I LIKE Bernie Ecclestone. He’s far too small, obviously, and his haircut is ridiculous. And he can drive you completely mad by obsessing over idiotically tiny details.
Once, in Monaco, I needed his permission to walk from one side of the city to the other and he wouldn’t give it.Things became so heated, I tried to slam the phone down on him, but before I got the receiver into the cradle, I heard the click and knew Bernie had beaten me to it.
However, when he agrees to do something, you shake hands and he always sticks to the deal. And there’s no question that he turned Formula One into the global powerhouse it is today.
However, as a fan of the sport, I’m glad he’s on his way out because, my God, it’s boring these days.
They say the technology developed in Formula One filters on to family saloon cars. But that’s rubbish. There is nothing on your Vauxhall Astra that was developed in F1. Nothing.
And now they are wheeling the cars around the pit lane on trolleys so they don’t get the wrong sort of dust on their tyres. When a sport gets that pernickety, it’s not a sport any more. It’s become a weird club which exists only to make the rich old men who run it even richer.
The drivers. The cars. The racing. The fans. They no longer matter, just so long as Heineken gets the correct amount of airtime and the television director knows to make sure the Rolex logo is featured four times in each race.
They say the technology developed in Formula One filters on to family saloon cars. But that’s rubbish. There is nothing on your Vauxhall Astra that was developed in F1. NothingJeremy on Formula One failing to excite
You can see the effect this is having very clearly. All over the world, there are empty grandstands and dwindling television audiences.
But hey, the sponsors haven’t realised that yet, so they keep arriving in their helicopters, with their guests and their fat cheques, so who cares?
Well, we all will when the television companies stop handing over a fortune for the screening rights, because then the sponsors WILL realise the game’s up and that’ll be that.
The only way to rescue the situation is for someone to realise that motor racing is supposed to be a spectacle.
It’s supposed to be exciting and noisy and dangerous.Happily, the new owner, Liberty Media, is American and in the US they understand a thing or two about spectacle.
Put it this way. They have Las Vegas. We have Blackpool. They have Armageddon. We have Poldark. They have Nascar. We have cricket.
They won’t want the cars being wheeled about on trolleys, or tech that will be fitted one day to a hatchback, and Lewis Hamilton will get fired if he doesn’t crash into his team-mate six times a year.
The boss of the all-conquering Mercedes team, Toto Wolff, said that he too is looking forward to the new owners taking over. But not for the same reasons as me.
“There are things we can learn from the American way,” he said. “Particularly in digital areas.”
No, Toto. We don’t care about digital. We just want to see a crash.