piece together a credible championship.

Asked what the sport could do, Ecclestone said: "There's a million different things. I said we should stop the championship this year and start again next year hopefully.

"It's impossible to get the right amount of races in that would count for a championship. It needs to be eight races from memory and I can't see them getting that in.

"Even... let's assume that you could do a deal with the promoters and they'd say, 'Okay, we'll run basically behind closed doors', and come to some sort of financial arrangement with them to do that, you've then got to worry about will all the teams be able to participate.

"They might say, 'Let's see'. So, it's no good somebody putting on a race and spending all the money to put that on and then the teams say, 'Well, we did tell you we couldn't confirm, and we'd have to tell you later'. It's too late then, so it's a difficult situation."

The year began with all the talk centring on whether Lewis Hamilton could win his seventh title, which would move him level with Michael Schumacher's record haul.

Ecclestone says Hamilton would not mind how he wins that seventh title, even if it comes in a severely truncated year of racing.

"I don't think it'd make a lot of difference to Lewis," Ecclestone told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"He would win whatever it takes to win that championship, whether it's eight races, 16 or 20. If it's a world championship and he wins it, it goes on the record as he's won a world championship.

"The terrible thing is, he'd win all eight races so it wouldn't be a super championship."

Ecclestone, 89, stressed he does not see himself having another spell in charge of Formula One, because he cannot see Liberty Media's Chase Carey wanting to offload the asset.

"No, I don't think so. I don't think Liberty want to sell so it's no good - a lot of people have said they'd like to buy, or could they buy or should they buy, or whatever.

"I think in the end you'd have to get Liberty to agree. They've never come forward and said to anybody, 'We want to sell', so I'm assuming they don't want to."

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Story first published: Saturday, April 4, 2020, 20:30 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 4, 2020
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