Ecclestone mostly understands how to be an effective communicator. Long monologues do not suite him and in fact at times make the F1 Supremo appear to be ‘a bit of a fool’.
A good example of this was the extended interview Bernie gave to the advertising publication Campaignlive.com, where he dismissed young people, lauded Rolex and gave a very layman’s description of ‘the ballet’ (link to article here)
“Maybe if I tried it, I’d love ballet,” said Ecclestone. “I just can’t understand the reason why they have these girls dancing on their toes. Why don’t they get taller girls? It would be so much easier”.
Later during the same Q&A, Bernie offered this pear of wisdom. “The good old days were actually the best. But that’s how people are. Women in particular like to criticize”.
One other not reported quote was amusing too, “Asia needs to get more involved [in F1}”.
Really? Is that what Asia needs? Or is more Bernie would love Asia to get more involved with F1, because those from that region who are already ‘involved’ are daft enough to pay exorbitant race hosting fees that the Europeans won’t countenance?
A more normal method of communication from Ecclestone is via the sound bite, dripped into one or two strategically placed publications. Bernie is singular in his purpose, of communicating a message, without extended debate, or to sow a seed that will take root and become cited as truth.
Today, Ecclestone re-joins the Horner/Marko calls for something to be done about Mercedes advantage over the F1 field. Yesterday we had the line from Ecclestone, “this is not about stopping Mercedes”, explaining why the call for the FIA to change the engine regulations was not born out of malicious intent. Yet today we get a whole lot more subterfuge.
Sky Italia are reporting Ecclestone is saying Mercedes have had an unfair advantage during the design process for the new F1 V6 Turbo engines.
“They knew more about the proposed power unit because the Mercedes people were in close contact with the FIA in defining the concept of this engine.
“This is why they had such a strong start last year and they are keeping that advantage now.”
Were this true, then there’s no question the matter would have been raised by Horner and Red Bull during the 2014 season. But the fact that there is no substance to this claim is irrelevant. It has been read by several million eyes on the internet today and will make it onto the tabloids sports pages tomorrow.
In a similar fashion, this writer has experienced a number casually interested Formula One fans who believe Jules Bianchi is to blame for his accident. It’s the message the FIA subtly dispensed repeatedly.
In fact what we have is a similar situation to this time last year. Red Bull are again wailing like an overcrowded hospital ward of new-born babies. Last year, the uproar which would apparently lead to the end of Formula One was about the fuel flow sensors and the fact that fuel flow should be unrestricted.
There is no evidence that Mercedes had any advantage in terms of advanced knowledge from the FIA. The new V6 Turbo engine regulations were supposed to be introduced in 2013 and include 4 not 6 cylinder engines.
Back in June 2011, Autosport reported, “F1’s teams and the FIA were in deadlock over the engine situation for several weeks until agreement was reached during a Formula 1 Commission meeting prior to the European Grand Prix weekend to delay introducing the regulations by a year to 2014.
The new plans also featured a change in the format from a four cylinder engine to a six cylinder unit – Ferrari having been against the former on marketing grounds. Mercedes and Cosworth had also voiced concerns about development costs. F1 technical chiefs then met in Valencia to give their formal backing to the V6, 1.6-litre plan.
The teams indicated after the Valencia gathering that they would ask for a rise in the proposed rev limit of 12,000rpm to 15,000rpm. It remains unclear whether this was included in the ratified plans. Similarly it is not known whether a request to delay the introduction of new chassis rules set for 2013 – to coincide with the new engine plan – has been successful”.
The series of meetings Autosport refer to were brutal in terms of their relentless scheduling, their length and the detail with which all parties engaged with. All parties were engaged on a fair and proper basis. Even other engine manufacturers not participating in F1 at the time eg Honda were invited to attend and give input.
However, for today – and for some time to come, many will believe Mercedes have gained an unfair advantage – which will serve the purpose of Bernie Ecclestone just fine.