Ecclestone Says Putin "Should Run Europe"

He also says "Formula One is the worst it has ever been", but you've got to read between the lines with Bernie.

by Jim Weeks
22 February 2016, 11:38am

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Bernie Ecclestone: the son of a fisherman from south-east London who rose to become the billionaire commercial rights holder and de facto ruler of Formula One. Quite a character, right? Got some pretty wild and at times contradictory views, yeah? Good for a line, hmm?

With F1 testing kicking off in Barcelona today, it is no surprise to find that Bernie has produced another set of highly quotable tidbits. It's almost as if he says this stuff to drum up publicity for his sport ahead of another predictable season, while also bringing his own agenda into the discussion.

Not that grand prix racing was at the forefront of his mind. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ecclestone was more focussed on the martial arts loving Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"He's the guy who should run Europe," opined Ecclestone. "He will sort out this other business that is going on in Syria. The good thing is that he does what he believes to be right and he stands by it. It's hard to talk him out of anything."

Referring to what's happening in Syria as 'this other business' – 85-year-old billionaires say the cutest things, don't they? Ecclestone also reaffirmed his dislike for democracy, a view that the Daily Mail historically has some sympathy with.

"I've said before that I don't much like democracy. Nothing gets done. I do quite like David Cameron. I didn't think I would, but he has done what he thinks is best for Britain in the EU negotiations."

There was some talk of F1, but it was hardly the drum-banging type ahead of the 2016 campaign.

"Formula One is the worst it has ever been," stated Ecclestone. "I wouldn't spend my money to take my family to watch a race. No way.

"What's the point when you pretty much know – and the bookmakers know, and they're not stupid – that Lewis Hamilton will probably put the car on pole and more likely than not win the race, and the other Mercedes will be on the podium?"

As ever with Ecclestone there is an agenda here. To a large extent F1 has always been this predictable; one team is usually in a dominant position and we tend to know who will win the races. Before Mercedes it was Red Bull; before them Brawn ruled for a season; Ferrari were on top before that; in the late '90s it was McLaren, and before them Williams, and so on throughout the sport's history.

Ecclestone might appear to say what he thinks, but he very rarely says what he wants. He might also come across as a loose-tongued old man, but he remains very sharp and astute.

His current battle is nothing to do with preventing one team from dominating – any racing series where each team must build their own car is almost guaranteed to see one rule the roost. More likely, his comments relate to his desire to wrestle control of the sport back from the car manufacturers, who he believes have too much power and are taking F1 in a direction he does not agree with.

I'd also question whether he really thinks Putin is the best man to run Europe. Surely, in his heart of hearts, the only person Bernie trusts to run anything is Bernie.