Having learned some tips from his time dealing pens and used cars, that later turned into learning from the man himself, from Mr. Enzo Ferrari. Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone states that Formula 1 is Ferrari and Ferrari is Formula 1 in an interview with GQ after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Manish Pandey, GQ writer and director, asked him about his journey, he started as a car salesman, became a driver, then a driver-manager, a team owner and then he became Formula 1 chief, and that if there was ever a grand plan to become the successful businessman he is today.
“No. Never. I used to deal pens in Petticoat Lane on Sundays, then motorcycles when I worked at the gas board, then used cars. I’m a dealer. Every situation I’ve faced, I’ve faced as a dealer. You have to know the price of what you’re selling and you’ve got to work out the price someone is willing to pay for it.” – Mr. Ecclestone responded
“You’re selling to people who are very smart. They’re wide awake. So, you have to be wide awake too – look for an opportunity and take it. But I’m also a handshake guy. Around the world people knew that, dealing with me, a handshake was enough. If you look at contracts, as soon as the ink is dry you’ve got a lawyer trying to find a way out of it.”
In the interview he also admitted that Enzo Ferrari and Colin Chapman were two of the people he admired the most. Mr. Ferrari was the one that taught him that “the sport is on the table and the business is under it”.
Bernie is also aware that his words may be misunderstood in some ways. He says that there have been times that he words things in a way that they are not taken the way he meant them to be, so that leads to people understanding whatever they want to.
“I’ve got myself into a bit of trouble, but I can honestly say that a person is a person to me. I take people as I see them. It doesn’t matter what colour they are or whether they’re a man or a woman, their religion or nationality, whether they’re rich or poor, their politics”.
After all, he is not against all ideas and movements. He declared that he remembers when Colin Kaepernick (American football player) started to knee before matches, and that the message got to one or two Formula 1 drivers. He states that they did speak about it but never kneeled because they were asked not to, but not by Ecclestone.
“I can’t see what’s different about this year. Those awful things that have been happening in America have been happening for many decades. I suppose it’s a good thing that people have been made aware of what’s happening. I hope it makes a difference.” – Bernie said about the “End Racism” message at the beginning of races now.
After four years of being removed from his executive position, he says that his life has changed a lot, that it is easier now.
“It’s a different way of acting. When I was running Formula One, I was constantly growing the business and endlessly firefighting. But I’m in Switzerland now. Because of the pandemic, I’ve had a lot of time with my family. Both my girls were out here, as well as Fabiana, and [my son] Ace was born here. I’ve never been uncomfortable looking back, I’ve just been a bit busy.”