Bernie Ecclestone has admitted at least twice now that the Mercedes blackout during Sunday's television coverage of the Japanese grand prix was wrong. The silver cars finished first and second at Suzuka, but featured on the Ecclestone-controlled 'world feed' for only 5 of the broadcasted 90 minutes.
F1 supremo Ecclestone denied he ordered the blackout in retaliation for Mercedes refusing to supply engines to Red Bull next year. He says Formula One Management simply decided to focus elsewhere because the lead cars are usually "boring" and to better "support the midfield teams". "The directors in Japan maybe went a bit far with it," he admitted to the German newspaper Welt, "but I did not intervene."
So concerned about the blackout was Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda, however, that the F1 legend travelled to London on Tuesday to confront Ecclestone. "Bernie admits he went over the top," Lauda told the Times. "He said it is our fault because we keep winning by too big a margin. I have to admit that is what happens when one car is out in front," he added.
Ecclestone explained: "There is no revenge. That is silly. But we try to give the viewers a good show. Lewis (Hamilton) and Mercedes are just too dominant for their own good at the moment." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing