Bernie Ecclestone holds crisis meeting - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-09-2007, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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Bernie Ecclestone holds crisis meeting

Bernie Ecclestone holds crisis meeting

Formula One powerbroker Bernie Ecclestone called a crisis meeting at his London headquarters yesterday as more damaging details surrounding the sport's latest spy controversy emerged.

Renault, who face charges potentially more pernicious than the £50 million fine and exclusion from the championship handed out to McLaren because of the extent of information and length of time it was held, suspended the former McLaren engineer at the centre of the controversy.

They acknowledged that on his employment by Renault the engineer brought with him several disks that included engineering drawings and technical spreadsheets from his former employers. The disks have been returned to McLaren and the information that was transferred to Renault computers erased.

Renault concede that the information was shared among some members of staff, but deny it was put to use by the team and insist the 2007 cars contained no intellectual property originating at McLaren.

A spokesperson said: "The ING Renault F1 team have co-operated fully with McLaren and the FIA in this matter to the extent that the team has invited McLaren's independent experts to come and assess the team's computer systems and inspect the cars and the design records, to demonstrate that this unfortunate incident has not influenced the design of the cars."

McLaren take a different view. It is alleged that the material in question filled 10 disks, and that it was used over eight months by Renault staff as high ranking as the chief designer, deputy chief designer, deputy technical director, head of research and development and the head of vehicle performance.

If the case against Renault is proven, the PR battering taken by Formula One during the dispute between Ferrari and McLaren would pale in significance.

High-powered representatives from each team, apart from Ferrari, McLaren and Renault, whose cases are ongoing, were ordered to attend yesterday's talks.

Ecclestone is determined to establish the nature and full extent of espionage within F1 and cut out the cancer at source. It is believed teams will submit to root-and-branch internal investigations to flush out suspect practices. The hope is that any indiscretions can be dealt with internally to prevent further damaging revelations.

Ecclestone has grown Formula One into a business with an annual turnover of billions of pounds. It has associated with it some of the biggest corporate organisations, for whom image is all.

The boardrooms of motor manufacturers of the global standing of Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault, not to mention those of blue chip institutions such as Vodafone, Royal Bank of Scotland and ING, do not want to read about scandal in the minutes. They have not invested in Formula One to be dragged directly or by association into grubby court cases over cheating.

Like it or not, F1 has entered the corporate age, the era of best practice, of transparent governance, of accountability. The days when engineers would sit around the beer and sandwiches discussing the design arrangements of other teams are long gone. It was once a matter of pride to produce detailed drawings from rival teams and copy them wholesale into your product. That does not wash any more.

The problem is that elements of F1's leadership are still locked in the old culture. The involvement of team principals such as Ron Dennis and Sir Frank Williams, Max Mosley, president of F1's ruling body, the FIA, and Ecclestone himself stretches back more than 40 years to a time when policy was sketched on the back of cigarette packets and decisions made on the hoof.

New thinking is hammering away at the old order from below, but old habits die hard. What we are effectively witnessing in the courtrooms of F1's ruling body are the death throes of the ancient regime. The younger executive, brought up in a corporate culture far removed from the ad hoc decision-making of Ecclestone et al and more attached to a business plan and answerable to a board of directors, are ready to take Formula One to the next stage.

Martin Whitmarsh at McLaren, Nick Fry at Honda, Christian Horner at Red Bull, Mario Theissen at BMW and Adam Parr at Williams are the relatively young thrusters in whom power must be invested going forward. Ironically, it was Ecclestone, the elder statesman, who called the new breed to attend at Prince's Gate.

Ecclestone is F1's greatest strength, but also its Achilles heel. He runs his empire on a handshake. He is the classic entrepreneur: little is written down, his word is his bond, etc. At Fuji, during the Japanese Grand Prix, Ecclestone conceded that Formula One could never be administered using the entrepreneurial template when he is gone. The day of the chief executive answerable to a board is near. Ecclestone, as ever, read the signs. But can he stop the rot?

Bernie Ecclestone holds crisis meeting - Telegraph
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-12-2007, 01:55 AM
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The jury is out BE's brain cell activity, one year he's saying F1 MUST be in the U.S., marketing potential, you understand. The next as TG refuses to pay through the nose to kiss some Brit's a$$, no more USGP, BE "we don't need the U.S.". I've got a couple of letters for BE, FO.

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