January 13, 2010 / 7:04 PM / 10 years ago

Motor racing-Ecclestone proposes grand prix shortcuts

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Bernie Ecclestone wants to introduce “shortcuts” on race tracks to boost entertainment and allow the top drivers to do more overtaking, the Formula One supremo said on Wednesday.

The idea, which has yet to garner support from teams, would be another radical change to the sport with nothing similar ever having been adopted.

“I’ve tried to push the teams with a number of proposals. Imagine a shortcut which a driver can use five times every race. It would stop people getting stuck behind others. It would be good for TV,” the 79-year-old told reporters at Ferrari’s pre-season ski retreat.

Ecclestone, who is also battling to change the points system to aid leading drivers, also complained that brakes in Formula One cars were too efficient and reduced the amount of overtaking which fans like to watch.

Despite believing the sport can be improved, the Briton reckoned this season would be among the best with Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and the returning Michael Schumacher all on the grid.

“We’ve got four world champions for a start. It’s going to be a good year. There’ll be good competition inside the teams and between the teams,” he said before declining to name his favourite for this year’s championship, which starts in Bahrain on March 14.

Ecclestone, who laughed and joked with Alonso after a day’s skiing, repeated his belief that some of the new teams added to Formula One this season may struggle to race.

“I think they’ll have trouble getting to the first race. We’ll wait and see. It’s only a small problem. Finance,” he said as new entries USF1, Campos, Virgin and Lotus plan to start the campaign.

“As long as we have 10 solid teams, it’s all we need.”

Ecclestone also confirmed an agreement had been signed to hold a grand prix through the streets of Rome in the coming years, although no date has been set. (Editing by Sonia Oxley; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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