Ecclestone: ‘I won’t let it happen’

Max & Bernie have launched in to their good cop, bad cop routine this week with Bernie Ecclestone suggesting he will not let Max destroy Ferrari. This comes on the heels of Max’s response to Luca di Montezemolo’s concern over Max’s radical budget cap regulations for 2010 in which he said that F1 can survive without Ferrari. Ecclestone told the Times:

“The trouble with Max is he’s not capable, like in the past, of wrapping things up nicely with a pink ribbon and things. He wants to put it in an old cardboard box and tie it with string,” Ecclestone said.

The billionaire impresario said that he would not allow Mosley to “destroy” Di Montezemolo, as some at Ferrari believe he is intent on doing.

“I won’t let it happen,” he said.

“The trouble with Luca,” he said of the flamboyant Ferrari president, who has engaged in a war of words with Mosley in correspondence that was subsequently leaked to the press, “is that you shouldn’t let Max ever be in a position where he can start a debate or an argument. He’s reasonably clever and you won’t win. Even if you do win, it’s like you being in the audience and me being there with the microphone. You say something smart and I don’t give you the microphone — it’s as easy as that.”

I am sure I am not the first to suggest this but here may be a bit of a news story in and of itself; F1 can survive without Max or Bernie. Just saying…

Does Ferrari need saving from Max? Does this entire situation need moderation from Bernie? Ferrari has a history in F1 that pre-dates Max Mosley and as Luca di points out; the last he checked, he is still under the original Concorde agreement regulations. That’s certainly subject for debate as it has expired but what will become of this budget cap issue? Bernie says it may go up to accommodate the larger teams and Max says it’s here to stay while Ferrari have serious issues with it. Max is right, the Ferrari board might welcome Luca’s not spending too much in F1…more to the point, perhaps spending nothing in F1 is an initiative the board would like even more. Audi has sold a lot of cars being dominant in Sports Car racing and while I shudder to think of F1 without Ferrari, I am more concerned with F1 moving forward with Max.

Max traditionally lobs a grenade in to the room and then negotiates from that starting point so this recent budget cap regulation notion should not be taken as final. I suspect this is more traditional negotiating from Max and the intent has very little to do with reducing costs for the series so much as the FOM retaining more money for DVD to service their debt. A budget cap for all teams would ensure that the FOM would not have to pay out as much to the teams. The proverbial undertow to the discussion at hand.

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