Shut up or Go Home, Bernie Ecclestone Tells F1 Drivers
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone. (Getty Images)
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone vented his frustrations on Saturday when he said that drivers who grumble about safety on the new Baku street circuit should get on with it or go home.
The 85-year-old Briton, under fire for running the European Grand Prix in a country with a damning human rights record, said he agreed with defending champion Lewis Hamilton, who said everyone should stop moaning about the inaugural race in Azerbaijan.
Several drivers including Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg have complained about the lack of run-off space on the track and the dangerous high-speed entry to the pit-lane.
Hamilton, who was fastest in all three practice sessions, said his rivals wanted to take the character out of the sport.
Ecclestone, who has also argued in defence of the Azerbaijan government's right to imprison its critics, told reporters he agreed with Hamilton.
"If they don't want to drive, they don't have to," said Ecclestone. "It is up to them. This is the circuit and if they don't like it, they can go home."
He added: "I said it is a bit of a 'ballsy' circuit and if you don’t like it...Well, one of them, I think it was Nico, was complaining about the speed into the pit-lane.
"So I said to the people, go and have a look... see if he has a brake on the car because it is up to him how quick he is."
Hamilton, who is hot on the heels of championship leader Rosberg and is the man in form, was equally dismissive -- though he did not go as far as to name the German.
"These drivers... They moan so much about so many damn things," said Hamilton. "It's really bumpy down the main straight and you can't really see turn one that well because the car's vibrating.
"So it's really hard, but that’s part of racing.
"But these guys, they want it to be smooth, smoother than ever, no vibrations and no bumps. They want to take all the character and life out of these tracks."
Rosberg has warmed to the circuit, but remains concerned.
"The track is pretty cool," he said after Friday practice.
"There are just some safety concerns at a few places, like the pit entry, which we have to look into."