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MARCH 9, 2005

The rantings of Ron Walker

Ron Walker has come out attacking Paul Stoddart for his recent stand in Melbourne. This is ungrateful at best given that Stoddart had the good grace to withdraw his legal action and allow the event to go ahead. If Stoddart had pushed on the FIA was threatening to cancel the Grand Prix and Walker would have faced massive losses, which is not something that one can afford when you are in a position like his - particularly when the Victorian state taxpayers are paying the bills.

Telling Stoddart to get out of F1 is not very friendly, particularly when Walker is over-simplifying the story about what happened in Melbourne and thus might be accused of taking cheap shots at Stoddart.

So why is Walker doing it?

He is, let us not forget, famously close to Bernie Ecclestone, who is famously close to Max Mosley, who is now famously against Stoddart. Walker and Stoddart have worked closely over the years to promote the Australian GP, most recently just a few days before the Grand Prix when Stoddart supplied cars for Walker's street event in Melbourne. But obviously this does not count for much when Walker was the man who put Ecclestone in touch with Brian Powers, the boss of the Hellman & Friedman investment company which went on to buy part of the Formula One group after Ecclestone's plans to float the business failed. H&F went on to sell the Formula One shares to Thomas Haffa and made a neat profit from the deal.

In addition, in recent months, Walker has been trying to convince F1 promoters across the world to sign up with Ecclestone to head off the threat of a new World Championship backed by the car manufacturers. Thus Walker must be viewed as being in the same political camp as Ecclestone and Mosley, although it may not be that obvious on the surface.

Walker, in fact, has some members of the board of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation who are pushing him to talk not only to Ecclestone but also the car manufacturers, to make sure that if the new series does go ahead, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation does not get left out in the cold.