Some of you may have read about persistent rumours of an impending takeover of F1 by Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim.
I have a message to Messrs Murdoch and Slim: you have no idea what or who you’re dealing with.
First, there’s me. I’m not sure if you’ve read any newspapers during the last few decades (well, Murdoch’s read The Sun, of course), but if you haven’t, here’s the news: the first bloke who beats me at negotiating has yet to be born. I know, I know, you’re a bunch of wily old foxes who’ve made a billion or two playing the markets, but trust me, if you haven’t been inside the world of motor racing, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Ask anybody who’s been around F1. Anybody at all.
And then there’s the sport itself. Mind you, F1 is not a market: it’s a sport. One that happens to be owned by me. (I know I’ve said it before but here it is again, just in case you didn’t get the message.) There’s a difference, and it matters. Let me explain.
Markets are populated by pitiful little people who have few interests except making money. They have no imagination and very little intellect. So they’re easy to play. Formula One, on the other hand, is a sport. It is populated by racing teams. These are extremely clever little lots that combine a sharp intellect and an eye for engineering with an enormous drive to compete with the next little lot. They’re people with loads of imagination and an endless appetite for conspiracy theories, which means they trust no one. Least of all themselves. Therein also lies their weakness. If you know which buttons to press and which bloke to play against the other ones you have a good chance of coming out on top. But it takes a special kind of approach and a whole lot of experience to pull that off.
Which brings us back to me. How did I become F1’s Supremo? By doing exactly that, time and time again, for forty long years. I’ve sold the whole thing twice and managed to stay ahead of six Concorde Agreements.
So if you’re thinking about another attempt to wrest control over Formula One from me, think again. To quote good old John Wayne, or whoever it was: I’ll give you control if you take it from my cold, dead hands.