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F1 bosses still unsure of qualifying format

Bernie Ecclestone speaks to the media in Bahrain. Credit: PA

Formula One's rulemakers have once again failed to reach an agreement on whether to ditch the sport's unpopular new qualifying format.

After a 90-minute meeting in the paddock ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, the sport's team bosses, FIA president Jean Todt and chief executive Bernie Ecclestone could not reach a unanimous verdict.

It means the elimination-style format which flopped in Australia, and again in Bahrain on Saturday, could remain in place for the next race in China.

The FIA and Ecclestone tabled several new proposals in Sunday's meeting - the specifics of which have not been made public - and they will be discussed again in another meeting on Thursday.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss, claimed the teams wanted to revert back to last year's format, but their suggestion was blocked by Todt.

"We can understand the challenges the FIA and the commercial rigthsholder have," Wolff said. "They said that 2015 is not acceptable for them as it was not good enough and we have to accept it.

"The main message from the team was, please no experiments."

Ecclestone: Some F1 drivers are windbags

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. Credit: PA

Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has taken aim at the sport's revolting drivers by comparing them to "windbags".

Last week, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, led by Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel, took the step of writing an open letter in which they blasted the "obsolete" and "ill-structured" governance of the sport.

But speaking on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Ecclestone issued his own retort, claiming they were put up to the outburst by their teams.

Asked if the drivers were "windbags", Ecclestone replied: "Some of them". Pressed on which drivers he was referring to, the 85-year-old said: "The ones that are".

Ecclestone continued: "They [the drivers] can say what they like can't they? They can't do anything. They can give an opinion. Everyone has got an opinion.

"So really their discussion is with their team and the team has got a voice. They are only saying what the team have told them to say."

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Qatar Formula One race unlikely, says Ecclestone

Bernie says no to Qatar race. Credit: PA

Qatar's hopes of joining the Formula One calendar in the near future appear to have receded after commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone indicated he was unlikely to add a third Middle Eastern race to the schedule just yet.

"I think we've got enough here, don't you?" the Briton told reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix when asked about the possibility of a race in Doha. Media reports have suggested that Qatar was close to signing a deal for a street race, possibly as early as next year.

Ecclestone confirmed last year that talks had taken place with the Qataris for a race that some reports have suggested would pay out 50 million pounds ($74.77 million) a year in hosting fees.

However, the Briton told reporters last December that Bahrain, who hosted the first race in the region in 2004, effectively had a veto on any new races that could overshadow theirs.

"I made a deal with the people in Bahrain and they said, 'If we are going to be something new in this area, which we are, will you give us a guarantee you won't put another race on in the area, in the Gulf?'," he said then.

F1 supremo Ecclestone sees no value in social media

Bernie doesn't see the point in social media. Credit: PA

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed suggestions the sport needs to engage with a younger audience and develop a greater awareness of social media.

Ecclestone and F1 have often been criticised for a lack of activity on Twitter, Facebook et al, which in turn could help attract a new fanbase.

Although television global audience figures remain high at around 350million per grand prix weekend, that has dropped from 500million in recent years.

I'm not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is.

I tried to find out, but in any case I'm too old-fashioned. I couldn't see any value in it.

And, I don't know what the so-called young generation of today really wants. What is it? You ask a 15 or 16-year-old kid 'What do you want?' and they don't know. The challenge is getting the audience in the first place.

I say to some of these people who start this nonsense about social media, look at what tobacco companies tried to do, get people smoking their brand early on because then people continue smoking their brand forever.

– Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone

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Ecclestone has to pay £60m bribery trial settlement

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has to pay $100 million (£60m) as a settlement payment in his bribery trial, a Munich district court said.

A spokesman for the court said the suspicion against the 83-year-old was largely not substantiated.

Ecclestone lawyer: Paying £60m in a week 'do-able'

Bernie Ecclestone's defence lawyer has said it is "do-able" for the Formula 1 tycoon to pay out £60m within a week.

A district court in Munich said Mr Ecclestone, 83, had offered to pay the cash to end a trial for bribery.

The state prosecutor told the court that Mr Ecclestone's age and other circumstances meant they would support the offered settlement.

Bernie Ecclestone arrives at the district court in Munich. Credit: Sven Hoppe/DPA/Press Association Images

The billionaire could face up to 10 years in jail and have to give up control of his business if he is found guilty.

A spokeswoman for the Munich court pointed out that under German law settling the case with a payout did not amount to an admission of guilt.

"With this type of ending a procedure there is no ruling on guilt or innocence of the defendant," she said.

"He is neither acquitted nor judged, rather this is a special type of ending a procedure which is in theory available to all types of cases."

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