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Time for Ecclestone to go

FEATURE BY CHRIS BALFE
18/10/2015

Over the years we have grown used to his glib one-liners, one of our personal favourites being in reaction the pandemonium surrounding the 2000 British Grand Prix.

Moving the event from its traditional July slot to April, Bernie Ecclestone was fully aware that the weather in England at that time of year was predictably cold, wet and thoroughly miserable.

As footage of queues still trying to enter the circuit once the action had already kicked off, of 'car parks' turned to quagmires and, fans being turned away from the event, were beamed around the world; Ecclestone was asked if he could guarantee the race would never be held in April again. Having agreed, he was then asked when the event might be held the following year. "I don't know," he replied, "but I'd keep Christmas free."

Even those still soaked to the bone must have allowed themselves a wry smile at that one.

Along with the wit however, there have been the gaffes; his endorsement of Hitler as someone "able to get things done", his comparison of women to "other domestic appliances" and his reminder, in the wake of Alain Prost's (second) retirement from the sport, just months before the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, that in the old days there was a "natural form of culling".

At the time of the Russian Grand Prix Ecclestone allowed himself to be interviewed by Sophie Shevardnadze for the Russian news network RT. Shevardnadze, granddaughter of former Georgian President and Soviet minister of foreign affairs Eduard Shevardnadze, socialite and dancer - having contested the Russian version of Dancing with the Stars in 2010 - struck gold.

Whilst his apologists, including those at Enstone, who insist that Ecclestone's continued criticism of the new (for 2014) formula was down to the media - "He reacts to what is written in the press," insisted Matthew Carter in July - courtesy of RT we have the transcript and video of the latest PR own goal by the sport's supremo.

In addition to defending FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Ecclestone declares himself Vladimir Putin's "best supporter", admits to not being "very enthusiastic about America", does not believe there's "any place for democracy… anywhere" and believes "Europe is a thing of a past".

He stops short of suggesting that we should embrace ISIS and that Kim Jong Un is misunderstood, but one is left with the impression that Hermann Tilke might already be considering the newly developed Palmyra as a good spot for the Syrian Grand Prix in a couple of years.

As for F1 itself, Ecclestone admits "a lot of that technical regulations are too stringent" and as a result "we ought to tear it (the rule book) up and have another book".

"We are in show business," he says. "The minute we stop entertaining, we’re in trouble. I think, what our biggest problem is that you and I know pretty well who’s going to be the World Champion this year. It can’t be right. People come to watch racing, to watch anything, and they don’t want to know the result before it starts. That’s the rulebook that I want to tear up."

This isn't the infamous 'little Johnny' of the numerous jokes making such comments however, it is the figurehead of a global sport/business worth billions.

If Max Mosley was accused of bringing the sport into disrepute, what on earth is Ecclestone doing?

If Europe is a thing of the past, much of it is due to politicians and leaders who, like Mr Blatter, have allowed power to go to their heads, putting self-interest ahead of the roles they were elected to. Surely, the only people who would jump to Blatter’s defence are those who have adopted similar tactics.

The sport has fought hard, motivated it must be said by the car manufacturers, to get F1 back into America - especially after the way it has treated the United States in the past - yet days before an American driver lines up on the grid for the United States Grand Prix for the first time since 2007, months before the first American F1 team takes to the track since 1986 - the sport's leader admits to not being "very enthusiastic about America".

Way to go Bernie.

At a time the sport is shedding fans, and possibly shedding teams, do we really need its so-called supremo going public with such nonsense?

In our latest podcast, Max Noble, increasingly the source of our wilder conspiracy theories, suggests that perhaps Ecclestone is seeking to devalue the sport, thereby eventually allowing someone to step in and buy it at a bargain basement price.

As we look at a sport, which he is continuously criticising, which is haemorrhaging fans, is in danger of losing two (maybe three) teams, where seemingly everything is manipulated in order to produce a 'show' aimed merely at making money, that has almost completely lost its soul, if Ecclestone genuinely stands by all that he said in that interview then it is time to go.

Whether he likes it or not, we do live in a democracy, and we witness the alternatives on a daily basis on our TV screens, on the web and in our newspapers.

Sadly, many of those within the sport will not speak out, be it fear or the fact that Ecclestone has made them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

But in an age where the baying mob stand by, Twitchforks at the ready, can our sport really afford to be associated with a 'leader' with such views?

There is a saying that a politician thinks in terms of the next election, whilst a statesman thinks in terms of the next generation.

Formula One, those that participate, those that support it through sponsorship and its millions of fans, deserve a fit and proper leadership.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Rory, 25/02/2016 14:14

"I think there is a great deal of unjustified criticism of Bernie; I think quite a few people including some of the specialist press don't really understand what Bernie does for living.
"

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2. Posted by Willy56, 08/12/2015 18:13

"Bernie has long reached his "best before" date and should be put out to pasture to count his billions and indulge his offspring.
He is completely out of touch with the fans of 2015 and the way people want to watch F1.
If it can't be streamed for free on their mobiles then they will go elsewhere for their racing fix.
A very small percentage of F1 fans actually have ever attended a race live and most watch on TV.
Bernie has no idea about how to reach this fan base nor does he care.
The sport needs new ideas and younger blood at the upper echelon if it is to survive.

"

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3. Posted by gormsen, 08/11/2015 16:55

"This tyrant is dement and also a real pain in the backside .... high time for him to go as soon as possible !"

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4. Posted by Ex F1 Official, 05/11/2015 15:46

"Believe that dementia has finally gotten to him. For the last 10 years he has done his best to destroy the sport while trying to line his pockets. Like a race in Turkey. Russia. Dropping Monza, Germany and maybe England. The courses that he has set with Tilke are boring. Rather race in a parking lot.

We need to get rid of the farce, bring back the sport, reduce costs and make it interesting.

Sell the F1 brand to a group that BELIEVES in F1!! Bring back the great circuits!!"

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5. Posted by Darvi, 28/10/2015 16:05

"Steve W - yes he built the sport up from when we had a huge number of teams who were able to buy an engine, buy a gearbox and build a chassis and go racing competitvely, to today where we are struggling for numbers on the grid and teams are going bankrupt while Bernie has made billions - and that is perceieved to be positive?

He has had a positive effect, but that ended a number of years ago when he abandoned sense and morals to start selling F1 to any country that was willing to build a circuit and pay him a fortune. Is that positive?

We need to ditch Mr E and get someone that can put together a sustainable stratgey that will allow F1 to thive and prosper, not just its commercial owners. Dorner has worked miracles with Motogp, so it is possible, if you step back, work out what the issues are and then take steps to address them, quietly, in conjuntion with the FIA and teams, behind the scenes with everyone buying into the way forward. Sadly, that isn't Bernie's style.

"

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6. Posted by lotus79, 28/10/2015 10:44

"Democracy ah yes, that must be when 2 1/3rds of the country vote against a party and that party gets in office. Or when 1 million march against war and we have a war. If writing articles like this changed anything, just like voting or protesting then great, but they don't.

So the best way to show your disapproval, is simply to use the off button and stop watching it, if you don't like what you see, then you don't have to watch it. I don't subscribe to Sky, I don't watch most sports anymore because they are all business, I wouldn't pay to shop in Asda, if its not for you, stop watching it then."

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7. Posted by Steve W, 27/10/2015 9:29

"I think Bernie has gotten bored. We have to remember that he did build up the sport from what it used to be back in the day. Maybe he wants to tear it down so he can build it up again just to give him something to do?"

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8. Posted by Vinicius, 22/10/2015 17:36

"Bernie is right in almost everything of that quotes."

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9. Posted by Paul C, 22/10/2015 14:11

"F1 needs a simplification of the rules. Specify dimensions to fit standard pit sizes. For safety, reduce pit crew numbers and assign them to one car within a team. All cars should pass safety regulations. Open up the engine rules to more than one specified engine type. USAC figured that out decades ago. Make tires a place where more than one manufacturer can participate.
Make F1 more interesting for more than the defending WDC's hair color!"

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10. Posted by SideGlance, 20/10/2015 14:21

"I ONLY want Ecc to go after he changes the engine formula from the current overly complex atrocious sounding uneven engines (aka PU's)!! Ecc needs to go but not before setting F1 into a good racing foundation - F1 should not be or never shall be a 'green' sport - not even the new followers want it - who actually cares - just good solid even racing - which means engines need to be very much the same. GP2 is more of a good formula than Formula Engineering (aka F1) !!!!!"

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11. Posted by Willhawkins82, 20/10/2015 13:18

"And now he has people talking about engines for 2016 instead. People forget too easily... "

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12. Posted by Willhawkins82, 19/10/2015 20:14

"The question we should be asking is how do we unite and stand against him ruining our sport. We should ensure it is sold to someone who cares about the sport and positive change. The only change these people care about is the change in their collective pockets and numbers on a spreadsheet.

What do we do?

Let's petition the collective teams. We need a break away from cvc, Bernie and pure greed... We need to put the power and the profit elsewhere. F1 should be run as a profit neutral entity that focuses on innovation, that focuses on sport and one that also focuses on what benefits the world most.

All I see is a focus on profit... "

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13. Posted by Spindoctor, 19/10/2015 12:43

"As the "leader" of F1 Bernie makes a great used car salesman; in the mould of Arthur Daley.

There's vey little original that can be added to criticism of the man, that hasn't already been better-expressed, especially over the last two or three years.

Despite the inanity of many of his intentionally gnomic pronouncements he's right about at least one thing: F1 is no-longer a "Sport". It might be "show-biz", but what it certainly isn't, any longer, is "entertainment".

That's almost entirely down to 3 key factors:
1. Ecclestone's short-term greed and desire for self-aggrandisement.
2. Teams which are utterly supine in accepting, and obeying his every whim, no matter how ridiculous.
3. The FIA failing completely in its stewardship of the Sporting aspects of F1 (and see 2. above).

What we are seeing (finally) is the revelation that The F1 supremo's New Clothes, are but tawdry re-cycled rags. No amount of obfuscation, dissembling or (allegedly) downright lying can hide the fact that the F1 cupboard of innovation and future development is totally bare.
And that Bernie, is largely down to you.....

Now is the ideal time for a revolution, the whole circus is in a state of flux which looks like becoming a downward spiral. If the teams were to stand against Bernie, what's he going to do? Boot them out?
A few years ago there was a move to set-up an independent series, but the Teams bottled-out, and the CVC\Bernie tail continues to wag the F1 dog. Let's hope they can all be a bit braver this time."

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14. Posted by Mugmug, 19/10/2015 12:21

"It's common knowledge that when a concept, be it a sport, entertainment, game etc. becomes very popular, the big money parasites start showing an interest and what do you think goes through their minds? HOW COULD WE CONTROL THIS AND FLEECE THE PUBLIC FOR AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!! This has happened with every professional sport, entertainment. Take American football, baseball. The owners know they can talk the politicians and the naïve public into paying for billion dollar stadiums and then charging ridiculous entry fees and astronomical concession prices. When the owners don't get their way, they sell the team and/or move. IT's a win-win situation.

I believe McKenzie (spelling? sorry) of CVC admitted he was not an auto racing enthusiast. This is just a money making scheme to CVC. Bernie is their puppet. Another one who I think is ruining F1 is Gerard Lopez,
another money parasite. How many articles have been written about Lotus and their constant money related
problems. I believe that they have been guilty of not paying their drivers several times, never mind their staff, that don't get the press coverage the drivers do. These "money parasites are famous for stretching out their obligations and wearing out their opposition (which is how they view their monetary obligations)

If you're still reading this, my point is that F1 has gotten to the state it's in because of "money parasites", and the public should react accordingly.

There's nothing wrong (and I personally applaud them)with racing enthusiasts (fanatics?) such as Ron Dennis
Peter Sauber,Minardi etc. becoming wealthy through racing ventures. At least they have an interest and passion for the sport."

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15. Posted by gturner38, 18/10/2015 21:13

"What happened to "F1 shouldn't get itself involved in politics?" It's bad enough when F1 refuses to avoid racing in places with major political issues when it's obvious that the oppressive leaders of those countries are using the series for their own gain. Now to have the voice of the organization come out as pro-Putin/anti-democracy/anti-Europe means he can never claim to be unconcerned with politics again. If this interview had been given 20 or 30 years ago we could dismiss it as him kissing up to the locals with a naive belief that it wouldn't be picked up outside of Russia, but in the modern world of the internet, we cannot believe that Bernie is that unaware."

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