Bernie Ecclestone seems to be on a roll this year with the foot-in-mouth disease. First it was the admiration for Hitler and his ability to get things done and now it seems his diarrhea of the mouth has Senna as the victim.
Spanish news paper elpais.com ran the story. A Brazilian paper called Folha da Sao Paulo has an interview with the F1 commercial rights boss in which they discuss the late Ayrton Senna during the lead up to the Brazilian Grand Prix this weekend. For the younger or new-to-F1 crowd; Senna was one of the great drivers of F1 (yes, arguably the greatest depending on who you talk to). He died a tragic death in 1994 while driving a Williams F1 car and this death prompted a tremendous amount of safety measures in F1.
While discussing Senna and his premature death, Bernie Ecclestone effectively said:
Sennaâ€™s death was “Very unfortunate, but the publicity it generated was huge. That was very good for Formula One.”
If that wasnâ€™t enough, he then exclaimed:
“It was a tragedy that we lost Ayrton, but these things happen. He was very popular, but a lot of the people who did not know about Formula One found out about it by the publicity generated by his death”
Ecclestone then goes on to explain how Nelson Piquet Jr. should be back in F1. I would assume he would have been talking about how safety was drastically improved after the accident and that it brought a lot of attention to the lack of safety measures surrounding the head injuries and G-forces sustained in F1.
As F1 Scoop pointed out to me on Twitter, there have been suggestions that this is a misquote but so far, all the sources I have read seem to suggest he was talking about PR and not safety. The suggestion was that it was debunked in the paddock today but two sources in Spanish and Portuguese have looked at the recording, as well as a local radio station, and they say it is an accurate translation. Keep in mind Ecclestone is being translated from English into Portuguese, unless he is fluent in the language (which I doubt). The actual transcript, as printed by the Brazilian paper, does indeed support that he said this. If Ecclestone feels differently, then let English speaking people hear the tapes of what he said. Simple as that. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I said, but I thought that about the Hitler comment too.
Thanks to our friend David Emmett for the scoop.