Bernie Ecclestone turns 80

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The billionaire Briton and Formula One supremo is 80 today, but still has no plans to retire.

The former second-hand car salesman, who turned F1 from a sport for oil-streaked 'garagistes' into a billion-dollar glamour business, has no intention of giving up his globe-trotting, deal-making lifestyle for an armchair and slippers any time in the next decade.

"Retire? Why? I need the money, I can't afford to retire," he said at Sunday's South Korean Grand Prix in Yeongam as he inspected the latest addition to his global circus.

"I don't worry. Age is nothing. People make me laugh when they talk about one year to the next year," he added with a smile. "One day you're one age and a day later you're another age. It's all nonsense.

"I'm like Obama, I like to move forward."

He certainly does not need the money, but as he has explained on countless occasions, it is a way of keeping the score more than anything, a means of measuring achievement rather than keeping the wolf at the door.

A natural dealmaker, with a softly-spoken manner that belies his Machiavellian streak, Ecclestone has a reputation for being uncompromising and almost obsessively neat, with the odd wisecrack thrown in.

One of the advantages of old age, he once suggested, was that the fear of life imprisonment was no longer what it was. The sport, with a record 20-race calendar lined up for next season and new races on the horizon in India, Russia and the United States, can thank his magic touch for keeping the money pipeline flowing.

Ecclestone, who got into hot water last year when he suggested Adolf Hitler was a man "who got things done", is by his own admission a dictator - a man who does a deal on a handshake, has a fondness for the office shredder and an aversion to email and written contracts.

"I don't think democracy is the way to run anything," he said recently.

"Whether it's a company or anything, you need someone who is going to turn the lights on and off."

There is no obvious successor lined up for a ringmaster who went through a triple heart bypass in 1999 ("I recommend everybody has one," he said later) and was more recently divorced from his Croatian wife Slavica, who towered above him, after 26 years together.

International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt, another diminutive dynamo who replaced Ecclestone's long-term ally Max Mosley last year, brushed off any concern from the governing body's part.

"I really wish to be in the same situation at his age. It's fascinating."

The Frenchman likened Ecclestone to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway head Warren Buffett, two billionaires closely identified with firms that would also one day have to move into a new phase without them.

"Bernie is a very smart guy. He has sold his company to (private equity firm) CVC, and in fact the responsibility of the future of Formula One is more to CVC than to Bernie," Todt said. "It's up to them. I'm sure Bernie will be a big contributor, but...Bernie is not the right guy, knowing him, to say who do you think it should be? Because he doesn't see any successor. He's very happy, he's fit, motivated, he loves it.

"CVC are very smart business people...the companies that are legendary are still living, making profits and innovations," added the Frenchman.

"I am sure that Formula One has a very strong future."

1 comment

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By shayla802 3 years ago