Tag Archives: F1

The Forces of Evil are gathering

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

Rupert Murdoch called

“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

Enough already. Time to sharpen the knives

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

Obama: looking for soft power

My phone rings, and a voice says: is this Bernard Charles Ecclestone, Supremo of Formula One? Please aahdentifaah yerself. Yes, I say, I am he. Who wants to know? But the voice says: hold on for the Prezdint of the Yoownaahded States of ‘Merica. Then nothing. All I hear is a vague buzzing noise, like you hear on board of an aeroplane.

“Hello Mr Ecclestone,” he says “Greetings from Air Force One. Can I call you Bernie?” Well, I say, if you must. Most people call me Mr E, but I guess from one Supremo to the other it should be all right. “Great! And I’m Barry, by the way.”

Pleased to meet you, Barry. How can I help you?

“How difficult is it to drive an F1 car?” he asks. “You see, I ‘ve recently started working on my foreign policy, what with healthcare and the mid term elections out of the way, and I couldn’t help but notice that driving an F1 car is becoming an accepted pastime. How difficult is it?”

Well, I say, people spend years working their way up from kart racing, all the way through the feeder series. Some never make it at all, it’s only for a selected few. May I ask, have you ever driven stick shift?

“No,” he says. ““D” for forward, “R” for backward, is what I always say. What’s a stick shift?”

Continue reading

Sir Big Swinging Dick is pissed off

He doesn’t take kindly to me calling him a cripple. It didn’t take long. Hardly did my Financial Times interview hit the news stands or my phone starts to make orgasm sounds: Branson’s ringtone. I’ll have to ask my beautiful assistant to put him back under my generic ringtone again, Once upon a Time in the West, or else one of these days he’ll call on the wrong moment and I’ll have some explaining to do.

Anyway, he was livid. “Bernie,” he rages, “Did you actually call me a cripple? By name? In the FT, of all places? What have I done to you? It’s uncool!”

Well, I say, I called your team a cripple. That’s not the same thing. And I did mention you by name as someone who should have a couple million quid to spare. Which in my book is positive. And I did compare your with Dieter Mateschitz, what’s wrong with that?

“I don’t bloody care if you’ve compared me to bloody Mateshit or anybody else for that matter. What matters is, you’ve ridiculed my racing team and put me on the spot as some kind of pauper! People’ve already started to ask me if it’s true that I just pay them enough to stay alive and nothing else. The bloke I bought the FT from actually forced me to take the change!”

Continue reading

Rare sighting of groveling pundit

Sports pundits are like locusts. They fly long distances in great swarms, descend en masse on an event, gnaw it to the bone and then leave as quickly as they came. F1 seems to get more of them every year.

But a groveling pundit is a rare sight. Behold David Coulthard, who joined the swarm last April, in this week’s column in the Telegraph. Coulthard is eating his words from the beginning of the season, when he predicted that Max’s rule changes would put the audience to sleep while the drivers were desperately trying to stay awake behind the wheel. He couldn’t’ve been more wrong.

Max loves this, of course. Loves groveling too, Continue reading

Making F1 more lively, revisited

Truth is stranger than fiction, as we all know. I still remember being ridiculed when suggesting shortcuts and other unorthodox means to make F1 more lively, back when everybody and his mate had their balls in a knot over boring Bahrein.

Well, here’s something nobody thought of yet. Even me. Although in hindsight, Mark Webber came close. Note to self: call Hermann Tilke to see if he can build a couple of humps like these in the Austin circuit.

[Thanks autoblog.com, for bringing this to my attention.]

Ecclestoning

The new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English is out, and the vuvuzela steals the show. Most of the rest is a result of either climate change or the credit crunch. Nothing spectacular there, if you ask me.

Perhaps that’s why speculation is already rife about next year’s new entries. Well, my friends, I have a candidate: ecclestoning.

Ecclestoning is what’s done to visionary people who make a simple sport a runaway, global success, without paying too much attention to whingers and whiners along the way. Everybody becomes rich and famous but the whingers and whiners, vindictive and jealous malcontents as they are by nature, make a life’s effort of trying to stone the visionary for his efforts.

The visionary on his part has no choice but to become filthy rich in the process, as the continuous effort to escape stoning makes for a very expensive lifestyle. Private jets to stay ahead of the pack, super yachts for the quiet holidays along the Adriatic coast, and bodyguards to keep the malcontents at bay.

See here the story of my life. Continue reading

German spies are among us

What’s the world coming to? BP can’t keep its oil in their wells, the American army spills documents on a biblical scale, and now even F1 isn’t safe any more. Bloody Germans got their greasy paws on next year’s classified Grand Prix list. No harm done as there aren’t any sensitive negotiation situations on the 2011 roster, but these things simply shouldn’t happen.

Imagine this would’ve happened with the race lineup for 2012 or ’13. Tavo and his friends would find out who else in the US we’re taking to. The Mayor of Sao Paulo would find out we’ve still got nothing in South Africa and continue letting Interlagos go to seed. The Europeans would find out who’ll get the boot when Moscow, Rome and the second US race come online.

And I’m not even mentioning the team bosses. Lazy buggers have only one goal in life, and that’s keeping the number of races as low as possible. God forbid they’d have to leave the office more than 20 times a year! ‘Bernie, the fans would get tired.’

The fans? For chrissakes, the fans’ll grab any chance they get to sink in front of the bleeding telly to curse Schumacher, idolise Hamilton or listen to Eddie Jordan’s drivel. A couple are lucky enough to buy a ticket to one or two races. Anything to escape from their boring lives and enter the glamorous, high-tech world of F1. Give them 25 races, we’ll sell them all!

But I digress. Memo to self: instruct Goran, my Head of Security, to put his lads on guard around the clock. Nobody gets in or out until the lineup has been finalised.

You’re the boss

I’ve been reading all these blog comments on the Ferrari team order brouhaha, and it’s amazing how quickly people seem to end up with blaming me.

Just to avoid any misunderstanding: I’m the Formula One Supremo. I’m not the boss of everything in F1. There’s a difference. Let me explain.

To begin with, I don’t call the shots in the teams. That’s the job of the team bosses. So if Ferrari issues team orders, it’s types like Luca di Montezemelemololo or Stefano Domenicali who are responsible for that. Not me. I may have an opinion about it (more about that later), but that’s another matter.

If you are now wondering who’s the real boss in Formula One if it isn’t me, just look at my simple F1 organisation chart. It’s you.

You, my beloved legion of fans, my loyal audience, are the real boss. So everything that happens in F1 is ultimately your responsibility. I’m merely the humble Supremo who does your bidding and makes sure, one way or another, that the rest falls in line.

But Bernie, I hear you ask, you have never had a real education. How did you arrive at this bold conclusion? What kind of management theory underpins your statement? Well, my friends, I have a simple answer for that too. For I am above all a practical person. It is strict adherence to management practice that has brought me to where I am now. And management practice can be described in two words: Continue reading