sport

Dennis positive for F1's future

Ron Dennis has no doubt Formula One will survive without Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone revealed last week he was preparing the ground for his exit as F1 supremo and his forthcoming criminal trial is beginning to take precedence.

Ecclestone faces allegations, which he denies, that he bribed a German banker during negotiations relating to the sale of the sport in 2006, with his case due to be heard in Munich from April 24.

Given the amount of time the 83-year-old is spending away from the race track, Ecclestone recently confirmed he has been looking for someone to assist him, and then to eventually step into his shoes.

Dennis, back in F1 as McLaren Group CEO after ousting Martin Whitmarsh earlier this year, has long had a turbulent relationship with Ecclestone.

Despite the two men often at loggerheads in the past, Dennis feels Ecclestone has the sport in such a healthy position after almost 40 years in charge it cannot fail to continue to flourish.

"I'm sure you've heard this before, but I greatly believe you never stop learning. It doesn't matter how old you are, you learn on a daily basis," said Dennis.

"Other people say the last thing we learn is how to die. In the end no-one is immortal.

"Bernie is mortal and the reality is there will be a time - there was always going to be a time - when he is not here to run Formula One.

"Now we have an interesting relationship, but we are friends, massively competitive individuals, completely wired in different ways, but with a whole range of links.

"We've cohabited Formula One for a very, very long period of time. I knew Bernie when he had nothing to do with Formula One, when he was Jochen's (Rindt) manager way, way back.

"So there is nothing more certain than things will change, for one reason or another.

"I guess the root of the question is: will Formula One survive in the form it is in? It will definitely change its form, and will it survive? 100 per cent.

"Everybody watches Formula One. It has such an audience, and all we have to ensure is there is a good race."

Dennis feels this season, which starts with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday, is a case in point.

After four years of dominance by Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel, a major regulation overhaul has so far suggested the field to some degree will be turned on its head.

"Don't be too hasty to jump on what will be the initial short-term growing pains due to some really complex regulations," added Dennis.

"We'll come to grips with them and I think the racing will be pretty interesting, some wonderful cat-and-mouse racing, and that will be the thing that brings the fascination out of the current regulations.

"The unpredictability will be in the racing because of not only the unreliability, but what has been the tortoise suddenly becoming the hare.

"I think it could be a fun season, so I wouldn't be too damning of it."