The likeness between Gerald Ratner and Bernie Ecclestone has been made many times before. But for those of you who haven’t heard, Ratner was responsible for one of the biggest gaffes by a global corporate boss. He wiped Gerald wiped £500 million from the value of Ratners jewellers with one speech in 1991.
He said: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap.”
Bernie Ecclestone is again this week talking about Formula One engines and continue to bang the drum about bringing back the V8’s – this time for disenfranchised customer teams, like Red Bull. Bernie tells the Independent, “I don’t think we should get consent from the teams. I think we should just do it and say to them, ‘If you don’t like it you can go to arbitration’. We could get the V8s back next year. People can build them in no time so we ought to do it.
“If Ferrari only agreed to supply one customer engine, Mercedes only agreed to supply one, nobody would have any engines. That’s exactly what the situation is. We need an independent engine supplier. I’ve been on about this now for a year and a half.”
We all know about the deaf old giffers obsession with noise, but the V8’s here are being proposed as a cost saving, communist style ‘an engine for all’ solution – and the implied back story is Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
If we deal just with the notion of needing an independent engine supplier – and forget the rest of the Ecclestone ramblings, the answer is Formula One had one of those. Renault. Yet unlike the other engine manufacturers Renault received no payment from FOM because they were not entering a works team.
The root of the problem is the deals Ecclestone did at the end of the Concorde agreement. He failed to take into account the incremental costs about to face the teams, thus not even proportionally providing the same for those further down the F1 food chain.
Secondly, he contributed to Renault’s perception that there was a lack of appreciation of their contribution to Formula One. And Bernie has not learned his lesson, otherwise the deal to buy Lotus would may well be done by now.
The reality of the current situation is as Ecclestone says, the teams will not agree to a V8 engine, and even a majority vote from Jean Todt and Ecclestone at the strategy group would be in breach of the unanimity requirements for regulations applicable to 2016.
This is more hot air, and it would be better if Bernie applied himself to solving the problems he created rather than blaming everyone else.