Tag Archives: bernie

Bernie Ecclestone blasted by Ferrari chief over Sebastian Vettel title row

Bernie's too old! Ferrari chief blasts Ecclestone with latest barb in Vettel title row



11:18 GMT, 3 December 2012

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has launched an astonishing attack on Bernie Ecclestone, questioning whether the 82-year-old is too old run Formula One.

Di Montezemolo’s outspoken remarks come in the wake of Ecclestone’s description of Ferrari’s request for clarification from the FIA over an overtaking move by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in the season finale in Brazil as ‘a complete joke’.

Di Montezemolo hit back at Ecclestone’s broadside regarding Ferrari’s concerns over the legality Vettel’s move in the race which saw him beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to the world title by just three points.

Supremo: F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone with actor Owen Wilson in Brazil

Supremo: F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone with actor Owen Wilson in Brazil

Stand by your man: Luca di Montezemolo (centre) with Fernando Alonso (right)

Stand by your man: Luca di Montezemolo (centre) with Fernando Alonso (right)

He said: ‘Ecclestone You have to show respect for your elders, especially when they get to that stage in which they are no longer in control of what they say. Old age is clearly incompatible with certain roles and responsibilities.’

Ecclestone is sure to take an extremely dim view of Di Montezemolo’s comments given, despite mounting legal concerns, the veteran Formula One supremo is adamant he has no intention of stepping aside.

Martin Whitmarsh dismisses Bernie Ecclestone"s plans for F1 budget cap

Back off, Bernie! McLaren dismiss Ecclestone's plans for 155m F1 budget cap



12:02 GMT, 30 October 2012

Bernie Ecclestone’s latest budget cap idea for the Formula One teams has been described as 'unrealistic' by McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

Ecclestone confirmed over the weekend in India he had proposed to the 12 teams the possibility of a cap of 250million US dollars (155m) which would include all costs, including driver salaries.

The notion of reducing exorbitant costs in F1 has long been mooted, notably since the end of 2009 after three major manufacturers in BMW, Toyota and Honda had pulled out of the sport in the space of a year.

The long and the short of it: Ecclestone has plans to shake-up F1

The long and the short of it: Ecclestone has plans to shake-up F1

Bernie's proposals
155million budgetFigure applies across all 12 teamsMust cover all costsINCLUDES driver salaries

The resource restriction agreement (RRA) has since been on the table, but has faced strong opposition from Red Bull, in particular, and Toro Rosso.

Frustrated at the lack of progress, Ecclestone has now proposed the kind of budget cap figure under which every team could comfortably operate.
It is understood, for instance, Red Bull’s total spend last year en route to winning both championships was 168m.

But Whitmarsh believes it is flawed as he said: 'It sounds like quite a lot of money, so I don't know how much it is going to help many teams.

'The philosophy on controlling costs in Formula One is important to our sport and we all agree on that, although there are different opinions as to how that is best achieved.

'Bernie wants one that controls driver salaries and all those kind of things.

'What we should be trying to do is ensuring we are spending money in the appropriate places and controlling excessive spend in development.

'Personally, I think it’s a little unrealistic to have a global budget cap because it becomes even more difficult to pin down and to know everyone is comfortably operating within it.'

Making a stand: Whitmarsh has talked down Ecclestone's plans

Making a stand: Whitmarsh has talked down Ecclestone's plans

For Whitmarsh, the RRA pioneered by McLaren, he feels is a more workable solution.

'The budget cap from Bernie has the elegance that you can describe it quickly, but it is very difficult to find out where the money is and control it,' said Whitmarsh.

'The resource restriction agreement asks: How much money do you spend externally and how many people do you have It’s difficult to hide either of those.

'They’re also the core elements of a budget cap, but then it goes on to wind tunnel hours, CFD (computational fluid dynamics) etcetera, and we should be free to pay drivers whatever we want to pay them.

'What we should be doing is finding the easy, clear, measurable, definable elements of spend and control those.

Top boy: Vettel leads the F1 drivers' championship

Top boy: Vettel leads the F1 drivers' championship

'They (the RRA and budget cap) are both trying to do the same thing. They're not against each other. They’re just a different philosophy.'

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier, however, can see the benefits of Ecclestone's idea, but believes further discussion is required.

'Bernie is very serious,' said Boullier. 'The budget cap is one of the best ways to have control over useless expenditure and to end the competitive war.

'Clearly, this is a good start, that Formula One starts to understand and to put in place a budget cap, and I can back up Bernie’s idea.

'You need to do it in a clever way and build it up over the years, and it’s something that could happen because it’s coming from the right authority.'

Asked whether it was a better idea than the RRA, Boullier added: 'I don’t know yet.

'We have been working for years on the RRA, and we have a better understanding of what we could achieve with that. It’s a complex system.

'The idea of a budget cap from Bernie is quite new and we just need to look at it a bit more.'

Bernie Ecclestone: I might quit Formula One… when I"m 85!

I might quit… when I'm 85! Ecclestone hints at finally ending role as F1 supremo



10:35 GMT, 27 October 2012

Chief: Bernie Ecclestone walks in the paddock before qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix

Chief: Bernie Ecclestone walks in the paddock before qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix

Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to remain Formula One chief for as long as he feels he can deliver – and hinted he could stay in the role for another three years.

The announcement in May that F1 was to float on the Singapore stock exchange prompted speculation over the future of the Englishman, who has been a key figure in the sport for more than three decades and took up the top job 17 years ago.

But Ecclestone, who turns 82 on Sunday, has no plans to stand down just yet.

'Eventually I'm going to go, one way or another,' he told BBC Sport.

'But as long as I feel I can deliver, and the shareholders are happy for that to happen, I will stay. When I can't I'll give them plenty of notice.'

He continued: 'When we decided we're going to get an IPO (initial public offering), the obvious thing was “well, what's going to happen about Bernie”

Powerbroker: Ecclestone has been at the top of F1 for three decades

Powerbroker: Ecclestone has been at the top of F1 for three decades

'So we put in the prospectus that we're going to find a head-hunter to try and find someone. That was a couple of years ago.

'But as long as I feel I can deliver – and they're happy for that to happen – I will stay.

'I will tell (F1 owners) CVC exactly if I'm going to turn it in when I'm 85 or something like that, which will give them plenty of notice.'

Bernie Ecclestone"s facing 300million court action over alleged bribery

Bernie's bit of bother at the bank: F1 supremo facing 300m bill

Jonathan McEvoy


00:29 GMT, 26 October 2012



00:29 GMT, 26 October 2012

Bernie Ecclestone finished his game of backgammon before rejecting a request to hand over 300million.

That demand is the latest – and most lurid – twist in the saga that places serious doubt over Ecclestone's position as Formula One's overlord.

The request comes from German state-owned bank BayernLB for the amount they believe they lost when Ecclestone allegedly bribed one of their former employees, Gerhard Gribkowsky, into selling their stake to CVC, the company Ecclestone works for, at an artifically low price in 2005.

Time's up: Eccelstone's spell at the helm of F1 could be coming to an end

Time's up: Eccelstone's spell at the helm of F1 could be coming to an end

One F1 powerbroker told Sportsmail it would ‘not be easy’ for Ecclestone to remain in post.

But the man in question was playing his favourite board game with his Austrian chef as news from Germany broke here ahead of Sunday's Indian Grand Prix, a race that coincides with Ecclestone's 82nd birthday.

He said BayernLB were blackmailing him and typically refused to budge, insisting they would have to go to court to get their money.

He said: 'They asked our lawyers in Germany for the money. They said, “Could we have 400m back”

'I didn't respond. There’s no point, is there They will sue in England. If they win, they get paid. If they lose, it will just cost them. That's all.'

It is a tangled story that has already seen Gribkowsky jailed for eight-and-a-half years in June for admitting he accepted 27m from Ecclestone to sell the shares for a deflated price of 470m. Ecclestone, whose role is being investigated in Germany, denies the accusation.

Connected: There have been claims over Ecclestone's deal to buy CVC

Connected: There have been claims over Ecclestone's deal to buy CVC

The bank have seen the prosecution files
on Ecclestone, prompting them to ask for the money they seemingly
missed out on. The Wall Street Journal quotes industry insiders valuing
the business at more than 1.2billion. The question is whether
Ecclestone can ride out the storm.

He has always been a rule unto himself, but the patience of F1's owners, the private equity firm CVC, is being tested to the limit. Ecclestone, who retains shares in F1, is chief executive of CVCs grand prix business. They are known to be thinking of life beyond his highly personalised control, and that process would accelerate if events in Germany turn damagingly against him.

'There's nothing to worry about,' said Ecclstone. 'I'm aggravated with the nonsense I'm being put through for all this. I sold the bloody shares for the bank. It was something they couldn’t sell. They had six people look at them and wouldn't buy. I got them out of trouble and now I’m in trouble. Life is like that sometimes.'

Back to business: Bernie is in India for Sunday's GP

Back to business: Bernie is in India for Sunday's GP

While he was dismissing the idea of jail in Germany, the affairs of another rich man, the Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, solved the crisis that was the talk of the Delhi paddock.

Mallya is a flamboyant character who owns Kingfisher airlines and is team principal of Force India. But as of yesterday morning he owed 35m to the national airport authority. His 16-strong fleet was grounded.

By mid-afternoon, he had bought peace. His staff, who had threatened to protest outside the track after receiving bouncing cheques for seven months, went back to work. The government’s indication that his own plane would be impounded if he landed in India had receded.

Is the financial turbulence a worry for Paul di Resta, the British driver who is expected to sign on to stay at Force India next season

'I'm still getting paid,' he said, an astonishing statement given that the team's co-owners Sahara have been ordered by India's supreme court to pay back nearly 3bn to investors. 'Everything here is fine.'

Ecclestone, you will be unsurprised to learn, won the backgammon. A game with bigger stakes goes on.

F1 Grand Prix of America forced back until 2014

F1 race past Manhattan skyline forced back a year as Bernie runs out of patience



09:03 GMT, 19 October 2012

Next year's inaugural Grand Prix of America in New Jersey will be postponed to 2014 because local organisers will not be ready in time, admits Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

'They've run out of time,' said the 81-year-old. 'There's all sorts of things… and they didn't quite think it all through. They've had a wake-up call but the wake-up call came too late.'

The waterfront race, with New York's Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, had been pencilled in for June 16 next year with an asterisk against it.

Dream setting: The race was due to take in views of the New York skyline

Dream setting: The race was due to take in views of the New York skyline

F1: Grand Prix of America under threat, says Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie fires warning to New Jersey race as F1 chief claims circuit doesn't hold a contract



18:17 GMT, 25 September 2012

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has again warned the Grand Prix of America is under threat.

Just under four months ago Ecclestone raised doubts as to whether the race in New Jersey, with the Manhattan skyline serving as a backdrop, would take place.

Ecclestone stated then the organisers were late with payments and were attempting to resolve issues internally regarding funds.

Making his point: The F1 supremo has warned the Grand Prix of America is under threat

Making his point: The F1 supremo has warned the Grand Prix of America is under threat

Phil Duncan F1 blog

A further complication arose in August when Tom Cotter, serving as president of the race organisers, resigned from a post he had only occupied for a few months.

Last week, with the release of the 2013 provisional calendar, the GP of America was handed a date of June 16, a week on from the event in Canada, but asterisked as it remains subject to confirmation.

With the calendar due to be finalised at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on Friday, at this stage the race is poised to be axed.

Ecclestone said: 'The organisers have not complied with the terms and conditions of the contract, which is now gone anyway. They don't have a contract.'

The door is, however, still ajar for promoter Leo Hindery Jr ahead of the WMSC meeting, but the clock is ticking.

Speaking to The Guardian, Ecclestone added: 'We are pretty close to the final deadline. We have a world council meeting coming up.

'I think if somebody got behind them it could happen in 2013 because they have come a long way with the circuit.'

Sid Watkins hailed by Bernie Ecclestone

Irreplaceable! Ecclestone hails late Watkins for his amazing F1 contribution



17:38 GMT, 14 September 2012

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hailed Sid Watkins as 'irreplaceable' following his death on Wednesday.

Watkins, the FIA medical delegate and race doctor for 26 years from 1978 through to 2004 after being appointed by Ecclestone, passed away after a short illness at the age of 84.

Watkins helped pioneer safety in motor sport, with his work saving the lives of a number of drivers following an accident, as well as ensuring many others avoided serious injuries.

Hailed: Sid Watkins (right) has received praise from all quarters

Hailed: Sid Watkins (right) has received praise from all quarters

'I am pretty sure he is irreplaceable. You only meet somebody of his calibre once in your lifetime,' said Ecclestone of close friend Watkins.

'What Sid did in the way of safety in Formula One was incredible. He gave his whole life to that cause, to make sure it could be as safe as it possibly could be.

'We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his caring and commitment.'

Speaking to formula1.com on the measures Watkins implemented, Ecclestone added: 'When I invited him to join Formula One as its official doctor part way through the 1978 season, we discussed many aspects of safety and medical issues.

'We agreed we needed a proper hospital at the track in the form of a fully equipped medical centre to stabilise injured drivers with immediate treatment, and a helicopter to transport them subsequently to specialist facilities, and that the helicopter pad had to be as close to that trackside hospital as possible.

Irreplaceable: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (right) says the sport will miss Watkins

Irreplaceable: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone (right) says the sport will miss Watkins

'Sid carried all of those things through, and many more. After the accidents to Jochen Rindt and then Ronnie Peterson, I suggested he should have a medical intervention car and he should take responsibility for taking drivers into medical care.

'We always talked things through and worked together, and he then took care of all the medical things which I knew nothing about.'

Sir Jackie Stewart has called for a permanent memorial in Watkins' honour 'to recognise his contribution to motor sport, particularly Formula One'.

French government want F1 return at Magny-Cours

French government ramp up bid to host grand prix at Magny-Cours



09:32 GMT, 20 July 2012

The French government have asked the country's motorsport federation to look into the possibility of holding a Formula One Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.

The French Federation (FFSA) revealed on Friday that Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron had asked for a report on the technical, financial and legal conditions that would allow a grand prix to be organised at Magny-Cours or Le Castellet.

Magny-Cours, a circuit in the heart of rural France, fell out of favour with sponsors and Formula One authorities due to its remoteness and lack of nearby hotels. It last hosted a grand prix in 2008.

French fancy: Magny-Cours haven't hosted a grand prix since 2008

French fancy: Magny-Cours haven't hosted a grand prix since 2008

Le Castellet, a track in the south of France owned by a family trust set up by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, was the favoured choice of the previous government and terms were agreed earlier this year before the change of administration.

The FFSA said it had contacted Formula One's commercial rights holder and had been assured that there was a full agreement for a return to the calendar at one of the two circuits.

That could be either permanently or an an alternate basis, sharing with another race such as Belgium's Spa.

Germany's two races already alternate, although there is now uncertainty over the Nuerburgring's future with that circuit set to file for insolvency.

F1 Bernie Ecclestone is still motorsport"s Mr Big

He's 81 and 5ft 3in but Ecclestone is still motorsport's Mr Big



22:34 GMT, 6 July 2012

There is now a buzzer on the wall next to the door at the bottom of the dark-glass tower near Hyde Park that is Bernie Ecclestone's mint. My identity established, the door opens and I walk down a corridor to a desk.

I ask to speak to Mr Ecclestone. He is known as Bernie around the globe, but that is not how he is referred to in his office. I am Mr McEvoy to them in this James Bond-style world.

Serious business: Ecclestone has been at the forefront of Formula One for more than 30 years

Serious business: Ecclestone has been at the forefront of Formula One for more than 30 years

They lead me into a meeting room. A light wood table surrounded by racing car seats sits in the middle. A fireman's helmet, an artwork depicting a million dollars piled high, a certificate honouring Mr Ecclestone's 2008 honorary.

Doctor of Science degree from Imperial College, a striking, purple-dominated modern painting and a picture of him and Niki Lauda at Monaco in perhaps the Seventies, inscribed by Lauda, the thrice champion of the world, with the words: 'A lot of people are tall. Only few have a big heart. You are one of them. You make us look small.'

The door opens and Bernard Charles Ecclestone, 81, 5ft 3in tall, wearing a well-pressed open-neck white shirt, mop-haired, squinting slightly behind those John Lennon glasses, comes in.

'Get out of here,' he says. 'The builders are working outside the window. Let's go next door. They're nice chaps and they're only doing their jobs, but the noise is a problem.'

He grasps my hand as if to shake it, but almost pulls me into the corridor and ushers me through another door a few feet away.

Fabiana Flosi with Bernie Ecclestone

Ecclestone and fiancee Fabiana Flosi

Before talking Margaret Thatcher, his unsuitability for a German prison cell, his 'lavish' wedding plans, his disapproval of daughter Tamara's television parade of wealth, his plans for a genuine grand prix in London and, would you credit it, contemplation for the first time that Formula One is planning for a future without him, why the buzzer

'We had a new girl on the switchboard,' he says, typically sotto voce. 'She let these blokes in wearing helmets. You have been here a few times. You couldn't find the lift, could you No. They walked straight up to the lift and up to the fourth floor. They looked around the floor.

'They went down into the basement, which is bizarre because it doesn't say basement. They opened up the back door, which has locks all over it. We saw it on CCTV and went down to have a look. They said they were supposed to be looking for a laptop. We asked who their boss was. They wouldn't say anything. I said we'd better call the police.

'The police looked at the images. One of
the guys was out on licence. The police said we have to be a bit more
secure than before, so we got that buzzer.'

Havoc: The wet track caused chaos at Silverstone

Taking a spin: Wet weather caused havoc on first day of British Grand Prix

It was in November 2010 that Ecclestone was mugged outside this very building as he and his then Brazilian girlfriend, now his 35-year-old fiance, Fabiana Flosi, went out. Was this intrusion connected No, he says, the police had already locked up the culprits who kicked and punched him in one of around 25 such cases in the area that the Met would rather we did not read about.

Ecclestone is spry. He sleeps
six-and-a-half hours a night and works ferociously hard when he is
awake. But despite that, he knows that CVC, the private equity firm who
own Formula One, are pondering the long term. Ecclestone's boss, since
selling the sport's commercial rights to CVC and running the business as
its chief executive, is Donald Mackenzie.

'Donald is happy about me doing what I
do,' says Ecclestone. 'But what to do when I'm gone is a concern for
him. If I'm dead or if I run away, he'll obviously need to sort out some
kind of succession.

told him that he should run it in a different way. If I wasn't here it
wouldn't be one person running things but more like a few people.'

So when will Ecclestone stop 'Past
100, I'm definitely out. I don't know who should do it – honestly
there's nobody I despise enough that I would wish this on them.'

How is his health, following a triple coronary bypass in 1999 'Fine.
No problems.' Does he have a regular health check 'Thanks for reminding
me. I should have gone last year. I go to a place in Austria. The days
of a doctor feeling your pulse are over. They put you in a tube and the
machine does the rest.'

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa greets Bernie Ecclestone before the Bahrain Grand Prix

Money matters: Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa and Bernie Ecclestone before the Bahrain Grand Prix

Conversation turns to the London
Grand Prix. Two schemes have materialised: one around the Olympic
Stadium, which is unlikely to win approval from the London Legacy
Development Corporation, and a fanciful notion attached to a
publicity-hungry bank whose name we shall not mention more than we have

Ecclestone: 'A long
time ago we really looked at it properly with the old mayor and a lot of
people from the City. I said, “I need you guys to put some money in
because it will obviously be bringing a lot of money in”. They did
eventually decide they could, possibly, find 3million – perhaps. I said
with the number of meetings we'd need to have it wouldn't pay for the
mineral water so we need to get serious, which we never did.

'What's been put to me more recently is something around the Olympic
area. These people, (the bidders, Intelligent Transport Solutions Ltd
from Wanstead, east London), wanted my permission to go with a race
proposal. It looks a bit complicated. Someone is going to take over the
site and they probably won't want F1 charging through there.

Bernie Ecclestone

'Then this other thing came up, which was a Santander publicity stunt. They devised a computer-generated London race. They showed me their idea two or three months ago and said, “It looks good. It looks exciting. It's good publicity for the British Grand Prix and Santander”.

'I said you're bloody right it is. And before I knew it I was apparently the one who was behind it. I didn't know about it to be honest, but I accepted the credit.

'I did say – not in relation to that one – that if we could have a race in London, we would be prepared to pay 35m to make it happen.

'I will try to resurrect what we originally discussed with the sports minister and the old mayor, er, er, what's his name, Mr Ken Livingstone, some years ago. I will try to get that back on track.'

Those plans are in Formula One Management's archives at Biggin Hill and Ecclestone is in the process of digging them out. He will talk to Boris Johnson about the idea.

'Whatever we do in London, it won't harm Silverstone,' he says.

'They have done the work they needed to do. It took them 20-odd years
to get round to it but everything's fine now. When I got them out of
financial trouble with the people they were involved with about 10 years
ago, they had enough money to have done what they needed to do, but
they didn't. Now they have and it's great. Super.'

Ecclestone is relaxed, his humour sardonic. He laughs with a smile
rather than a roar. You would little know from his demeanour that he is
connected to a bribery case in Germany that has seen a former banker
called Gerhard Gribkowsky jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

Gribkowsky, who was the chief risk
officer at BayernLB, was accused of accepting $44m (now 28m) from
Ecclestone as a bribe to undervalue Formula One's shares when the
business was sold to CVC in 2006. Ecclestone denies this, saying that
he gave Gribkowsky the money because the German had threatened to go to
HM Revenue & Customs with 'false evidence' claiming that Ecclestone
was more involved in the running of his family trust, Bambini Holdings,
than he should have been.

Gribkowsky confessed last month to tax evasion, breach of trust towards
his former employer and being in receipt of corrupt payments.

So will Ecclestone be charged Will he go to jail 'No. I don't think I'd like it, so why would I go' he smiles.

'Seriously, it's nothing to do with
us. My lawyers say we shouldn't discuss it. In the end I travelled over
to be a witness at the trial. There were 41 other witnesses and the guy
has been dealt with. They haven't finished with him yet because he's

'I haven't done
anything wrong. Absolutely. No, I didn't bribe anybody. I've told them I
would willingly go there to be a witness again. Three times I've been
purely to help already.'

He would rather talk about those Formula One pioneers Colin Chapman and
Enzo Ferrari, always referred to by him as Mr Ferrari. They help inform
how Ecclestone, who has built the sport into his own billion dollar
empire over more than 30 years – having been a team owner before – acts
in a life that mixes sport and business.

Former BayernLB chief risk officer Gerhard Gribkowsky (L) arrives guarded by a German police officer

Connection: Former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky (left)

He reveals that the 2013-2020 Concorde Agreement, the contract that binds the teams, Ecclestone's commercial rights holders and the governing FIA to the sport, is agreed in all its commercial elements. Even Mercedes, who had threatened to walk out on Formula One if they did not receive a larger slice of money, are on side.

'Total agreement,' he confirms. 'We are just talking to the lawyers -“why have you used this word, that word”. Typical lawyers but everything's fine. Commercially it's done.

'Now what we've got to do is look at how the technical regulations are made. It should be the teams, though not all the teams, who do that. They are the people who have to come up with the money, not the FIA. It would be the established teams who are here to stay – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and probably Williams as old timers – deciding what to do.'

For all the high-rolling Ecclestone
represents – he is 'ready to push the button' on a stock market
floatation of Formula One 'when the markets are right' – he lives an
unflashy life.

Go to
dinner with him and he will order an omelette. He might sip at the wine
but he really prefers a cool beer to relax at home, his shoes kicked

Bernie and daughter Tamara

Bernie and daughter Tamara

That life is now shared with Flosi, whom he first met at the Brazilian Grand Prix. They are engaged, so, surely, a billionaire's glitzy wedding awaits. 'We don't have a date for it,' he says. 'Will it be lavish I've been trying to find a venue – and I've been looking everywhere, not just London – that is a nice restaurant, which doesn't have too many people in it, for a table for two. It will be a miniscule wedding.'

Yet he adds: 'I got in trouble with my ex (Slavica) and she was quite right. We got married in a register office. I had to ring Max (Mosley) to get his secretary to be a witness. And then I went straight back to the office. Not very romantic. No photographs. And I feel sorry for her.'

His daughters, who remain fiercely loyal to their mother but are at least partly reconciled to Flosi's arrival, are not so reticent with displays of wealth. Petra married in a 5m extravaganza of live music and fireworks in a castle.

'It was a big party that happened to have a wedding,' says Ecclestone. 'I don't like those sort of parties. She wanted it that way. It was what her mum wanted to achieve after I was a miserable b*****d about our wedding. I was happy for them both.

'I had to do something at the time that upset me. I had to give her away. I'd rather have sold her. It all went very well.

'My relations with the girls are super, super. It is difficult for them to accept a new woman in my life while their mother is still there. I'm glad they are close to her. She can point them in the right direction.'

Speaking of which, what did Ecclestone make of his older daughter Tamara starring in Channel 5's Billion $$ Girl, a programme that chronicled the 'naked truth about the life of the billionaire heiress and socialite'.

'I watched half of one of the programmes and turned it off. I thought it was a totally unnecessary thing to do. And I told her that at the time. It is good for people watching but not for her. That was my opinion. She was happy because she got a lot of publicity.

'Actually, she does an enormous amount of charity work. We don't talk about that. She is behind the money we raise for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The young lady I am with ran the marathon because of it and raised thousands.'

How much has he donated to good work over the years Millions 'Sure. Over a long time. We have built schools and hospitals in Brazil.' So is he politically aware Does he vote 'No, no.' Never 'No. I find the right guy usually comes out on top.

'Actually, I did vote for Boris. He's doing a good job. I liked Margaret Thatcher, too. Leaders like her and Churchill – the real greats – got things done. They really ran the country. The buck stopped there. Now there are too many compromises.'

It is his style. A usually benign dictatorship, you might say.

His enjoyment is derived from 'getting the job done in the right way'. He has his walkie-talkie with him at Silverstone, micro and macro managing at the same time.

'I tell you something. This is what I like more than anything at the moment: you can't tell who's going to win any race. It could be four or five drivers at Silverstone. Probably Seb (Vettel). It would be nice to see him win. Or Michael (Schumacher). He is my hero – my favourite of the last decade.

'When I play Seb at backgammon he gets so aggravated when he loses. I tell him he should not get so angry because he loses most of the time.' That's Bernie Ecclestone. Still winning at 81.

F1 British Grand Prix facts and figures

24 drivers, 52 laps, 300,000 fans and 14 people to cut the grass… British Grand Prix by numbers



08:05 GMT, 3 July 2012

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone,
now resplendent with its new pit and paddock complex that was opened
ahead of last year's race, has firmly established itself as one of the
leading events on the Formula One calendar.

The Northamptonshire circuit can
claim to be a world-class venue, a far cry from a few years ago when F1
supremo Bernie Ecclestone derided its tawdry nature and suggested it no
longer deserved its place on the sport's stage.

Sparkling: Fernando Alonso celebrates winning the 2011 British Grand Prix

Sparkling: Fernando Alonso celebrates winning the 2011 British Grand Prix

Millions of pounds have since been invested in all areas of the venue – track, facilities, grandstands, traffic management – to ensure Silverstone can claim to be amongst the best.

Here, we bring you all the facts and figures you need to know about Silverstone and the forthcoming British Grand Prix.

* The circuit hosted its first RAC International Grand Prix in 1948, and was the venue for the first-ever round of the Formula One World Championship in 1950.

* This year's race will be the 46th British Grand Prix, as part of the Formula One World Championship, to be held at Silverstone.

* 315,000 people attended last year's race – 88,000 on Friday, 105,000 on Saturday and 122,000 on Sunday. It is expected that total figure will be topped this year.

British Grand Prix

* Silverstone increased the capacity for this year, adding two new grandstands totalling 3,500 seats.

* Over 28,000 fans are expected to camp at this year's event, with 16,000 in the official Silverstone campsite

* The drivers will complete 52 laps of the 3.66 miles (5.890km) circuit for a total of 190.32 miles (306.290km) during the race.

* The lap record of one minute 30.874secs was set by Fernando Alonso in 2010, with an average speed of 145.01mph (233.373kph).

* Maggots is still the fastest corner, with F1 cars taking the bend at speeds of approximately 188mph and at 4.5g.

* For the fans there are 24 giant screens dotted around the track.

Big fan: Prince Harry (right) with British McLaren drivers Jenson Button (left), Lewis Hamilton (2nd right) and former F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart (2nd left) at Silverstone

Big fan: Prince Harry (right) with British McLaren drivers Jenson Button (left), Lewis Hamilton (2nd right) and former F1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart (2nd left) at Silverstone

* There will be over 860 volunteer marshals on duty, which includes 405 spectator marshals, 388 incident marshals and 70 flag marshals. There are also breakdown and rescue personnel, start-line marshals, incident officers and pit marshals.

* The medical set-up at Silverstone is one of the best at any circuit in the world. Over the weekend, Philips Healthcare will be providing 500,000 worth of medical equipment and training medics to use the very latest life-saving systems

* Over the course of the three days a team of 110 medical staff will be on hand, including 36 doctors, 24 paramedics, eight nurses, a radiographer and an ultrasonographer.

* Fourteen people are employed to cut the grass at Silverstone, as well as 15 painters to keep the place looking smart.

* The amount of television cable laid out around Silverstone for the race would stretch from Dover to Calais and back.

Flash: More than 50m has been spent upgrading Silverstone

Flash: More than 50m has been spent upgrading Silverstone

* An estimated 20,000 bottles of mineral water, 10,000 bottles of wine, and 6,000 bottles of champagne will be consumed during the weekend, with approximately 13,340 pieces of cake eaten.

* Approximately 50,000 hot drinks will be purchased from the fast food stalls on Sunday, and 10,000 litres of tomato sauce will be used.

* If all of the sausages eaten over the weekend were to be lined up, they would measure 1.08 miles, the equivalent of a lap around Silverstone's Stowe circuit

* The amount of chef days worked during the build-up to, and over the weekend of the race totals 648 days.

* Total expenditure of 54million is directly attributable to the hosting of the race, of which around 51 million is spent within a 60-mile radius of the Silverstone circuit.

* In excess of 9,000 hotel bed nights are generated across Northamptonshire as a result of the race.