Ecclestone Confuses F1 with a Popularity Contest

Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Contributor

When the real head of the sport is also a mouthpiece that damages it, there’s a big problem. F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone has made some fairly critical comments against Nico Rosberg.

The Mercedes drivers have been battling it out all season in a dramatic, emotionally fueled fight for title. It has split the F1 following down the middle and dragged Mercedes neutrals into an allegiance. This is something that Ecclestone should recognize as a positive for the sport. Instead of big this up, he’s slathered over Hamilton in what can only be described as peak gush.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images)
SHANGHAI, CHINA – APRIL 15: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images)

He said,

“I have nothing against Nico. He’s an excellent driver but Lewis is a great ambassador for formula one around the world. Rosberg would be a worthy champion, because he’s done a good job and got the most points. But look at the job Lewis does outside of the track.

He goes on talk shows, red carpets, he carries the formula one brand everywhere in the world. For formula one and for me as a promoter, there is no one better.”

– Bernie Ecclestone

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 15: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone on the grid during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 15: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone on the grid during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Whilst Bernie’s observation of Hamilton as an excellent brand ambassador is accurate, it’s pretty tasteless to give this as a reason for World Champion status. If anything, his comments line up Hamilton to take over his own role in F1. His comments also don’t take into account that the F1 audience and the followers of Hamilton’s extra-curricular exposure aren’t always the same crowd.

Is there any other major sport in the World in which the main player apparently needs reminding that they are managing a sport? It’s about what happens in the arena. Championship points are everything, otherwise why keep track?

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What next? Will we see a grid assembled on the basis of Instagram followers? (Probably the same outcome as reality with Hamilton on pole, but that’s besides the point!) Will the fan-boost transfer over from Formula E? There are a lot of qualities that make up a great racing driver, but being a brand ambassador isn’t one of them – It’s a bonus if anything. Maybe Bernie just admires Hamilton for doing what he couldn’t – Engage with the younger generations of F1 fans.

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