Bernie missed the Australian GP, he had been winning a law suit in London while having his credibility as a witness disparaged by a judge. Win some, lose some.
He had seen Melbourne on TV and had issued a statement criticising the sound of the engines and demanding that something had to be done.
It is reported that, when Bernie arrived at Sepang, and heard the cars, he said they were not as bad as he had thought and that a small increase of sound was all that was needed.
To me, that sounds like a man in retreat because he knows that he can do nothing. The impresario is no longer running the show. For good or ill, the FIA has resumed the task for which it exists, which is to be the governing body.
Bernie has to be conciliatory because there is nothing else he can be. The show he runs is dependent on the show the FIA runs and, for the first time in more than thirty years, they are not identical.
We could have more sound because the engines are running at only about 12,000 rpm whereas they are capable of 15,000 rpm were they permitted the fuel. Only two things could make that happen in the short term: fuel stops or a major redesign of the cars to have bigger tanks and it is unlikely that either is an option.
The FIA, and its technical advisors, have decided on a green agenda and the only way that engines are going to reach 15,000 rpm is by careful, detailed, long-term development. That is a fascinating challenge for the boffins, but it does tend to exclude most of us.
Grand Prix racing has never been about mainstream technical innovation. Our road cars do not have wings or bargeboards and we certainly expect our tyres to last more than 50 miles.
During the turbo era there were advances in F1 engine management systems, but so there were across the board. McLaren employed Bosch to deal with its TAG engines, but Bosch was already on the case and was also exploring the microchip in other ways, like electronic ABS and traction control.
The huge advances in road car engines were not made though racing, they came about because of computer technology, particularly in machine tools. Engines in even the most humble cars are made now to tolerances that once were the preserve of Rolls-Royce. Kia has come from nowhere to being the first company to offer a seven year warranty.
Road cars are now offering unprecedented levels of economy and performance from small engines. In Europe, there are some outstanding diesel engines which are economical and durable and have the sort of torque that can uproot tree stumps.
In Formula One, the turbo era was a dead-end. For a while some manufacturers boosted bogmobiles by adding turbos and large decals. The turbo found its real niche with the diesel engine and, more recently, with small capacity two and three cylinder engines of outstanding performance.
In the late 1960s, some F1 teams explored four wheel drive and that was another dead-end. A 4WD car was heavier and it had to be wider to accommodate the front to rear prop shaft. Aerofoils and improved tyres solved the traction problems which 4WD was supposed to address.
The first modern car with all-wheel drive was the 1967 Jensen FF, which was also the first road car with anti-lock brakes, no matter what Mercedes-Benz claims. It was Audi and the Quattro which made the case for four-wheel drive and did so in rallying.
All-wheel drive is just an embarrassing footnote in Formula One history. It cannot be repeated too many times, Grand Prix racing is not about technical advance which may benefit you or me.
At Sepang, Bernie said that the F1 engines sounded worse on TV rather than trackside. I thought we TV viewers were important. We are why there will be double points at Abu Dhabi, to keep us on the edge of our couches. We are why sponsors throw millions at teams so we will notice their presence.