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Has Ecclestone had his Ratner moment?

NEWS STORY
20/06/2015

A few weeks back, quoting from an interview between Bernie Ecclestone and Nico Rosberg for the official (read Bernie's) website, we wrote that "one would like to think that this is Ecclestone's (Gerald) Ratner moment", subsequently urging readers to Google the name.

To recap, in said interview, Ecclestone told Rosberg that he regards Lewis Hamilton as the best champion the sport has had in a long time, in that the Briton presents a cooler image and attracts celebrities and thereby more fans.

"He manages to get to all different walks of life: red carpet, fashion business, and music… you name it," Ecclestone told Rosberg. "That is not your fault or his,, you two are just very different characters. Lewis wants to be famous."

The F1 supremo's criticism wasn't limited to the drivers.

"The team principals should be more prominent," he said. "Take away Toto Wolff's Mercedes shirt and send him down a street - nobody would recognize him."

To explain our Gerald Ratner reference, the Briton was formerly chief executive of a major chain of jewellery outlets, the Ratner Group. Addressing a conference of the Institute of Directors in 1991, he infamously said: "We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for 4.95. People say, 'How can you sell this for such a low price?', I say, "because it's total crap."

To make matters worse he said that some of the earrings on sale in his shops were "cheaper than a prawn sandwich and probably wouldn't last as long

Following the speech, the value of the Ratner Group fell by around 500 million, almost resulting in the firm's collapse and Ratner was forced to sell a majority of the company's shares to save it. He was subsequently fired by the new company leader in late 1992.

Which brings us to Bernie.

AFP, following an interview with Ecclestone in which he blamed team bosses for F1's current problems, quoted him as saying: "I was talking to some engineers the other day and I told them that I was always pretty good at selling used cars, and I still am, but I told them they have given me a crap product to sell".

He has since denied the quote, telling reporters in Austria, when asked about the comment: "Really? I don't know who said that. Bad quote.

"The product at the moment is a bit top heavy with one team winning a lot of races, probably too easy," he added. "So when Ferrari are getting their act together we've seen a big improvement and exactly the same thing happens with McLaren.

"There's always people complaining about something," he continued. "The winners never complain. The losers complain. All I've ever said is that it's a pity that one team is at the moment dominating the sport."

On a day in which two drivers have been hit with 25-place grid penalties - even though there are only 20 cars on the grid, thereby leaving everyone confused as to the exact layout of the grid and what sort of (time) penalties must be served and when, he admitted: "We need to have a very, very good look at all our sporting regulations. Don't go over the white line, don't do this, don't do that. If you change your engine you go back 20 places. It's not what the public understand. They don't understand and when they do understand they don't care basically."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Will Fly, 21/06/2015 8:11

"Nero is fiddling while Rome burns. By the time Bernie goes there will be nothing left, at least no fans."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Renone, 21/06/2015 6:19

"I am beginning to wonder whether Bernie has a megalomaniac streak which is driving him to destroy the sport, so when he is gone no one else can inherit the empire he has built. Alternatively it may be something simple like an age thing. Whatever the case irreparable damage is being caused. "

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Jonno, 20/06/2015 23:43

"There's a big problem with F1. Bernie knows where all the bodies are buried. Until he's buried, we've got the put up with this kind of nonsense. No other multi-national sport/business would put up with him, but until someone grows a pair or he pegs out, he'll continue to be a blot on the landscape of F1.
The tv companies have the power to put the squeeze on CVC. Should they refuse to pay for F1 when their contracts end, there isn't likely to be other broadcasters who'll take over from them.
"

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