I generally don’t report on the private lives of F1 folk, unless it impacts on the sport, but I do feel very sorry for Bernie Ecclestone and his wife Fabiana. Kidnapping is a nasty business and we can only hope that the Brazilian police can solve the crime and rescue Fabiana’s mother, who was reportedly seized on Friday at her home in São Paulo. Oddly, on Saturday morning I happened to see Mr E arrive in Budapest with his police escort and thought it was rather odd that he stayed in the car for a long time on the phone. I figured it must be something pretty important for him to do that. It was also pretty odd that he took off on Saturday night and was not around for the start of the race (he doesn’t always stay until the end) on Sunday. With the benefit of hindsight, there were clues that something was going on, but one doesn’t generally include such things as kidnapping in one’s thought process. The news is not good for Brazil, as it prepares for the Olympic Games, underlining the image of the country as being a relatively dangerous place. I cannot say I’ve ever felt really threatened there, but then I’m not a billionaire and there is no reason anyone would want to kidnap me. At the moment no one is confirming the story, but clearly this is what is happening. There seems to be some kind of policy to avoid making any statements in such situations. There are, however, widespread reports that there is a demand for £28 million.
External forces are at work also elsewhere at the moment and this means that there are security fears for the upcoming German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, following the recent incidents in Germany.
In recent days 10 people have been killed and many more injured in separate gun, bomb, axe and machete attacks. Three were in Bavaria and one in Baden-Wurttemberg. These do not appear to be linked. They began on July 18 when an Afghan teenage refugee attacked passengers on a train with an axe and a knife. He was hot dead by police. Four days later an Iranian-German teenager killed nine people in Munich before shooting himself and two days after that there two separate attacks the first with a machete-wielding 21-year-old Syrian refugee who killed a woman and wounded five other people before being arrested. The same day another Syrian blew himself up outside a bar in Ansbach, after his application for refugee status was refused. Nonetheless, security at Hickenheim will be increased, particularly given the nature of the recent lorry attack in Nice. This is bad news for the race as it will probably affect the number of people wanting to attend. The race needs 60,000 spectators to break even.
In the racing world, the talk is all about the halo this week with a decision due on Thursday, while there are also rumours that Red Bull will not renew Daniil Kvyat’s contract because of poor results since he was demoted from Red Bull Racing to Scuderia Toro Rosso. Obviously, Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko never studied much psychology…