Bernie Ecclestone has spent much of today fending off journalistic enquiries about News Corrp/Exor’s interest in buying into F1, mostly with snappy one liners.
However he has given a bit more of an insight into his position in a Q&A on his own http://www.formula1.com website. It’s never easy to second guess what his real agenda is, but he seems to be genuinely annoyed by recent developments.
Bernie played down News Corp’s confirmation of its interest.
“Somebody might say that they want to do it, but it doesn’t mean that when somebody wants to buy something the owner wants to sell,” said Bernie. “And CVC made it very clear that they don’t want to sell.”
Asked if F1 would continue unchanged, he said: “Yes, because if people don’t want to sell, others have to accept that fact. It’s as simple as that.”
Elaborating on Rupert Murdoch’s interest, Bernie made some interesting comments on recent dealings with his company.
“Murdoch hasn’t got anything really big to drive their TV audiences and Formula One would be good for that. They have been trying to buy the TV rights from us for a long time, but we won’t because they are not free-to-air television broadcasters. They are a subscription service.
“Very recently they wanted to do something in Germany, in the UK and in Italy, where they are, but we couldn’t do it. Sky is doing an incredible job but if you look at their audience they are nowhere. With these figures it would be almost impossible for teams to find sponsors. That would be suicidal.”
Bernie agreed that the current healthy state of F1 had attracted the interest of potential buyers.
“Probably, but firstly they didn’t know if it was for sale, and secondly they didn’t know what the price tag was. I would never start to say that I’m interested in something without knowing how much it is. There have been so many rumours out there lately and I go along with Colin Chapman – why spoil a good story with the truth?”
Inevitably he had a viewpoint on suggestions that several top teams will meet next week to discuss the future. Bernie said he had not been contacted about the meeting.
“No. But I thought that Ferrari won’t need to go because one of the people who hopes he’s going to be an investor owns Ferrari, so that whole story sounds a bit weird. You have to be careful about such rumours, but then again rumours are part of Formula One and always have been.
“I hope these people come to their senses. The teams should be happy to have somebody like CVC not selling to the wrong people, trying to maintain a good level for them and supporting me so that I can go to work and earn some money for the teams.”