Bernie, You Stupid Boy

Bernie, You Stupid Boy

Meant in jest, of course, but this does need to be said. Last year Bernie Ecclestone went on a bit of a crusade with regards to the timing of many races. With Europe being one of the largest television markets for Formula One, Ecclestone, the commercial rights holder, wants to capitalise on this. And ultimately, who can blame him? However, the changing of race times in non-European countries poses many problems. And believe it or not, so does scheduling a race on a time-change weekend in the United Kingdom.

To explain my perhaps very bizarre opening paragraph: Ecclestone has pushed back the start time of the Australian Grand Prix (time and date). For a start, I disagree with this. I have fond memories of waking up at some ungodly hour of the morning (something like 4am), dragging my duvet downstairs and curling up with the dog to watch Formula One while the rest of the family slept. At the time, I was of course much younger.

My father would leave me some doughnuts to munch on and the dog was just excited to be woken up at some silly hour only to find it being wrapped in it’s favourite bedding – my duvet. Needless to say, staying awake or arising early holds special memories for me, and it is something I cherish from my youth. I will admit, now being at a grand age of nearly 28 I find the process a little more arduous, mostly thanks to a demanding career and the fact that I can no longer fall asleep after the race. Quite the contrary, I have to stay awake and write. This though, is just as much a pleasure. Although I hope you will forgive me if I seem grumpy on Monday morning!

However, to get back to the point, Bernie has been pressuring races in Asia and Australia to start later in order to capture as many Europeans as possible. With scant regard to the races themselves, Melbourne will be pushing on dusk by the time the winner crosses the line. What Bernie didn’t realise though, one can only presume, is that this weekend is when the clocks change in the UK. We lose an hour’s sleep as time magically moves forward by sixty minutes. I will admit to having my own grievances about changing the clocks, but here is not the place – I’ll leave that to the personal site on Monday morning.

So Ecclestone feels he has achieved something by pushing Australia back this year. I hope he feels just as satisfied when he realises that many Britons will oversleep and miss the first hour of the race. Not that we are stupid and will forget (mostly) but because we value sleep, just as everyone else does. And teenagers, a market Formula One should be clammering after, will have a hard enough time waking up for the pre-clock change time.

The time changes are worked out years in advance, and this season is the latest starting that I can remember in many years. I will be up, confusion aside of course, but I cannot help but feel Pike Bernie has been, well, a bit of a stupid boy.

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23 comments

  • I know what you mean – when I was little the fiercest arguments I had with my parents were:

    1. Having to go to church

    2. Not being allowed to watch the late-night Grands Prix.

    I will admit to having my own grievances about changing the clocks, but here not the place.

    I’m with you on that one too. And Homer Simpson, for that matter (“lousy farmers…”).

  • Not being allowed to watch the late-night Grands Prix.

    I’ve heard this a lot from my/our generation of F1-followers, and I need to be thankful to my folks for allowing my crazy F1-related antics. They really are truly special memories. Just me, the dog and Murray. Ah, those were the days.

    And Homer Simpson, for that matter (”lousy farmers…”).

    😀

  • I have fond memories of waking up at some ungodly hour of the morning (something like 4am)

    Much like my fond memories last year of watching the Australian GP in North America. Heading out to the pub, grabbing a pint, asking them to put on the TV and hoping that the race finished before last call.

  • You really shouldn’t qualify your comments about Bernie as as being a joke. Bernie really is stupid, in the sense that being greedy made him rich and powerful, but greed didn’t grow him any brains. The way he’s been acting, well I suppose we can chalk it up to being senile, but Slavica was granted a divorce based on “unreasonable behaviour.” Can we file for the same?

  • Much like my fond memories last year of watching the Australian GP in North America. Heading out to the pub, grabbing a pint, asking them to put on the TV and hoping that the race finished before last call.

    I did cut a paragraph from the post for brevity reasons and also that this a slightly personal post. The paragraph went something like:

    I do appreciate that Formula One caters for the world, as it should, and Bernie is incorrect in his assumption that Europeans should be the better looked after. In my opinion, holding races at local start time adds to the spectacle…

    It is important to remember though that F1 is enjoyed by many cultures the world over, and what suits one person or nation is very different to another. Especially when last orders are concerned! 😉

  • You really shouldn’t qualify your comments about Bernie as as being a joke.

    Ah man, that’s gonna keep in laughter all weekend. 😀

    Thank you Arnet. Thanks for saying that. I mean it, seriously, genuinely, thank you. A truly wonderful comment. 🙂

  • HA!

    Everytime the timing of a race messes with other countries sleep, I am very very happy 😉

    I live in Mexico, and we have to get up at 6am for most of the races and a couple at 2am.

    6am. On sundays.

    Seriously.

  • I live in Mexico, and we have to get up at 6am for most of the races and a couple at 2am.

    Yeah, I know. As I said to Greg moments earlier, F1 is different for everyone. I can only (genuinely) look at it from my perspective, and I should be thankful that my perspective is similar to Bernie’s in terms of time zones. I am aware that I am lucky. But also, I am unlucky, because of what I said in the post. Local time is the best time for me. Be it Europe, Asia or even Antarctica. Local is my viewpoint.

    Surely local time is fairest? 1pm start (local) no matter what country.

    Anyway, the point of the post is that Bernie moved the race forward in time, but back in date. This led to it happening at a time that I am certain is against his wishes, because the time of the race is now no different due to the clocks changing in his prime market. As I said, “stupid boy”.

  • Glad I caused some chuckles, but I wasn’t trying to be funny. I think Bernie’s sanity is a real concern.

    These days I use a DVR to record the races on European time (I’m in Canada) and before that it was about setting the VCR (which in the party days led to missing more than a few races), but when I was a young teen (I started watching in the early ’80’s ) I seem to recall that some of the races were shown tape-delayed. Come to think of it, during the party days I ended up watching more than a few of the races live, having stayed up all night. Nowadays it’s brunch and the race late Sunday morning. The hard part is staying away from the web-sites until after the race. I used to have some F1 sites as my home pages and I’ve since changed that.

  • Yeah, Try getting up at that hour for all the Euro races at age 40. It really tests your love for the sport. How Bernie can get the time shifted to make it easier on Europe but completely disregards the US in this manner is borderline infuriating. Even kicking them back an hour would mean a 5:30 race over a 4:30 race. Yeah, yeah, DVR my a*** . . . i want to watch it live!

  • Glad I caused some chuckles, but I wasn’t trying to be funny. I think Bernie’s sanity is a real concern.

    I think Max is the more, erm, looser of the two in terms of cannons untied, but I do agree. 🙂

    The hard part is staying away from the web-sites until after the race. I used to have some F1 sites as my home pages and I’ve since changed that.

    I regularly get emailed complaints about posting the race results for this reason.

    I do appreciate it, I really honestly do, which is partly why I take the local time stance. Mostly, it’s because I really do believe in local time. When in Rome and all that… But I know from following (as bizarre as this is gonna sound) surfing, the American and/or SE Asian blogs get in there first before I get a chance to view video footage.

    Come to think of it, during the party days I ended up watching more than a few of the races live, having stayed up all night.

    I get the impression there are some stories here. Do tell… 😉

  • Try getting up at that hour for all the Euro races at age 40.

    At age 20, I would have been looking forward it. Eight years later, I’ll admit to not looking forward to it. Especially as I’m considering moving abroad, New Zealand and Italy being the prime locations. The more I think about it, the more Italy looks better. 😉

  • OK, just one.

    I was out with a friend’s girlfriend at a local pub one Saturday night and we decided that last call was just too early, so we headed back to my place and continued talking and more than likely drinking. She’s an F1 fan, so we decided to stay up until 6 or 7 am to watch the race live. When she got home, of course he asked, “So where have you been all night?” and she said, “At Arnet’s watching the race.” He dryly replied, “So that’s what they call it these days……..” Of course he knew we were only watching the race.

  • It’s really stupid – I’m glad it was pointed out by Keith and yourself otherwise I wouldn’t have realised. I hate the later start – it means I have to get up early rather than stay up later.

  • It’s really stupid – I’m glad it was pointed out by Keith and yourself otherwise I wouldn’t have realised.

    Thanks Boyce. Do you have a link to the F1Fanatic article; I wasn’t aware Keith posted the same, but would love to read his viewpoint on the matter. (And none of Keith’s article titles scream the obvious, unless my feed reader is deceiving me…)

  • I was out with a friend’s girlfriend at a local pub one Saturday night and we decided that last call was just too early, so we headed back to my place and continued talking and more than likely drinking.

    Say no more. 😉 😛

    Of course he knew we were only watching the race.

    Phew. 😀

    I jest, of course…

    …Seriously, is that what they call it these days… 😉

  • Thirty five years ago the only F1 race to be seen here in America was the ABC coverage of Monaco, usually tape delayed. Print media was often Road and Track where you read about that Monaco GP in August. Speed Sport News was more current but never available except in rare locations. Things have changed…with cable TV and the Internet we have the most amazing ability follow our sport. I have to get up at 4AM to watch the European races and don’t mind, I tell the wife and kids I am going to Spa or Germany etc. and that allows me to see what I want without disruption. Speeds coverage of the races are pretty good and so what I do is watch all 3 days of the event mixing that with whatever I can find of various F1 websites and combine it with opinions of friends and others like many of you here today. It is a world of difference from what we had a few years ago.

    As for Bernie I rather get a kick out of him. I think he loves anything that causes “issues” and gets press. Any news is good news. Bad news is even better. His only goal is promote F1 into a money making machine and if that means poor suckers like me have to get up in the middle of the night to see the show then that is what I will have to do. If you are a true fan of the sport you will watch it when it happens, regardless of the time of day or not. DVRs are good but seeing it when it happens is how I do it. Habits are easily formed when yo do it for thrity years.

  • Here in Canada I’ve had the option of TSN, which carried the ITV feed (and will now carry the Beeb) as well as it’s own pre-and post-race coverage, and SPEED TV’s feed out of the US. SPEED also shows practice the day before quali, but it looks like this year, TSN has requested a blackout. It doesn’t really make sense since they’ve dropped their pre- and post- coverage, so where’s the conflict? That’s a good way to piss off your viewers.

    I have noticed, however, that RUSh HD is currently showing the great movie “Grand Prix” to be repeated at 10:00 pm Pacific, for anyone interested in that.

  • I have fond memories of waking up at some ungodly hour of the morning (something like 4am) {Ollie – original entry}

    Same here 🙂

    The first time my parents let me watch F1 past my bedtime was the Japanese Grand Prix 1999. They thought it was a bit odd that I suddenly wanted to do it, but they let me on condition that I went to bed and slept first. And that I woke myself up…

    I duly woke up for qualifying (having slept considerably lighter than expected and woken up about an hour early – which, luckily, was after my parents had gone to bed), put on a green nightdress over my pyjamas and some improbably large headphones and figured out through trial and (thankfully) quiet error how to get them to work in the TV. I returned to bed shortly before Mum woke up.

    Mum thought it was hilarious when she saw me in this massive pair of headphones during the race coverage, but Dad decided that maybe what I was doing was a good idea and he’s joined me for early-morning qualifying and races ever since. Still haven’t convinced him to watch practises with me yet…

  • I do not like the start time change either! More on a personal side I work in television at the races and the 17:00 local start in Melbourne will mean that I will probably only finish work at 02:00 the next day instead of late at night when at least I had a little of the night left to party or sleep!

  • Wolf and I get our races at 8 PM for the European & Singapore rounds. Asian/Australian races are at 2 PM. Brazil is the lone early-morning race for us – at 2 AM.

    I think Bernie is catering to us too. 😉

  • As for Bernie I rather get a kick out of him. I think he loves anything that causes “issues” and gets press. Any news is good news. Bad news is even better. His only goal is promote F1 into a money making machine…

    I agree with Holmes. Bernie is a tremendously dominant businessman– Even more powerful than the might Rozelle of the US’ National Football League when I was a kid.

    Consider this line: “Ecclestone arranged a management buyout of the Honda entry led by Ross Brawn.” This is a chess player who creates new pieces out of clay, and decides what kind of moves they can make in his board.

    Let’s think about the winner-take-all dustup. You could make a strong case that the two most boring races in 2008 were Valencia and Singapore: With Ferrari’s pitlane hijinks, they have been unwatchably dull. Once the races had actually started, the tracks looked bad on television. (Valencia in particular looked like a collection of fences from Dachau and Auschwitz.) Worst of all, both tracks were hideous for overtaking.

    Remember the last dozen laps in Singapore? The Ferraris were out of it, Alonso was steaming home, and a penalized Rosberg was in second place… And in third was Hamilton, content to take sixth points rather than risking a crash just for a higher podium position.

    So let’s imagine the shouty phone calls Bernie took from the Singapore government that Monday morning. “You promised us an exciting race! We spent a billion dollars for you! We shut down our downtown for an entire weekend! We brought in a gazillion lights so your friends in Europe wouldn’t be inconvenienced! We let all sorts of Godless sinners strut through our downtown and make a commercial mockery of our civic pride… And in the end, the most exciting driver in your stable didn’t care enough to try to win!”

    The 2008 season was certainly one of the most exciting finishes in history. I agree with everyone that Bernie’s winner-take-all scheme is a bad idea, and that on any given occasion that you read about him in an article, you’ll probably have your blood pressure turned up.

    But I see where he’s coming from. The series would be unrecognizable if he hadn’t been part of it, and there’s much, much to love here. I grew up near Indianapolis, so I know how a treasured racing series can wither. Aren’t you glad this isn’t NASCAR, with yellow flags for the heck of it?

    It’s Bernie’s planet: You & I are just visiting.

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