I re-watched Lord of the Rings the other day. Why is this relevant? Because it very much resembles what’s happening around F1 right now.
You’ve got this Evil Eye sitting on some bloody mountain. It wants to take over the world and has found a lackey in the person of the evil wizard Rupert Murdoch, seen here staring at his management reporting screen. The Evil Eye in the distance might be John ‘Sauron’ Elkann but I’m not sure yet. I will be if it indeed turns out to be true that his transsexual cocaine laced brother Lapo gets the keys to Ferrari. God help us all when that happens.
Welcome to my world. Really, you don’t make these things up.
Anyway, I had a quick talk with my old friend Luca ‘Da Godfather’ Montezemelemololo, not so long ago. Asked him if it was true. No Bernie, he said, it’s not. ‘Not at all, or not yet?’ I asked. Continue reading
“Bernie,” he says expansively, “you don’t seem to me the type of man that wants to stand in the way of progress.”
Oh dear. It’s going to be one of those conversations, eh? “Progress, Rupert? Me standing in the way? Of course not. Which type of progress are you talking about anyway?”
“Why, Bernie, 3D of course. Haven’t you heard of it? Don’t you want to see those splendid F1 motors literally exploding out of TV screens around the world?”
‘Exploding’ doesn’t seem to me the most fortunate choice of words here, but I decide to let that go. “Rupert,” I tell him, “let it be said that Formula One always is, always has been, and always will be at the forefront of technology.” I learned that from Winston Churchill. Always say something three different ways if you can get away with it. “But we’re serious professionals too. So we’ll take something on board when everything’s ready, and not before. We’re giving the UK everything in HD, don’t we? Did it in Singapore last year, by the way. Like I said, we’re at the forefront. We’ll do the same with 3D when it’s ready. But thanks for offering your help. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
“Bernie, if you sell me the broadcasting rights we’ll be ready much sooner than you think. Let me do my work and you won’t be sorry. We’re the best of the best and we’ve got the audience to prove it.”
If I let you do your work, old scoundrel, you won’t rest until you’ve Continue reading
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, Continue reading
Time and again I’ve told the Chinese to keep their bloody circuit in order. Let me tell you, it was touch and go earlier this year when we negotiated the deal for the next seven years. Yes, it’s important to have a race in China, but holding an event in an underpromoted, unreachable, half-empty pigsty is in nobody’s interest.
Sold out - to the blokes who put up the Chinese characters
The morons here in Shanghai (Juss Event – spelling is not their forte either) now seem to understand that.
At least, they say they do. I keep constantly running into people here who ask me “Are you that bloke from the Singapore Grand Prix? Because that’s the only F1 race that’s ever been advertised in Shanghai.” And did I mention the train? The one that connects the circuit to the city and doesn’t run when the race is on?
China is China, they keep telling me. Well, let me tell you: China won’t be Shanghai if this mess won’t be sorted out.
Meanwhile, the least they can do is show me a little respect, of course.
I know, I know. Haven’t been blogging for quite a while. But now I’m in KL, visiting my first race of the season, I couldn’t help it. I had to break the silence.
That silence was Fabiana’s idea, really. Said we drew too much attention and that brought the muggers upon us. Bullshit, of course, but what can one do? You can’t argue with women. At least, I can’t. Problem is, I’m a negotiator. One of the best, I might say, and I’ve got the billions to prove it. But arguing with women is not like negotiating. They’re simply not receptive to it. Their brains work differently. Which is why they don’t run F1.
But I do. Not the FIA, not the teams. Me.
Especially not the teams, by the way. Continue reading
A lot of people called to wish me well, some sincere, some not. I positively loathe this business when people you hardly know phone you up and start to tell you how deeply they feel for you. In most cases I can just tell seconds into the call how insincere the bloke on the other end is.
The most common giveaway is when they want you to go into details about what exactly happened. The French call it schadenfreude and it ain’t pretty. Someone else’s suffering is one of the most popular sources of entertainment. It happened to him, which makes me extra lucky it didn’t happen to me. Call me a cynic, but it’s true.
So here we go: Continue reading
“Bernie,” he bawls into the phone. Flav has never made the transition to modern technology and still thinks that being on a mobile connection is a reason to shout. “Are you all right?”
Fine, I say, just a black eye and a dent in my self esteem. Seen worse.
“And how’s the lovely Fabiana?” Well, a bit worse for wear. It was quite traumatic for her, what with her earrings being ripped off her ears and all.
“Yes, I heard that! As I said to my bella Elisabeta when I heard the news, it’s a terrible thing to have happen when you’re with your girlfriend. Almost as bad as bumping into your wife!”
I see. What did she say?
“Nothing! She just whacked me over the head and ran off to the nearest jeweller to buy a diamond necklace. It’s how most of our conversations end.”
I can see that, Flavio. May you have a long and happy marriage and never run out of money to buy diamond necklaces.
“Why Bernie, that’s the nicest thing someone’s said to me in all my life! Mamma mia! I truly, sincerely hope that you and la bella Fabiana get over this verry soon. If you need one my villas, just say the word. Any time you like, as long as you like!”
Never say a wrong word about Flavio. He’s a true friend.