I’m sure there are people in the F1 world who have, at one time or another, felt like giving Bernie Ecclestone a black eye. Unfortunately, their collective wish came true this week when Bernie was felled by four young attackers who robbed Bernie and his girlfriend Fabiana Flosi of more than $300,000 worth of jewelry.
The robbery took place in the Knightsbridge section of London, outside the building that houses Ecclestone’s Formula One Holdings, as well as his personal penthouse digs on the eighth floor. When the robbers first confronted Bernie, aged 80, and Ms. Flosi, 31, they forced the pair to give up their valuables, including a watch and diamond rings. Then, as an afterthought, the four men gave Bernie a good shellacking, punching and knocking him to the ground, and then kicking him in the head until he lost consciousness.
Were these men disgruntled Formula 1 fans who simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to express their frustration at Ecclestone’s tireless efforts to ruin the sport? Or did these robbers simply get the procedures wrong? (“Wait a minute, aren’t we supposed to knock him down first, and then rob him?”)
Whatever the root cause, the beating seemed to be a clear case of overkill. Even so, Bernie, a.k.a. the Evil Gnome, has proven once again what a tough old bird he is. Many old codgers of his age are lucky to still be ambulatory, but Bernie was back in the office 48 hours later, tending his empire, and counting his pound sterling.
As reported in The Daily Mail, Ecclestone’s daughter Tamara, 26, said of the incident, “He’s in his office back to business as usual. It is horrendous that we live in a society where this can happen. It is hideous they could attack someone of his age.”
Perhaps the robbers took Bernie to be a much younger man, considering that his girlfriend of the moment is only 31. In case you haven’t done the math, I’ll spare you the effort: that would make her just five years older than Ecclestone’s daughter Tamara. But then, everyone says Bernie is a very youthful 80.
Violent assault is never funny, however, so let’s all wish Bernie a speedy recovery from his wounds. Furthermore, another question occurs to me: wasn’t London’s CCTV supposed to safeguard against incidents like this? Perhaps street thugs have grown so accustomed to appearing on TV that the system no longer works as a deterrent.