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Bernie Ecclestone stands by Formula 1 'fake rain' plans

McLaren car in the rain
Using sprinklers is one of Ecclestone's ideas for making the sport more entertaining

Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone says there is growing support for using sprinkler systems to wet F1 tracks in order to make races more entertaining.

Despite opposition from drivers such as Red Bull's Mark Webber, Ecclestone said: "There's no reason why sprinklers shouldn't happen.

"There's so much support because wet races are always the best by far."

Ecclestone also suggested McLaren's English duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could "struggle" this season.

McLaren have been off the pace of front-runners Red Bull and Ferrari in practice, with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix set to take place in Melbourne on Sunday.

Ecclestone said: "Lewis and Jenson are going to have a bit of a struggle this year I think, but having said that, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and any of the other top guys will have a problem.

"It won't be easy, I don't think anyone is going to walk away with it. A lot of these things depend on the car.

"I have no doubt in my mind that both Jenson and Lewis will perform very, very well, if the car is capable of doing that.

"As drivers they are both capable of winning the championship and they have done in the the past."

The Red Bulls of Germany's defending champion Sebastian Vettel and Australian Webber have impressed pre-season and Ecclestone tipped them to be the team to beat once again.

"Looking at it now you would have to say one of the Red Bull guys will be champion or Alonso but as I said, it won't be easy," said Ecclestone.

I thought maybe at the beginning it was a little crazy [to artificially wet F1 tracks] but it's surprising how much support that idea is getting now

Bernie Ecclestone

"You've got three guys there who could maybe do it. You never know about our English drivers but there's a big question mark over them."

Last season was one of the most entertaining in F1 history as it came down to the final race in Abu Dhabi with Vettel, Webber, Alonso and Hamilton still able to win the Drivers' Championship.

That fact has left many wondering why Ecclestone thinks the sport needs any extra spicing up.

Teams have kept their counsel on the idea of wetting tracks but BBC sport understands they are wary.

There are concerns about its artificiality as well as the image it would send out about profligacy and wastefulness, with millions of litres of water potentially being needed.

New engine regulations for 2013 have been framed to reflect the growing concern about sustainability and this idea is completely contrary to that.

Williams technical director Sam Michael told BBC Sport: "I don't think it's a good idea. It's taking a step too far in terms if making it an orchestrated show.

"There are other ways of improving the racing without going down the Nascar (US stock car racing) route.

"In fact, Nascar don't even do that, so it's derogatory to them to say that. Maybe there are some fans who do like the idea, but I doubt it."

Despite such rigid opposition, Ecclestone believes backing for the idea has grown.

The F1 supremo added: "I thought maybe at the beginning it was a little crazy [to suggest the use of sprinkler systems on F1 tracks] but it's surprising how much support that idea is getting now.

"Providing we do it so nobody would know when it was going to happen, like when it rains, I think it would make for a lot of entertainment.

"Whether or not it would make it more exciting, I don't know. Until you have done these things it's impossible to say but I thought last year was a super season."

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see also
Webber dismisses 'fake rain' idea
03 Mar 11 |  Formula 1
Was 2010 the best F1 season ever?
16 Nov 10 |  Formula 1

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