Ecclestone & Mosley under fire (updated)

Ecclestone's comments about Adolf Hitler have drawn widespread criticism

Ecclestone's comments about Adolf Hitler have drawn widespread criticism

Fresh evidence of the failures of the status quo in Formula 1 have emerged over the past few days.

Whether it?s the rumours about Max Mosley?s close ally Alan Donnelly?s involvement with Manor, claims the prospective 2010 entrants were denied a slot unless they elected to use Cosworth power, or Bernie Ecclestone praising Adolf Hitler, F1 is finding itself mired ever deeper in sleaze.

Getting things done

Bernie Ecclestone?s remarks to The Times over the weekend were certainly not the first occasion F1?s tycoon billionaire has criticised democracy and talked up the virtues of dictatorship. But it was the first time he tried to justify it with reference to Adolf Hitler, which is why he got his fingers burnt:

In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people able to get things done.

Last year Ecclestone gave more insight into his preferred form of governance:

I hate democracy as a political system. It stops you getting things done. I think people should have decisions made for them. Torture is just an old-fashioned way of getting things done.

The arguments about what exactly Ecclestone might have meant by his Hitler remarks have already begun in the forum. It?s not hard to see why Ecclestone’s words have been met with widespread revulsion – he is praising a man whose actions led to the deaths of millions. Ecclestone?s self-contradicting attempt to exonerate Hitler from his worst crimes is perhaps even more alarming. Nor is it any surprise that German politicians are now refusing to meet with him.

To the outside world, it now appears that F1 is run by a Hitler apologist and a son of a close friend of Hitler. Whatever spurious arguments are concocted to defend the supposed virtues of dictatorship, this is not a good image to project.

The Cosworth connection

The Daily Telegraph this morning reported that the F1 teams which submitted applications to compete in 2010 were refused entry if they did not select Cosworth as their engine supplier. Cosworth had previously won the FIA?s tender to supply discounted engines to new F1 teams.

Should we believe the story, which is based on quotes from an unidentified team principals?

I am inclined to. It matches another rumour I heard over the Goodwood weekend, that Prodrive?s entry for 2010 was rejected because the team had arranged a deal to use Mercedes engines instead of Cosworths. Added to that is this telling quote from Manor F1 team principal John Booth:

We wanted to be independent of a manufacturer because we don?t want to be used as a political pawn ?ǣ it was a conscious decision not to approach them.

If he?d said ??we picked Cosworth because they were cheaper?? I?d?ve believed him. Instead this leads me to wonder who persuaded Booth?s team that choosing a manufacturer?s engines would be a “political” decision? I certainly don?t think his team has avoided becoming a ??political pawn??. (Again, more discussion of this in the forum.)

The problem with dictatorships

On his blog, James Allen suggests we should look beyond Ecclestone?s eagerness to overlook Hitler?s crimes and instead take what he is saying at face value: that dictatorship has worked very well for Formula 1. Allen goes further, arguing this is and has always been what’s best for motor racing.

We could have an argument about whether a dictator?s touch was needed in F1 in 1982, or 1994, or 2005. But let?s stick to the present scenario. Is it working now?

I don?t believe it is. The dictatorial leanings of F1′s leaders is at the root of the problems the sport now faces.

Under the Ecclestone-Mosley hegemony, F1?s commercial rights were surrendered by the FIA for a pittance – compared to what Ecclestone then extracted from CVC for its stake in the sport.

CVC now need to make huge profits from F1 in order to pay for the loan it took to purchase it. And so the huge revenues F1 generates are returned not to the competitors or the circuits, but a private equity firm that brings nothing to the sport.

Would the teams have allowed this inequitable deal to go ahead if they had a say? I doubt it. Would Ecclestone have been able to execute it if he had been accountable to interests other than his own? Again, no.

Has dictatorship harmed F1? Yes it has.

Update: Ecclestone has done the sensible thing and apologised in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle.

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151 comments on Ecclestone & Mosley under fire (updated)

  1. Gman said on 7th July 2009, 1:33

    As funny as it may seem, I understand the feelings Bernie is trying to express. However, his means of expressing them are quite out of line…

    Obviously Bernie is blessed to live in a land where he is free to say as he pleases, and what I believe he’s doing here is trying to say that autocratic, one-person government is the most effective form of leadership. What it looks like to me is an attempt by him to defend his management style at a time when everyone is taking potshots at him and his buddy Max. So he launches a rant about strong leadership, and makes terrible choices to illustrate his point.

    If Bernie was looking for good leaders, there are many, many better examples from the pages of history he could use than Hitler and Saddam. At my very core, this upsets me because Bernie should realise that tens of millions of his countrymen- many of them not much older than he is- served in harm’s way to free the world of such dictatorship, and many of them diden’t make it back to dear old England to take part in the society he now enjoys rather nicely.

    At the end of the day, it amounts ot a very poor choice of words, but someone in such a position of leadership should know much, much better than to make such statements.

  2. wasiF1w said on 7th July 2009, 1:34

    Why dont they Bernie & Max retire,they should spend time with there grand children & pray to GOD so that they are taken to heaven .

    • Gman said on 7th July 2009, 1:39

      I agree with you on the retirement part for both of them, but I don’t think either of them has grandchildren at the moment.

  3. Gman said on 7th July 2009, 1:38

    Oh, and one last thing that I don’t think anyone has mentioned anywhere….

    It really disapointed me to hear Bernie take a cheap shot at the Red Arrows in that interview. Perhaps he meant no disrespect to the squadron, it’s pilots and crew, and the RAF as a whole….but that team spreads a great deal of good will for the British Armed Forces both at home and abroad, and there are many other examples he could have used if he wanted to illustrate the effects of pollution and fuel useage on the planet today.

    We always hear Bernie and his buddy Flavio talk about increasing the spectacle and making the sport more of a show. Well, few things get me more excited for an event than a jet team flyover. I’ve never seen the Red Arrows in person, but I have seen the jet demo teams for the USAF, USN, and CAF on multiple occasions, and I’m sure many of you have seen the team at the British GP would agree that they add a great element to the day.

    • ajokay said on 7th July 2009, 9:52

      Couldn’t agree more, they provided a stunning warm-up to the race, a really excellent show. What was more amazing is the fact that they were at Woodcote leaving a roll, and 3 seconds later were shooting over my head at Stowe. I wonder what their lap times would be like?!

  4. VXR said on 7th July 2009, 1:53

    In the ‘real world’ there are a great many ‘dictatorships’ or ‘one party states’ that get along just fine.Indeed,we may find that our efforts to force democracy upon them will not only be resisted by their ‘rulers’,but also by the peoples themselves.There are indeed places where atrocities take place,but these aren’t solely limited to ‘dictatorships’.

    As for Bernie and Max.I’ve heard much worse than either of them down my local on an evening.’Normal everyday citizens’ in semi-detatched suburbia,putting the world to rights.LOL

  5. m0tion said on 7th July 2009, 1:59

    Ecclestone is playing you for a sucker Keith. He is implaccably opposed to Mosely and running the nazi card is yet another attack upon him and the FIA. Donnelly is the second front. This isn’t over by a long shot yet because nothing has been done about F1 economic viability across a full grid.

    Why are you opposed to a non manufacturer engine supplier getting enough critical mass to make their investment worthwhile? How else do you achieve that with only 3 grid slots open and the residual teams committed?

    The FIA is showing itself to be for a viable future F1 and many comments here are against it by just wanting to continue with a TV showcase of a few brands running around with popular actors unchallenged like world championship wrestling. This is an oddball year and the best racing for years except for the DDD being approved and the manufacturers are hating it.

    Sorry but I will be voting like Montoya if FOTA or Bernie get control. The FIA should then look to decentralise the engineering base away from the UK.

  6. manatcna said on 7th July 2009, 2:53

    Um, Mosley for Prime Minister?

  7. Steve K said on 7th July 2009, 3:13

    Isn’t the beauty of a democracy that things DON’T get done quickly. Rash decisions cannot be made which is a good thing. Multiple opinions get heard so a well thought out plan can be made as opposed to an ill advised quick decision? (sorry, BA in poly sci, couldn’t help it.) Go USF1!

  8. Brian said on 7th July 2009, 3:20

    B.E. and M.M need to be replaced by younger men (or women) that haven’t been corrupted yet, then when they are corrupted, we get rid of them too. No matter who leads F1, that will be the cycle. But we still need to put and end to M.M and B.E.’s reign of terror.
    I’m convinced that if enough fans get together and show their distaste for B.E. and M.M. they will step down. They don’t have to leave the sport entirely, but just let other people take over.

    • Martin said on 7th July 2009, 3:27

      No they need to be removed from all involvement in the sport. They have created this sense of emergency and financial problem. They created the enormous bond for teams to even be considered. They created the absolute rule with an iron fist and if you dont play by the rules or criticize them, then look at Mclaren.
      No they need to be completely removed from the sport and only allowed to by general admission seats in the grandstands at best.

  9. Great post, once again Keith. One of the many things I really appreciate about your blog is the freedom to express opinions that might be considered controversial on other more “official” sites. I was censured in the beginning at Saward’s blog for questioning Max’s sanity, and just recently on James Allen’s blog for saying Bernie’s words were the mark of a senile old fool, an opinion recently shared by a higher up in one of the teams.

    One important point that I hope does not get lost in all of this is Max’s conduct in the new teams selection process. I think this really should be pursued and brought to light as the scandal that it is. Donnelly would do nothing without Max’s instruction (or, being kind, permission). This is clearly an ethical and legal breach, and may open the door to a challenge to Max’s leadership. Talk about bringing the sport into disrepute: start selling investment into a team that legally hasn’t earned the right to compete yet. Giving select investors a heads-up like that is akin to insider trading.

    Then there’s the Cosworth angle. This was a clear ploy against the manufacturers-who, it has to be said, Mosley courted to start with. But in doing so, the playing field was far from leveled, and it is becoming clear that not only were the teams that Max wanted told ahead of time that they would be using Cosworth engines, but apparently USF1 had other plans as well. When will this corruption end?

    And to add fuel, German Jews are calling on Germans to boycott the race: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1098208.html

  10. Dane said on 7th July 2009, 4:43

    What an idiot thing to say. Another Nazi reference by a top F1 person in 2yrs. Might as well get Basil Fawlty in for a nazi comment too.

  11. mp4-19b said on 7th July 2009, 5:45

    height of madness. what was the little troll bernie thinking? how dare he make references to that murderer mf hitler. has bernie forgotten his history? hitler was responsible for the death of 6 million jews in europe alone, not to mention the poles & the gypsies he massacred. This clearly shows bernie & max are out of their minds. they’ve lost all rational thinking. Hitler imo never commanded respect, he demanded it. These 2 old idiots have lost their marbles. They are going gaga over each passing day. reading ridiculous quotes from max & bernie has become a regularity for me. What do these 2 idiots want? FOTA, i’m sorry to say, urinated all over themselves. They had a golden opportunity to break away. Maybe if Ron was theboss of FOTA he would have certainly put an end to all this nonsense & broken away. but since is luca & not ron who is the boss, there seems to be that little loyality towards max from luca. after all it was the FIA at the instructions of max that allowed ferrari to walk away with all those titles. maybe max has promised the another one next year, which might have prompted luca to stay with the FIA. for an effective solution to the current ridiculous problem, luca must be replaced by ron imo. luca i belive still has some loyalty & a sense of obligation toward FIA & mosley. Ron will put an end to all these problems.finally i wanna ask a question. being a non-european. i wanna know why haven’t some Europeans gotten over the facist hangover? particularly people who hold high administrative position in europe seem to be fascinated about hitler & his rule of law. hitler is the personification of evil & bernie endorses him. so what is bernie? mf?

    • mani said on 7th July 2009, 12:45

      @mp4-19b: I think you should ditch your opinion… though you’ve the right to think so, you’re completely wrong to think so. You’re seriously mixing things here, I’m not responding as a Ferrari fan, but as an F1 fan who doesn’t want to hear baseless theories about FOTA’s decision. You never know, on which circumstances the decision was taken. And the promises given by FIA was good enough to answer their demands (speaking about cost-cutting and regulation freedom and Max’s commitment to step-down). To say with hindsight, or to mock someones decision will always be easy :) With all due respect, nobody knows what Ron would have done if he acted as president of FOTA on that occasion. So, if you’re listening to me, I place humble request to you… not to play favoritism here. You’re questioning FOTA’s unity, which also includes McLaren.
      For your information, I’m no enemy to McLaren… I like Mika, Ron, Lewis and McLaren for their profession and talent.

  12. scunnyman said on 7th July 2009, 5:59

    “finally i wanna ask a question. being a non-european. i wanna know why haven’t some Europeans gotten over the facist hangover?”

    Please explain mp4-19b?

    • mp4-19b said on 7th July 2009, 6:22

      i didn’t mean every european. for example in some parts of germany,austria & Switzerland, people(few, maybe in 100′s) regret the fact that poland, russia & other countries were not captured by the nazis. they still believe that under the rule of hitler all of europe would have been unified & the total elimination of non-aryans would have resulted in total domination of the aryans. i find it very strange that many top personalities find hitler & his way of governing fascinating. For example a few years back the ex-austrian body builder & the present Governor of california, Arnold Schwarzenegger openly admired hitler & prasied him for no good reason. even a few years back an ex- italian prime minister openly justified the holocaust. i find that very disgusting. holocaust is the worst thing, the single most shameful thing to have happened in this history of humankind. the present day terrorism is nothing compared to the holocaust. just read the diary of anne frank & u’ll have tears in your eyes. yet many europeans find the idea of hitlet facinating. its quite unbelievable as to how they are so naive. what bernie has said is a disgrace to entire mankind. i believe he’s a jew, i dunno how he mad such stupid comment on a man who almost drove his race into extinction. bernie must be ashamed of what he’s said. he should think twice before letting stupid words out of his bitter tongue of his. i dont blame europeans for thinking what they are thinking. its people like max & bernie that makes them think in that way. its high time europe denounces fascism in any form. imo bernie must be sued for those irresponsible words that he uttered from his stinking mouth.

      • scunnyman said on 7th July 2009, 6:52

        Thankyou. Would it surprise you to find out that the Politically correct brigade in europe are trying to have the Holocaust removed from the School curriculum. The likes of Max and Bernie must love that idea.
        At least with Bernie saying the things he did it let’s people remember how bad things were 70 + years ago. I am not sure how much the americans know about the holocaust. Some know but not all. mY wife is american and doesn’t know much, but i try to educate her. i feel it’s a bit late to educate Bernie and Max. They know exactly what they are doing though, even if they may not truly realise that most of the world despise what they say and do.

        I wonder if others in FIA and WMSC are of a similar ilk to these guys?

        • mp4-19b said on 7th July 2009, 8:10

          so they are trying to rewrite history. fine. so what does hitler become? a catholic priest? or perhaps the founder of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile ? that would be convenient for history re-writers i guess. but i must admit that hitler would have done a better job as prez of FIA than max.first thing he would have done was to get rid of the dwarf bernie(for obvious reasons). its better to deal with one tyrant that two. we could have taken care of hitler later. perhaps take the help of the russians or americans to git rid of him.

      • I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Switzerland that has publicly expressed the views you accuse all German speaking countries of harbouring, small though that faction may be. Switzerland has been officially independent since the late-1800′s if I remember my history (I am a dual Swiss/Canadian citizen). They are content to let any storm blow around them and take advantage where they can. A Hitler or a Mussolini on their border was simply an opportunity, not a threat. Hitler knew he had nothing to gain and everything to lose by “annexing” Switzerland. Every mountain pass, bridge and tunnel was (is?) wired to explode should any outside force intrude. There was no love for Hitler and his thirst for “lebensraum,” only an eye on where to make a buck. So, if you want to paint the “Germans” with the same broad brush, leave the Swiss out of it, although I can say that, my other half being Austrian, they pretty much fit into that camp.

  13. Fascist hangover hardly begins to describe the scars left by Adolph, Benito, and don’t omit Francisco Franco.

    Possibly the greatest group to suffer from Adolph’s dementia were the German people themselves. Granted, nothing can compare to the atrocities suffered by the victims of the camps, but the German people and culture were nearly obliterated by a lunatic who happened to be in the right place at the right time of history to dominate a country and lead it to it’s ruin.

    Kinda sounds like what Bernie and Max are doing to F1 now. And Bernie has the effrontery to throw it in our collective faces. It’s truly mind boggling that CVC haven’t terminated him already.

    As big a question as “who will replace Max” is, the bigger question is who would replace Bernie? The devil you know conundrum. Regardless, the little tyrant has to go.

    • IDR said on 7th July 2009, 7:35

      Fascist hangover hardly begins to describe the scars left by Adolph, Benito, and don’t omit Francisco Franco.

      Franco has his own history for not being remembered as a good thing for a country; he doesn’t need to be attached to any other.

      You should talk about Stalin, whose records in killing people are at least at the same level of Hitler’s one, more than trying to make Francisco Franco guilty of Hitler’s genocide.

      but the German people and culture were nearly obliterated by a lunatic who happened to be in the right place at the right time of history to dominate a country and lead it to it’s ruin.

      Hitler was democratically elected by German people. They were as guilty as Hitler, and thanks they have not forgotten that, now Germany is a fantastic and deeply democratic nation.

      • mp4-19b said on 7th July 2009, 7:59

        yeah! and they’ve got a female vampire as their chancellor. omg! angela merkel is one scary looking woman.scares the hell out of me when i look into her eyes. she could have acted in the exorcist without any makeup! she has the scariest eyes in the world!

  14. mp4-19b said on 7th July 2009, 6:39

    we don’t need dictators, we need reformers & certainly max is not a reformer & must be shown the door. max is really a pain in everyone’s you know what! max will not let his soul to rip. he along with that dwarf bernie will device a plan to stage a coup & take over europe?? what nonsense!!!! this is formula one!!! what does that mf hitler have to do with it. what bernie has said is completely out of context. this clearly shows that bernie is an attention seeking prat, who is lost in a reality forgotten “land” or must i say “fatherland”!! this is all a ploy to divert attention from the core issue. but i must admit bernie has failed miserably :))

    • Martin said on 7th July 2009, 13:26

      guys, these two are inseperable. You cant have Max without Bernie. Or Bernie without Max, that is the way they operate. If Fota doesnt take this episode of this incredibly tasteless soap opera and use it as a reason to leave and form their own series they are just empowering the 2 little powermonges to continue.

  15. mp4-19b said on 7th July 2009, 6:55

    question: when does one know someone is schizophrenic?

    answer: when they start praising hitler & the Third Reich.

    would bernie have praised hitler in the way he has, if his mum or dad or sister were one of the victims during the holocaust? does bernie know the kind of torture those innocent souls suffered? no,he does not. it shows total insensitivity on the part of bernie. this sport is a cursed one. we don’t have people stooping soo low, indulging in out of context references & mud-slinging in other sports. only god can save formula one from the evil power of max & bernie.

    • Martin said on 7th July 2009, 13:33

      Maybe now we truly know some of the reasons why Bernies wife lef thim and divorced him.

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