An insight into the types of people who bet on sport in F1 makes for fascinating reading
Managing the skill sets required to make a success of both roles will have been difficult for a number of reasons. But Ecclestone was an excellent operator at making people believe they were going to make a lot of money.
Being a good businessman was part of it but so was the fact he had an intuitive understanding of how things worked on the inside and a knack of moving them in his direction.
I played the long game with him for years because I knew he was a gambler but it was clear that he was not stupid. He was simply very good at turning that into money for him.
And he was able to pull off this double act with Max Mosley and Bob Fernley, a huge challenge. But with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to understand why they could do it. They enjoyed each other’s company and each had similar backgrounds.
Mosley was a hard-nosed business man and an impressive street fighter and Fernley was his type of guy: a hard-working, decent guy who knew his stuff.
They also had an understanding that I could trust them both – without question. I think Ecclestone did too because he saw what they were like and recognised that what they thought about him was always in the end for his benefit.
I left the sport in December 1998 and got to work with both of them a short time later at the FIA’s new sporting authority – the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) – when it was formed in 2000.
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They had differing styles but Ecclestone was one of the easiest people I ever worked for. He was great company but you could never take your eye off the ball.
He never got involved in details because he didn’t understand them but he was so bloody clever he always seemed to find a way of making things work.
Fernley came across as a bit of a fuddy-duddy but he had a very good head on his shoulders and was always looking for the best way forward.
At first glance, he was a copper, but underneath it was a real competitor who thrived on the challenge. He had the spirit of a street fighter and was quite capable of standing up to him if it served his interests.
Max and Bob were very different. One was a wealthy businessman and one a builder’s labourer. But both were incredibly hard-working and incredibly clever, great motivators and very innovative.
Ecclestone made sure he knew all about every aspect of the business and it is possible he had an intuition that they were great guys to work with and very competent.
He had a memory like an elephant and he knew everyone and everything. All he needed was a suggestion and he’d have it.
It has been a great pleasure to have known and worked with both of them and they have had a huge influence on the sport. They can rest in peace knowing that.
The two bosses who changed the sport
Ecclestone changed the business and the way business is done in F1 – and he is still right up there as the man who invented modern motor sport.