Bernie Ecclestone breezed into the Olympic Park on Saturday afternoon. Given that Jacques Rogge, International Olympic Committee, had shown up at last month’s British grand prix, it would have seemed unreasonable for the Formula One impresario not to return the compliment.
Accompanied by his Brazilian fiancé Fabiana, Mr Ecclestone made for the media centre, so it didn’t take long for a swarm of reporters and cameramen to surround him with questions about what he thought of the whole Olympic circus.
“Very impressive,” came the reply. Mr Rogge had said the IOC could learn something from F1. Mr Ecclestone said F1 could learn from the Olympics. Mutual respect, then, between two of the world’s giants of sports rights.
What really excites Mr Ecclestone is the organisers’ use of central London landmarks such as the Mall, Horse Guards Parade and Hyde Park as backdrops for sporting action.
That is because the restless Ecclestone, ever keen on finding new venues for hosting grand prix races, is rather taken with the idea of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel hurling their cars around the streets of central London.
The plan remains on the table if Boris Johnson and the London mayor’s team is up for the idea. There is another plan to make the Olympic Park itself a grand prix location, though judging by the tone of Mr Ecclestone’s remarks it’s not the one that really oils his wheels.
As for the Olympics, the delirium of the crowds and the racking up of British gold medals has brought out the inner patriot in the much-travelled octogenarian (birthplace: Suffolk). “It’s great, I’m loving it,” he said.
Had he always been confident that Lord Coe and theLondon organising committee would pull off a successful event?
“Oh yes,” he said. “You can always make a success of something if you throw enough money at it.”