Ecclestone hits out at "third world" Europe


Bernie Ecclestone has launched a scathing attack on the economy in Europe which he says has become a "third world" place to do business according to an article in the Daily Telegraph by Christian Sylt.

The criticism is made all the more ominous by the fact that economic indicators show Europe is indeed heading in a downward direction and Ecclestone predicted this would happen precisely a decade ago as he proudly points out.

"Slowly but surely what I predicted about Europe is happening. What I said ten years ago is that it would soon become a third world economy," says Ecclestone. It is another provocative statement from the man who suggested that women should wear white to match domestic appliances and praised Adolf Hitler's ability to "get things done." However, his latest comments are very different as they have much more than just a ring of truth about them.

For starters, his prediction is no exaggeration as in January 2004 he said in an interview that "we will have to cancel some of the European races sooner or later. Our sponsors want us in growing markets - and Europe isn't a growing market. As I see it, Europe will be part of the third world in 10 years, while Asia and America will be dominating the world, We must be established there."

Formula One has not managed to add Grands Prix in America since then but it has gained more in Asia and lost them in Europe. In 2007 Germany lost one of its two races whilst the following year the Grand Prix in France was dropped and hasn't returned. Ten years ago 56% of F1's races were in Europe compared to 42% now.

Ecclestone has replaced the European races with ones in countries which are prepared to pay more for a prestigious slot on the F1 calendar where annual hosting fees rise to more than 40m.

This year's new addition is a Grand Prix in Russia which took place in the ski-resort of Sochi last month. Ecclestone signed the deal directly with Russia's president Vladimir Putin and was pictured with him at the race. He has been quoted praising Putin but is far less complimentary about politicians in Europe. "The trouble is that politicians have got policies that they would like to implement and they get into power and find that they can't."

Although F1's drive into emerging markets has mercurial motives, the reduction in the number of European races has also coincided with a downturn in the region's fortunes.

Germany's exports have hit the buffers leading to concerns that it may be teetering on the brink of recession. It is pointing the finger of blame elsewhere as one of the country's most highly regarded economists recently warned that France could "bring down" the Euro by refusing to get to grips with austerity.

In an interview last month Hans-Werner Sinn, the president of Germany's Institute for Economic Research think tank, said that "French industry has been dying for decades" and added that "hiding the unemployed in government offices is not a healthy solution."

A total of 3.4m people are out of work in France and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts that economic growth in the country will come in at just 0.4% this year.

"Europe was built on Germany and France. That's how it all started. France is gone and Germany doesn't look good. Even with my help they are still in trouble," says Ecclestone.

He is referring to the record 60m he paid to a Munich court in August to settle charges that he bribed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to steer the sale of F1 to the private equity firm CVC in 2006.

F1 is of course based in London but, ironically, its contracts are paid in US Dollars which insulates the sport from the turmoil in Europe. Two years ago Ecclestone told Pitpass that he has always been opposed to the Euro because industries in European countries are too diverse to operate under a single currency.

"From the moment the Euro was introduced I said it was a mistake. It was a political decision where Germany and France thought they would be able to control Europe. You can't blame them for trying. At the time it seemed a good idea."

Ecclestone's latest critique echoes recent comments from Andy Street, the boss of British department store business John Lewis, who said that France was "finished." Street described the French nation as "sclerotic, hopeless and downbeat,' adding "I have never been to a country more ill at ease... nothing works and worse, nobody cares about it."

In a London speech he also described Paris' flagship train station Gare du Nord as the "squalor pit of Europe". Street was later forced to apologise for his views but, given the nature some of Ecclestone's previous comments, it is hard to imagine him following suit.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 05/11/2014
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