Bernie out, Ross back… I don’t know


unknownWhat a day that was.

Liberty Media completed its £6.4 billion takeover of Formula One, the deal maker supreme Mr Bernie Ecclestone has been sidelined – to act as an adviser to the board supposedly, but that’s rubbish – Liberty’s Chase Carey has had Bernie’s former role of chief executive officer added to his existing position of chairman, and brought the former Ferrari-Mercedes man Ross Brawn – who had been acting as a consultant to Liberty – back into the sport to lead the sporting and technical side of F1.

Just catching my breath…

Well, if you think the 86-year-old Mr Ecclestone, who’s been in charge for nearly 40 years, is going to drive off into the sunset to partake in a game of bingo at the local retiree’s club, then think again.

Bernie remains an enigma to many. Like many of those of his generation and before, he has seen plenty of death in the sport to last a lifetime. It’s what many forget when they meet him. This kind of experience breeds toughness. To his enemies, he’s a formidable opponent; to loyal friends, he’s a brick. He also has a realistic view of what the sport has become…

Some may say this view of what he thinks the sport should be has now gone awry and we need a Liberty to sharpen things up a bit. We certainly do and some may say he’s met his match in Chase Carey. Then again how many times have we said that over the years.

The fat lady hasn’t arrived just yet.

In his book, The Piranha Club, Tim Collings describes an episode in Ecclestone’s life, recalled by Sir Frank Williams, which encapsulates Bernie, the man:

‘Those who have known him for a long time are full of admiration and respect. Frank Williams recalled him buying Brabham and running the early meetings of the 1970s. He remembered one incident, in particular, at the Watkins Glen Motor Inn.

“He was there negotiating with the organiser from Mexico and the man, literally, excused himself to go to the lavatory…and never came back. He went out of the back window!”

That, as Williams conceded with a smile, stuck in his mind. Of Ecclestone, the achiever, he said:

“In the big picture, we all know, and respect, that Bernie saw Formula One for what it could be. Over 30 years, he has moulded it into the activity that he thought would give it an important place in the world and a strong commercial base for the teams as well as creating a side of the business for himself.

“He has achieved his objectives very successfully. I think he has the admiration of all the teams for that. He really is a formidable individual in every sense of the word and he has created a worldwide sport pretty much single-handedly.”

And, of Ecclestone, the man, he said he had “a gifted business brain…He is intellectually very clever and level-headed. Clearly, he is very determined. He can also be very persuasive, when putting his deals together in the order in which he wanted them to stack up.”

Could anyone else have done what Bernie did?

“Probably, but he wasn’t in this part of the universe at the right time…I’ve always known it is impossible to second-guess Bernard. Like many clever businessmen, you don’t know what he is thinking.”


F1 in schools

A team of students from Australia – A1 Racing – crowned F1 in Schools World Champions recently, were given a day to remember when Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone presented his World Champions trophy to the team, a collaboration of students from Pine Rivers State High School, Brisbane and Phoenix Community College, Victoria.


The six 17-year-olds created a media scrum when Bernie showed great interest in their world-beating scale model F1 racing car and gave the A1 Racing team members advice on how to start a career in Formula 1.

Ben Marshall asked Ecclestone:

“What advice would you give students like us who want to get into the motorsport industry? How should we go about it?”

Ecclestone endorsed the F1 in Schools challenge and its benefits saying:

“All the teams know you anyway, just do what you’re doing and you’ll get there.”


A1 Racing is led by Team Manager, Beau Gieskens 15, with team mates, Jacqueline Cunningham, 16 (Manufacturing Engineer), Luke Meredith 17 (Marketing Manager), Ben Marshall 17 (Development Engineer), Sam Young 16 (Collaboration Co-ordinator), and Dylan Sexton 17 (Design Engineer).

The F1 in Schools World Finals 2013 was held over four days with 38 teams from 22 countries brought together for the biggest challenge of their life, competing for the prestigious Bernie Ecclestone World Champions trophy and coveted automotive and motorsport engineering scholarships to City University London.

The F1 in Schools programme operates in over 40 countries. Each of the National Champions and runners-up are invited to compete at the World Finals and third placed teams are invited to participate by forming a collaboration team, linking with a runners-up team from another country.

F1 in Schools tasks students to design a model compressed air powered F1 Car of the future using CAD/CAM engineering techniques. Cars are then manufactured on a CNC machine. Each team of between three and six students brings together their portfolio of work to present to a judging panel with a verbal and written presentation to support their model car.

The cars race on a 20m track with the cars covering the distance in just over one second, a speed barrier which is yet to be broken by any student team since it was set by Team FUGA from Northern Ireland at the 2007 World Finals with a time of 1.020 seconds.

Interview with Mark Dickens

Following on from my piece on Formula One art commissioned by Bernie Ecclestone, I’ve now had a bit of time to sift through the notes of my discussion with the artist, Mark Dickens.

So then Mark Dickens, how did the idea of creating F1 art come about?

MD: Three years ago I was commissioned by the Yas Marina circuit to create 10 paintings – focusing on each F1 team – that would commemorate the opening of the new circuit.

Working with the drivers, I asked them to choose pieces of poetry from Rudyard Kipling, handwriting lines from their favourite poem which would provide me with some insight about them.

Poignantly, as circumstances were to later dictate, Massa chose If (…you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs…) just before his accident.

Mr E saw my work at the unveiling, which gave him the idea of doing something similar for F1. We talked and shaped the new series together over a period of time, with me crafting a piece for every race on the calendar.

Why art?

MD: It’s a big passion of his. Bernie owns quite a big collection – a very eclectic mix of works. He buys what he likes, regardless of whether it’s a famous artist, or priceless piece. Very refreshing.

We then set about approaching all the circuit CEOs and feature the series on them, asking what hosting a race meant to them.

But I wanted to portray a different side of F1. I wanted to incorporate the world of F1 within the host city – blend the two together. Both have their own sense of dynamism. F1 is about the city; it often promotes the city. Countries take on the F1 challenge to promote the city.

How did the paintings take shape?

MD: I asked each CEO to express what F1 means to them, in a very personal way. Their words were then transferred to the paintings. My work is about portraying a more positive side of humanity. So I was looking for the beauty within F1.

I collected all the information about the circuit and the city, then I pieced it together when I got back in the studio. I probably used about 50 photographs. It’s a question of building up story layers using resin to give each canvas a sense of depth. I also used fabric taken from every city. The resin is yellow and gives it that slightly dated look. Had them all on my wall in the studio. They all had to feed off each other.

How would you describe this beauty?

MD: By the forms – of the cars, which often show a natural beauty. They are very elegant with their flows. Even the modern motorhomes, the architecture, they are quite classic designs now. Everything has a purpose, is controlled. There is a purity of design which says a lot about the teams themselves.

Formula One art: Part 2 – The images

A huge thanks to David Hayhoe for snapping the images from Mark Dickens’ F1 art exhibition the other day.

Incidentally, David compiles what I regard to be the bible for F1 stats because of its accuracy and therefore reliability for an F1 writer and analyst – the Grand Prix Data Book.

It’s a complete statistical record of the F1 World Championship since 1950 and David is now looking for a new publisher. Someone please give this wonderful man a home. He’s on

Let’s start with Australia..
































Formula One art

Can’t understand how few news outlets have picked up on this. But a special exhibition of Formula 1 inspired artwork was unveiled by artist Mark Dickens in London the other day.

Eager buyers at Mark's private viewing

Held at the Cello Factory on the South Bank, the exhibition marked the culmination of a year-long art project, commissioned by Mr F1, Bernie Ecclestone, aimed at capturing the essence of the 19-race 2011 Formula 1 World Championship from Australia to Brazil.

Through these pieces of art, Mark Dickens has showcased the beauty and dynamism of each host city. Integral to the artwork is Mark’s collaboration with the circuit CEOs and chairmen, sponsors and other dignitaries all expressing what Formula 1 means to them in their own writing. The works have all been individually created and finished by Mark, using mixed media panels combining print, paint, fabric, photographic transfers, embellishments and hand-written text set on to marine board panels.

Mark with Mr T

Mark attended each of the races throughout the 2011 F1 season, taking in first-hand all the culture, atmosphere and excitement. The works have succinctly blended the cultural and architectural beauty of each host city with the technology and unbridled passion of Formula 1 racing – a potent combination.

The works of art of each the featured host cities will be presented at each event throughout the 2012 Formula 1 season which gets underway this weekend.

Images and interview with Mark to come.

Formula One in the Middle East (Part 1)

Just a few years ago Formula One – and motorsport in general – did not have any presence in the Middle East. Now the region wants to be associated with what Formula One represents – technological excellence, innovation, the future.

Bahrain has not only built a venue that is among the very best in the world and deservedly won acclaim for its Grand Prix, but it has also built foundations for the current growth of interest and investment in Formula One across the Middle East.

Bahrain International Circuit

The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) staged its first Formula One event in April 2004, winning the FIA promoters’ trophy for that season. Commented the sport’s dealmaker extraordinaire, Formula One Management CEO Bernie Ecclestone at the time:

“It was a real pleasure to bring Formula One to the Kingdom of Bahrain, and I’m pleased to confirm that this relationship will continue into the future.”

Since its inaugural race, the Bahrain event has drawn widespread acclaim for its facilities and its impressive programme of pre-race events. In 2006, it was honoured with hosting the season opener when Melbourne, the traditional first-race venue, was busy with the Commonwealth Games. Said BIC Chairman, Talal Al Zain:

“The success of the Grand Prix has however reached even further than we dared hope when we embarked on this great adventure, and we are delighted to see both interest and involvement in the sport from fans, sponsors and other ventures around the region has blossomed from our achievements. Our new agreement with Mr Ecclestone ensures that Formula One will retain its home in the Middle East long into the next decade, and that the Kingdom will continue to host the world’s biggest sporting series.”

The news that Abu Dhabi would host a Grand Prix in 2009 on a new racing circuit on Yas Island was also greeted with much fanfare. Said Bernie Ecclestone:

“We are delighted to bring Formula One to Abu Dhabi. It was a mutual decision to have a second race in this economically fast-growing region and I have no doubts that Bahrain and Abu Dhabi can co-exist perfectly. There are five countries waiting at the moment to have a race and we have decided to come here – this should speak for itself.”

The Abu Dhabi government said it had invested $40 billion in the Yas Island development, so the cost of an annual Formula One race is relatively low by comparison given that the aim is to build up a huge tourist industry on the island. Abu Dhabi is also able to attract more local spectators to the event as it is the highest per capita city in the world, unlike Bahrain where wealth is much more restricted.

The development is all part of the plan to wean the economy off its dependence on oil. Abu Dhabi started its own airline, Etihad Airways, in 2003 in an effort to emulate its neighbour and rival Dubai as a tourist destination and spent a huge amount of money expanding the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

For Ecclestone such projects are a gift as he looks for ways to expand Formula One’s revenues in the future with a new generation of high-paying races to follow in the footsteps of Bahrain and Shanghai. These will probably replace some of the first generation events outside Europe which have not yet lived up to local expectations.

Bahrain may not originally have been a success in financial terms, with very small crowds, but the publicity generated has been good for the country. Bahrain’s plans to be a holiday destination have long lagged behind Dubai, and Abu Dhabi is now embarked on an aggressive programme to catch up and rival both.

%d bloggers like this: