I am flying to Kuala Lumpur today and that will give me the chance to forget about the flighty Chinese visa I have been chasing in recent days with a proverbial butterfly net. The folks in Shanghai insist that all will be well and it will all be done in the time available. I have my doubts. The people at the Visa Section in Paris told me the other day not to book anything which is, of course, absurd so I have to once again take a risk that all will work out in the end.
Anyway, a few long flights give one the chance to clear the brain and focus on what is important. F1 moves on from week to week, story to story and soon the noise and the fuel flow meter will fade into history. Neither one, in my opinion, has much longevity.
The focus, when it is not on the race track (where good things are happening this year), will gradually shift inexorably towards Munich, although we will no doubt be treated to some whizz-bangs and smoke grenades to try to make us look elsewhere. The long-awaited showdown between Bernie Ecclestone and the law enforcement agencies in Bavaria is not going away. Frankly, the sooner it is sorted out, the better it will be for F1, one way or the other. The sport needs to move on and work out how best to operate in the years ahead. The German problems have been clouds that have gathered in recent years and these need to be blown away if F1 is to get back to where it should be in terms of being attractive to sponsors. The new technology will help, of course, but let us face it, even if Mr E wins it all and emerges sparkling from the court room, nothing is going to change the fact that he is 83 years of age.
Even his pet puppies in the media cannot change that, shameless though they may be.
It is the fate of every successful person, except the golden few who die in their prime, to have to deal with the closing stages of a great career. It is obviously not easy, as few get it right. When it is a driver, they still believe in themselves even if others doubt them. It was their self-belief that made them successful, but later it this same self-belief that gets in the way of the right decision. In the end they have to be dumped, which is always a sad moment.
When it comes to rulers, if they start to slip, the opposition becomes bolder and eventually the mob devours them, so they have no choice but to be tough. They cannot afford to take their foot off the gas, or glide. And that must get tougher and tougher with age. I have no doubt that F1 keeps one young in outlook, but I also know that there is only so much that the human body will take. So there must be a moment when one must start to think about change, particularly if one is in the fortunate situation of having more money than one knows what to do with in life.
Bernie Ecclestone has never shown much desire to retire, nor trained up anyone to replace him. That’s not his thing. He just wants to go on doing what he likes doing – which is nailing big deals – as long as he can keep on doing it. The investors behind him may worry about the future, but they don’t give any indication of knowing what to do other than what they have been doing thus far. The FIA is wary of the sport and does not want to cause a fuss, if it can be avoided. The teams cannot agree on what day of the week it is. And so it seems the sport is locked into wherever it is going with Bernie.
I look forward to a fun ride. Mr E is always good value as he ducks and weaves ever onward…