Bernie Ecclestone knows how to manipulate the media. It is not hard in most cases and he knows just how to tickle a journalistic ego. If these folk are stupid enough to think that they matter because he talks to them and they do not question what he says, then he gets the benefit of their self-importance while they erode their credibility in the industry and become seen as being monkeys who dance as Bernie grinds the organ.
Good for him.
Bernie never says anything without a reason to say it, and very often the reason is not at all what it appears to be. Mr E is an expert at diversionary tactics. If he wants to play something down, he will create a bigger story about something else. His chattering about the two planned races in the United States being on or off keeps both of these events in the newspapers and, at the same time, keeps the race promoters on their toes. That is not a bad idea. It also keeps attention away from other things he may be doing in the US, as the plans for F1’s invasion of the Americas continues to develop.
The latest I am hearing on this, by the way, is that Mexico is increasingly likely to happen, but Argentina is not going to be possible in 2013 – if at all. The Argentine economy has been tanking seriously in recent months. The latest projections are that the economy will slow from last year’s nine percent growth to 2.2 percent this year – and that comes from the World Bank. Others say that is too optimistic and that Argentina could be in recession by the end of the year. This is odd in that the country has many factors that should be creating economic growth and some argue that the crisis is a political one because the populist leader Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has been spending so much money subsidising things to make herself popular.
One former minister estimates that the handouts have gone from $1.2 billion in 2005, to $19 billion in 2011, but she continues to spend, hoping to create jobs while printing more money at the same time, which has led to spectacular inflation. There are signs of escalating protest from people (and unions) demanding higher wages and those with money are flocking to the relative security of the US dollar, which are once again being traded on the streets in Buenos Aires. The cynics say that Kirchner is looking for things to distract her countrymen, so a Grand Prix seemed liked a good idea and complaining loudly about the Falkland Islands (as she has been doing in recent weeks) is always popular.
When it comes to New Jersey, the promoters may be a little behind on their payments, but it is actually in the interest of F1 to turn a blind eye to that. Bernie has been trying to get into New York for more than 30 years and so to quibble over a million here or a million there would be cutting off his nose to spite his face. One might even say it is a rare situation in which F1 needs the race more than the race needs F1. I am sure that if the New Jersey race happens it will be a huge success and that will kick-start F1 growth in the US, pushing the sport into a more mainstream awareness. It is a good time to do it. IndyCar racing is struggling on a number of different levels, people are bored with NASCAR, although Dale Earnhardt junior’s recent victory, the first in four years, has worked wonders in the last few days.
Sebastian Vettel went around the planned track recently and said that “it would be great” if everything can be done in time. There is no real reason to suggest that it cannot be. And it is in everyone’s interest that it is.