In a sequence of one-on-one interviews, the voice of Formulation 1, Murray Walker, offers Autoweek his distinctive tackle the game’s previous, current and future.
Murray started commentating on Formulation 1 within the 1970s earlier than taking the place on a full-time foundation in 1978, a place that he held till retiring after the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2001. As recognition of his providers to the game, Murray was awarded an unique brick from the Brickyard by Indianapolis Motors Speedway monitor president, Tony George.
Nonetheless a extremely regarded member of the F1 group, Murray continues to be on high of the game. If there’s one thing he doesn’t know in regards to the sport, it isn’t value understanding.
On this first section, we speak about former ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone and the plans of present Formulation 1 house owners, Liberty Media:
Walker at Goodwood Competition of Pace in 2014.
Autoweek: Formulation One now has new house owners, Liberty Media. Bernie Ecclestone was struck by quite a lot of criticism, particularly in his later years, however how a lot ought to followers be thanking him for bringing the game to the place it’s right this moment?
Murray Walker: Each fan of Formulation 1 ought to fall down on their knees daily and thank God for Bernie Ecclestone.
Once I started speaking about Formulation 1, it was a sport for rich amateurs. You have been by no means certain at a Grand Prix whether or not Ferrari have been going to show up or not, and it was a fairly motley assortment of vehicles — a few of them prewar Grand Prix vehicles, a few of them ERAs and Rileys and issues — British vehicles which have been superb in their very own manner however hadn’t obtained a prayer towards the Alfa Romeos and Maseratis of this world.
Nevertheless it was a sport which lots of people went to, within the case of the British Grand Prix as a result of — the primary British Grand Prix I went to, I believe — in 1948, that they had round 120,000 individuals there, and that was earlier than motorways and earlier than all people had a automobile.
Bernie was initially a secondhand automobile seller, secondhand bike seller, who was involved in racing. He made some huge cash out of property, introduced the Brabham staff — and when he did that, as staff principal, he very quickly realized that all the different staff principals have been in it for themselves and that they have been incapable of pulling collectively for the nice of the game.
What Bernie did was simply that.
He obtained all of them to tug collectively. He began negotiating with the promoters and the FIA, and he obtained to a place of full management and dominance by sheer laborious work, expertise and functionality. He made Formulation One the fast-moving world sport which it’s now.
Now, ought to he have stayed on so long as he did? Nicely, that’s a matter of opinion.
Individuals who slag Bernie off, nicely, Bernie didn’t simply make himself some huge cash — he made lots of people some huge cash, and all people who works in Formulation One is well-paid, has a wonderful life touring the world as I did, and it’s all all the way down to Bernie Ecclestone.
Walker and former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2001.
AW: Is Liberty Media the brand new path that Formulation 1 wants?
MW: As I say, did Bernie keep on too lengthy? Within the opinion of lots of people, he did, however there was no apparent successor, and it wasn’t till Liberty got here alongside and introduced it from CVC for whom Bernie, having been used to being completely in management, was an worker. He might have been a really extremely paid and really influential worker, however he was nonetheless an worker and the transient that they gave him was to maximise the revenue.
Bernie says, and I consider him, that quite a lot of the issues he would have completed — had he been solely in cost himself — he wasn’t capable of do as a result of that will have adversely affected the revenue and subsequently his association with CVC.
I’ve definitely obtained quite a lot of respect and admiration for Bernie Ecclestone, and, like I say, Formulation One is what it’s due to Bernie. Now, Liberty have taken over, and it appears to me that they’re doing all the precise issues. They’re paying nice consideration to growing the game, versus growing the revenue. They’ve employed Ross Brawn who is, if not the brightest individual in Formulation One — I can’t consider anybody brilliant than him in Formulation One and Sean Bratches, who with Chase Carey at the moment are working the present — and it’s going to take time to get it proper. Rome wasn’t inbuilt a day, they usually’ve obtained to get concepts, they usually’ve obtained to implement these concepts and quite a lot of these concepts like, what kind of engine ought to we’ve, have gotten a protracted interval of gestation since you don’t design and construct a brand new engine in a single day.
I’ve nice hopes for Formulation 1. We’re fortunate now that we’ve obtained Ferrari towards Mercedes, versus Rosberg towards Hamilton in the identical staff, and that’s what’s holding Formulation 1 alive in the mean time. But when Liberty does what I believe they will attempt to do, which is give the lesser groups extra money and develop the social media aspect of issues — which Bernie wished nothing to do with — I see a really brilliant future for Formulation 1.
AW: The one factor that appears to have gone down not so nicely, particularly with drivers like Fernando Alonso, is the point out of an extended calendar of presumably as much as 25 races.
MW: I don’t know the place that got here from. I assumed there was going to be a most of 21 races. I don’t know the place the cutoff is, by way of what number of races. If there was a race each weekend, for example, the identical vehicles and drivers, I don’t suppose it might have as a lot public curiosity because it has now as a result of comparative rarity creates curiosity.
AW: Is 20 about the precise quantity then?
MW: I say sure as a result of that’s what we’ve obtained in the mean time, and it appears to work. It appears to me to be about proper.