Formula 1

It’s time to go Bernie, it really is

2014 Brazilian Grand Prix

Further to his comments about double points, Bernie Ecclestone expanded on a number of issues in F1, especially the chase for a younger audience. We think it’s best if we let Bernie’s words speak for themselves.

Bernie on attracting younger generation to Formula 1:

“Young kids will see the Rolex [watch] brand but are they going to go and buy one? They can’t afford it. Or our other sponsor UBS—these kids don’t care about banking. They haven’t got enough money to put in the bloody banks anyway. That’s what I think.

“I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’.

“Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money. I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash.

“So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, they maybe they should advertise with Disney.”

Bernie on social media:

“I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook and whatever this nonsense is. I tried to find out but in any case I’m too old-fashioned. I couldn’t see any value in it.

“And I don’t know what the so-called ‘young generation’ of today really wants. What is it? You ask a 15 or 16-year-old kid, ‘What do you want?’ and they don’t know. The challenge is getting the audience in the first place.”

Bernie on Caterham, Marussia and female shoppers:

“These teams don’t need to be in financial trouble. They need to think about what they have got to spend and do the best they can with that… it’s the same problem with ladies and credit cards.”

Bernie and his autocratic style has built Formula 1 into the global phenomenon it is today. Nobody can mistake that. But things have changed and are constantly changing in the new media landscape. Television audiences are falling and, rather than looking at ways to bring new fans to the sport, Bernie is more worried about flogging off tacky watches to 70-year-olds.

Is the future of F1 really best left to a sexist luddite who is 84-years-old?

[Source: The Independent | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Formula 1

Double points fiasco likely to be dropped in 2015

2014 Brazilian Grand Prix

This time next week we’ll know who the 2014 Formula 1 world champion is. Will it be Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg? And, importantly, will the whacky novelty of the double points on offer be the deciding factor?

For a number of reasons, please, let’s hope that’s not the case. As it turns out even Bernie Ecclestone, the man behind this oddball idea, seems to think the novelty has a bleak future. Of course, he won’t admit the idea was a mistake, instead he calls the teams “bloody idiots” for not embracing three races of double points pandemonium.

“One race is stupid but imagine if it was the last three races,” he told The Independent. “It means that somebody would have to have a 150-point advantage minimum to be sure they will win. The teams have not accepted it because they are bloody idiots. They are all mechanics. They think of their team in the short term.

“I’m not going to  propose the three races again. I’m going to let them get on with it. I don’t know what we’re going to do next year.”

I know Bernie, let’s drop this batshit crazy idea of yours and be done with it!

[Source: The Independent]

Caterham F1 in pictures Ferrari Lotus McLaren Mercedes-Benz Red Bull Racing Toro Rosso

2014 Russian Grand Prix in pictures

2014 Russian Grand Prix

The fun has come and gone from the Sochi sun and the Russian Grand Prix passed by without any idiot from the Formula 1 world threatening to “shirtfront” Putin. Which, in some ways, in just as bad as it would have been if some idiot did engage his mouth before his brain.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s just try and enjoy the images from the race. Hopefully, they’re not quite as dull as the on track action ended up.

Formula 1 News

Money talks, Bernie walks

Bernie Eccelstone leaves court after paying $100m settlement

As expected news has come through overnight confirming the end to the Bernie Eccelstone bribery case, thanks to an agreed settlement which will cost the F1 supremo US$100 million.

“The court did not consider a conviction overwhelmingly likely from the present point of view,” said Andrea Titz, spokesperson for the Munich court. “There was no conclusion on guilt or innocence of the defendant. He is leaving this courtroom a free man.”

The 83-year-old is free to continue in his daily role of running Formula 1, although it is unclear if he will return to the sport’s board of a directors, a position he stood down from after it was announced he would stand trial.

“It is a settlement without any conviction, the presumption of innocence is still valid,” said Eccelstone’s lawyer Sven Thomas. “That was a condition under which I negotiated.”

German law stipulates that legal proceedings can be stopped and charges withdrawn if terms can be agreed, usually by way of a fine or an agreement to do community work. Such settlements can only take place if the “gravity of guilt” would not prevent the outcome.

It is believed Eccelstone’s $100m payment is the largest of its kind in Germany. The money will go to the German treasury with $1m being set aside for a charity dealing with terminally ill children.

[Source: The Independent]

Formula 1 News

$100m is the going rate to avoid a bribery conviction

Bernie Ecclestone

Last week news emerged that Bernie Ecclestone was likely to buy his way out of the bribery charges laid against him in a German court. Today, The Independent reports Eccelstone will pay US$100m to settle the case. That money will go to the German state of Bavaria and, astonishingly, Bernie says they should build a new Formula 1 track with the money.

“It seems that we will be successful in the settlement,” Ecclestone’s lawyer Sven Thomas revealed. “The amount is not confidential. They are talking about $100m.

“The $100m is for the state of Bavaria. Maybe they will try and build a circuit. I will propose this—that they should build a nice circuit.”

So, in a way Bernie is hoping to turn this court case into an investment opportunity for him. Talk about no shame!

Crucially, the terms of the settlement under German law will see that all charges against Ecclestone are withdrawn.

“It is a settlement without any conviction, the presumption of innocence is still valid. That was a condition under which I negotiated,” Thomas added.

At worst Ecclestone was facing up to 10-years in jail if he was found guilty. Last November Donald Mackenzie, co-founder of CVC the owners of Formula 1, said he was prepared to end Bernie’s reign as F1 supremo.

“If it is proven that Mr Ecclestone has done anything that is criminally wrong, we would fire him,” Mackenzie said.

The allegations of bribery began to stumble in court when chief witness Gerhard Gribkowsky, already serving jail time for his part in the saga, said he did not question why he was paid £27 million by Ecclestone while negotiating for the sale of Formula 1 to CVC.

“I never asked myself that question,” Gribkowsky told the court. “I’m still annoyed with myself for that today.”

Ecclestone further added it was the prosecution who initiated settlement talks.

“The prosecutors said, ‘Do we want to have a chat about it?’ That is what started it,” Ecclestone claimed. “We didn’t ask them, they asked us.”

Sometimes being a fan of Formula 1 really stinks.

[Source: The Independent | Pic: AFP]

Formula 1 News

Bernie says: I’ll pay to settle bribery case

Bernie Ecclestone

The bribery case involving Bernie Ecclestone looks set to be settled out of court. The BBC reports Ecclestone’s lawyers are ready to pay up to €25 million (AU$35.7m) to end the case against him in the German courts.

On Tuesday Ecclestone’s defence team called for an end to proceedings citing a lack of evidence while also indicating the F1 supremo is willing to negotiate an out of court settlement. If a suitable settlement can be achieved German law allows prosecutors to withdraw all charges.

The bribery claims relate to the sale of Formula 1 to CVC Capaital Partners in 2006, where it is alleged Ecclestone paid off former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to ensure a smooth transaction.

Gribkowsky is currently serving an eight-and-a-half year jail term for his part in that deal, being found guilty of accepting a bribe.

[Source: BBC | Pic: AP]

Formula 1 News

Pyrrhic victory for Bernie Ecclestone in UK court

Bernie Ecclestone

The UK High Court has dismissed an £85 million damages claim made by German media company Constantin Medien against Bernie Ecclestone. However, Mr Justice Newey did find that Ecclestone entered a “corrupt” deal with jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky and the payments made to him by Ecclestone “were a bribe”.

Constantin Medien was seeking damages from Eccelstone, claiming he sold to CVC Capital Partners in 2005 on the cheap. Constantin Medien, a former F1 shareholder, stood to benefit from massive commissions if the sport’s rights were sold for more than £1 billion. The sale price in 2005 was £830 million.

In a blow to Ecclestone’s integrity Justice Newey went on to add that the 83-year-old could not be considered a “reliable or truthful” witness.

Explaining his decision Newey said: “No loss to Constantin has been shown to have been caused by the corrupt arrangement. That fact is fatal to the claim.”

In response to Justice Newey’s comments Ecclestone said: “Let’s assume I am a liar and let’s assume I am unreliable.

“I’ve run the sport for the last 30-odd years and nothing has changed. So if I was unreliable, and whatever, I have been lucky to have been as successful as we have been.”

Ecclestone will face a German court in April to answer the separate, but related, bribery charges against Gerhard Gribkowsky. If found guilty the F1 supremo could face a prison sentence.

[Source: BBC]

Formula 1

Post-Bernie era draws closer for F1

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

At 83 years of age it’s hardly rocket science to suggest Bernie Ecclestone’s days in Formula 1 are numbered. However, as the F1 supremo increasingly finds himself dealing with unwanted court cases the landscape of F1 and its ownership could be facing significant change.

Joe Saward explains:

Financial rumours are always to be treated with care because one never knows why the news is being leaked and who gains the most from such leaks. Quite often such stories are not at all what they seem to be. The word, however, is that US media billionaire John Malone, who is in the middle of a major expansion into European markets, is looking to buy control of Delta Topco, the parent company of the Formula One group, in order to be in a position to decide which TV channels would be buying the media rights to F1 racing, so as to either boost the revenues of other companies in his empire, or to charge his rivals more for the same privilege.

Malone has been busy investing in Euro television channels, including Virgin Media (Britain), Ziggo (Netherlands), Telenet (Belgium), Unitymedia (Germany) and he also own a controlling stake in Eurosport. It seems too simple to think that he could simply buy the Formula 1 media rights and hand over the broadcasting to his own companies.

That’s because it is too simple, as Saward goes on to explain:

The word is that he [Malone] wants to acquire the Formula One shares currently controlled by CVC Capital Partners, which wants to cash out in F1 because its plans for a stock market flotation have been blocked by the legal troubles surrounding F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

However, this does not necessarily mean that a buyer would actually control the Formula One empire because this appears to influenced by a parallel company called Delta Prefco, which has some of the same shareholders as Delta Topco. These investors get a different (and preferential) deal to those involved in Topco.

The rights to Formula 1’s broadcasting and wider management is certainly a confusing tale of corporate intrigue. We recommend you follow the source link to read Saward’s article in full.

[Source: Joe Saward | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel owes F1 around 50 million TV viewers

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel’s dominant 2013 season is responsible for 50 million television viewers staying away Formula 1, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

The recent publication of the F1 media report 2013 shows the annual television audience dropped by 10% compared with 2012. The last time F1 confirmed an annual audience tally was in 2011 when 515 million viewers tuned in for at least 15 minutes of coverage across a full season. It’s thought the 2012 figure also had a slight drop to around 500 million, meaning the 2013 audience was approximately 450 million.

“The less-than-competitive nature of the final few rounds, culminating in the championship being decided ahead of the races in the USA and Brazil, events which often bring substantial audiences, had a predictable impact on reach,” explained Ecclestone.

It’s also worth noting there were only 19 races in 2013 compared with 20 grands prix in 2012. The biggest fall in the 2013 audience was seen in China (down 30 million viewers) and Brazil (down 9 million). Even in Germany approximately 3 million viewers stopped tuning in to F1 in 2013.

With the dramatic new changes in the technical and sporting regulations introduced this season Ecclestone is hopeful viewing numbers will rise.

“One thing I am sure of is that this coming season will not only offer a heightened level of unpredictability, but renewed excitement and fierce competition,” he said.

[Source: Mail Online | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Formula 1 News

Bernie Ecclestone to stand trial on bribery charges

Bernie Ecclestone

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone could face up to a decade in jail after being ordered to stand trial in a Munich court to answer bribery charges.

In a statement confirming the trial the court said, “Under current planning, the main trial should start in late April.”

Ecclestone has stood down from the Formula One Group board of directors but will continue his daily operations with F1 while the trial is underway.

A statement from the F1 board reads in part: “It is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day-to-day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control.”

The statement later added: “Mr Ecclestone has reassured the Board that he is innocent of the charges and intends to vigorously defend the case.”

The bribery claims relate to the sale of Formula 1 to CVC Capaital Partners in 2006, where it is alleged Ecclestone paid off former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to ensure a smooth transaction.

Gribkowsky is currently serving an eight-and-a-half year jail term for his part in that deal, being found guilty of accepting a bribe.

[Source: Reuters & SMH | Pic: Reuters/Olivia Harris]

Formula 1 News

Bernie Ecclestone wants to buy the Nürburgring

2013 German Grand Prix

The sale of the Nürburgring hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Almost a year after it went on sale it still doesn’t have a buyer. But that could all be about to change after Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone confirmed he has made a bid for the track.

“We made an offer and we now wait for it to be accepted,” Ecclestone revealed to German publications Handeslblatt and Wirtschaftwoche.

“We believe that we can do more than anyone else for the circuit. There could be a decision as early as in the coming weeks.”

It’s understood Ecclestone’s motivation is to help keep Formula 1 in Germany on a long-term basis. Currently, and due to financial pressures, the German Grand Prix alternates between the Nürburgring and Hockenheim from one year to the next.

It’s unclear what Eccelstone’s plan would be for the 20.8km Nordschleife but it would appear that his bid includes an offer for all sale items, including the Nordschleife and the failed NüroDisney complex.

Officials handling the bid remain tight lipped saying only: “We do not comment on any specific bidders. But everybody who has an interesting offer is warmly welcome.

“We’re in the final stages of the process and want to conclude it in Q1, so that the new owner(s) can start the season in April.”

German auto club ADAC reportedly made a low ball bid of €30–40m for the racetracks only, and not the troublesome entertainment facilities, which was rejected. Last November a €275m bid for the full Nürburgring complex was reported, but that bid appears to have stalled.

In December, Save the Ring protesters, led by Sabine Schmitz, rallied to ask for the sale of the Ring to be stopped in a bid to keep the facilities out of private ownership and in public hands.

[Source: Reuters | Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Formula 1 News

Bernie Ecclestone’s life revolves around controversy

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has found himself in more hot water, forced to defend himself in the British High Court against claims he deliberately undervalued Formula 1 when its commercial rights were sold to CVC Capital Partners in 2005. The hearing is scheduled to take three days and began with a slightly bizarre entrance to the court building from the 83-year-old F1 supremo (see video below).

German media company Constantin Medien is seeking £100 million in damages from Eccelstone, claiming he sold to CVC Capital Partners in 2005 on the cheap after they had agreed to allow him to keep his “supremo” title and keep running the sport.

Constantin Medien, a former F1 shareholder, stood to benefit from massive commissions if the sport’s rights were sold for more than £1 billion. The sale price in 2005 was £830 million.

The case is related to the bribery claims Ecclestone is facing from a German court alleging he paid former BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky $44m to prevent Gribkowsky from exposing Ecclestone to British tax authorities. For his part in the transaction Gribkowsky was convicted and sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail.

[Source: The Telegraph & Yahoo Sport]