It might be with rose-tinted glasses that we look back on the 40 years of Mr E.’s stewardship, but he did some amazing things for F1. There’s Bernie’s calling card on every single aspect of the race weekend. So what did he actually do?
Created FOCA – Formula One Constructors’ Association. Yes, it might have made him a rich and powerful man, but which of Bernie’s deals didn’t. However, the having all the teams pooling their political might, enabled them to demand better track facilities. Look back at the videos from the 70’s and you’ll see just how much this was needed.
Stole the TV rights – We all know the story of how Bernie snuck in the clause into the Concorde Agreement. But with it went the days of Murray Walker saying ‘I can’t see the pit lane from here’ because he was sat in a studio in London during the Australian GP. The progress in TV coverage came hand-in-hand with the competition for broadcast rights. Bernie’s hand was definitely in this pot too.
WORLD Championship – There are World Champions in Baseball, Ice Hockey and American Football, where there are almost no matches outside of the USA. Bernie fully believed in the WORLD element of the world championship. The airfares might be astronomical but the coverage the races get is truly global. Just a simple map of the events tells you all you need to know.
Controlled the Piranha Club – There are no sharper political or business minded heads than in the legendary Piranha Club. Recently, the departure of Ron Dennis shows just how sharp the teeth still are in the pond. But despite all of this, he was always in control of what he needed. A couple of on-the-record words here or there would quickly put a player back in their box.
Night Races – Not only do they look bloody cool, they must be a refreshing change for the drivers. The spark plates were designed to work in the night and there are iconic images from Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Singapore. Darren Heath is one of the best F1 photographers around and looking at his gallery, he must dream of going to Singapore.
While there are people jumping on the anti-Bernie bandwagon, it’s always nice to remember some of the good he did in his time.
At least he didn’t implement his plan for artificial wet races. That would have been unforgivable.