Bernie on: Brexit, female drivers, Putin and Trump

What happens when Advertising Week Europe invites Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and WPP chief and F1 board member at CVC Capital, Martin Sorrell? Well, you get some candid comments, that’s what. Here’s the dialog from an interview the two did in which Advertising Week Europe covered in their piece here. Here is how they put it:

Bernie on a Brexit

He claimed he won’t be voting, but as a self-described “100 per cent outer” made his feelings on the EU referendum clear:

“I don’t see what Europe does for England. [I see] no [economic] benefit at all. Europe has become less important, full stop.

“I don’t think we need to have anything to do with Brussels.”

Bernie on Immigration

“[Immigrants] have not made a contribution.”

To this comment Sorrell, a second-generation immigrant, made an impassioned comparison to the situation in Syria with Nazi German, and questioned if it’s not important that Britain welcomes immigrants, later adding “I’m emotional about it because of my grandparents”.

A seemingly blank stare from Ecclestone led Sorrell to say, “Well, we haven’t got this off to a great start”.

Bernie on Vladimir Putin

“[Vladimir Putin] should be running Europe. We should get rid of Brussels and he should just be in charge.

“He does what he says he’s going to do and gets the job done.  people don’t understand exactly what he wants to do. He wants to put Russia back to what it was, that’s basically the most important thing for him.”

Bernie on Donald Trump

“I think he’d be a fantastic president. I’m sure he’s much more flexible than most of them. If he’s made a mistake, he’s more likely to say: ‘It was a good idea at the time’”

Bernie on gender diversity

On women getting behind the wheel in F1 races: “I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly. Women wouldn’t be taken seriously in Formula One”

But women being on the ‘management’ side of things: “Women are more competent and they don’t have massive egos.”

Of course, Sorrell was quick to distance himself for Eccleston’s unpopular sentiments, saying he “violently disagrees” on pretty much everything except the point on Putin whom he thinks world leaders treated “very badly” when it came to their lack of support for the Sochi Olympics. 

Finally, Sorrell said: “I think the reason you make these extreme statements is that you control Formula One” and that he likes to remind people of that even though he sold his stake to CVC, the sports holding company he now runs.

Well that’s surely going to go down well with the outrage mobocracy and Twiteratti. Putin, Trump and another “women can’t handle F1” comment?

You could argue that even Claire Williams, who had a very good female driver in Susie Wolff, wouldn’t put her in as one of the team’s main drivers. While many decry the notion of Ecclestone’s comments, they also heap scorn on Renault F1’s Carmen Jorda.

Ultimately there is a reason for the duality in reaction but Ecclestone knows full well there have been female drivers in F1 and some would argue that there would be more if more chances were given to young female drivers to work the ladder system, earn a super license and get placed in a team.

I’m not sure it’s as easy as that to be honest. Finding another Lewis, Alonso or Vettel in female form would be very difficult. Hell, it’s damned hard finding them in male form let alone female. But would Susie have done much worse than Gutierrez, Nasr, Ericsson or Haryanto? In testing for Williams, she wasn’t that far off the pace of the main drivers so my answer would be no. Unfortunately she does not have a super license.

Some have argued that Danica Patrick would have been a good choice and she did drive in the junior forms of open wheel in Europe but chose a different path.

As for Putin, well, Bernie likes leaders who lead, answer to few and get things done…good or bad. It’s the system and the way leaders like Putin approach the system in a dictatorial fashion that appeals to him and he also likes being controversial.

The Brexit and immigration are certainly topics that galvanize across political ideologies but now you know Mr. E’s position.

Hat Tip: Advertising Weekly Europe



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Bacon Wrapped Sushi

I sum this up in one sentence:

“There goes grandpa Bernie again.”

Paul KieferJr

More like “There goes Crazy Uncle Bernie, going off on his death wish thing. Time to administer the drugs.”

jiji the cat

Bernie says…
” I have the balls and clout to tell it like it should be, the rest of you are emasculated politically correct girls that belong in wet T shirts. “


Young Bernie is long gone. Old Bernie is long overdue for a tombstone. He’s the Star Wars equivalent of Darth Vader.


The assumption seems to be that Bernie is ‘like this’ because he’s old, but given how Bernie built F1 over decades, and some of the ruthless things that have happened over that time – I suspect this is just Bernie, the way he has always been. Social media has just given us more access to his comments and actions, if this is representative of his views – can you imagine what it has been like for teams, race organisers, FIA, or anyone else to deal with Bernie?
We shouldn’t be surprised that F1 is chaotic

Tom Firth

Bernie says controversial stuff… world reacts. Nothing new. However on the comment of drivers who happen to be female, I don’t think it helps that whenever someone brings up the topic, the instant reaction is to think of Susie Wolff and Danica Patrick, a driver who has achieved no results of significance since the 2004 Formula Renault UK season and another driver who is with the greatest respect is closer to the end of her racing career than the start, having started car racing in 1998. Instead look at the upcoming drivers, take German driver Sophia Flörsch for example, who… Read more »

Negative Camber

Susie is not a big stretch for anyone to mention, she’s the last women to drive a current F1 car so I don’t think that’s being instant reaction of sorts. Danica is the most famous and people naturally gravitate to her for that reason.

There are several drivers out there, as you suggest, that are worthy of consideration though.

Tom Firth

Yeah ok I accept those points but I do think we will see a female compete full time in the next few years competitively in F1, on merit equal to that of the peers. What I think will be prohibitive, if anything is will be the same as any young driver, which is a) A lack of seats and B) The cost of entering F1 in the current era. Not a lack of talent, compared to peers or been in the wrong place at the wrong stage in a career, to make a leap to F1. Anyway on Bernie’s other… Read more »


Seems to me that Bernie is the world’s preeminent expert on Formula 1 operations. But his expertise kinda’ falters on politically-correct social issues. Good on him.

charlie white

If someone gave me a blind quiz on Bernie-esque replies to these questions, I think I would had got all of them right. Nothing here surprises me.


Ditto. It’s “think of the most inflammatory answers possible to social questions, and then incite the interviewer, whom you dislike as a patsy.”


Eww that scaley old face made me throw up in my throat…

Peter Riva

Seems like senility and stupidity are taking turns with Bernie these days. Anyone who thinks “I think he’d be a fantastic president. I’m sure he’s much more
flexible than most of them. If he’s made a mistake, he’s more likely to
say: ‘It was a good idea at the time’” has not been listening to Donald saying the same lies and insults over an over like a schoolyard bully. Of course, then perhaps Bernie recognized one of his own.

My Friendly Atheist disqus acc

You left out his biggest crime against Marketing 101. How hard is it NOT to say good things about Hitler?! Really, basic marking there… just don’t say anything good about Hitler. I mean do we really need to sit Bernie down in front of a white board and make him write, Marketing=Don’t say good things about Hitler. But the problem is well we all know Bernie says stupid crap, It’s the people who don’t follow the sport that we all would like to start following the sport that crap like this turns them off to the sport. Example, backing Trump… Read more »


I wouldn’t even say that us anoraks brush it off.

I’m done defending Bernie. For all the good he’s done the sport, he’s done just as much harm at this point. On the graph of his contributions to F1, yesterday he was back at zero, today he’s running a deficit.

The Captain

It’s junk like this that helps make getting new fans into the sport so damn hard. How you have to explain F1 to your friends Friend: “Is that like NASAR?” You: “No!” “Indycar then?” “Well kinda, not really. No. It’s way better.” “Oh it’s the European one, that’s owned by Putin?” “No! They have one race in Russia but Putin has nothing to do with it. One of the guys who runs it is a bit of and old crazy and says stupid shit.” “You mean that Nazi guy?” “No! That guy ran the FIA for a while. But he… Read more »


Post of the week.


Sunova…that was so entertaining. Camber’s got a soft spot for Bernie though. I don’t know if he’ll give it to you. You won in my book.


A soft spot?, a bit like a peat bog where he would sink without trace in a couple of minutes?


Well agreed but it takes two – Bernie says offensive things because he’s desperate for attention. If the press would pass on the opportunity for articles like this one he’d be saying these things to himself, and stop saying them.


It is a curious thing that we are temporarily once again, more concerned about what Bernie says, than the quality of racing in Formula1. Getting upset about what Bernie says is getting to be an industry, and has always been a distraction from the sport. The sport should be about the sport. The sport is not solely about the sporting activities of those we agree with. We start ostracizing those that vary from the narrative, and we will find ourselves without a sport. There is supposedly an “Old English Proverb” that says “too much agreement spoils a good chat.” Disagreements… Read more »

Fred Talmadge

What’s this love for Putin? Does he make the trains run on time? Or is that he pays BE on time for Sochi? Or more likely if you say any thing bad about him he has you banished.


I think it’s just what happens when a desperate old man craves attention and can only get it anymore by saying controversial things. You say Tom Hanks is nice no one’s going to put it in the paper.