THE MOLE

Making sense of it all

London was grey and wintry and Penelope (Roedean) had to dig out a winter coat. The only advantage, she thought as she snuggled into its folds, is that in the winter it is so much easier to hide an Uzi. Trying to hide decent weapons in the summer is so difficult if one wants to show off feminine bits and bobs. There is the option of strapping a pistol to the inside of a thigh but that can cause all kinds of problems when gentlemen get frisky late in the evening.

The Mole, she thought, would never understand such problems.

The weather must have been getting to The Mole as well because when Penelope got to the office he seemed a little down. She suggested a nice cup of tea.

"Yes," he said. "A good idea. A cup of tea and a chat about F1."

"Attitudes are hardening," said Penelope, as they settled down.

"Attitudes and arteries," said The Mole. "The whole F1 business is becoming old and brittle. It needs new blood, don't you think?"

"Let me put it this way," said Penelope, choosing her words carefully. "I don't fancy any of the F1 team bosses these days. They are either old or completely haggard. I do rather like that Tony Purnell. I've always had this thing for slightly awkward, geeky men because I like a bit of chat in the sack."

"Besides," said The Mole with a twinkle in his eye, "I believe he has a big pile of money in his bank account."

"That always makes a man more attractive," said Penelope, without a second thought.

"By that reckoning" said The Mole, "Flavio Briatore should be just your thing."

Penelope shot The Mole a look of horror, considered a remark and then thought better of it.

"No," she said, breezily changing the subject, "I'm going to have to check out these GPWC people. They seem to be getting a lot more serious now."

The Mole nodded.

The announcement that the GPWC has signed a deal with International Sports and Entertainment AG to start building the structure for a new championship was not really a surprise, but rather confirmation of what has been coming for a long time.

"ISE is run by a Dutchman with the unlikely name of George Taylor. He started out representing Johan Kruyff in America and ended up setting up a firm called Sports Mondial Inc. That is one of the partners in ISE. The other two are the big marketing agencies Dentsu and Publicis. They have a whole bunch of subsidiaries but the one that matters is ISE-Hospitality, run by a French guy called Jacques Lambert. He used to be the prefect of the Savoie region in France who became involved in sports management during the Winter Olympics at Albertville and went on to head the organising committee of the World Cup in Paris in 1998. His right hand man is a yank called Hank Steinbrecher, one of the pioneers of soccer marketing in the United States. He organized the World Cup in the United States in 1994. Obviously they're big in soccer and the first big deal they have done is to run the World Cup in Germany in 2006 for the FIFA. But after that a racing series would be a good next step."

"I still don't think they'll do it," said The Mole.

"Nor do I," said Penelope, "but what they are really doing is setting up a new structure and that can slot into the Formula One world to replace Bernie's current structures when the moment is right. I think that one way or the other that is what will happen. Either Bernie will do a deal with the banks and then with the manufacturers or else the High Court is going take the business out of his hands and give it to the banks. If that happens they will give it to the GPWC to sort out. Either way there will be a new structure, with new people."

"I guess that makes sense," said The Mole.

"Well, it is better than a war," said Penelope. "If the big teams stick together then Toyota and Honda are going to join up. And what is left after that? Jordan will be a Toyota B team by then; the Arab team will be a McLaren B team. Sauber is a Ferrari B team and that leaves Minardi and eventually someone will give Stoddy some engines. I am not convinced the Russian team is going to make it.

"The FIA says that it makes the rules of Formula 1," she continued. "And that is true but if none of the big teams want to race to those rules the old blazers are going to look a bit silly, aren't they? The federation cannot afford to back the wrong horse. And who cares about this GP2 thing with a bunch of irrelevant French teams no-one cares much about?"

"I suppose when you put it like that, it does make a bit of sense," nodded The Mole.

Click here to read previous Mole columns: The Mole Archive

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