Monthly Archives: July 2010

Korea Empty Valley

Had a word with Charlie Whiting yesterday, about Korea. He’s just been there for a site visit. So how’s it going in the Korea Auto Valley, Charlie?

“Great, Bernie.” He says. These Koreans know how to build. They’re not ready yet but they’ll get there in time. Beautiful site, in the middle of nowhere so nothing to stop them from finishing in time. No worries.”

That’s Charlie alright. Send him in to do the job, he’ll do the job. Inspect construction progress? Done. But will he see the big picture? No he won’t. That’s what Supremos are for, of course.

So do I worry? Of course I do. Do you see the artist impression Charlie got from the Koreans? Do you see what’s wrong with it?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it: Continue reading

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Fire in the hole!

F1 people are an unruly bunch. Especially FOTA. Believe me, I know. I used to be one of them, before I became a Supremo. So far I think I’ve done a decent job of keeping them under my thumb, but it hasn’t been easy.

With all the minor skirmishes going on in the paddock lately, you might think life in F1 on the whole’s been quite peaceful.

You could not be more mistaken. Give these rascals a finger and they take your whole hand. Take for instance advertising. Everybody knows I have Allsport has the sole rights to that. Thing is, the teams’ve always parked their big trailer trucks in the paddock, with those giant logos on them. Since no one complained, they now started bringing advertising materials to stick on the garage walls.

Believe me, those posters and stickers are like viruses. You have to contain them. I think that’s why they call marketing viral nowadays. If you don’t nip it in the bud, before long the whole paddock will be plastered over with bloody sponsor’s logos and billboards. Theirs, mind, not mine Allsport’s.

There’s only one way to deal with infractions with that. Zero tolerance. So not only do we Allsport get them to take their sponsor porn from the garage walls – we also order the trucks out of the paddock. “But we’ve always parked them there!” Don’t care. Out with them.

Williams yuppy Adam Parr hit the nail on the head: “I think Bernie sometimes wakes up on a Wednesday morning and says to himself ‘I’m going to yank a few chains’. 99 per cent of the time, we resolve these things without any blood being spilled.”

Well said, Adam. Consider me a firefighter. A proactive one. I see something smoldering, I start a fire. 99 per cent of the time, someone runs out and extinguishes it. If not, it’s time for me to use my axe. Be warned.

Monaco at risk?

You bet they are.

Look, I know that F1 would not be the same without a Monaco Grand Prix. Which is relevant if you’re sentimental. I ask you, my dear friends: do I look like a sentimental person?

Think about my position for a moment. I’m sitting on a franchise worth a couple of billion dollars. That sounds great (and believe me it is) but a money mountain like that attracts a lot of greedy people. In increasing order of greed we’re talking about the likes of the FIA (bunch of paupers), the F1 teams, a swarm of locusts private equity capitalists and, last but not least, my beloved ex-wife, who needs to pay the upkeep for the most expensive private jet on the market.

And they all want more. The only reason I can survive this mayhem is by asking more money from race organisers. Is that so unreasonable?

Not if you consider that developing countries like Russia, India and Texas are prepared to shell out tens of millions of dollars for the privilege to host a Grand Prix. So why would I give a giant discount to a bunch of rich people occupying the hottest real estate on France’s Mediterranean coast?

In the end it all comes down to negotiation skills. Which is why I always mention one race in public when I really want to put pressure on another.

Dear burghers of Monaco, I’ve said it before and it goes for your lot too: if you think you’ve got me by the balls, your hands aren’t big enough.

Mark Webber, new and improved

Gerhard Berger called me yesterday, said he’d read my post about Mark’s rear-view mirror issues. “Bernie,” he said, the secret of being a successful prankster is thinking out of the box and making the best use of the materials at hand. I have an immediate solution to his problems.”

Making the best use of the materials at hand? When someone like Gerhard says that I’m all ears.

“Do you still have your spies in the parc fermé? I’m sure you do.” No comment, I say. “OK good. So you’ll be receiving a box shortly with new mirrors. I want you to switch them in Hockenheim. It’ll make his day.”

I’m sure they will. Everyone on the grid will want those.

Moscow F1 street circuit map

Here it is, an exclusive for you, my dear readers. As I said, it’s against my principles but since the Russians have blurted it out anyway, I guess the cat’s out of the bag.

So for everyone who wants to know how those magnificent men and their flying machines will hurtle themselves through the streets of Moscow – as long as my demands are being met, of course – drool away. On your own screens, please.

Mark Webber’s rear-view mirror

Called me up in the middle of the night. Bernie, he says, I’m tossing and turning, need to talk to someone. You’re a man of the world, help me out here.

Of course Mark, I say. Anything for my favourite title candidate. What can I do you for?

Bernie, he says, I’m getting paranoid. Take for instance my rear-view mirror. We got new ones in Silverstone, nothing special. But there’s a label that wasn’t there before. I’ll MMS you a pic.

Mark, I say, that’s a very ordinary warning label. Surely you’ve seen those before? He says yes, I know, but why on my car, and why now? Is it a signal? Are they telling me Seb’s the fav, get out of the way when you see him? Are they sneakily messing with my mind?

You’re seeing ghosts, I tell him. Go to sleep. Forget about the likes of Chris Horner and Dr Strangelove. Think of seeing Lewis right above that text in the rear-view. It’ll make you feel a lot better.

From Russia with love

The news is out. Yesterday the McLaren boys livened up Moscow with a spin around the Kremlin, and my good friend Vladimir Makarov literally unfolded his plans for a street circuit. Shown here proudly waving the map under the watchful eye of some of his track marshals.

Personally I prefer keeping these things out of the press until the deal’s been done. Just to be clear: this deal is not done. The race can still go to a purpose built circuit. I couldn’t care less, as long as it’s something with fences around it so people have to pay a lot to get in. Mind you, I’m saying this on behalf of the organiser, since we’ll take the money up front anyway. It’s his job to see if he can wriggle it out of two hundred thousand wallets or so.

Which brings me to the third possibility, that the Moscow race is not going to happen at all. If Vladimir wants to make a fool of himself by announcing something that still has to come true, that’s his business. It only makes my negotiating job easier.

Funny enough, other people who realise this a well as I do, are Continue reading