Friday, April 24, 2009

Sling Your Hook Ecclestone

Sometimes words defy logic. Bernie Ecclestone, one of the richest men in the country, who runs one of the richest (and most boring) sports, is trying to shame the government into giving public money to bail out Formula One. Apparently the rent of the Castle Donnington race track hasn't been paid. Simple solution. Move it to Silverstone. Job Done. Next?


Anonymous said...

I doubt you've ever been to Silverstone, but the facilities there aren't great. While they've managed to sort out the parking and traffic situation, the place needs huge investment still.

Iain Dale said...

No, I haven't, but I know it's pretty ramshackle. My point was this: What on earth has it got to do with the taxpayer?!

Damon From Birmingham said...

Aside from your comment about F1 being boring (try watching some of the races this season or the season finale last season Iain), I agree. Silverstone is the home of F1 (the first ever F1 race was held there), its liked by the drivers and the fans. Unfortunately its disliked by Bernie Ecclestone and he decides which circuits get to hold races. Bernie is well past his sell by date and has become an embarrasment to the sport. It is time for him to go and Silverstone to stay.

Anonymous said...

I had an afternoon being driven at high speed at the track a few years ago and the biggest single complaint from the drivers and staff at Silverstone was that Ecclestone was bleeding the sport dry with his excessively large cut of all profits made at the various venues.

Damon From Birmingham said...

For the record I have been to Silverstone several times. The facilities may not be as good as Shanghai - but I went to see a motor race not fancy facilities and on the racing front Silverstone delivers more often than Shanghai.

John83 said...

because WE might consider it important to have a British Grand Prix and OUR bank (Lloyds TSB) won't lend Donnington the cash it needs on reasonable terms to keep the race here!

Gordon Brown said...

Thank God - I was beginning to think I was alone.

Formula 1 is like watching paint dry. Who cares how fast a car can go round in a circle? If the Government really cares about the environment, surely they should be discouraging this sport rather than keeping it alive?

I don't doubt that driving a fast car round a track is great fun if you're driving it, or even if you're part of the team supporting it BUT have any of these people ever watched it on a tv screen? It is DULL DULL DULL!

Damon From Birmingham said...


Ecclestone did make the point that the money needed for the British Grand Prix to run at Donington is a fraction of that required for the Olympics. Personally I think the Olympics has no place being funded by public money so neither should the British Grand Prix. Perhaps you could also turn your fire on the waste of money on the Olympics?

Triffid said...

Hardly right Iain.

I'm sure Gordo is still thankful for Bernie's attempt at bribing the Labour party all those years ago (even if they did have to pay it back).

What's a bit of public money when you compared against any Governing party's finances ?

JuliaM said...

"My point was this: What on earth has it got to do with the taxpayer?!"

I couldn't agree more. But couldn't we ask the same questions about this utter debacle...?

Tom said...

Agree with this. Formula One can hardly be top of the UK govt.s priorities for public spending allocation.

Keith said...

It has nothing to do with the tax payer. This is all part of Bernie's scheme to get more races in the developing world, where they are willing to pay crazy amounts of money to stage them.

The move to Donington was almost certain to fail in the timescale allowed, and it was probably intentional in order to make way for another race elsewhere. That way Bernie can claim it isn't his fault there is no British Grand Prix.

The facilities at Silverstone are fine for holding a race - they manage perfectly fine at Monaco, which isn't even a racing circuit.

The irony of moving all these races to the far east is that they are then run at late evening or night, to cater for the primary TV audience which is in - Europe.

Anonymous said...

Silverstone is by far and away not the worst facilities on the F1 grid, I have never had a problem with them - beleive me if Donington isnt ready and the race could just move back to Silverstone next year I would be very happy.

I also would have no problem with my taxes going towards a British F1 race. For a tiny fraction of what the 2012 Olympics are going to cost Donington could be made into a world class venue. The government here is all willing to get behind a British guy doing well in F1 (Hamilton last year, Button this), be seen to be supporting them, yet wont help the country keep a race. There has always been a British race since the F1 championship began, the idea of not having one is absurd. I dont agree with Mr Ecclestone on much, but i do beleive the goverment should help just a little bit.

Anonymous said...

What next: A bails out for cricket?

paranoidman said...

the motor racing industry is a big earner for the UK with a number of major teams based here - this ensures we have are eble to attract highly skilled people into the UK and that cluster of people ensures we are a centre of excellence for automotive engineering in general.

this is a good thing for the economy

Ecclestone is a pain but is a successful negotiator - this is just an opening position and in a competitive, globalised world we shouldn't just assume we can keep our lead in this field and some govt support would be useful. That doesn't mean we have to give bernie what he asks for but we do need to do more than at present

Chris Paul said...

The Donnington thing is incredible. 2 and a half million of rent arrears? And another year or so to survive before they get the GP? And loads of investment required. Hard to see how their bid passed any due diligence process. Why should any government, bank or investor bail these people out? They're in a whole. Chancers.

Dr Evil said...

Why is anyone interested in a load of blokes driving weird cars around a pretty much circular track, going nowhere? It is tedious and boring in the extreme. I think people only watch in case there is a major crash.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Bernie likes to have people bouncing about in order to make it clear who is in charge.

As for a Government bailout,Perhaps he should ask for his £1 million back?

Anonymous said...

Talking of the Olympics, why don't we just cancel the London 2012 Olympics and ask the Greeks (who have amazing facilities from 2004) to hold it instead. We could pay them a few billion quid as a sweetener. That would save us £10 billion or so. In fact why not hold the Olympics in Greece every 4 years. That's where they started.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you (having been there to an event)..the most relaxing place to drive at Donnington will be on the track...Driving to and from the circuit is going to be a nightmare as the country roads are simply not geared up for the amount of vehicles the GP will bring...Mark my words!!

davidc said...

football - 22 educational inadequates kicking an airfilled pigs bladder round a muddy field

the olympics - whose drug dealer is better than the opposition ?

horse racing - and you dare say car racing is boring !!!!

no the taxpayer should not fund or underwrite the costs associated with any sport or sporting venue and i follow f1

Weygand said...

F1 is a metaphor for the 12 years of government - that first Blair-Ecclestone connection said so much more than people would admit at the time, such was the honeymoon glow of the new government.

A repugnant cabal expending oodles of money, (much wasted and much used for self-enrichment) to so little purpose.

If I want to watch cars going round and round and round and round a track, I'll get out my son's Scalextric.

To my mind, the loss of the British Grand Prix would be a something to celebrate.

Blackacre said...

I note that F1 leaves some cold, but it has much improved and has some exciting races now. Believe it or not, not eveyone is in thrall to planet football - at least not me, since footballers moved to that actual planet from Earth.

If Bernie approved Donnington for the GP without knowing they had the cash to do it, he should stump up the difference. I agree it is not a government matter - it is one of the few areas where Britain has a competitive advantage in engineering and the government (of whatever stripe) will wreck that.

Lexander said...

Absolute greedy little sod of a man. I have a friend who worked with him years ago when he sold motorcycles! You should hear what he says of him. Ecclestone is a billionaire with a ruthless attitude and brilliant at grabbing opportunities. His hold on the boring so-called "sport" of F1 is disgraceful. No way should the government give money to develop Donington. Ecclestone could invest the £100m needed as if it were a mere tip. He has only got a few years left in any case and no doubt his daughters and wife will enjoy the millions he (might) leave them.

Lola said...

Iain Dale said "What on earth has it got to do with the taxpayer?!"

Well, what has any sport got to do with the taxpayer? Motor Sport in general takes very little money indeed from the taxpayer compared to most other sports. The UK motor sport industry meanwhile contributes billions to the UK economy and pays tax. The Olympics will cost the UK taxpayer money, so Bernie (of whom I am suspicious as he is a defact oligarch) is saying for a very small sum relative to the Olympics the taxpayer could build a GP facility to F1 (his) requirements.

I have raced at both tracks and Donnington is a great circuit. Silverstone is not. Silverstone is a great GP circuit because it is so fast. But given a choice I reckon most GP drivers would prefer the challenge of Donington.

In re Donington upgrade the outfit that took the lease from Tom Wheatcroft (a seriously Good Bloke) had a plan - as far as I understand it - to finance the
circuit improvement by bank debt and then refinance that loan with a bond issue serviced by the cashflow from the future GPs. But with the bond markets closed this has gone a bit Pete Tong.

You may also like to know that Donington lost its MSA track licence because of some incomplete civil engineering work and had to cancel a meeting or two. They say that they have resolved this.

I agree with Iain that F1 can be boring, especially if you are not cognoscenti. But, I recommend that you go and see at least on GP - at a place like Spa. You will be incredulous at just how fast an F1 car really is.

PS. If you want to see some great racing at Donington go to see the meeting on 9/10 May.

Barnacle Bill said...

Well I believe Ecclestone was first in the queue with gifts when NuLabor got in, so I suppose it's appropriate hes the last one before they leave.

Anonymous said...

Wrinkled Weasel said...
"As for a Government bailout,Perhaps he should ask for his £1 million back?"

The Labour Party paid back the £1,000,000 donation from Ecclestone. As far as I know, the Conservative Party kept their similar donation.

Glyn H said...

Apart from this appearing like a devious Ecclestone plot to get the F1 away from its home and possible create a space in the calendar or another huge bung for him if he takes it over at Donnington no one has pointed out that Ecclestone (a nasty little smartarse who manoeuvred his way, to others disadvantage, into being a used motor and bike dealer in south London) seems to have stolen F1 from the RAC who traditionally ran motor sport in this country. Just how exactly did a ‘sport’ get nicked for his personal gain?

Second point there was something very ‘odd’ about how the A43 in the Towcester/Silverstone area suddenly got an upgrade, early, under some sort of threat to take the GP elsewhere. To now do so would surely break that arrangement where Mr Blair’s government did his bidding?

100mph fag adverts said...

Ecclestone is vile. I hate F1 but I hate him even more.

For years he wanted to own Silverstone and failed to offer enough, so to spite them and possibly starve them out he has spiked things -

Organising the F1 race for spring knowing that the car-parks would be churned up.

Asking for more cash than they can afford to host it.

Threatening to move it to whichever country in far east is stupid enough to stump up.

Muddying the waters that British F1 race = F1 constructors jobs (?)

Finally he took it to Donnington which needs a complete makeover to starve Silverstone out. Now it's tumbled in around his ears

What a vile individual, no wonder Blair was a kindred spriit.

BoomandBustAbolished said...

Anonymous - Labour wrote a cheque to Bernie returning his million when they were caught.

I don't believe it was cashed however - a minor detail I know, but they kept the wonga in their account but were able to claim "they'd returned the cheque"

Anonymous said...

Ecclestone needs a good shagging and I think I know someone who can do it !!!

mark said...

Formula 1 is fun for some, especially petrol heads like myself, but the facilities at Silverstone are dreadful, when paying much more than a £100 for entrance.

The government are funding the olympics to the tune of many billions. In that context, I think a hundred million or so to a Formula 1 circuit is fair, given its international nature, and worldwide audience.

Mr Ecclestone unfortunately controls the sport, so in pure commercial terms, the taxpayer should not fund a circuit. However, the British GP is a long standing contribution to international motor sport, and so we should not allow a ruthless business deciosion to spoil our status in one of the few mainstream sports we excel in.

Give them the money, and take it from one those future I.T budgets that are wasted by government depts.

Lola said...

Anon 10.56 - Agreed. But that woudn't suit the fascists on the IOC. They would see their gravy train not just derailed but wholly Beechinged. Good. They are just about as bad as Ecclestone/Moseley

Mirtha Tidville said...

Never ever never, should public money be wasted on this poisoned dwarf...If he wants it let him pay for it....

And as for that other bonfire of the vanities, the Olympics, just dont get me started.....Both are total wastes of money

@molesworth_1 said...

Hear, hear Lola @12:27pm

Whether you like it as a sport or not (I do; football leaves me cold), F1 is a valuable part of certain sectors of the UK economy.
It is high-end, high-spec engineering (& other disciplines) R&D on steroids & as it's developments trickle down (a la NASA's non-stick frying pan), whichever shrewd business is on the punter-facing end of the deal does OK, TYVM.
It also has a sizeable following across the world (along with motor-sport in general) which gives it a very saleable marketing clout.
Bernie has done much to modernise, globalise ( and capitalise from...) F1, but he seems a demanding sort of cove & I think in the long-run events will have proven to overtake him.
The Donnington deal for 2010, of which Bernie was a staunch supporter, seems to be unravelling as a consequence of Bond market & debt re-capitalisation stagnation & he appears in no mood to revert to holding the event at Silverstone. Primarily because, as has been noted above, Silverstone is a bit of a shit-hole (despite the conspicuous road-improvements), but also because Bernie is not prepared to lose face with the BRDC over the affair.
The loss of the British GP to UK PLC would be a symbolic portent. The brains & the money are moving east...If you beleive that high-quality solutions, to any of the world's problems, in whatever field, based on a highly educated, productive work-force working at the forefront of science, or the cutting edge of art & culture, are a way to assert the skills, values & worth of our nation in the world that is to emerge from current turbulations, you should mourn the loss of F1 to Britain, should it happen.
None of the above is intended to argue for a financial governmental intervention.

On a team level, as opposed to some sort of overall phenomenon level, Formula 1 has a plethora of high-achieving individuals. Currently Brawn, Button, Whitmarsh, Hamilton. Recently Dennis, Irvine, Herbert, Hill, Jordan. Historically Mansell, Hunt, Stewart, Moss, Surtees. Culturally Brundle, Allen, Kravitz & Walker.

On an individual level, F1 is the Olympics of motor-sport.. "look what I just f***ing did!!!!" "Really, how schnell?". Which nation has the best representation..? (rhetorical)

Anyway HIGNFY is on & I have to look at the prices for qualifying tomorrow you, bloody luddites.

F1 is top, foopbal is shite, chiz!