While the International Tribunal rendered judgment on the Mercedes and Pirelli private test, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has issued a controversial comment to the Times by suggesting the outcome was know well in advance. Ecclestone was quoted by the time reporter Mathew Syed as saying that Jean Todt called him and told him what the penalty would be:
“That’s great,” Ecclestone told todt. “Congratulations on conducting a good process, Jean.”
‘As he hangs up, a call comes through from his office to say that Toto Wolff, the executive director of the Mercedes team is on the line. Bernie says he gave him the good news telling he had got away with a reprimand. Mr Wolff then, according to Bernie, thanks him, tells him he is shocked and promises that dinner is on him at Silverstone’.
It seems that Mercedes was shocked by the leniency of the penalty and were pleased with the outcome. This plays into the hands of many critics of the judgment rendered by the International tribunal as they suggest the penalty was too light for the infraction Mercedes had on the sport.
Ecclestone has rarely minced words and says nothing without designed effect. At 82-years-old, he’s no doddering old fool. He’s a shrewd businessman who knows how to keep a story alive for the press it brings but is that what he was doing in this case? Why offer a commentary that exposes some hint of failed jurisprudence within the FIA? Unless that was the intended effect.
I’ve learned to never cast off the quotes of Ecclestone as they are usually tactically offered and one wonders if the F1 ring master isn’t taking a shot at the FIA for it’s handling of the Mercedes testgate.