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The genius of Bernie Ecclestone – getting the dumps of the world to pay squillions for a pointless product

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Formula 1 (F1) racing. I tried a couple of times then gave up at the sheer boredom. Apparently years ago the cars used to actually race each other and sometimes even overtake. But now the race is like a high-speed procession. Half of all races are won by the car that starts in pole position. Almost all races are won by the car that starts in pole, second or third position. So you pretty much know who is going to win the race even before it has started.

The commentators try to inject some excitement into this procession. And when the leading car goes in for a pit stop, the order does change for a few minutes. But then the other cars go in for their pit stops and the original procession resumes. So how can you make squillions from a product that is only slightly more exciting than watching paint dry? That’s the genius of Bernie Ecclestone.

What he has done, as far as I can see, is go to some developing countries. These are usually countries that have contributed little or nothing to human advancement in science, technology or the arts. Countries that wouldn’t recognise a Nobel Prize if it hit them in the face. And Ecclestone has, I think, sold these countries on the story that if they give him piles of cash, he’ll hold a F1 Grand Prix in their country and that will make their country seem modern and developed.

Thus we got the Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999. In 2004 both China and that great world power Bahrain handed over their cash to join the Grand Prix club. In 2005 that beacon of development and modernity Turkey held its first race. In 2009, that leading international powerhouse and centre of scientific advancement Abu Dhabi signed up. Then in 2010 there was Korea and in 2011 India – one of the most corrupt unequal countries outside of Africa.

So where will F1 go next? What about Africa? There’s oil-rich Nigeria. They have loads of money even though 90% of the population live in poverty. Or Equatorial Guinea – again gazzillions of money even though 98% of the population live in abject poverty. Yup, Africa seems to provide just what F1 is looking for – countries with heaps of money and nothing to show for that money apart from corruption. backwardness and oppression.

Although, perhaps I shouldn’t criticise the (in my opinion pointless) F1. Over 500 million people apparently watch it. That’s rather more (unfortunately) than read my website or books.

If I may, I’d like to publish 2 comments readers sent me following my blog yesterday warning about the dangers of Equity Release loans:

“In certain circumstances equity release is a great idea. Take your asset rich cash poor couple for example. If they don’t want to trade down and have no children what’s wrong with taking a bit of equity out?”

“Another gem. Why is it, that when we become old we are sitting ducks for all and sundry? Ten years ago my friends were short on cash, and they asked my opinion about Equity Release. I told them to keep well away, and gave them an example of interest growth. They were astounded. Their daughter came up with the solution. She increased her mortgage, and saved herself a load of grief.”

1 comment to The genius of Bernie Ecclestone – getting the dumps of the world to pay squillions for a pointless product

  • Paris Claims

    I have tried to watch F1 on TV a couple of times, mainly to see what all the fuss is about, but got bored after a couple of minutes. I have wondered if actually attending might increase the entertainment value, but I expect I’ll never find out. American football doesn’t interest me in the slightest either, and I’ve been told watching baseball is drudgery too.
    Unfortunately football is losing it’s appeal too, too many sideways passes, too much diving, playacting, spitting, shirt pulling. When I was a kid there were duels between wingers and full backs, flair players and hard players, and nobody wore gloves, except the keepers. At least if you watch cricket you can spend most of the time in the bar.

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