Daimler Chair Dieter Zetsche Criticizes F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone's Marketing Approach
Mercedes parent company Daimler Chair Dieter Zetsche "has pointed the finger" at F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "in the wake of the unpopular German Grand Prix," according to the FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG. Zetsche thinks Ecclestone's "approach to marketing the sport is on the wrong track." He said, "In what company can the boss always do everything alone? I could imagine the marketing of Formula One being taken over by a professional of the new media." Zetsche compared Ecclestone's "one man" approach with that of Daimler, which "split responsibilities across a range of different roles and responsibilities." He said, "Why should it not be transferable to Formula One?" Zetsche also criticized Ecclestone's "income distribution model," with the newspaper claiming that while Ferrari and Red Bull receive $100M and $70M, respectively, Mercedes gets just $12M (FAZ, 7/25).
CALL FOR SUMMIT: In London, Kevin Eason reported Ecclestone "is calling a summit meeting to explore ways of halting Formula One's slide in popularity amid a veiled warnings" that Mercedes may quit the sport. F1 "was shaken by empty grandstands a week ago at Hockenheim and there were rows of seats without spectators at the Hungaroring during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix." The 83-year-old "is widely seen as out of touch with social media and modern marketing activities." Mercedes F1 Dir Toto Wolff said that a small panel, which could include representatives from the media, "will attempt to come up with a raft of new ideas to arrest F1's decline." Wolff: "We have seen some great racing and some packed race tracks, at Austria, Montreal and Silverstone, but then we have seen smaller audiences here and at Hockenheim. Why is that? So we are going to come together and come up with ideas" (LONDON TIMES, 7/27). AUTOSPORT's Jonathan Noble reported former F1 Team Principal Flavio Briatore "is to be involved in a new working group" being set up by Ecclestone "to look at ways of making the sport more popular." Pressure has been growing on Ecclestone "to try to arrest a decline in television audience and spectator numbers this season amid concerns F1 is not embracing a new generation of fans." Ecclestone "met with team principals at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday morning and informed them that he plans to host a summit meeting over the next few weeks with a few outfits, plus Briatore, to consider ideas." Briatore "has not been involved in F1 since he had to step down at Renault in 2009 due to his part in fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix" (AUTOSPORT, 7/26)