This is the sport that Bernie and Max brought to prominence. It has been Bernie’s life for decades. Mr. Ecclestone has proven to all that he is an unimaginably shrewd and capable businessman. So, why has he stood by the sidelines while Max and FOTA scuttled the ship?
We can only make conjecture at this point. Bernie did make a statement this morning, “You’ll have to ask Max about it. For me, this situation is just back to the future.” Maybe referring to how he and Max gained control of the sport in the FISA/FOCA war when Bernie was standing firm with the Formula One Constructors Association. There is nothing new under heaven. Whatever the case, it appears that Bernie is trying to distance himself from the situation.
Leaving the mess on Max’s doorstep seems a little odd. It makes me wonder if Bernie has had a hand in all of this. Max cryptically suggested a few weeks ago that if the teams decided to split, they would find Bernie on the other side of the table. But that doesn’t make too much sense, given that the teams announced in their press release last night that they would like to make F1 affordable again for the fans. The highway robbery ticket prices that have been imposed to offset sanctioning fees can all be traced back to Mr. E.
It would also seem odd to me that the teams would look to Bernie to help start this new series given that they made a point of bringing up the “tens of millions of dollars” that the teams are still owed from FOM in their breakaway announcement last night. If you recall, some of the teams were potentially going to boycott a race earlier this season to try and get that money from Bernie. Reportedly, Bernie went on a profanity filled tirade about holding guns to his head. Well, it looks like the teams are tired of just making threats.
Bernie is no fool. He will have already found a way to profit from this situation. But in the short term, look for Mr. E to file lawsuits against the FIA for screwing up the commercial side of the sport by chasing off the teams. Then also you will see Bernie suing some of the teams for breach of contract. Oh what litigious joy!