Is Bernie Ecclestone sticking up for McLaren again?

Bernie Ecclestone, Indianapolis, 2007 | GEPA / Franz PammerRumours abound that McLaren will not have to set up base at the poor end of the pit lane this year after all.

Frecon spotted this in a Spanish newspaper and the report has also been run by the Finnish publication Turun Sanomat. Allegedly, Bernie Ecclestone has struck a deal with the teams to let McLaren take the fifth place on the pit lane, between Williams and Red Bull.

McLaren’s punishment following the espionage case last year saw them thrown out of the constructors’ championship. That should have led to them occupying the last space in the pit lane.

This would leave them with less room for their equipment and further away from the most prestigious end of the pit lane, making racing and PR duties more difficult.

Ordinarily F1 teams have to line up in the order in which they finished in the previous season’s constructors’ championship so on the face of it, it’s just another part of McLaren’s punishment they have to live with.

There doesn’t appear to be anything against it in the rules, in which case if the other teams have agreed to it then no-one has actually done anything wrong.

But if Ecclestone has helped them broker a better deal it’s very interesting. It’s already well known that it was Ecclestone who talked several top F1 representatives down from throwing McLaren’s drivers out of the 2007 world championship along with the team. Max Mosley has since admitted that he thought they should have been excluded and Ecclestone argued against it.

Ecclestone was also present at the launch of the 2008 McLaren which is quite unusual – I think the last launch he attended was on Toyota’s arrival into the sport in 2002.

Assuming this is all true, what is Ecclestone up to? Is he looking out for the team that runs F1′s golden goose Lewis Hamilton? Of course, Ecclestone did oppose Hamilton becoming champion during the fuel controversy at the end of last year.

Or does he perhaps feel bad that what McLaren got busted last year for something that was nothing like as bad as what he got away with as team boss at Brabham in the early ’80s?

Photo copyright: Red Bull / GEPA

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12 comments on Is Bernie Ecclestone sticking up for McLaren again?

  1. Is it a case of guilt or rehabilitation?? – big question or is it as you said looking after the goldengoose – by threatening to remove the british gp and no american gp – only asian/sub continent gps – with or without expensive uneccessary lighting – someone mentioned the giant bugs at night – we dont know – bernie appears to want it both ways – the wee hardman who gets the maximum revenue? – from each event but is also seen as a moderating influence – no one can do that little big man – you cannot wear both hats – either one or the other – and neither fits him well – just make the retirement speech – and leg it with youre money and take youre right hand ghoul max with you – itv and bbc used to have morecombe and wise – maybe you can try the fun side for a change – love to se what simon callow makes of that double act – not much money there for him I think!!

  2. “guilt or rehabilitation??”

    grin … I think that both of those, in Ecclestone’s case, could be fairly described as … just another ploy.

    My initial instinct on this story was that, just perhaps, moving McLaren back toward “media-haven” in the pit lane would propel FIA’s new posterchild (Hamilton) for that whole ill-conceived “Racing Against Racism” campaign into an even brighter cash-cow-type spotlight THING …

    … and then, I realized — we’re talking about Bernie Ecclestone here.

    I’m just not thinkin’ that he’d ever have a genuinely “humanitarian” purpose. Ahem.

  3. DanielPT said on 14th February 2008, 9:37

    Bernie Ecclestone has feelings? Besides his love for money? Perhaps this is the right time to review my view of life! :p

    Now seriously, Bernie just wants to have someone to fight for the championship along with Ferrari. And who’s better than Hamilton and Mclaren? Bernie knows Hamilton is money and he is trying cash on it!

  4. it is all about money for Bernie. McLaren at the wrong end of pitlane is as bad news for Bernie as it is for McLaren.

  5. Absolutely Milos! They bring a lot of PR dollars into the sport and being in the boondocks isn’t going to help anyone.

    Also Bernie needs to schmooze with a lot of the people McLaren bring and with his little legs walking down to the wrong end of town takes him too long – it was Bad enough when Kylie and the Beckhams ended up with Honda last year!

  6. Steven Roy said on 14th February 2008, 12:01

    I think the most interesting thing about this whole affair is Ferrari’s silence on the issue. If they believed that McLaren were gaining by this they would be screaming blue murder and doing their usual injured victim routine.

    Everyone knows that the team in the first pit gains during pit stops by having a straight entry to their box. You don’t need Ross Brawn’s tactical brain to know that the last team has a straight exit. No need to jink round the pit in front. No chance of tripping over a dangling air hose etc.

    I assume Ferrari have pointed out that F1 would look pretty stupid if a team gained a tactical advantage as the result of a supposed punishment and Bernie gets to manipulate things.

    What I would like to know is what is the difference between Bernie putting McLaren in a pit they are not entitled to and Michael Schumacher putting Rubens Barrichello on the top step of the podium after Ferrari made the phone call asking Rubens to pull over and let he whose superiority must be unchallenged through. Seems like the same thing to me.

  7. Michael K said on 14th February 2008, 12:19

    What would Ferrari have to say about this? The positioning of the big teams in the pits is important for the cameras more than anything else, it’s just marketing money as most people already said. Steven, can you sleep without having nightmares about Ferrari trying to break in and eating your cookies or something as this might be a tactical advantage for them? I find it intruiging that they don’t break in and steal your cookies. :D

  8. Robert Mckay said on 14th February 2008, 13:35

    It’ll ruin the order of the driver numbers on the pit garage wall…I thought Bernie was a stickler for details like that :-D

  9. after all F1 owes McLaren alot… a little return maybe.
    As Mclaren doesn’t belong at the end of the pitlane…they need a big box :)

    anyway doesn’t matter that much to me

  10. Steven Roy said on 14th February 2008, 19:52

    Michael K,

    I had a packet cookies go missing last week. Now I know who took them.

    Anyone have Max’s phone number?

  11. The last time Bernie attended an F1 launch was Jordan’s in 2005, just after it was taken over by Alex Shnaider and the movers-and-shakers in F1 thought Russian money would take over the F1 world… …for about a month. Then the dollar-dream turned to dust due to disappointing performances. The 2002 Toyota was a major disappointment in terms of performance. Is Bernie’s arrival at McLaren’s launch going to lay a similar curse upon McLaren?

    Changing McLaren’s pit allocation at this juncture feels wrong. What I want to know is:-

    1) What were Red Bull offered to give up their earned pit garage slot?
    2) Were the teams who finished below Red Bull consulted?
    3) If so, what were they offered to facilitate McLaren’s move? If not, why not?
    4) Did McLaren even ask to be treated preferentially in this way or is this purely an FOM initiative?
    5) What happened to the FIA being the final arbiter of what is and is not permissible in race weekends?

  12. Michael K said on 15th February 2008, 8:20

    See Steven, they are everywhere ;-)

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