Bernie Ecclestone laments lack of ‘heroes’ in F1 under Liberty Media

Bernie Ecclestone has called the current Formula One spectacle on offer by Liberty Media “a sham” and wants to see drivers express more of their personality to create more “heroes” for the younger generation. F1 has seen a spike in interest in the US following the success of Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Since then, Liberty Media have been making a concerted effort to try and break the American market even more with the addition of races in Miami and Las Vegas to go along with the one in Austin. But while business is booming in America, it’s been a different story for some countries covering the sport in Europe.

It was reported last month that Sky Germany were struggling to bring a new free-to-air TV partner on board for the 2023 season after the contract with RTL expired. Sky Germany are contractually obliged to share live rights to four races with a free-to-air partner, but nothing is yet to be agreed with just a week until the new season.

The free-to-air channels are reportedly unhappy with the fee set by Sky Germany, instead choosing to put their money elsewhere. Ecclestone believes it’s in part due to a lack of a star German driver on the grid with Mick Schumacher now a reserve at Mercedes.

But the former F1 supremo also indicates the sport as a whole isn’t attractive enough to some European audiences and suggests Liberty Media have made it less appealing. “What used to be a hit in the USA was not so well received in Europe. And vice versa,” he told F1-Insider.

“Germany is missing a star driver, but that’s not the only reason. I don’t think the Germans in particular can be taken for fools. Formula 1 is increasingly being designed for the US market, becoming more and more of a Hollywood formula.

“Show is everything, the sport goes down there. The race in Las Vegas this year will be the crowning glory. But I think the Germans still want to see a sporting competition, not a sham.

“The balance between show and sport just doesn’t fit anymore.” He added: “Today the drivers sit there and always recite the same sayings. The team bosses too. Each PK is interchangeable.

“The media prefers to report on flexible front spoilers or strange underbodies, but hardly on the corners and edges of the main characters. How are heroes like that supposed to come about?”

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