Ecclestone's dream conference


Formula One's boss Bernie Ecclestone famously has a view on pretty much anything connected to the sport and given his unparalleled experience this is no surprise. One of the latest bees in his bonnet is the subject of F1 conferences, expos, forums, call them what you will. Ecclestone isn't a fan of them and he has good reason for this.

Last year he sounded off about a meeting of the Formula 100 organisation for F1 sponsors saying that it is "silly" and unnecessary because "we speak to the sponsors all the time. I see them at Grands Prix and I talk to them." He added that "the sponsors know exactly what they're doing when they get involved in F1" and this is the real root of his criticism of these kind of events.

Ecclestone's logic is, as ever, driven by business and it is pretty straightforward. He believes that there is no point in any F1 conference inviting delegates who are already involved with the sport since they have little to gain from the experience. "These clowns are inviting people who are already involved," he says adding "the people who go there are people that say to the boss 'I've got to go.' It's a jolly."

This could explain his concerns with the F100 meeting which took place in September last year since the gathering was only open to F1's sponsors. Of course, a room full of delegates who are not involved with F1 could be a dream ticket for Ecclestone and he says that there is a good model for conference organisers to follow.

He explains that the one F1 conference he thought was valuable took place in 2005 and was arranged by former International Olympic Committee marketing director Michael Payne. This event, the China Daily CEO Roundtable, had an impressive list of speakers including Ecclestone himself, Ron Dennis and Max Mosley but it was the presence of those who aren't connected to the sport which made it memorable for the F1 boss.

Other speakers at the event included the sponsorship director of laptop manufacturer Lenovo and the president of another Chinese electronics firm Aigo. The two companies liked what they saw so much that two years later they signed F1 sponsorships. Both businesses are now McLaren partners and Lenovo also pays Ecclestone's business millions of dollars every year for trackside advertising hoardings at the races. No wonder he liked the conference and, credit where credit is due, it is truly impressive that it featured presentations from two brands which are so well suited to the sport that they later signed deals with it. It was a similar story with the delegates.

"The one that Michael Payne put together in Shanghai worked because he invited people from China who knew nothing about Formula One. So then he presented them with Formula One," says Ecclestone. It sets a high bar for future conferences.

Bloomberg will be hosting its first F1 conference next month and it is believed to be following a similar model of attracting non-F1 delegates since it is aimed at introducing a City audience to the sport. Formula 100 has not hosted a second event and there has not been a Motor Sport Business Forum for well over a year. The Forum was founded by expert conference organiser Simon Berger who steered it to becoming a powerhouse of an event. This brought it onto the radar of Haymarket which added it to its portfolio for 2011 and has not yet announced when the next event will take place.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 25/03/2011
Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.