In this special edition of Reporters, we are looking back at the biggest stories of the last year starting with the first six months of the year.
In January, Bernie Ecclestone’s fourty year’s as the boss of F1 came to an end. So how did Bernie rise to be such a powerful figure in Formula One? Jack Fielding assess how a fisherman’s son living in poverty became a billionaire
Bernie – Rags to riches how son of a fisherman became F1’s ringmaster
Bernard Charles Ecclestone was born in October 1930 in Bungay, Suffolk. His humbled beginnings a son of a fisherman, living poverty for much of his childhood but it was clear when he was young he had the potential to make money.
Aged eight Ecclestone, moved to London and left school aged of sixteen. During his teens it was buying and selling spare motorbike parts
His business interest grew into property and a car auction business amongst others. In 1957, the Ecclestone moved into Formula One trying to qualify for the British Grand Prix. During that time he also moved into driver management.
He returned in 1972, managing Brabham overseeing there rise. He realised he was coming into the disorganised muddle of the way the sport was run. So set about bringing change to the sport, the teams agreed to give him the power to control the sports commercial rights, which turned him into a billionaire.
Ecclestone’s self-styled ‘dictatorship’ had begun. Berine set about transforming the sport from an ammeter sport into a multi-billion pound business. Building marketing power allowing sport’s popularity to rise and creating increased exposure and income, Bernie taking his substantial cut of the latter
Ecclestone a brilliant businessman, but controversial, rows with his own Labour Party over there plan to ban tobacco advertising and rows with the EU. Calling woman “domestic appliances” and saying teams wouldn’t select a woman driver if they could find a competent male.
His business dealings were also in the spotlight in 2012, after trying to keep control by bribing the German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky. The way that ended proved controversial, paying to settle the case
You can read more here. In February before the season had even begun Max Verstappen’s father Jos, was already writing off his sons chances of the title. But, why did he believe 2017 was a year too early for Max Verstappen to be the youngest champion?
One year too early says Verstappen Sr
The former Formula One driver Jos Verstappen says he believes it is one year too early for his son Max, to challenge for the championship. Last May, his son was promoted from Toro Ross to Red Bull and took victory for the team on his debut at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Verstappen finished fourth last season, which earnt himself praise for his brilliant season as a whole. With this year’s regulation changes with are more aero based, many believe that Red Bull will be a treat to Mercedes, however, Verstappen Sr feels the title might be out of reach for his son.
Verstappen Sr told Ziggo Sport “There is a lot of talk that he will win the championship and so on. My personal opinion is, and that’s my personal opinion, that it’s just one year too early.
“I do think that the gap to Mercedes has to become smaller. Max has more experience now, he knows the tracks. Last year he won one race. I just hope that he can win a couple of more this year. Three or four races would be very nice, and this is possible.” He added.
The former Benetton and Arrows driver, says he is encouraged by what he is hearing from within the team. But the main question for Red Bull, is how much progress engine supplier Renault has made, there is the belief in the team that they had a ‘big winter’.
Regardless says Verstappen Sr, “We know from Max that he always goes for the maximum.”
In March, motorsport lost a true great. John Surtees the only man to win Moto GP and Formula One championships his achievements will never be repeated again.
John Surtees dies following short illness
The former Moto GP and Formula One world champion John Surtees has died following a short illness. The 83-year old is the only man to have won titles at the top of motorcycling and car racing.
Born in 1935, Surtees made his motorsports debut at the 1952 Ulster Grand Prix in Moto GP before switching to Formula One debut in the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix. In his career he won four world championships across both series.
Son of a motorcycle dealer he made his debut aged fifteen alongside his father in a sidecar, but was disqualified after winning because of his age before going on to work for Norton.
He raced for the manufacturer until 1959, his first taste of success in world Motorsport came in the 250cc race at the 1955 Ulster Grand Prix. Before winning three world championships the first in 1957 than three back-to-bat in both then 350cc and 500cc classes in the same seasons. Before his F1 debut for Colin Chatman’s Lotus 1960 in Monaco.
A family statement read “after a short period in intensive care he passed away peacefully this afternoon. His wife, Jane and daughters, Leonora and Edwina were by his side.”
“We deeply mourn the loss of such an incredible, kind and loving man as well as celebrate his amazing life.
His achievements earned him an MBE in 1959 and winning BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. However, he responded by setting up the Henry Surtees Foundation, which will undoubtable be his legacy.
Full report. April, one of the biggest stories of the year was Fernando Alonso’s decision to miss the Monaco Grand Prix to contest the Indianapolis 500. But is it about him aiming for the triple crown or a sign of his growing frustration with McLaren?
Alonso to miss Monaco
Fernando Alonso will miss the Monaco Grand Prix as he will be taking part in the Indianapolis 500. The move comes after a disappointing start to the season with McLaren failing to get the most out of the Honda power unit.
Talks between McLaren, Alonso and Andretti have been going on for weeks in secret, with an agreement being reached which will also see the Andretti Autosport, which will be painted in McLaren’s iconic orange livery.
It will be Alonso’s first attempt at IndyCar’s most famous race and his first experience of oval racing. He said “I’m immensely excited that I’ll be racing in this year’s Indy 500, with McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport,”
“The Indy 500 is one of the most famous races on the global motorsport calendar, rivalled only by the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Monaco Grand Prix, and it’s, of course, a regret of mine that I won’t be able to race at Monaco this year.”
Alonso says he will be back for Montreal and it’s expected that the team’s reserve driver Jenson Button will stand in for the weekend, however, this hasn’t been confirmed.
May, one of the lighter moments of the year came in Barcelona. Imagine you’re about seven, you’re watching the race from the grandstand and your driver crashes out. Well despite the sadness joy comes, Chase Carey reflects on that moment
Heart ace to joy
It was probably a dream which turned heartbreak for Thomas Daniel on Sunday afternoon when his favourite driver Kimi Raikkonen crashed out of the Spanish Grand Prix.
The youngster bursts into tears as he watched the pictures of the Finn retire from the race. The pictures of his reaction broadcast on TV around the world caused the Ferrari team to go and track down the youngster and his family and invite them into the paddock.
The move by Ferrari received much praised, but F1 CEO Chase Carey says that “special moment” wouldn’t have been possible under Bernie Ecclestone’s leadership.
Carey told Motorsport.com “We got all this press about the little boy who got pulled down, and they did it on their own, having a sense a freedom that they wouldn’t have had a year ago.”
“I didn’t tell them to find the little boy, there are people who did it on their own, thought it would be a special moment, and it was.”
That’s all from part one of look back at 2017, we will bring you another look back next Sunday. From me, its goodbye and I wish you all a very merry Christmas