BERNIE ECCLESTONE: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW TO SKEETGP
MARCHIONNE? IT’S BETTER TO HAVE HIM AS A FRIEND
He’s 87 year old but he doesn’t feel it, having all that energy, not even the young can dream of that youthful energy. This is Mr Bernie Ecclestone, who is also pretty-well known in the motorsport World as “Mister E”. The man who has been able to make his own luck (in pounds, dollars, euros- you take your pick) and by making Formula 1, one of the world’s most ever seen shows either live or on tv, second only to football.
At the end of last year, at New Year, I came up with a brilliant idea: what if I just asked Ecclestone the first interview of 2018? All my friends and co-workers were always telling me “It’s easier said than done”, knowing how hard it is to have some kind of contact with him. Having dismissed the idea of going to the ends of the World, Brazil, London or wherever, given that he runs away like a ferret, I took the easy way out: to write to him and just ask 10 questions, with the hope that he would find the time to read and, above all, to replay to these.
I know that in journalism one of the most important methods to know the subject is the direct comparison. I have tried to select questions which he has not already been asked.
And amazingly, within 4 days, Mister E, answered all of the 10 questions, choosing me and SkeetGP.com to expose his idea on the past and above all on the future. He has given me straight answers which are open to interpretation and confirmation, if one was needed, that with him you shouldn’t stop at the outward shape of the answer but read in between the lines, because what’s not written is worth much more than what is written .
In a few days’ time, on the 24th January, it will be one year since you are no longer in charge of F1. Is there a particular reason why you decided to sell to Liberty Media?
It was the major shareholder CVC that wished to sell their shares and they had done so for 3 or 4 years. Liberty Media was the only people to pay CVC what they wanted. I sold whatever shares I had with CVC.
Would you have done the same deal, that you did one year ago, today? Have you any regrets? if so why?
Yes. No regrets if Formula One continues as a major sport
Many are wondering, I am one of the first, that you have truly withdrawn from the business and that you are not actually thing about returning in grand style. What will you do now? There is a possibility that might you invent a “NEW” Formula 1?
I have not withdrawn from business as I have many interests and involvements
What errors in this first season are attributed to Liberty Media?
As Liberty Media are managing the company in a different way than I used to, I cannot comment
Have you ever asked yourself why Liberty Media wanted to get rid of your involvement and presence even at the GPs? A too cumbersome presence? Can you confirm that the F1 has become like Mc Donald?
As they had the shares with voting right, they had taken the business in the way they wished to and did not want my involvement.
What do you think of each of these? Enzo Ferrari, Sergio Marchionne, Luca Montezemolo, Jean Todt.
Mr Ferrari was a person who supported me and so did Luca. They were good friends. Although I knew Sergio Marchionne for many years, it was not as close as Mr Ferrari and Luca. He is an excellent financial acute person, charming in his own way, much better as a friend than an enemy
What would Formula One be without Ferrari and Mercedes? Marchionne is thinking about it, would Wolff follow?
Ferrari is F1 and F1 is Ferrari
Hybrid engines: you judged them as “sophisticated and expensive toys”, though they are a lot less pollutant. Once you said that in the F1 the transport lorries of the teams polluted more than the single-seat on the racing track. Under your management, what did you do, to lower the parameters (of pollution)?
Follow the engine rules that had been agreed by the FIA. I am sure that the next generation of cars will all be hybrid and eventually electric powered
What is your dream which you have not accomplished yet?
As I do not dream but try to achieve things in business, this is what I would like to do
You have defined yourself as fortunate and great, even though, for me you have been more great than fortunate: but in your magnificent carrier of sport manager, do you think that you might have made mistake? If so, which one?
I think that if you have an opportunity to carry something out, you are lucky. If you carry them out, you might make mistakes which I probably have done but I am lucky to be able to forget them
This far, those are the answers of Mister E.Now we came to the interpretations. One, above all, that is the definition of the men of Ferrari that he has known. Have you noticed? He has forgotten to mention Jean Todt, almost as if he didn't belong to the list. But be aware that if B.E hasn’t mentioned him, it does not mean that he does not consider the president a pretty impressive person. I would like to think that the two of them are working towards a project that we don't know about yet, maybe even a hybrid or electric motor. Mister B has often said that he does not like this revolution, but in this interview he clearly stated that the next generation of cars will go in that direction. For this reason it is better for the time being and it would make sense not to speak about Jean Todt, whom Ecclestone needs to develop his ideas, while waiting to see what the president of the FIA will decide to do.
Here you have it great answers especially about Marchionne, who in these last days has revealed some future plans of Ferrari (Suv, electric car Supercar). Mister E talks about him like a man with charm and charisma, a manager that is better to have as a friend. Maybe they are planning something together? Could it be perhaps an alternative Championship in the event that Ferrari decides to say goodbye to Liberty Media?
It is all possible, partly because they have in common (this time Ecclestone talks clearly about this) the desire “to make business”, to turn a profit on everything they do and touch. This affirmation made by Mr E (that he has not retired and does not think about it at all) explains a lot about his intention to build something new, an alternative to the Formula1 version Liberty Media. The support of a manager like Sergio Marchionne could be the first important element.
Of one thing, however, we are certain: and that is that in the near foreseeable future it will still reserve a lot of surprises.
"Wait and see", the English say. We just have to wait.
*The F70 Hibrid introduced for the 70 years of the Ferrari.This is future for Mister E (photo Loris)
ALL RIGHT RESERVED