Was Formula One always this exciting off-track? Just as you thought it couldn’t get any more engrossing, along comes teflon-coated commercial F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone with another clanger that defies all expectations.
This time, the diminutive hair-extended one has picked on a victim his own size, with unpredictable results for the future. The target being none other than Sir Martin Sorrell, head of the world’s largest marketing services group, who happens in his spare time to act as a director of CVC, the F1 operating company ‘run’ by Bernie.
Sorrell, a prominent Jewish businessman, has been watching with increasing dismay Bernie’s antics, which rival in amusement those of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad, you may recall, reckons the Holocaust never happened, so it’s OK to nuke Israel. Bernie reckons Hitler is misunderstood. After all, he had a way of “getting things done” (we’re not entirely sure whether this revisionist theory applies to the Final Solution).
Matters reached boiling point when Bernie opined that his disgraced poker-playing chum, Flavio Briatore, had been excessively punished for staging a little car-crash in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix. “Out of touch with reality” was Sorrell’s exasperated rebuke.
Bernie then gave Sorrell a comprehensive public character reference, the gist of which was that he was a minor player in F1, didn’t really know what he was talking about, and was not very bright anyway. Oh, and because he’s a Jew, he could never forgive Ecclestone for his unconventional views on Hitler.
The corker is that this diatribe was unleashed just days before Sorrell, according to Bernie, had invited him round to dinner to sort things out.
Except that he hadn’t. Apparently, it was Bernie who took the initiative a few weeks back, when he phoned up Sorrell to “bury the hatchet” and suggested dinner. More revisionist history on Bernie’s part, it seems. And certainly a funny way to bury the hatchet.
How much more of this can CVC’s real boss, Don Mackenzie, take?