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Formula 1 before Bernie Ecclestone


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#1 F1Frog

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Posted 05 September 2022 - 18:47

Please could somebody give me a history lesson.

 

When exactly did Bernie Ecclestone take over Formula 1, and who owned it before him? What was their involvement in running F1? In what ways did Bernie improve Formula 1, and in what ways did he ruin it?

 

This is purely out of interest and I am struggling to find answers from google. It stems from the fact that I started watching F1 while Bernie was already in charge, and didn't particularly like his money-grabbing ways of ownership, but since Liberty Media have come in I find them even worse, and would be interested to know more about how Formula 1 was owned before Bernie Ecclestone.



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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 September 2022 - 19:00

Bernie - and Max Mosley - essentially created 'modern F1'. Pre-Bernie, nobody 'owned F1' as such. It wasn't what modern marketing speak calls a 'brand', it just existed under the aegis of the FIA. Start here ...

 

http://8w.forix.com/...n-timeline.html



#3 Risil

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Posted 05 September 2022 - 19:37

I'm possibly biased by IMHO the various threads in TNF are the best resource on the web (and quite possibly off it) for providing that history lesson.
 
Some interesting threads I picked up from a quick search, although this only scratches the surface:
 
1981 South African GP

World championship 1952 F1 to F2

Taking part in Formula 1

RIP CSI WCD 1950-1980 and long live FIA F1 WC 1981-present



#4 Risil

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Posted 05 September 2022 - 19:58

This article about Ecclestone's F1CA (forerunner of FOCA) and its promotion of the 1974 Belgian Grand Prix that Adam Cooper did during 2020's lockdown (remember that?) was pretty informative too.

 

https://www.motorspo...m-1974/4792168/



#5 F1Frog

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Posted 05 September 2022 - 21:21

Thank you very much to you both, I will read all those tomorrow. I do tend to find old threads on this forum very useful for F1 history lessons.

#6 john aston

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 06:29

In what ways did he ruin it? Top of my list would be staging races in countries with no motor sport history , or interest , in return for shedloads of  grubby money from grubby politicians in even grubbier regimes . There's a wide choice of candidates , but publicly schmoozing the disgusting Putin at Sochi - the same year Russia had annexed Crimea - was eloquent testimony to the man's moral bankruptcy .  



#7 jeffbee

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 09:23

Ecclestone described Putin as a "great guy".  I believe that that description is probably true, by Ecclestone's standards.

 

Some of us with long memories will remember non-championship F1 races at exotic locations like Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Crystal Palace.  With more emphasis on professionalism those races stopped.  As for the races at far away locations with no history or real interest in F1, the organisers soon came to their senses when they realised how much it was costing them and who was making the money.



#8 john aston

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 11:31

I have long thought that we really need a Scandinavian Grand Prix , given the successes of  of Rosberg , Peterson , Hakkinen and many others. It would get massive support , as  the rejuvenated Zandvoort is doing . But we last had a Swedish GP 44 years ago . New races in the likes of Qatar , Saudi , Abu Dhabi , Azerbaijan and other bastions of motor sport indifference are scant compensation . There are millions of reasons why we have to endure that rubbish  but we still are waiting for a Midnight Sun Grand Prix .


Edited by john aston, 06 September 2022 - 11:33.


#9 Bloggsworth

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 12:22

Ecclestone described Putin as a "great guy".  I believe that that description is probably true, by Ecclestone's standards.

 

Some of us with long memories will remember non-championship F1 races at exotic locations like Brands Hatch, Oulton Park and Crystal Palace.  With more emphasis on professionalism those races stopped.  As for the races at far away locations with no history or real interest in F1, the organisers soon came to their senses when they realised how much it was costing them and who was making the money.

Ah yes! The turbocharged ground-effect cars approaching Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch at over 200 miles an hour - And I found it intimidating in a Formula Ford!


Edited by Bloggsworth, 06 September 2022 - 12:24.


#10 D-Type

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 12:37

Ah yes! The turbocharged ground-effect cars approaching Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch at over 200 miles an hour - And I found it intimidating in a Formula Ford!

I don't think we can blame Bernie for this.
The entire "Eff wun" establishment have fought shy of slowing the cars down, possibly looking at 1961 and the noticeable drop in speeds, but by 1965 lap times were faster than 1960.  The feeling has been that the public spectacle can only be enhanced by more speed.  As cars have got faster and corner speeds have got faster they have chosen to modify the tracks - run-off areas, tyre barriers and spectators setback.
Speed is relative.  The average fan, either on the couch or at the track is largely immune to speed, as such, but want close racing and lead changes on track rather than by strategic pitstops.  I would rather watch a close-fought Formula Ford race than a processional Grand Prix.  The 2022 aero regulations are a step in the right direction.



#11 opplock

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 14:03

Ah yes! The turbocharged ground-effect cars approaching Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch at over 200 miles an hour - And I found it intimidating in a Formula Ford!

 

Almost. I remember Brian Jones excitedly announcing that Mansell had triggered the speed trap at record speed of 194 mph. Situated just before the Paddock braking point. 

 

I agree about Formula Fords. For me the highlight of the motor racing year is FF Festival.  



#12 jeffbee

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 14:07

"The entire "Eff wun" establishment have fought shy of slowing the cars down, possibly looking at 1961 and the noticeable drop in speeds, but by 1965 lap times were faster than 1960.  The feeling has been that the public spectacle can only be enhanced by more speed.  As cars have got faster and corner speeds have got faster they have chosen to modify the tracks - run-off areas, tyre barriers and spectators setback."

 

When the 1961 F1 cars (1 1/2 litres) first raced they were, on most circuits, around one second a lap slower than the year before (2 1/2 litres).  By the time the formula ended in 1965 they were faster but nowhere near as fast as the current crop.

I'm not convinced that the paying public are only concerned with how fast the cars can go.  I think most are more interested in close exciting racing with plenty of position changes on the track.

Max Mosley once said that the public were more concerned about the technical excellence of F1 than the quality of the racing.  I'm not sure many agreed with him. 



#13 john aston

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 14:11

Interesting - and to highlight the progress in turbo F 1 cars I recall much excitement from the commentary box (and from me ...) at Mansell's approach speed in 1984 - 177mph . 

 

FF1600 - quite simply the best junior single seater formula ever, and it still is. 



#14 E1pix

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 16:15

As far as I’m concerned, tech has all but ruined F1.

But I guess it’s at least consistent with most everything else.

#15 LodgeCorner

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 17:37

For me the introduction of the big car manufacturers started the demise. There was always the danger of them losing interest if it didn't meet their marketing aims and the huge increase in annual budgets (till the so called budget cap). I always enjoyed the non championship meetings as you got a chance to see quite a few of the days stars race and many of the teams would introduce some of the upcoming talent. And then you had the small one car teams bringing in the new talent, Antique Automobiles and Ronnie Peterson? So in my view Bernie took more away than brought.

#16 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 18:16

Andrew Ferguson of Team Lotus used to run the Formula 1 Constructors' Association as a spare time duty into the early 1970s.  When he opted out change came but fairly slowly.  As I recall it there was a meeting - a brief stand-up paddock chat - between team principals at the 1973 Spanish GP, at Montjuich, Barcelona.  Their conversation reputedly went something like this:

 

Ken Tyrrell to Colin Chapman: "Go on Colin, you'd be best suited to do the dealing with organisers...".

 

Colin: "I can't do it, I'm too busy running Lotus - you do it Ken".

 

Ken: "I just don't have the time. I'm too busy running my team (and keeping Jackie happy)".

 

Ken to Teddy Mayer: "Teddy, you're a lawyer - you'd be perfect to run it!".

 

Teddy Mayer: "I can't spare the time either from running our team".

 

(Notably, nobody asked Mauro Forghieri to get Mr Ferrari to run the Association.  Nor did anyone ask Louis Stanley of BRM to take over).

 

Silence.

 

Then a little voice piped up (very quietly):  "I'd run it for you...for 5 per cent...".

 

Ken, Colin, Teddy, Mauro, Big Lou - all looking around at one another: "Who said that?".

 

"I did" said the small voice.

 

They all looked down, and there was Bernie Ecclestone of Brabham.  Chorus: "Coo - would you Bernie? Would you really run it for us?  Fantastic!  You're on".

 

After two or three years, when BCE had already built Formula 1 revenue many times over, most of those principals were looking back fondly on the days when "5 per cent" had been of a very small total.  By then it was truly substantial.  Bernie made himself a very wealthy man indeed.  But along the way he also made many, many more team principals very wealthy men too.

 

Some of them would tend to forget that fact...

 

DCN



#17 small block

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 19:14

re

Almost. I remember Brian Jones excitedly announcing that Mansell had triggered the speed trap at record speed of 194 mph. Situated just before the Paddock braking point. 

 

I agree about Formula Fords. For me the highlight of the motor racing year is FF Festival.  

I also remember Brian provoking guffaws and harrupmhs in equal measure at the 1983 Race of Champions when he said that Arnoux's Ferrari looked like 'a big red Van Diemen' as it rounded Paddock :lol:



#18 chr1s

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 19:50

 

 

 In what ways did Bernie improve Formula 1, and in what ways did he ruin it?

 

 

I'm reminded of the story about Bernie visiting a Monaco Historic meeting some years ago, and on observing the chaos of the paddock, with cars scattered around in various states of repair, being worked on by mechanics in oily overalls, was overheard remarking to Stirling Moss (I think) "Isn't this great? It's exactly what it used to be like before I f****d it all up!  

It's worth remembering that somewhere deep down inside him there was an enthusiast at heart.



#19 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 September 2022 - 21:22

That is spot on. I think I was the one who published that quote. The first Monaco Historique weekend.

 

DCN



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#20 Charlieman

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Posted 07 September 2022 - 09:47

For me the introduction of the big car manufacturers started the demise. There was always the danger of them losing interest if it didn't meet their marketing aims and the huge increase in annual budgets (till the so called budget cap). ... So in my view Bernie took more away than brought.

The question of how much big car manufacturers should determine regulations is pretty much as old as the sport. Vigorous debates between manufacturers and race organisers about what it was all about surrounded the major races held pre-World War 1.

 

If we go back in our minds to the period just before F1Frog started to follow F1 (pre-turbo 3 litre regs), big manufacturers (Ford, Fiat, Alfa Romeo) were already supporting teams. Factory teams were initially resisted by Ecclestone -- follow the complex history of the FICA/FOCA/FIA wars -- before Ecclestone decided that an expensive engine deal provided by BMW might be in his team's interest. From this point, when BCE was tied in with a big manufacturer and other British team owners had well funded engine deals, the demands of big car manufacturers became harder to resist. The balance shifted most when Ecclestone lost interest in running Brabham.

 

I'd love to have overheard the "discussion" between BCE and Gordon Murray -- deputy manager of the Brabham team as well as designer -- when Murray said that he would not be attending the 1982 Las Vegas GP.



#21 Sterzo

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Posted 07 September 2022 - 09:50

An assessment of Ecclestone's reign over F1, based on my entirely unbiased view from over a sandwich at the track side:

  • Achieved consistent entries and good grid sizes, without the blight of non-starters.
  • Funded and organised massive improvements in safety.
  • Changed racing from a sport to a brand, a product, a cash-cow.
  • Added the stench of dodgy deals, offshore companies, and untraceable funds.
  • Colluded with Mosley to control a supposedly independent governing body.
  • Screwed over race promoters and settled scores with those who didn't play (e.g. BRDC).
  • Drove up costs to an unsustainable level (so he could take his %).

Edited by Sterzo, 07 September 2022 - 09:52.


#22 JacnGille

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Posted 07 September 2022 - 17:04

My opinion of Bernie changed somewhat after read Prof Sid Watkins book. Lots of behind the scenes looks at the good deeds of Bernie's.



#23 doc knutsen

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Posted 09 September 2022 - 08:06

Interesting - and to highlight the progress in turbo F 1 cars I recall much excitement from the commentary box (and from me ...) at Mansell's approach speed in 1984 - 177mph . 

 

FF1600 - quite simply the best junior single seater formula ever, and it still is. 

At the Brands Hatch European GP in 1985, the race organizers had provided a large digital panel on top of the building on the approach to Paddock, showing the speed of the cars as they approached the braking area. I watched in awe as one Mr.Rosberg, from the same part of the World as Mad Ronald, gave us a readout of 192 mph...with Paddock Hill Bend looming.



#24 d j fox

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Posted 10 September 2022 - 16:53

Agree with Sterzo… how many times did we turn up at an F1 race only to find the Ferraris were not coming… usually a metal workers strike.
I’d add increased TV coverage too. Us “oldies” remember watching the start, the first two laps and then over to seeing 6 horses wandering around a parade ring for 39 minutes, followed by 3 minute race and more parading before returning for the last three laps!

#25 john aston

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Posted 11 September 2022 - 17:04

True , but I'd balance that with up to four F1 races a year in the UK, including the Grand Prix (sometimes at wonderful Brands Hatch ), with  affordable entry and often unfettered paddock access.

 

I attended the British GP this year - it cost me over £ 300 , and that was for general access (ie no grandstands ) Friday and Saturday only. Not being a A or B list celebrity , my chances of getting into the paddock were lower than being invited on a date by Kim Kardashian (whoever she is ) . The spectacle was still wonderful though - these cars are sensationally fast - , and incomparably better than on TV , even if being surrounded by hordes of youthful and very vocal Lando Norris fans was a long way from 'the right crowd and no crowding ' ethos of yesteryear 



#26 Charlieman

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Posted 12 September 2022 - 09:49

Agree with Sterzo… how many times did we turn up at an F1 race only to find the Ferraris were not coming… usually a metal workers strike.

I had a quick look at WDC races where Ferrari did not attend. National strikes (eg transport) determined the team's first DNA (GB 1959) but reasons for later non-attendance were pragmatic (preparing for the next season, championships won) or political (disputes with FIA).

 

"Metal workers strike" always seemed an unusual excuse for a team which did most metal working in-house. It was most commonly used when the team failed to introduce a new or updated car in the 1970s...



#27 jeffbee

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Posted 12 September 2022 - 10:06

Metal worker's strikes, National strikes and general strife in Italy was pretty common in the60s as well, particularly if things weren't going well for Ferrari at the time.



#28 F1Frog

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Posted 12 September 2022 - 18:59

Thank you very much for all your information, particularly Vitesse2 and Risil with very informative articles, and while I don't think I fully understand, I do now have a much better idea of how Formula 1 was run before Bernie Ecclestone.

 

 

I'm reminded of the story about Bernie visiting a Monaco Historic meeting some years ago, and on observing the chaos of the paddock, with cars scattered around in various states of repair, being worked on by mechanics in oily overalls, was overheard remarking to Stirling Moss (I think) "Isn't this great? It's exactly what it used to be like before I f****d it all up!  

It's worth remembering that somewhere deep down inside him there was an enthusiast at heart.

This was an interesting quote, and although it doesn't entirely paint Bernie in a good light (saying that he had f****d F1 up), this sense of him being an enthusiast at heart was certainly true and something you do not see with Liberty Media at all.



#29 427MkIV

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Posted 12 September 2022 - 19:04

Can't remember the name of the documentary, but in it Lord Hesketh said in about 1976 Bernie got the team owners together and offered them a piece of the F1 broadcast rights for $100k each. Chapman said he could do a lot of testing for $100k, and the meeting broke up. Hesketh ruefully laughed at not taking the offer.

 

ETA The documentary is "1."


Edited by 427MkIV, 21 September 2022 - 12:36.


#30 john aston

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 05:44

Thank you very much for all your information, particularly Vitesse2 and Risil with very informative articles, and while I don't think I fully understand, I do now have a much better idea of how Formula 1 was run before Bernie Ecclestone.

 

 

This was an interesting quote, and although it doesn't entirely paint Bernie in a good light (saying that he had f****d F1 up), this sense of him being an enthusiast at heart was certainly true and something you do not see with Liberty Media at all.

He hasn't been an enthusiast  for decades. Notorious for leaving venues long before the race ended , threatening long establlshed and popular venues with loss of races in favour of poorly attended races on crappy tracks at some Gulf hell hole and always, always  chasing the dollar , no matter how soiled it was. A born wheeler dealer - yes ; but an enthusiast  - not since Brabham days . 


Edited by john aston, 13 September 2022 - 17:16.


#31 chr1s

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 21:20

He hasn't been an enthusiast  for decades. Notorious for leaving venues long before the race ended , threatening long establlshed and popular venues with loss of races in favour of poorly attended races on crappy tracks at some Gulf hell hole and always, always  chasing the dollar , no matter how soiled it was. A born wheeler dealer - yes ; but an enthusiast  - not since Brabham days . 

Quite so, but I had always assumed it was enthusiasm which brought him to the sport in the first place, but once he realised the huge commercial potential of the sport his business head began to overrule his enthusiasts heart, the extent to which became apparent after the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix...



#32 GregThomas

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Posted 14 September 2022 - 07:34

The commercial side of B Ecclestone was apparent in 1958 when he came to NZ with a pair of Connaughts for sale. Even as a kid roaming the pits I knew everything he had there was for sale. No one made a secret of it. Bringing cars out to sell in order to cover expenses where organisers didn't do so was common - but no one else brought out two cars.


Edited by GregThomas, 14 September 2022 - 07:35.


#33 Sterzo

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Posted 14 September 2022 - 10:46

Back in the nineties, I visited an engineer in Bexleyheath to collect some lathe work for a model racing car project. He asked me if the Bernie Ecclestone in charge of F1 was the same person who ran a motorcycle dealership in Bexley in the fifties. I confirmed it was, leading to near-apoplexy, and unrepeatable comments about the integrity of said motorcycle dealer.



#34 Sterzo

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 10:18

Please could somebody give me a history lesson.

 

When exactly did Bernie Ecclestone take over Formula 1, and who owned it before him? What was their involvement in running F1? In what ways did Bernie improve Formula 1, and in what ways did he ruin it?

 

This is purely out of interest and I am struggling to find answers from google. It stems from the fact that I started watching F1 while Bernie was already in charge, and didn't particularly like his money-grabbing ways of ownership, but since Liberty Media have come in I find them even worse, and would be interested to know more about how Formula 1 was owned before Bernie Ecclestone.

You might find the book "Bernie's Game" enlightening, F1Frog. It doesn't directly address the questions you ask, but does contain a huge amount of information about Ecclestone's take-over of F1, and you pick up information about how it was along the way.

 

The book is subtitled "Inside the Formula One World of Bernie Ecclestone", the author is investigative journalist Terry Lovell, and it was published in 2003. There's a copy on Amazon for £3.46, which is less than the sums handled by Bernie's various offshore companies. It can't cover everything, sometimes resorting to implication. It doesn't mention, amongst other things, the newspaper reports I saw of two court cases in which the judge expressed dissatisfaction with Ecclestone's reliability as a witness.


 

 

 



#35 Rupertlt1

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 17:46

Nobody has mentioned Jean-Marie Balestre?

 

RGDS RLT



#36 F1Frog

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 19:30

You might find the book "Bernie's Game" enlightening, F1Frog. It doesn't directly address the questions you ask, but does contain a huge amount of information about Ecclestone's take-over of F1, and you pick up information about how it was along the way.

 

The book is subtitled "Inside the Formula One World of Bernie Ecclestone", the author is investigative journalist Terry Lovell, and it was published in 2003. There's a copy on Amazon for £3.46, which is less than the sums handled by Bernie's various offshore companies. It can't cover everything, sometimes resorting to implication. It doesn't mention, amongst other things, the newspaper reports I saw of two court cases in which the judge expressed dissatisfaction with Ecclestone's reliability as a witness.

 

I have ordered the book, thank you.



#37 Sterzo

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 20:11

Nobody has mentioned Jean-Marie Balestre?

 

RGDS RLT

You did, but I think you got away with it.



#38 Rob Miller

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Posted 15 September 2022 - 21:50

That made me laugh and woke up the dog.

#39 aportinga

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 18:13

Please could somebody give me a history lesson.

 

When exactly did Bernie Ecclestone take over Formula 1, and who owned it before him? What was their involvement in running F1? In what ways did Bernie improve Formula 1, and in what ways did he ruin it?

 

 

This is an incredible watch IMO - it clearly outlines how Bernie and Max improved the saftey of the sport. Its the full film (free) so you will have to watch it on Youtube.

 


Edited by aportinga, 16 September 2022 - 18:14.


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#40 aportinga

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 18:15

Nobody has mentioned Jean-Marie Balestre?

 

 

 

Yeah no kidding! 

 

And the Lewis fans think AD21 is something...



#41 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 October 2022 - 12:38