While it has passed into legend, it is an absolute fact that not too long ago teams would not only fall out over whether still or sparkling water should be available at meetings with the sport’s powers that be, but also over which brand of water was to be used.
Likewise, it is well documented that Bernie Ecclestone’s favourite tactic when dealing with said teams was the good old fashioned ‘divide and conquer’.
That tactic appears to be at work again as Liberty Media gradually puts together its vision for the sport’s future and sets about getting the teams on board in order that said vision might be realised.
As ever, Ferrari did the Latin thing, and amidst much wringing of hands and cursing at the sky threatened to walk away.
This was followed by some rivals teams adopting the ‘calm down, calm down’ approach known to have the complete opposite effect on the Maranello outfit.
Indeed, at one point Christian Horner suggested the Italian team’s threat to quit was “bluster”, this from a man whose team threatens just such a move every single season.
Now, in reaction to Niki Lauda’s claim that he fears for the future of the sport as envisioned by Liberty, Horner has leapt to Liberty’s defence, dismissing the Austrian’s fears and calling on all parties to give F1’s new owners a chance.
“I think Niki’s comments were a little unfounded, unfair,” said Horner, according to Motorsport.com. “For once, Formula 1 has recruited some specialists in Ross Brawn and the team he’s put together. And it’s doing proper analysis.
“Too many times there’s been decisions made from the hip,” he continued. “And perhaps it’s not going fast enough for Niki’s liking, but I think the approach they are taking is the right approach. I think it’s unfair to be giving them a hard time, when they’re only nine months in and actually haven’t presented their complete plan yet.
“It’s inevitable that they’re going to take time to understand the business, do the analysis, and then present what the future of Formula 1 is going to look like,” he said.
Indeed, even when it was put to the Red Bull team principal that the prize money paid to the teams crashed by £31m ($41m) in the nine months to the end of September, he came to Liberty’s defence.
“I think that would have been the effect whether Liberty would’ve been there or not,” he said. “It’s circumstances. Obviously they’re building an infrastructure, they’re investing in the business, it’s just a different model to what it used to be, it used to be a small structure with Bernie and a couple of aides. Now, they’ve put a marketing team together, they’ve put a proper business structure behind it, which is of course going to incur cost.
“But if you don’t speculate and invest in the business, you’re not going to accumulate,” he insists. “And the world is moving on quickly, and it’s important that Formula 1 put that structure in place. So, Red Bull does not have any issues with what they’re doing, their approach. And we’re watching with interest to see what their plans are for 2021 onwards.”
Bernie would be proud.