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GP Week : Issue 132
F1 NEWS >> A BRITISH MP has challenged the BBC and F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone over the joint broadcasting deal that was done with Sky Sports recently, as the backlash from British F1 fans continues into its second month. The BBC announced in late July that it would share the F1 broadcasting rights with Sky in a new deal stretching to 2018 and, even though the free-to-air state broadcaster would be allowed to show 50% of the races, with extensive highlights for the other 50%, fans were instantly up in arms. An opportunist British MP has become the first politician in the UK to raise the matter with the BBC. Don Foster, a Liberal Democrat MP for Bath in southwest England and his party’s spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to BBC director general Mark Thompson and Ecclestone seeking clarifications on the deal and how it came about. “I do not believe plans to share coverage between the BBC and Sky promote the best interests of licence fee payers and motor racing fans. I believe the best result would have been for the rights to remain with a free to air broadcaster, even if this was not the BBC,” Foster wrote to Thompson. “My main concern is that your account of who made the key decisions behind the agreement does not agree with the version of events given by Formula One Management.” Foster cites contradictory comments made by the BBC and Formula One Management in which each party blames the other for bringing Sky into the mix. “ This deal has led to disappointment and anger among fans, and now they have to sift through completely contradictory explanations of who was responsible. The least they deserve is a clear account of what happened. I urge you to give it,” continued Foster. Foster wrote a similar letter of dissatisfaction to Ecclestone. However, with the deal signed and sealed, it’s difficult to see what effect, if any, Foster’s feather-ruffling will have. British MP questions BBC and Ecclestone over Sky deal PIRELLI is pushing hard to have a change made to the tyre allocation regulations for next year to reduce the number of unused tyres they have to destroy at the end of every race weekend. The current regulations mean Pirelli destroys at least one unused set of the hard compound tyre for each driver per race, because teams favour running the softer tyre during the weekend. Pirelli's motorsport director, Paul Hembery has revealed that he is actively lobbying the teams and the FIA to change the rules for 2012, with the most likely option being to reduce by one the number of sets of the harder compound each driver has for every race weekend. A return of qualifying tyres is also being considered. Drivers begin each weekend with six hards and five softs. One set of hards is returned after first practice, while one set each of the hards and softs are returned after second and third practice, leaving each driver with three of each compound for qualifying and the race. Pirelli wants the procedure changed to give drivers either a 5/6 or 5/5 split of hard/soft to begin the weekend. “At the moment if they want to keep the same regulations we're going to go to the FIA and say: There's no point in having six [hard] and five [soft], we might as well have five [hard] and five [soft] and we save money,” Hembery said. “If they don't want to change the sporting regulations, then we can give them the stats that it's 100% certain they're not going to use them. Let's change the regulation and it saves us money. At the moment it's costing us money for no benefit to us or to the teams. “It's completely nonsensical to carry around tyres when you're never going to use them.” Hembery understands that some work is needed to get teams to agree to the change in the rules, but is adamant that a change is necessary because of the ‘pointless’ waste of tyres. “You won't get instant unanimous approval of such a change. I think we do have to look at it and teams at the moment have said they don't want to change anything,” Hembery continued. “ We would like to go back to them and say, at the moment we have too many tyres, it's pointless us bringing tyres you're not going to use. We know we need to find a universally accepted solution because it's just a waste. It's pointless. “Not everybody's against. I think it's one of these things that often they don't appreciate. It's easier sometimes not to make a change.” Pirelli pushing to change ‘nonsensical’ tyre rules Teams not using all their tyres says Hembery 11