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Page 3 Profile: Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Supremo

Any radical changes to Formula One this year?

Practice sessions in Australia, this year’s first Grand Prix, suggest we can expect more of the same. Topping the time sheets was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who has won the championship for the past three years. Bernie Ecclestone expects the drinks giant’s No 1 driver to dominate again, though he did predict that there would be stiff competition from Ferrari. Lower down the ranks, Lewis Hamilton has been pleasantly surprised by his Mercedes.

Doesn’t sound that exciting for a breakneck speed sport ...

Well, there is something very comforting about Formula One. It is reassuring, on a lazy Sunday, to know that the order in which the cars start the race will probably closely resemble the order in which they finish. Still, Ecclestone has managed to turn it into a huge money-making empire, even talked of a Formula One IPO. “Last year I thought that the markets were not ready, but now it is getting more likely that there is an opportunity,” he said. He also rules over the sport with an iron fist. When Hamilton wanted a VIP pass for his bulldog, he had to get it granted by the 82-year-old racing mogul.

Is he still looking for a woman driver?

He opened the doors to IndyCar star Danica Patrick, but she said no. “What I think – and I cannot blame her for it – is that she will hardly want to give up the exposure she has in the US to come here and maybe not make it,” he said. “I have been looking for a woman for years!” You suspect he recognises that a woman driver would be a sponsor’s dream. After all, he once said that women “should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances”.

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