Bernie Ecclestone, Maurizio Arrivabene, Interlagos, 2016

Ferrari will quit if rules don’t favour them – Ecclestone

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In the round-up: Former Formula One commercial head Bernie Ecclestone warns Ferrari will leave if they believe the rules do not favour them.

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With Felipe Massa on his way out of F1 again, are Williams going to replace him with the one driver many fans would like to see in his place?

My guess is that doubts over Kubica are to do with how he would hold up over the course of a season rather his outright pace. And as much as I would love to see him back, I think that any team making rational decisions has to consider that. Of course what we hear is only the tip of the iceberg of what gets said and done behind the scenes, but I am starting to get a feeling that if they were going to sign him they would have done it by now.
@Maciek

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  • 75 comments on “Ferrari will quit if rules don’t favour them – Ecclestone”

    1. I wish that Bernie would just dry up.

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        6th November 2017, 1:16

        I wish Marchionne would dry up along with Bernie.

      2. I wish Ferrari’s $90m “special payment” would dry up!

        1. this is Formula One … not Ferrari One

        2. They could spread the $90m+ over the ‘non-special’ teams, and suddenly it isn’t ‘special’ anymore but becomes ‘fair’.

          1. And ‘spread’ the veto as well.

          2. Many don’t agree, but I would hire Kubica plus the next best driver to share the season.

            – great marketing and Goodwill coup.
            – they only fight for WCC points anyway.
            – they can be flexible Whoopi to use when.
            – Martini is likely more flexible with the age requirement of the third driver.

      3. Bernie’s “Appease Ferrari” strategy is one of his legacies.

    2. A simple question. Why change the Formula 1 rule book again when the teams are finally converging? This year in the final races we’re seeing three teams compete for race wins. Next year McLaren could be nearer to making it four. Renault are improving. It’s an absolutely ideal scenario, with top drivers, young and experienced, at all these teams. So why on earth introduce another huge change, which is bound to allow one team to break away from the pack as usual and dominate for years in succession. Does that make any rational sense when the entertainment value of the formula is finally increasing?

      1. Because that is F1

        1. So maybe Liberty should change things by not changing that much.

      2. Archie McBlarter
        6th November 2017, 4:33

        Because the aero regs make it impossible to get close enough to another car to overtake without wrecking your tyres and the aid of a contrived, artificial gimmick, the engine regs make it impossible to produce a competitive unit without centuries of development and eleventy-four godzillion dollars and the distribution of income makes it impossible for the smaller, independent teams to pull off acts of giant-killing or even to remain economically viable.

        Ultimately what’s needed is a massive reduction on aero appendages with downforce coming from beneath the car, not above it, a power unit that can be built by an independent and prize money to be awarded on merit. Unfortunately the current system of rule by consensus inevitably leads to a series of dog’s breakfast halfway houses which satisfy nobody. In terms of governance, what’s needed is a dictator with the balls to tell the teams “this is how it’s going to be, if you don’t like it you’re welcome to leave and set up your own little Ferrari Supercup and see how much exposure it gets, oh and good luck getting it FIA-sanctioned.”

        1. The engines seem to be converging, though. I agree about tweaking aero regulations and ultimately doing away with DRS if possibke. I also think the new energy recovery unit and rules look interesting, allowing drivers to tactically deploy speed boosts over multiple laps. But I don’t agree with the ‘small teams’ argument. It seems to me virtually pointless. They’re never going to get close to the big teams, unless you standardize everything (and then the big teams drop out). The balance just now seems about right, surely. The big teams are staying and investing, no small teams are threatening to leave. I think criticism of the engine units are misplaced, they’re more powerful, smaller and more efficient. That’s just sensible at every level. The noise issue is atavistic, in my opinion.

      3. @david-br Because we actually need that “shaking”. Just like you said, the teams are finally converging but Mercedes will be still a clear favorite. Even you said the other teams compete for race wins, which is good, but that’s it, only race wins. No one talk about how Red Bull, Renault or McLaren looks like going to compete for the titles, because I think in our mind we still perceive their wins comes from when Mercedes is having a bad race weekend. Mercedes will still a favorite in this ruleset, just like Red Bull will still be clear favorite previous era. The rule change is mainly so we can’t make safe prediction on the title battle, and to reduce the development advantage for the teams. Of course, the worst scenario is another utter domination like what we have now, but not changing the rules also have a scenario where Mercedes is always one step ahead from the rest.

        Also the next big rule change is for 2021, so we have 3 season of “converge era”. It might or might not produce close battles that we all hoped and probably at the end of 2020 you’ll think a rule change is a good idea.

        1. @sonicslv ”another utter domination like what we have now” – That isn’t the case anymore, though. The domination of Mercedes lasted three seasons. Yes, they won both titles again, but not in a dominant manner like the three previous ones, so that’s the key difference.

          1. Yes, they won both titles again, but not in a dominant manner like the three previous ones, so that’s the key difference.

            Exactly.

            Mercedes won the constructors championship fairly easily again, but not by as big a margin. That margin will continue to close up.

            Hamilton, OTOH, was behind only a few of races ago. Had Ferrari not had reliability issues this championship could have gone to the wire.

            Red bull won a few races, too, and McLaren could be right up there next season. There is a potential for a 2 way battle for the WCC, and 4+ for the WDC next year, or at least the year after. A big shake up from regulation changes as envisaged jeopardises that.

            1. I’d say Mercedes was the slightly better car overall this season (especially in quali mode).
              The difference was made by their #1 drivers.

              Vettel was the better driver before the summer; Hamilton dominant after the summer.
              It’s just that Hamilton hung in there when Vettel won, whilst Vettel ‘lost it’ in some crucial races after the summer (and in Baku).

          2. As an overall package, i think the mercedes is still streets ahead. Consider bottas coming second at the end of the season, a probable outcome, do we consider bottas to have had a better season than vettel, or a pretty dominant package from merc, where ferrari have done quite well to challenge at times.

      4. @david-br Good point. As others have pointed out, that’s always been the exasperating way of F1, but this time I believe it’s necessary and is planned to be followed by a longer period of stability to get the convergence. This is Brawn thinking long term for all, not a petty Mosley personal power move, or an Ecclestone knee jerk to secure the latest investor.

    3. Sundar Srinivas Harish
      6th November 2017, 1:15

      Will be very difficult any F1 Top Driver will stay more than 2 years in a Team, who has no results as McLaren-Honda, as Alonso did x 4 years

      — E:Scalabroni (@ScalabroniE) November 5, 2017

      Well, when you’ve soured as many relationships as ‘Nando and Flavio have, I’m certain you don’t have a choice. At this point in his career, he should’ve ideally had the personal currency to pick up the best staff in the paddock and take them to any team and put the car on the podium.

      1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
        6th November 2017, 9:09

        This will be the story of his career, even Abiteboul has said he’s not interested. McLaren is his best option in F1, if the Renault engine comes good he could even seal a few more wins before his retirement.

        1. IIRC Abiteboul said that they could not offer him the car he deserves in 2018.

    4. I hope Ferrari realize how pathetic they look if they still can’t nab a championship despite having so many clear advantages.

      1. @selbbin I don’t see your “so many”. Anyway, clearly you can’t buy championships: having more money doesn’t mean being more competitive. Take a look at what’s happening in soccer: Arabs with tons of money buy teams and champions but it doesn’t mean they end up winning the Champions League.

        Remember that F1 capped expenses a lot in late years: I would agree with you if we still have tests, spare cars and unlimited engines. But there’s no point in having money if you can’t buy anything.

        Finally, let’s all remember why Ferrari has that bonus and why the other teams agree in giving that to them. Before Verstappen you could clearly see that a large percentage of fans on the standings were dressed in red. Apart from some GPs, like Silverstone, the vast majority of fans are for Ferrari, and I’m quite confident the same happens behind TV screens. Losing Ferrari means losing lot of audience, an audience that in a way or another pays for the Circus.

        Let’s put this in (fake) numbers. Red Bull agrees in keeping Ferrari bonus because with that bonus F1 receives 1000, their slice (because of points) is 10% so 100 and Ferrari gets its slice of 15% plus their bonus of 5 so 200. Without Ferrari, F1 receives 300, Red Bull has a slightly larger slice, say 15% but in absolute numbers this means 45, less then the initial 100 they had with Ferrari.

        I’m overly simplifying here, but that’s how I see it and sounds logical to me.

        That being said: would I watch F1 without Ferrari? Maybe I would keep an eye on it, but not follow it. I would follow any other series that has a good coverage where they end up competiting, or maybe a raising series like Formula E. I accept the quirkiness of F1 (DRS and stuff) because “my team” is there, but I’m not a great fan of the Formula 1… formula. I’m sure lot of F1 fans would watch it anyway, many of them rejoicing for the renewed fairness (but is it? Still big teams gets big money, keeping small teams far behind).

        The thing is, F1 and Ferrari are in my opinion a symbiosis. They need each other. F1 now shows signs that it can grow up and live without Ferrari, but I’m not sure we’re there yet.

        1. @m-bagattini: I disagree. If one team is that special then it’s not a sport, it’s that team’s marketing department.

          F1 may have capped some expenses but that just means that the teams with the money spend it in other areas, such as aerodynamics and (more recently) engine development.

          You’re right about one thing though: Ferrari have certainly proved that you can’t buy success ;-)

          If F1 can’t survive without Ferrari, maybe it doesn’t deserve to.

          1. @jimg Your last line is perfect and powerful with reference to the survival of F1 if Ferrari left.

            There was a time when the series pandered somewhat to Ferrari as it was seen as the jewel in the crown (rightly or wrongly) – F1 has grown substantially since then and should no longer pander.

            It would be interesting to see what happened if Ferrari spat the dummy and left, unlikely . . . but interesting none the less.

        2. A minor thing I want to point out regarding ‘fans in red’ as seen on TV. Last year in Baku I wanted to buy a McLaren t-shirt or cap or anything really. Nope. Mind you, I was at the race, and there was zero McLaren merch there (or at least it was so well hidden it wasn’t easy to find).

          I’d say 70% of all merch at the track was Ferrari, 20% Mercedes, and 10% rest (mostly Red Bull). This year I was at Monza. It was much better there – merch from other teams was available, but still, the majority of it was mostly top three teams. I guess you can say that it’s the rule of supply and demand. But I saw plenty of people who have no real affinity to any particular team, and still buy Ferrari, as it’s everywhere and it’s the brand most associated with F1 (and you’ve got to get your memorabilia). Yet, it would be wrong to say everyone wearing Ferrari merch are diehard Ferrari fans. They are F1 fans first, Ferrari second.

      2. Quite. Ferrari should hang their heads in shame – unless they get special advantages, and extra cash that no other team gets, they’ll take their bat and ball and go home. Babies. Just imaging if Ferrari had *not* enjoyed all this special treatment for the last 20 years, they would have been tooling around at the back!

    5. Is Gene Haas nuts ? He should be expecting a victory in 2018 as motivation to his team not stating that by 2026 he hopes to have won. Openly saying that shows weakness that may never be overcome.

      1. Archie McBlarter
        6th November 2017, 4:42

        And how would you persuade the team to take your ambitions for 2019 seriously after your victory expectations for 2018 resulted in a couple of flukey 8th place finishes?

      2. GtisBetter (@)
        6th November 2017, 5:02

        The people who work for haas are not stupid. Making impossible claims or goals helps no one.

      3. Targeting an almost impossible goal is bad idea, a good manager knows that. Saying they targeting win next year only serve to please higher ups who don’t know/care how F1 works while demoralizing the actual engineers who know exactly what their car capable of. And when they not even close on getting a win at the end of the season, how do you think the team mood will be?

        Gene Haas and Vijay Mallya probably the best F1 team owner at the moment. They know how to set realistic target and their team performance is above what we could realistically expect from them.

        1. I think Haas knows only too well now what it takes to win in F1 bar an odd fluke, and he’s quite correct in setting realistic targets (which can also be beaten). It also serves to give employees a feeling of job security if nothing else.

          1. @baron More importantly, it also raises the spirit and confidence of the team when they fulfilled year after year target.

        2. Targeting an almost impossible goal is bad idea, a good manager knows that.

          That’s a western way of thinking. Another thought is “if you ever reach your goals, you have set the target too low”. This seems to work fine for Japanese businesses.

          1. I guess this explains what Honda has been up to! ;-)

            1. I once visited the MIRA facility and one the engineers there told me how Honda did quality control checks on their British built engines. It’s a secondary source, but this is the story he told:

              They take a random engine from the production line, put it on a dyno and hook it up to a huge fuel tank. They start the engine, rev it 90% of the limit and then leave it running. If it stops for whatever reason within two weeks, the production line is stopped, because there’s a quality control issue.

              You can make fun all you want, but a possible translation of the motto (if you ever reach your goals, you have set the target too low) is “you can always improve yourself”. Which shows in the quality of many Japanese products.

          2. Impossible and hard to achieve is two different things. If you can make a car that lapped a test circuit in 1:00, setting a goal of 0:59.5 or 0:59 is probably achievable. However telling your engineers that they need to make it lapping within 0:50 is impossible. Haas currently is midfielder with 2nd tier drivers, with small resources compared to their competitors. Asking for a win next year means they need to beat Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and possibly Renault and McLaren that driven by Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen and Alonso. I’d call it a miracle if they get a win next year.

      4. @TEDBELL

        I think you have listened to McLaren one too many times…they are always “confident of a good result”, “turning up with great asirpations”, “these changes to the car will mean x”. I just stopped listening, so did Hamilton in the end it seems!

        They are back at it again now “giggling with excitement” they told Autosports. I mean, come on, deliver first and then worry about talking yourself up!

      5. He doesn’t want to sound like Marchionne did last year.

    6. Ferrari need to learn how to win again. For that reason I think they should take a sabbatical from F1 and devote their considerable resources to competing in dummy spitting contests.

    7. Even if Kubica doesnt hold up an entire season he wont be alone in that. He would still be more interesting to see than the majority of the rest of the field.

      1. It’s true.

        Williams have the chance to take a big gamble, and an exciting one at that.

        Sure, they could go with di Resta who’ll do an admirable job. Will he win them races and push the team forward as a leader, though? I can’t see it.

        Or maybe Kvyat? He’ll bring some Russian money with him, which always helps, and the guy is a real fast driver when he’s in the right mindset. Do they have the right personnel to give him the TLC he needs? Compared to di Resta, Kvyat is also a risky option, but has youth and money on his side (see the current #2 Williams driver, though…).

        The next risky option is Kubica, a former F1 driver who was regarded as WDC material. After his accident, i’m sure he probably felt his chances of every making it back to F1 were little-to-none. He’s a risk, but if he can manage even half a season driving competitively, it could be a huge move for Williams.

        To me, rolling the dice on the amazingly talented, but not 100% Kubica, and having him drive a Mercedes powered, Paddy Lowe designed car seems to be the way forward. Could you not sign him on a 10 race contract to see how he gets on? If it’s not working out at all after 10 races, give di Resta or Kvyat a try (providing they haven’t signed elsewhere).

        Williams just let a ‘safe’ option in Massa go – roll the dice, Williams!

        1. For goodness sake, Paddy Lowe does not design cars!!!

        2. Yeah, Put Kvyat/Kubica in the second car. Then you can emulate Red Bull/Toro Rosso by constantly demoting Kvyat every few races. How else can we assure more Verstappen wins next year?

    8. Can someone please tell me where in the article Ecclestone says “Ferrari will quit if rules don’t favour them”? Because I don’t see it. Another clickbait title…This blog is an utter disgrace.

      1. It’s right there in the quote underneath the link…

        1. It’s even in the title of the linked article.
          Bio clearly had a brainfart when typing his rant.

          1. It’s the part that goes: “if rules don’t favour them” that never existed in Ecclestone’s words. Did you get It now?

      2. Then you should stop paying your subscription fee, this way you’ll send a clear signal!

    9. In a fantasy world this is what happens:
      I. Ferrari quits F1.
      II. Another famous Italian manufacturer enters F1 – Maserati, Alfa Romero or sth like that, a brand that belongs to Fiat and will have full financial support and all resources needed.
      III. The new team, say, Scuderia Maserati, hires a large group of former Ferrari engineers, gets sponsorship from Marlboro and other big companies previously sponsoring Ferrari.
      IV. The red cars of Scuderia Maserati take over from Ferrari, win races, and nobody cares for Ferrari anymore.

      1. You do realize that Ferrari were part of FIAT until very recently, right?

        You do also realize that Marchionne is CEO of both FIAT and Ferrari, right?

        Why on Earth would he do what you’re describing?

        1. To save face for Ferrari, but still compete in the championship. Right now it’s a game of bluff, and Ferrari might lose it. If it happens in front of new owners Ferrari might not ever get the leverage it enjoys. Quitting will show how serious they are, and it will definitely harm the sport (not as much as they say, but still). So that when they come back (and they will), the new owners will be more serious towards their demands.

    10. Unfortunately I believe COTD has hit the mark. Much as I’d like to see Robert make a successful return to F1, there are huge risks for both parties. We’ll see, but I hope Kubica fans won’t be too downhearted if he doesn’t make it – he’s already achieved an amazing return to the level he’s at now, and can probably take on other series, if not F1. Perhaps LM Series with their multi driver arrangement might be perfect for him.

      1. But I still have my fingers crossed! ;)

      2. To me, there’s more potential positives in taking on Kubica.

        Commercially, you’ll have huge amounts of attention on your brand in terms of articles and air time.

        And in terms of risk vs rewards for results, Kubica was regarded as one of the best. Give him half a season to see how he fairs with Kvyat or di Resta on standby, ready to jump in for the remainder of the season.

    11. Every time I read a quote, or watch an interview, from (of) Gene Haas, I am even more convinced that this guy is dumber than a box of rocks. And don’t give me that nonsense “but he’s a billionaire…”, because the correlation between wealth and intelligence is quite low. The fact that Gene Haas thinks his team would ever win an F1 race, whether in ten years or this year, shows that he couldn’t analyze his way out of a paper bag.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        6th November 2017, 15:28

        He could win a shock race if we have another Monaco 96 or Europe 99

      2. 10 years is pretty realistic goal. Mercedes, Red Bull, and Force India get a win within 10 years. Correlation between people born rich and intelligence is low, but correlation between people who built his own successful company and intelligence is pretty high.

      3. You shouldn’t project so much.

    12. I don’t know how Hamilton does it. The guy is nonstop, legend.

    13. How very coincidental that we haven’t heard anything from Bernie in months, then he pipes up with comments about the rulebook being heavily tipped in Ferrari’s favour right before the new engine rules are announced. Then after the new engine regs are announced, Ferrari issue another quit threat on the basis of the engine potentially not being favourable. And now Bernie is stoking the fire with comments that Ferrari’s quit threat is to be taken seriously.

      What is going on…? Call me cynical, but I think Bernie wants to do some damage to Liverty. Liberty really won’t want to lose Ferrari, especially so quickly in their ownership of the sport – that would be absolutely disastrous for their image as a competent promoter if they let Ferrari get away. Just when they’re building the F1 brand up for the modern age they’ve lost arguably the key selling point. If Bernie aligns with Ferrari and makes their threat seem serious enough, Liberty will be forced to bend their knee to Ferrari and give then what they want, which will damage their reputation anyway as they will be seen as being under Ferrari’s thumb. It’s lose-lose for Liberty; keep Ferrari and lose some face, or lose Ferrari and lose a lot of face.

      Or I could just be seeing things that aren’t there, but we all know that the wheels are constantly turning in Bernie’s head. There’s reason and rhyme to everything he says and does publicly.

      1. Rest assured that your hypothesis is correct. Bernie would like nothing more than to see Liberty Media crash and burn.

      2. Still, what Bernie says damages Ferrari’s image mostly in my opinion. It’s their name being mentioned, not Liberty’s. All of these comments from Bernie can just add some question marks to their champs since Schumacher won with them for the 1st time.

      3. Personally I don’t think BE is trying to ‘do some damage to Liberty.’ He is not saying anything we (and of course Liberty) don’t already know. And he’s not a key figure with any influence over Liberty.

        I subscribe to what Martin Brundle tweeted…where are they going to go? Ferrari has threatened to quit before, and the way I see it nothing has yet been written in stone regarding the regs post-2020. I think there will ultimately not be enough reason in the regs changes for Ferrari to leave.

        I had to chuckle at BE’s quote saying that the teams want to spend what they want. So yes, we know that the ‘have’ teams will spend everything they have to win, leaving the teams who have less, less competitive. So then he says unless there’s only 3 or 4 teams and then they’ll have to look at it. So BE is therefore in agreement that Liberty needs to look at everything because in fact F1 remains a series where at best 3 or 4 teams have a realistic shot, although it’s more like usually only 1 or 2.

        So, thank you BE, for spelling out how you have moulded F1, and what you have left for Liberty to carry on with. I look forward to seeing them doing things differently. If that can’t include Ferrari then huge change must have been badly needed. I suspect it will be more like a tweaking of things that will mean Ferrari will have a little less, but not so much less they’ll leave (nowhere to go anyway) and things will get more balanced for the other teams. What would be better for the fans, you know, the ones without whom F1 wouldn’t exist, would be closer racing in a less skewed environment. Liberty, I suspect, gets that the fans are key, more than BE ever did. I’m not saying the fans need to be asked what F1 should do, but the fans are the boss and can fire F1 in a blink…simply by not watching.

        I think Liberty has little choice but to appease Ferrari at least to some degree, for they can’t afford to lose that part of the audience, nor as someone pointed out, be seen to have lost Ferrari, but they also have no choice but to bring the ‘non-have’ teams up a notch too. Ferrari is just being the squeaky wheel looking for the grease now that Liberty is getting past what it has inherited and toward what it can and will affect going forward. I think Liberty will know too that Ferrari would look pretty sad if they leave, with the perception being it was because they were no longer favoured and advantaged over the rest. If they leave, Ferrari will say they no longer see it as a financially viable series, or impactful to their market, or it’s now a spec series, or what have you, and Liberty will say their business model no longer will favour one entity over the others, and F1 is no longer the dictatorial BE boys club of billionaires. Post-Ferrari I’ll still watch, but I’d rather see a balanced F1 with Ferrari a little down from their high prancing horse. They have nowhere to go.

    14. Again… this guy?!

      Under the current set of tech rules, Ferrari was the least favoured team, at least amongst the big teams. History wasn’t that kind either. It seems that we need remember quite often that their desired engine config for their entire existence was… V12 NA. Everything else was something “forced” in order to be able/allowed to compete in different motorsport series.

    15. Ferrari have agreed to rules that were clearly not in their best interest (current engine regs, reduction in testing) so the notion that they’ll quit if the rules are not in their favor is false.

      I think people need to remember that Ferrari is a business and not a sporting organization. Most manufacturers use racing as a marketing exercise and as such expect a certain return, usually in sales, for their racing expenditures. If you consider that Ferrari’s largest market is the USA and assume that most American’s who purchase a Ferrari couldn’t care less about F1, it’s not hard to see why the Ferrari board may not be interested in staying in F1. Add to that the additional expenditure that would be required if the F1 rules were significantly changed and it’s not hard to see why Marchionne has made the comments that he did.

      Another thing to consider is what the trickledown effect of Ferrari leaving could be. It’s not too much of a stretch to see other manufacturers looking at Ferrari’s decision to leave and deciding to also leave. Ferrari leaving F1 would devalue the sport which could then see others looking at the sport as no longer worth the financial investment.

    16. I am sure others have said this in different ways but I really cannot see Ferrari leaving F1. They get an amazing amount of publicity and generate huge interest by taking part. One of the main reasons they are such an iconic brand is because they are seen as part of the fabric of F1 racing and have are a major part of its history.

      I think their comments are just bargaining to maintain their rather privileged position in the sport, despite some views thinking that this time it could be different. I just cannot see it.

      Personally I would be very sorry to see them leave.

    17. I. Ferrari quits F1.
      II. Another famous Italian manufacturer enters F1 – Lamborghini, backed by the VW group.
      III The new team, Scuderia Lamborghini, hires a large group of former Porsche and Audi LMP1 engineers and couldn’t care less about Marlboro.
      IV At Monza the tifosi cover the grandstands with giant Lamborghini flags. Ferrari sales plummet.

      1. This was supposed to be a reply to Damon, but the Post Comment button bounced and when I got back the comment was not linked anymore…

    18. I just hope Liberty have the balls for the fight.

    19. It’s rare to see people acknowledging Hamilton’s work ethics.
      People rely too much on the ‘natural talent’ story line. But you can’t be a WDC (let alone multiple time) without hard work.

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