x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The instant expert: Bernie Ecclestone

This week we look at the affect the Formula One impresario has had on one of the biggest sporting franchises in the world.

The Basics

He transformed F1 from a dangerous pursuit of rich amateurs into a global event watched by billions. Having been a driver with limited success - he failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix in 1958 - and then a successful team owner, Bernie took control of the television rights in the 1970s and is now president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration. Not bad for the son of a trawler skipper who left school at 16.

The Strategist

Realising that US and Europeans were reluctant to pay his sort of money, and also planning to introducing bans on tobacco and drinks advertising, he expanded to Shanghai, Singapore, Bahrain, Moscow and Abu Dhabi.

The Guardian

He made F1 both sexy and safe. After hitting a tree at Brands Hatch, in the south of England, he quit racing. But he saw a number of his fellow competitors killed. So he worked to make the sport safer - and more competitive. That this year's championship will be determined in Abu Dhabi at the last race of the season is testament to his efforts.

The Future

The 80-year-old billionaire, who had heart surgery in 1999 and divorced his tall wife, Slavica, after 24 years, shows few signs of slowing. Little more than 5ft tall, he's a dynamo.

Do Say:  "Hello, Bernie."

Don't Say: "Whatever happened to Formula Two?"