Ecclestone on the brink, Ricciardo: I need to be more like Grosjean,

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Ecclestone tipping point: If you type ‘Ecclestone’ into the search bar you’ll see all the articles thejudge13 has been producing following the Ecclestone story. I have maintained all along something has changed this time, a tipping point has arrived and Ecclestone is losing his grip on F1.

He admits in the Sunday Telegraph today that should he be charged by the German prosecutors, CVC will want to replace him. CVC have been incredibly loyal to Bernie, mostly due to his manipulation of the Bayern Bank into selling the F1 rights to CVC instead of Bluewaters.

We now know this meant CVC promised to retain Mr. E as the CEO of FOM, and Bluewaters made it clear they would offer no such guarantee. Hence the 44m euro bribe to the German bank’s CEO to ensure the sale went the way of CVC.

The incredible personal nature of Luca de Montezemolo’s attack on Mr. E last month was extraordinary. Yes the 2 have regularly fallen out, but the stinging personal nature of Il Padrino’s comments were unprecedented – and repeated in a sanguine controlled manner at the Ferrari Christmas bash.

Reading the tea leaves, either Bernie believes he will not be prosecuted and is putting down a marker which in effect says, ‘these are the only grounds under which I’m going anywhere’ – knowing full well it is not going to happen.

Most people don’t know that the longstanding Chaiman of CVC stepped down a few weeks ago – Michael Smith who had been in charge of

Citicorp Venture Capital when it was part of Citigroup in 1982 and oversaw its spin-off from the bank in 1993.

Mr Smith will be replaced by a trio of co-chairman. Donald Mackenzie will chair board meetings and the investment committee, Rolly Van Rappard will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the business, while Steve Koltes will take on the lead role in investor relations.

The most likely reason for Ecclestone’s comments today is that ‘a word’ has been had. Donald Mackenzie is a wise old head, and Mr. E finds himself in a position he’s never found himself in before. Usually, Bernie has something on everyone so he can employ a scorched earth strategy should he not get his own way.

He did this with Ferrari when LdM last threatened a breakaway series – telling the rest of the paddock how much Ferrari had received extra over 6-7 years for ‘being Ferrari’ under Concorde.

Clearly, with his personal liberty at stake, it is not in Ecclestone’s interest to fight a war with CVC. It may be he has some ‘dirty linen’ he could air over the purchase of FOM, but these people are a lot smarter than the media Baron’s Ecclestone was used to dealing with before CVC arrived on the scene.

They will have recorded conversations and documentation – something Ecclestone scorns as worthless. It is clear to me that Bernie is clear in his mind, this is a fight he is not going to take on – as presumably the grey suits of CVC have impressed upon him the way they want things to happen and Bernie has no choice and will have to comply.

Ricciardo – not Grosjeanesque enough:

We reported a couple of days ago, Grosjean started the 2012 season with a ‘win a race for Lotus at all costs’ attitude. Today, Motorsport tells us Ricciardo thinks he was too conservative in his approach.

After sacking both Buemi and Alguesuari, Toro Rosso recruited rookies Daniel and JEV, and finished last of the established teams. Even so both drivers survive for another year as for a number of reasons many people think the team was most of the problem in 2012 – and not the drivers.

Daniel Ricciardo is clear that 2013 will therefore be a key year in his career. If he fails to deliver he will probably have no future at Toro Rosso, let alone in the Formula 1. Interviewed by Italian magazine ‘Autosprint’, Ricciardo says, “I know that I must put my 2013 goals a little higher.”

“I will not be swept under the table, but clearly that I need to score a spot on the podium and I know I can. But I will fight this year at the limit, my mistake was that I was in the first half of the season was not aggressive enough,” the Australian reflects. “In some respects, I was the opposite of Grosjean. But I think I have found the right balance in order to show my skills.”

However, that requires also the right set of wheels and Ricciardo is convinced that next year’s car is better than the half baked STR7: “I have already seen the new car. If you look closely, you can see a lot of differences to the old one”.
Thejudge13 readers voted Daniel the best driver fro the bottom four teams by quite some margin. If Toro Rosso can raise their game, maybe he can get a top 3-4 finish – but it’s definately all about having a far better car.

On this day in F1, Dec 30th

1942

Guy Edwards, born on this day in Macclesfield, Cheshire, had a low-key F1 career – 17 grand prix between 1974 and 1977 with a best finish of seventh – but is best remembered as one of three drivers who pulled Niki Lauda free from his burning wreckage at the Nurburgring in 1976. “I had time to get out of my car and run back and save him,” he said later.”Petrol fires are such awful things.

This was a big one. The heat and noise were incredible. It was not a pretty sight at all. I was running towards the fire and I was thinking – do I really want to do this? The honest answer was ‘no way’. But what could I do? Stop and walk back? Holy hell, it was a mess. But the flames were so thick, I couldn’t see the bastardc … I got hold of an arm and a good grip on his body and the little sod came out with all of us falling in a heap. We pulled him out like a cork from a bottle.” He was later awarded the Queens’s Gallantry Medal for his bravery and subsequently became a sponsorship consultant within motor racing.

2002

A remarkable outburst by former world champion Alain Prost who labelled his successors little better than “trained monkeys”. He continued: “[The drivers] simply follow the instructions of the engineers and let the computers do all the work. To me it’s not a real racing competition any more. And what’s worse, these drivers are so much a part of the whole system that they have to keep quiet so as not to harm the image of the team or the sponsors. I don’t want to sound old-fashioned, but in the past 10 years drivers have become increasingly like robots.”

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7 responses to “Ecclestone on the brink, Ricciardo: I need to be more like Grosjean,

  1. Loving the bits about bernie just one question though will he jump or will someone push him because as per one of your earlier comments i agree that he will string it out because he can & doesn`t want to loose any of the kudos of walking on the starting grid with all those powerfull people.

      • Wouldn’t it look better if he said ‘sod this lark, I’m off to the bahamas with the missus’ rather than what could be a very public humiliation and destruction of any credibility he has left?

        It is looking ever more likely that something will happen to him, even if not he can’t go on for ever and he is looking more and more tarnished. He could well be better getting out while the going is good and hoping that if anything is going to come out it will happen Jimmy Saville style – once he is gone and is no longer affected by it all.

        The only concern is what will happen to F1 once we no longer have Bernie – I suspect some changes will be positive but it may well end up being run more for profit than for sport unless the teams can get some control back.

        Actually…. There was talk that the FIA can get the rights back under certain circumstances. Presumably Bernie being put on trial would be one of those. Would he be doing the sport a favour by sticking around and allowing that to happen rather than letting the bankers get full control?

  2. Hmmmm, F1 after Bernie. What a nice Xmas / New Year thought! My suggestion for a new head operator of F1, or at least be part of a team that carries the Bernie responsibilities, Adam Parr. He is a balanced operator, would distribute F1 to the globe with modern and contemporary technologies and strategies. Having been Williams team principal, he would understand the teams side also. Being a self proclaimed fan of F1 would help too, he is not indoctrinated or cynical as those with too much F1 internal exposure might be.

    • For all the reasons you state I fear they might make Mr Parr just too suitable – and better than the money men will want… as they will want to ensure they don’t get another, ‘all powerful’, Bernie…
      Maybe…

  3. Here’s hoping Ricciardo has a better year. One of my favourite drivers on the grid, I believe he has a long F1 career ahead. His enthusiasm is unmatched, and now post-braces he’ll smile even wider than before.

    In other news, the other antipodean in F1 also had metal removed before xmas. Webber had titanium bars installed after the mountain biking accident in Tasmania, at the end of the 2009 season during his annual charity adventure. Since his accelerator leg is now free of metal, will he drive faster or slower next season?

    Source: Twitpic unless the following works…

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