Ecclestone & Mosley under fire (updated)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

151 comments on “Ecclestone & Mosley under fire (updated)”

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  1. Oh and by the way Keith, every time i see that pic you have at the top of Bernie i can’t help but imagine him with a squeaky voice like in Monty Python or even a chipmunk lol

  2. I have just been wondering, is F1 the only motorsport run as a ‘dictatorship’, or are the others run in a similar way? What about the likes of NASCAR and IRL? Or A1GP and ALMS? WTCC and WRC? It would be interesting to compare, as I have a feeling Bernie isn’t the only fish in this particular barrel…..
    Also, how does F1 compare to other sport in general? Basketball, Football, Soccer, Tennis – we all know the judges and referees can be a bit harsh, but what about the rule-making behind the scenes? Is F1 unique?

    1. I would say that F1 is a bit unique in the fact that there are “dictators” over various aspects of it but not the whole thing. Bernie controls the commercial side while Max (FIA) controls the rules.

      In IndyCar, for instance, there is a director for commercial development and a competition / rules director, but they both report to the same person (which used to be Tony George, but he just was forced out).

      In this sense, F1 is less dictatorial than IndyCars. I would guess that the France family runs NASCAR the same way – perhaps even more “dictatorial” because they also own many of the tracks.

  3. A couple of comments (and therefore threads hanging from them) have been deleted from this topic for racist content. For more information see the comment policy:

    If you have a query about why a comment has been removed please email me via the contact form.

    1. I’m quite curious about these racist comments Keith. I have re-read the articles comments a couple of time and can’t see anything gone. Maybe they came on while i was away.

  4. Is anybody really suprised at what Bernie said? Nothing that arrogant beady eyed little weasel says anymore surprises me. Bottom line is IT IS TIME FOR BERNIE AND MAX TO GO! If that means a split then so be it, I would rather have a split than watch them bury F1 for their petty little reasons.

  5. To all who think a dictatorship could be a positive force: I think you are confusing leadership with dictatorship. Gaining consensus for a plan of action as opposed to shoving it down your constituencies throats. A minor difference that Max has lost sight of.

    As for Bernie, he is a business man who has sold out every principal sport should be based on to maximize revenue. He has swung the pendulum of the sport beyond sustainable financial levels. If FOTA thinks Bernie will kick more cash to the teams then they are operating with an agenda none of us have been privy to.

  6. As I’ve said in the forum on this topic, and I think this important – this very definitely was not just a poor choice of words on Bernie’s part. It is a question of lacking an adequate moral compass and about a willingness to trivialize and perhaps excuse predetermined mass-scale murder. Bernie’s outing, and anyone else’s along the same lines, is nothing short of abhorrent and should be clearly denounced as such. What a slimy little man.

    1. One more: to all those who are willing to excuse Bernie – realize that praising Hitler for his effectiveness, is like praising suicide bombers for their devotion, or a serial killer for his attention to detail, or a rapist for his taste in women…. get it?

      1. bernie is certainly not a rapist!!!he is a virgin. unlike max he doesn’t visit brothels. he is like a saint. he’s taken a vow of celibacy. he is like the pope of f1. he doesn’t allow evil thoughts to enter his brain. the man’s soul is as clear & holy as the ganges. he is a role model for all youngsters. he has written his last will & testament, it reveals that after he attains sainthood & reaches god ,all his earnings should be used for gambling purposes at monte carlo. now isn’t that a saintly will? tell me how many of us would make such a will. bernie is a really good Samaritan. now i pay my respect to bernie by raising my right hand to 45 degrees, the traditional Deutscher Gruß even known as Hitlergruß & shout at the top of my voice SIEG HEIL BERNIEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Maciek, short and to the point. Perfect! Unfortunately Bernie’s problems will fade with the latest FIA/Max hosing of FOTA. Time for them to walk, and not look back. That will solve both problems (Max and Bernie).

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