Bernie Ecclestone mocks Ferrari ‘clowns’

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Bernie Ecclestone: \'we have to be grateful to Ferrari for providing the clowns\'
Bernie Ecclestone: 'we have to be grateful to Ferrari for providing the clowns'

Bernie Ecclestone has hit back at Luca Montezemolo?s criticism of the Singapore Grand Prix as a ??circus??.

Is this just a bit of tit-for-tat between two of the most powerful men in F1, or signs of a deeper tension?

Last week Luca di Montezemolo poured scorn on the first ever Singapore Grand Prix. saying:

When we race on tracks where staging a circus or something else would be better, anything can happen, because the spectacle is supplied by the Safety Car. This is humiliating for F1.

At the time I put the remarks down to frustration at how the team had let a one-two slip through their fingers in an embarassing pit-lane blunder involving Felipe Massa. But Montezemolo reiterated his claims a few days later:

On Sunday in front of the TV I felt like I was at Disneyworld. Let’s hope that at Singapore in 2009 they’ll do fashion catwalks, Disney parades, or something else. But certainly not F1. If this is the future of racing, we are sorted. I didn’t like Valencia, we’ll make ourselves be heard.

Ecclestone?s stinging retort to the Ferrari boss mocked the Italian team for its shambolic performance during the race:

If the Ferrari president is right about the Singapore Grand Prix being a circus then we have to be grateful to him for providing the clowns.

And he criticised the controversial traffic lights system used by Ferrari to release their drivers from the pits, which also caused trouble for the team at Valencia:

If it’s a matter of turning a switch, which I am led to believe is how it works, then why not stick with the ‘lollipop’ man of old? Why do you want to have some other piece of technology that can go wrong? It’s over the top.

Let’s not forget how well Ecclestone knows how these things work: he was team boss of Brabham in 1982 when it reintroduced modern-style refuelling stops before they were banned in 1983.

When Montezemolo says “we’ll make ourselves be heard”, presumably he means Ferrari, and not the new teams’ association FOTA. McLaren’s Ron Dennis, like many others in F1, heaped praise on Singapore. And the track today claimed over a record Paddock Club attendance of over 4,000 – a strong indication that it is boosting F1’s appeal for sponsors.

It seems Montezemolo is in the minority on this one. If I were in his position, my first stop would be the offices of Max Mosley, whom Ferrari supported throughout the sadomasochist sex scandal earlier this year, to suggest that safety standards on street circuits perhaps need tightening up.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “Bernie Ecclestone mocks Ferrari ‘clowns’”

  1. It’s a funny comment, kudos to Bernie E.

    I’m not sure what it is LdiM isn’t happy about. Is it the lights? If so, why is he getting on Valencia’s case? Is it the street race? If so, why is he not getting on Monaco’s case? Is it the Safety Car? We’ve known about the SC problems for a while…and the teams have too, hence the reason for their testing this new system.

    Is he proposing that Ferrari will only turn up to tracks they approve of in future?

  2. Robert McKay – Nice points.. it looks like he wants every thing to go for them or it’s wrong !!

    It was the team mistake that costed them the race.. not the safety car..

    True – if it was circus then we have to be grateful to him for providing the clowns.

  3. Hahaha Bernie you legend! What a great come back!

  4. Ah, the Poison Dwarf spreading his venom yet again, anyone who dares hold an opinion that is different to Bernie’s beware, you all saw what happened to the BRDC. At the end of the day we all have different opinions, I for one liked Singapore, Luca did not, although it has to be said when the safety car comes out in a pitstop window it basically changes from a race to a lottery.

  5. Am I one of the only ones who like the current SC setup? Beats the hell out of those **** poor processional races we had at least we now have an element of suprise in every race. Sure it may not have been earned for those who benefit but it pretty much reflects real life, how many of those drivers have “earnt” their seat through pure hard work and talent?

  6. I’m a Ferrari fan, but the Poison Dwarf may be the greatest nickname I’ve ever heard.

  7. I read at PlanetF1 that Bernie also made a sarcastic remark to the effect that if Ferrari was going to use an advanced automated lights system that maybe they should have the green light activated only after the coupling had been disconnected from the car……another jab from the mad hobbit.

  8. HounslowBusGarage
    6th October 2008, 23:13

    I can’t help thinking that Luca’s criticisms are diversionary tactics while the real subjects of his ire are the members of his own Ferrari team. He wouldn’t disparage them in public of course, and so he is striking out at other targets instead.
    How different would his comments be if Massa had been refuelled and released correctly and Kimi hadn’t stuffed it into the wall like a Fomula Ford amateur?
    In this instance, I actually approve of Ecclestone’s comments.
    Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve found this blog – quite the most intelligent racing discussion on the internet!

  9. HounslowBusGarage – thanks! Hope you keep coming back :-)

  10. haha good on bernie,

    i was suspected ferrari were throwing their toys out of the pram,

    one suspects they are throwin a sulk because they f****d up in the biggest F1 show of the year :)

    ooo ooo oooo it ses click to edit, perhaps i should add something?? :)

  11. He wasn’t really very specific about what made the race a circus, I agree. It isn’t too difficult to imagine that if the laughable pit stop they gave Massa hadn’t happened and Felipe had won the race, Luca would be signing the praises of a new “Ferrari” track. Rim-shot to Bernie.

  12. At least once, I must to agree with Bernie. He made the leader of the “Darkness Forza” seems very silly.

    It is absolutely nonsense accuse the safety car for the disastrous Ferrari´s pit stop at Singapore. We can discuss the silly safety cars rules, but Luca must to take care of his boys first.

    Mario Theissen, who has a driver fighting for the championship was much more reasonable:

    “…Another spectacular chapter was added to the Formula One history book. The first night race was a total success. My compliments go to the organisers. The race itself was turbulent and influenced by the first safety car period. Unfortunately the safety car rule meant Robert was completely out of contention in the race, whereas Nick was able to stay out just long enough until the pit lane was reopened. This was a shame for Robert because he was well on his way to score important points for the championship standings…”

    Very different and smart, isn´t? You can add in Mario´s pocket a sweet gift, the nonsensical penalty that was gave to Nick at the qualifying. He has much more reasons to be furious than Montezemolo!

  13. bernification
    7th October 2008, 2:17

    I honestley could not believe Montezemolo’s comments about the sports format considering it’s leniancy to his team in the last few races.

    He has seen the better side of the coin far too many times for him to complain about it’s inadequecies when the failure of his team is what he should be complaining about.

    Hell, just give them the title if this complaing is all it means otherwise.

    PS. I thought Bernie was in the same camp as the Fascists son. I was wrong.

    Sorry Mr. C hope thats not too contecious- his father was a facist

  14. LDM was probably referring to Massa’s penalty when he called the race a circus. “What, give us a penalty? We’re Ferrari! What kind of show are you running here!”

  15. There is a Spanish proverb saying: “He is so unlucky that if he bought a Circus, the Dwarves would grow”

    Well, what we saw in Singapore, were 7 “grown dwarves” carrying “the elephant’s trunk” that Massa had “graciously attached” to his car.

    So, or Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is Snow White, or Bernie is right and Luca CdM is the unfortunate Circus owner.

    I think for that case, Bernie, “the poison Dwarf (TM)” is right.

  16. OK , I’m a Ferrari guy , so anything I say on the comments made will probably be biased. But let me ask one question , for how many laps did Lewis Hamilton (arguably the best overtaker this year) remain behind David Coulthard , a visibly much slower car ? I think the answer will support what Mr. di Montezemolo’s feeling of the track is. Sure there is Monaco which is in itself a circus as far as F1 is concerned , question is do we need a visit to the circus more than once a year ?

  17. mmmmmmmmm… interesting … LDiM vs BE… FIGHT!

    i am a ferrari fan but this time i say Mr LDiM is wrong. he will definitly not be saying these things if his team finished 1 and 2. I think its time for ferrari to let go of their eago and admitt their mistakes instead of blaming other things..they should have corrected their lighting system after valencia…
    if they keep balming other things then i am afraid their wining days will be less..

  18. As I said before, when Ferrari are winning everything is fine and dandy, but when they start making mistakes and actually losing (or at least not getting any points) then they blame everybody else.
    They always have and they always will. Luca is off to moan to Max, when he cannot deny it was his team and his drivers who messed up in Singapore.
    I think the Red Cars need a ‘time out’ from F1 to do some real racing in GP2 or F3000, and re-learn what its all about!
    Oh, and can we start a pole on who they will blame for any failures in Japan? (joke)

  19. If di Montezemolo thought Singapore was ‘Disneyworld’ he won’t like this.

  20. It’s a funny little exchange, and how typical of Bernie to respond in a most public way, as he did with Mosley. What does concern me is if this is what Luca M behaves like publicly, what is he like behind the scenes? The petulance of his commence speaks volumes about how he sees himself and the team.

  21. Keith, isn’t the Disneyland circuit Bernies preferred option for a French race? I wonder which cars will be carrying the trademark ‘ears’? hehe

  22. What an excellent new site ( new to me that is) !

    Whatever one’s views on Bernie Boy ( and he just seems to me to have parked his barra’ in a Walthamstow sidestreet around about 1960 and decided to try his ‘and at this ‘ere motor racin’ lark ! ), and I’ve always believed that there are at least seven agendas lurking underneath every word he ever speaks….. you have to rate that put-down of the hyper-inflated Signor Montezemolo as one of the gems of the last 50 years ! One thing is true. He makes a very dangerous enemy.

  23. What is LDM complaining about?

    If it’s the safety car, the safety car didn’t disturb either of his drivers.

    If it’s the night racing, it seemed to work fine for everyone else.

    If LDM is complaining about the poor overtaking opportunities on the circuit, there certainly seemed to be a lot more over taking and wheel to wheel racing at Singapore than there was a Hungary, Monaco, Valencia, Barcelona, Bahrain or Magny Cours.

  24. Leon – welcome to the site! Glad you like it.

  25. Hi Keith,

    So Berne Boy does want us racing F1 at Disneyland ! Quite literally ! Well, there’ll have to be a few built-in jokes whenever we race there, naturally… How about electronic interference devices fitted to any other make of car that can threaten a Ferrari win ? Or track marshalls setting up instant temporary diversions through a ploughed field for all cars not coloured red ? Or you could have a giant Mickey Mouse head bridged over the track that eats any silver car it sees approaching…. ! The possibilities are endless.

  26. Yes Leon , it’s an excellent site …. in fact a fantastic one if u r Brit and into ferrari bashing … i’m out of here

  27. Jean – That’s completely unfair and unreasonable. I try to treat all the teams and drivers the same and have written plenty of articles criticising British drivers and British teams in the past.

  28. Sorry for the plug, Keith, but Ferrari is building their first “FORMULA 1 DISNEYLAND” in DUBAI.

  29. Keith, if I might make a reply to Jean……

    I’m of mixed European blood. I’ve been an avid F1 nerd for more years than is respectable. And I worry about several aspects of F1 developments. One of my biggest concerns is the staggering power and influence of the big motor groups ( Mercedes-Maclaren, Honda, Toyota, BMW-Sauber, Fiat-Ferrari etc…. ) and my other big worry is an apparent absense of sense of humour among fanatics. I think Ron Dennis has had a sense-of-humour lobotamy, ( though I grealy admire the Mclaren team ). Equally, I think that DG is dead right when he suggests that big teams like Ferrari completely forget just who they are and what they are doing, and that a fresh spell in a GP2 reality-check would do them the world of good.

    F1 has come a hell of a long way in a very short time, but at it’s best it is still the pinnacle of the very best in motor-racing. This year we’ve seen one of the most competitive and unpredictable seasons ever and I admire all the teams and all the drivers for the cracking show they’ve put on for us.

    And without the prancing horse F1 would be terminally diminished. So stick around Jean, we love the Scuderia to bits.

  30. Jean – I for one have been biggest critic of New Millenium McLaren, and personality of Lewis Hamilton (brashness). And this site has coverage to my views. So Its a hurried conclusion that you have drawn

    Cheers !!!

  31. As a fellow tifosi, I also have to disagree with you Jean. This site is one of the best sites around for unbiased intelligent chat. I’ve always found Keith’s articles to be written in a very fair manner with no particular tone towards one team/driver or another.

    As for the bloggers on this site, well that is beyond Keith’s control with the exception of anything said that contravenes the site’s comment policy.

    Those who are regulars on this site tend to be very unbiased in their views probably because more often than not, the more knowledgeable the person, the more UNBIASED they are.

    Now I do agree that there are some bloggers on this site who are very biased towards certain teams/drivers. There’s one in particular who is, shall we say, ‘fanatically’ biased towards a particular driver but I shall not name names but the regulars probably know who I’m talking about. But all in all, it’s the most unbiased site I’ve found and I put this down to two reasons:

    1. Keith and his journalistic impartiality
    2. The regular bloggers on this site are some of the more knowledgeable on any given site. Some of the nonsense that you read on other sites is unbelieveable!!!

  32. then again when F1 sets up at a new circuit, the drivers and media always say the F1 circus has come to town.

    (Ahh Bernie, he does like a little controversy to boost ratings. I am with Ferrari though in my dislike of street circuits in general but I’ve mentioned this before here lol)

  33. JEAN,

    I’m Spanish, an Alonso fan, my favorite team is Ferrari and a truly F1 fan since many years,

    Keith (and his blog), is one of the most (if not the most) balanced Blog you can find in the web. And the participants are usually quite respectful in their comments, something that cannot be said about what happens in other blogs.

    So, I think we will see you coming here again after you make a “walk” through other sites, unless you prefer “monocromatic” views about F1.

  34. Apology guy’s , especially to Keith , whom I respect for his work on this site and dedication to F1. Sometimes we blurt things out which we should not , and yesterday was one of those days for me.

  35. HI Guys

    As a regular contributor just thought I would let you know I am not the Jean who wrote in earlier. I always appreciate the impartiality of Keith’s blog and although I probably would fit the description of a ‘fanatical team supporter’ I do acknowledge that other teams can drive well!! (well fairly well some of them!!!!!!!)


  36. Singapure was an espetacular event, public, night, a never seem city, futuristic etc…. But the race was boring. The emotion was provided by Piquet´s accident and safety car,

    Luca should have expressed his thought in a more diplomatic way. But Ecclestone answer, is not from a leader.

  37. The real problem here, is that Di Montezemolo believes that he, and the Ferrari team, are bigger and more important than the sport itself. It is perfectly normal for a man in his position to feel annoyed or frustrated when his team loses a race, but compare this to Spa, when McLaren lost and their response towards it.
    For more dignity was shown.
    Ecclestone, like alot of people, is becoming increasingly frustrated by the Ferrari ‘show’ overshadowing everything else. He was right recently when he commented that Ferrari would be ‘poorer without Formula One’.

  38. @Dorian.

    Very well said…

  39. Then problem is that Bernie think about money, about growing, quantity India, China and Singapure. But don´t think so much in quality. And we lost races like Suzuka, Silverstone to have Fuji, Valencia.

    For other reasons a Ferrari suporter hated Singapure, a Mclaren one like it for the same reason. If there was fun, for sure it was not sporting reasons, but for the circus clowns and walls

  40. From a common sense point of view LdiM is correct. Both Monaco and Singapore should be scrubbed. No overtaking and precious little run off areas. Its like America, takes time to remove a pranged car and drivers and marshalls (what marshalls?)have to clamber over 10 ft fences to safety.What was the excitement about? Eccles is after sensation is and frustrated that he has not been able to kill a driver in years for the sake of the money god. He is trying to convert the top form of motor sport into a stock car meeting. All this crap removes the dominant car aspect. TONY1

  41. F1 revenue in terms of ticket sales is minimal compared to TV and advertising revenue. Instead of adding more street circuits , which attracts large crowds (which I think is the main reason so on TV the stands look full) , they should drastically reduce ticket prices , use part of the TV/Advert. revenue to subsidise the hosting circuits , which would have the effect of having the stands full at the normal circuits , as people would have extra money to travel to the circuits and still afford tickets . Where I’m from , they don’t have an F1 race , but hosted A1 for past 3 years. Year 1 , ticket prices were reasonable , I went. Year 2 , they cost 4 x more , I never went (watched it on TV – and the stands looked empty). Guess the greed machine never stops running.

  42. Just two rich old men having a spat. There can’t be many more dummies in the pram.

  43. I’m back……

    Just wanted to say, my fellow unbiased, good for the sport bloggers, some of you suggested that Luca wouldn’t have made his comments if Massa had won or even a Ferrari 1-2 had occured. I wonder what Bernie would have said if Luca’s hopes had materialised? No doubt his prince charming’s current world standings didn’t warrant a rubbishing of the track. I guess then we would have some of you saying how pompous Luca must be for making comments not much different to those made by Bernie this time around. How often have we seen two old bulls lock horns whether it’s in the EPL or the NFL. Is it fair then to take sides and even worse chastise an entire team for the comments of two bored old men?

    I still can’t get over some bloggers on here saying that Massa deserved the incident in Singapore because of Spa……..

  44. Oh dear.

    Never thought I’d see the day when I agreed with anything the Poison Dwarf said….. ;)

    Game, set and match Bernie !

    Oh, and AussieLeb – I’ve been away for a couple of weeks so I haven’t read through all the old posts yet, so I can’t comment on that.

    But I may have shouted something along the lines of ‘payback for Spa’ at the giant TV screens at Singapore when Massa elected to add a very un-aerodynamic modification to his car at Singapore. But it was meant more in the lines of ‘cosmic’ payback and the universe righting itself than anything else. I am sure others would agree.

    He did deserve the drive through penalty though, and IMO should have been punished for the Sutil incident as well.

  45. It`s a double bluff. Bit like if you find your Wife has been sleeping with your best mate, you think to yourself ” I dont understand it, She always said that she couldn`t stand Him “. And then goes on to describe how She hates him. If Bernie`s this easy to `read` I wonder if he would be interested in a game of poker.

  46. Singapore is a circus ?
    If the clowns cannot even drive and completed a circus track, maybe they should learn to drive again !!!

    Good driver and team, will tackle both good and bad tracks alike. Only **** teams will give excuse for their own bad performance – and put the blame on “track”

  47. I bet Bernie pays some one to think of come backs for him.

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