Ecclestone plotting heist to take down F1 to gain control?

Bernie Ecclestone

The most outlandish theory hanging in the moist heat of Kuala Lumpur was that Bernie Ecclestone is staging one of the cleverest heists in a career of clever heists by talking down the sport he spent a lifetime transforming.

The theory goes that he is criticizing the lack of noise from the new V6 engines because he wants the value of Formula One to fall. He will then orchestrate the purchase of the majority share in the business at a reduced price and remain in charge for the rest of eternity.

His willing accomplice, so the conspiracy runs, could conceivably be Dietrich Mateschitz, the Red Bull owner, a fellow billionaire, friend and recent critic of the quieter engines.

Formula One's current majority owners, CVC, could then wash their hands of Ecclestone before a German court reaches a verdict later this year on whether their octogenarian billionaire chief executive bribed a German banker called Gerhard Gribkowsky the last time the sport was sold, in 2005.

According to the script, Ferrari, who possess a veto on these matters, would be induced onside, Ecclestone would stay in overall control and Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner would be tutored to take over if the old boy ever actually died.

Fanciful? Perhaps. After all it could be doing no more than stirring up controversy – in this case about something he fervently believes in, namely engine noise.

It is an old tactic of his that has made the Formula One soap opera rival Coronation Street with its cast of heroes, lunatics, cheats and Machiavelli’s.

But everything that happens in Formula One has a reason behind it. And Ecclestone talking down the product he sells is like Del Boy telling you the video recorder that's fallen off a lorry won't switch on. So, maybe, the buying it back story is not so mad after all.

Anyway, in his usual spirit of mischievousness Ecclestone said he would like to get the noise levels up, adding: 'I wish I could get it up.' He is 84 in October.

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