Bernie's grip on the F1 wheel

I once spent a day with Bernie Ecclestone and haven't forgotten it. The 78-year-old ringmaster of the Formula One circus is a unique operator and his like will never be seen again in world sport.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT Editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

My favourite Bernie anecdote concerns his legendary obsession with order and tidiness; when he owned the Brabham team, all the mechanics had their overall pockets sewn up to avoid losing spanners.

You get on the wrong side of him at your peril. The MT snapper we sent to take his portrait received a right old mouthful when he asked Mr E to stand in a particular position. I recall when we had shepherd's pie in a pub behind his office to the South of Hyde Park - during the course of which he described the legendary Alain Prost as 'All mouth and no balls' - that he paid by pulling a gold money-clip from his back pocket that was thick with fifties. As a business boss, he commands rather than leads.

After lunch, I was asked to step out of his office when Ayrton Senna came rushing in; he was in a right old state about something or other. Bernie sat him down and smoothed things over, sorted it out. I watched the temperamental Senna through the glass, sitting on the sofa and listening to the godfather, being told what was going to happen to ease his pain. And you can be sure it did happen.

Inflation is not something likely to bother Bernie too much. He's worth £2.4bn, according to the Rich List. But the unwelcome return of the ghoul under the stairs is bad news for the rest of us. I can recall the effects of 25% inflation in 1975. It made my 40p a week pocket money go an even shorter distance. You don't need confirmation from a Zimbabwean or a survivor of the Weimar Republic that inflation is a curse. It wrecks stability by shining a laser into the eye of financial planning and it gnaws away at savings. The sooner we see the back of it again the better; just ask the saintly Vince Cable, the subject of this month's MT Interview.

The dodgy state of the economy has also thumped the estate agency business, which is looking very green around the gills after more than a decade of sating itself.

MT has been up to Manchester, a city that has undergone a huge speculative property building boom and is now rapidly going bust. You've never seen so many rarely available, deceptively spacious, unique opportunities ... all on offer at once.

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