… a bunch of bleedin’ amateurs who can’t get their act together. Need I say more?
Sakamoto’s still in Japan, Klien’s in Abu Dhabi without even knowing whether he’ll race or not. Sir Big Swinging Dick is too busy talking to a bunch of Russians to do anything constructive for next year.
And Lotus Racing is now not only fighting Group Lotus over who can call themselves Team Lotus but also the former Team Lotus about possibly selling themselves out to Group Lotus instead of just continuing as Lotus Racing. If you get my drift.
Did I sign up for this bloody mess when I promised to subsidise rookie teams with 15 million quid each? I did not. This has to stop. I’ve had enough.
I just phoned all three of them and no, I won’t mention names for a change, but you know you are: put in more money or sell to someone who will. And settle the mess. Or else.
He wanted a quick word about Tony Fernandes. Mahathir used to be Prime Minister of Malaysia but in retirement he’s apparently become a sort of Automotive Industry Czar for the country.
“Mr Ecclestone, it has been brought to my attention that you’ve spoken harsh words about Dato Sri Fernandes and his team in the press, lately. Mr Fernandes and 1Malaysia Racing are going through some tough times at the moment. However, Dato Sri has done good work to advance the cause of Lotus and Malaysia. His results will be put to good use in the future and he certainly doesn’t deserve to be called a cripple.”
Ah, so you mean he’s rebuilt the Lotus name for you and now it seems to work out you’re going to take it away?
“The Lotus name was never his, Mr Ecclestone. It was ours all along. We just gave Mr Fernandes some play room while we were building our strategy. And do not worry, we’re not going to take anything away. He will be amply rewarded for his efforts, maybe some extra landing slots for his little airline or some real estate in Kuala Lumpur, we may even make him a Datuk or Tan Sri. I still have to decide about that. But he will be taken care of.”
Airline slots? Real estate? Dalek titles? And here’s me thinking the good Doctor isn’t Malaysia’s Prime Minister any more. Anyway, my number one rule is never to go into discussion with politicians. Except for one thing, of course.
Thank you, Dr Mahathir. I’ll await the outcome. But whatever you do, whether it’s called Renault, or Lotus, or Protus, please make sure it’s well-funded.
Cripples are people who don’t invest enough. I hate cripples.
There are few people I respected as much as I did Peter in his days in F1. But like always, everything has already been said elsewhere. Mine’s here.
Peter, you’ll be missed.
“Bernie,” he said, “things could get ugly.” How ugly? “Well, I’ve even heard talk about Proton building a second Lotus F1 team, complete with cars and drivers, just to prove the point that they control every aspect of the brand.”
Tony, I say, don’t you worry. We won’t even let them in. After all, you’re the one that got the F1 slot from the FIA, didn’t you?
“I know,” he said. “But try to imagine, a race is about to start and a team arrives in the green and yellow colours, complete with the CABC logo and everything. You would let them in, wouldn’t you? Believe me, I hear rumours that they’re already plotting to hold up my planes so I won’t get to the circuit in time. So they’d just take our place!”
Thought that was a bit far fetched, but he sounded worried. OK Tony, I said, here’s what we do. Make sure your drivers and engineers bring their passports and F1 licences to the race and we’ll do spot checks on the paperwork from Practice 1 onwards. That should take care of any impostors.
Blimey. And I thought I’d seen everything in F1.
You could see it coming. Tony’s been complaining a long time about interference from some Malaysian ex-Prime Minister and I don’t think his independent stance went down well in Kuala Lumpur.
Add to this that he’s once again shown the power of the Lotus brand, having built the only decent team among this season’s rookies in barely a year’s time, and you can just wait for the Malaysian vultures to swoop in. Poor chap was operating on a licence from Protus Group so they thought they had him on a string. Is it a failure? Drop it like a brick. Is it a success? Finders keepers, then.
But Tony’s just a little bit cleverer than that. Continue reading