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Bernie Ecclestone touching 80, and at full throttle

Last updated on: October 19, 2010 18:24 IST

Bernie Ecclestone touching 80, and at full throttle

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He is at the helm of Formula One for more than 32 years. And with each passing year he seems to get younger. While managing a top notch product is challenging, for a certain Bernie Ecclestone, it comes naturally.

For one who left his home at the age of 16 to pursue motorcycling as a hobby, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that he has managed to efficiently have things in control.

-Formula One coverage

The F1 supremo, who once even tried his hand at the Grand Prix races, and failed to qualify, it's quite an achievement dealing with all the administration, set-up and logistics that Formula One demands.

But ask Bernie, who will turn 80 next week, how he manages it, and he makes it sound simple.

"What's the difference being 79 one day and 80 the next? It's the same. I don't even know where I'm going to be. I'll be travelling somewhere," he says, in an interview with the Guardian.


Image: Bernie Ecclestone
Photographs: Reuters
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'People retire to die'

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In fact rather than celebrating, he will be working on his birthday.

He says he can't image hanging his boots anytime soon.

"What else would I do? People retire to die," he declares.

The 79-year-old has plans to rule the F1 circuit for another 10 years.

"The way I feel at the moment, why stop? I do it because I enjoy it. And yesterday is gone. I don't care what happened yesterday," he adds.


Image: Bernie Ecclestone

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'It's just having the courage to do it'

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Yet, it's not been a rosy ride for the Brit.

For one, he always believed that he and only he has the right to reshape Formula One by moving into countries with no previous tradition of racing.

The Indian Grand Prix is a perfect example of how he is willing to expand his wings and with Russia and Texas added to the list, it would spin more money than ever before raising the amount of potential races to 22.

It won't be wrong to say that Bernie has made F1 a much more universal sport.

"We're a world championship and so, by definition, we need to be in different parts of the world. In the end common sense has prevailed and we've expanded. It's just having the courage to do it," he adds in the Guardian interview.


Image: Bernie Ecclestone

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'You need someone to turn the lights on and off'

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For 32 years he has controlled Formula One, amid increasing accusations that he has stripped racing of its soul.

The safety issues have haunted him forever now and he believes one of the prime reasons why you would find same circuits everywhere is that emphasis is on building a circuits that are super safe.

"Our problem is that we're trying to build race circuits that are super safe. You don't get so much up-and-down because you can't just put a new circuit anywhere. But one of the best circuits in the world is Turkey," he says.

A smooth talker, Bernie has never been fazed by public opinion. From the days, where was compared with Hitler he always maintained "you need someone to turn the lights on and off".

"Whether it's a company or anything you need someone who is going to turn the lights on and off. We had Mrs Thatcher and when she was in charge she did turn the lights on and off. She brought the country to where it was before it got muddled up again," Bernie says.


Image: Bernie Ecclestone

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'I don't get any individual pleasure'

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It's not surprising that he is love with Formula One so much that he is able to give little attention to his football team QPR.

While Flavio Baritore, who is now banned from Formula One, showed keen interest in QPR, Bernie terms it as something that he got into out of reluctance.

"It's something that I got involved -- not out of choice. Of course I can pull out - but there are lots of things that could and should be done there. It's mainly commercial things and for me to see if we can get that working better. Once you get me involved that's it. I'm there," he explains.

So what left for him to achieve?

"I don't get any individual pleasure, because we don't win races or titles in this job. I'm like most business people. You look back at the end of the year and you see what you've achieved by working out how much money the company has made. That's it."


Image: Bernie Ecclestone

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