July 3, 2015 / 7:19 PM / 2 years ago

Ecclestone must help improve F1 image, says Mallya

SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya has called on Bernie Ecclestone to work with teams to help “un-crap” Formula One if the commercial supremo thinks the product is not good enough.

Formula One impresario Bernie Ecclestone is reflected in the window of his bus before the start of the Austrian F1 Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg, Austria, June 21, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Mallya was responding to recent media reports that suggested Ecclestone, 84, had denigrated the sport in comments to reporters.

The Briton, who has panned the quieter V6 turbo hybrid power units that have replaced the screaming V8s, has said he was misquoted and had been criticizing the engines rather than the sport as a whole.

Asked for a response, with the sport suffering from generally negative headlines, Mallya told a British Grand Prix news conference that Ecclestone ”shouldn’t be selling the product if he thought it was crap.

“Considering that he sells the product that he calls crap and makes billions out of it, he needs to work with the participants to un-crap it,” the Indian tycoon added to a ripple of laughter.

Formula One is facing dwindling audiences in some countries such as Germany, which does not have a race this year for financial reasons, although Silverstone is expected to see a record crowd of 140,000 on Sunday.

With champions Mercedes dominant, and engine performance the key factor, the sport is planning changes to make the racing more exciting.

A meeting of the key Strategy Group, that includes Mallya’s team as well as Ecclestone, decided a number of measures this week aimed at making cars faster, louder, harder to drive and more aggressive-looking.

Mallya, who has called for privately-owned teams like his to get a bigger share of revenues to help them survive and compete on more level terms, said he was all in favor of more competitive racing.

He also said, however, the sport could have a much more favorable image if teams were given a bigger share of the revenues and did not have to face constant questions about their financial health.

”Formula One is perhaps the most exciting sport in the world,“ he said. ”If Formula One is made sustainable for all participants I think the negativity will be removed.

“If the stability of all participants in Formula One is addressed as a matter of priority we will have more exciting racing and we will get a lot more positive media,” added the Indian.

Editing by Tony Jimenez

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