Grapevine: Early birthday present for Bernie

Forget the importance of discussions about Grand Prix racing's future in the Formula One Commission meeting on Monday - it was nothing compared to the drama of a 75th birthday surprise for Bernie Ecclestone nearly backfiring

Grapevine: Early birthday present for Bernie

With the Commission meeting not expected to finish before 4pm, secret plans had been put in place for a special birthday cake to be delivered by some pitlane babes shortly before the end of proceedings.

However, the somewhat surprising harmony between the team bosses and the FIA meant that the meeting was being wrapped up much quicker than many had expected - which could have led to Ecclestone making a swift exit before his racing suit clad girls arrived.

As Minardi boss Paul Stoddart left the meeting room to try and find out where the girls were, FIA president Max Mosley and his fellow conspirators had to find ways of stalling the talks - and it was poor Jordan boss Colin Kolles who came off worst.

With the final subject for discussion being the name-change of Jordan to Midland, Mosley and his cohorts set about obstructing the approval process to drag out time until Ecclestone's birthday cake appeared.

"The most difficult thing today was at the end of the meeting when we were through things sooner than we thought and we had to kill time without Bernie realising we had a surprise for him," smiled Mosley afterwards.

"So we had a huge discussion about the Jordan name change which took about 20 minutes. The poor bloke from Jordan didn't know what was going on and neither did Bernie - and we were doing it all because his cake wasn't there."

In the end, the delaying worked and sure enough the 10 girls entered the Commission meeting room at the hotel to sing Mr. Ecclestone a personal rendition of Happy Birthday.

So was Mosley as happy at catching Ecclestone unawares as he was about sort out of the future of the sport?

"Well, it was the only contentious part of the day," he grinned.

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