Ecclestone urges Rosberg and Vettel to promote F1 better
MONACO (AP) — Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone made some cutting comments as he urged Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel to follow Lewis Hamilton’s lead and do a better job at promoting the sport.
Ecclestone’s comments, described as “hard” by Rosberg, were made before the Monaco Grand Prix, which Rosberg won to close the gap on Hamilton to 10 points in the championship race.
Although F1 viewing figures remain high in Britain — where Hamilton has a strong following — they have dropped in Germany, where the ailing German GP was scrapped this year.
Ecclestone gave an interview with Rosberg to the official F1 website, in which they exchanged views on the sport.
Rosberg seemed bemused to hear Ecclestone say “you are not so good for my business” when comparing him to the hugely popular Hamilton.
While Hamilton has many celebrity friends, is involved in music and often attends glitzy parties and major events — such as the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas — both Vettel and Rosberg are far more discreet.
“I still believe that Lewis is the best champion that we have had in a long, long time,” Ecclestone told Rosberg on Formula1.com. “He manages to get to all different walks of life: red carpet, fashion business, and music - you name it. That is not your (Roberg’s) fault or his. You two are just very different characters.”
Although Ecclestone said he finds it easier talking to Rosberg, he told the German he was second best behind Hamilton in terms of his profile.
“When it comes to F1, I am a huge Lewis fan because he is a super promoter of the sport,” Ecclestone said. “From a pure business aspect — sorry Nico if I have to say this — you are not so good for my business.”
To which Rosberg replied: “Wait a minute. That is a hard call,” before Ecclestone explained to him why.
“Germany is a terrible market for Formula One. On the contrary Lewis is a hero in the UK. The British love Formula One,” Ecclestone said. “Sebastian (Vettel) is also not doing much for F1. People hardly recognize him on the street.”
Ecclestone went on to say that team principals, like Mercedes’ head of motorsport Toto Wolff, should also do more.
“Take away Toto Wolff’s Mercedes shirt and send him down a street, nobody would recognize him,” Ecclestone said.
Asked if Ferrari’s imposing team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was one of the sport’s big characters, Ecclestone replied “only for himself and not for Formula One.”
Arrivabene later responded to those comments with a smile, saying: “If Bernie doesn’t like me, he can take my pass (accreditation).”