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Whitmarsh hails 'extraordinary' Ecclestone

ESPNF1 Staff
October 27, 2010 « Alonso as good as Senna - Berger | »
Bernie Ecclestone is showing no signs of slowing down © Getty Images
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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh hailed Bernie Ecclestone as an 'extraordinary individual' as the F1 supremo approaches his 80th birthday on Tuesday.

Ecclestone, who has turned F1 into a multi-billion dollar business, seems to have no desire to slow down and says he wants to go on for another ten years yet.

"He's an extraordinary individual, when you think of an 80-year-old who is still rushing around in the way he is and the energy that he has," Whitmarsh told Reuters. "He intends to be here in 10 years' time because this is his life, isn't it?

"He will be here until sadly he will be incapacitated by some force of nature. So that's very clear. It's a bit like some performers who just can't stop and they've got to carry on and he's one of those people."

With no heir apparent to Ecclestone's throne seeming to be forthcoming, Whitmarsh added that it was a situation unlikely to change in the near future.

"Those of us who are still around, if we manage to survive, when he finally is no longer around will have to find a way to bring it together. But he is not capable of either choosing, grooming or trusting a successor, frankly."

FIA president Jean Todt, who replaced Ecclestone's good friend Max Mosley in the position last year, said that thanks to Ecclestone the future of Formula One is in good hands.

"I must say it is extraordinary to see this guy, days before he is to be 80, how motivated, how switched on he can be. I really wish to be in the same situation at his age. It's fascinating," said Todt. "Bernie is a very smart guy. He has sold his company to (private equity firm) CVC, and in fact the responsibility of the future of Formula One is more to CVC than to Bernie. It's up to them.

"I'm sure Bernie will be a big contributor, but...Bernie is not the right guy, knowing him, to say who do you think it should be? Because he doesn't see any successor. he's very happy, he's fit, motivated, he loves it. CVC are very smart business people...the companies that are legendary are still living, making profits and innovations. I am sure that Formula One has a very strong future."