There is talk today, from the kind of sources one expects to see producing this stuff, about how Bernie Ecclestone is back, seeking revenge, and being needed more than ever by the sport.
Bernie has done amazing things with the sport and many have benefited from the success but I struggle to see the reasoning in the argument that a sport or a business will not live on without a specific leader: the USSR survived Lenin, John Pierpoint Morgan has been gone 100 years and banks using the Morgan name are still with us. The MCC has played cricket at Lords for 200 years but Thomas Lord has not been seen at the crease since 1832. And what is Ferrari if not a perfect example of the world moving on but an idea surviving?
As I do once a week since the trial ended I have checked to see whether Mr E has been put back as a director on the boards of the various F1 companies. There is no sign that this has happened. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened because you don’t HAVE to file such things immediately, but it is a suggestion, nonetheless that, despite the rah-rah and the cheerleaders, change is in the air, even if it is only in the planning stages.
When you detach your F1 brain and sail out into the realism of the real world, this is hardly a surprise. The owners of the business want their asset to have value for them to strip out. The current lot don’t care about all that is good in the sport, they care just of money and their reputations for being clever men of finance. The last thing they want the world to think is that the whole business will collapse without an 83-year-old magician, who does not have any credible successor in view. If we accept the theory of the pompom girls then Formula 1 is just a heartbeat away from Armageddon, and that would make even the toughest financier pale a shade or two to grey.
Will buyers arrive with billions knowing that the investment could be blown onto a squillion fluttering bits of worthless chaff if one person falls under a thundering red bus?
I fear not.
There is no question that Bernie is exceptionally good at what he does. He could do other things but he’s not that interested. He does what he does and he gets his kicks from it. He knows also, like any medieval prince would know, that the loudest supporters are all too often the people to be trusted least. The retainers do not wish to be buried with the king and they will be the first to cry: “The King is dead, long live the King” when the moment comes, in the hope that the next puppeteer will not cut their strings.
There will be a next generation at some point unless researchers can find the fountain of youth that Spanish explorer Ponce de León famously wasted his life searching for.
The folk at CVC are realists and they would be negligent if they were not considering what to do. I’m sure that they have rabbits up their sleeves and doves in their baggy trousers.