No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone, by Tom Bower, Faber RRP £18.99, 432 pages

No Angel is an odd title for Tom Bower’s biography of the Formula One boss; surely nobody ever imagined that a former second-hand car dealer wrestled control of a competitive and fantastically rich sport by being nice?

Bower chronicles Ecclestone’s impoverished childhood, single-minded ambition, greed and sharp practice. Yet, the fact that the profoundly unsympathetic Ecclestone co-operated with the author, despite previous hatchet jobs on Maxwell, Branson and others, perhaps accounts for the oddly lenient tone. Only serious fans will follow the details of endless deals, feuds and extravagance among a group of mostly unpleasant, rich men, but the spice includes the sorry story of Ecclestone’s £1m donation to New Labour and the exposé of his friend Max Moseley’s use of prostitutes.

In Ecclestone’s own words, Formula One is “a quagmire of plagiarism, chicanery and petty rule violations”, in which “everyone cheats”. At least “he was always kind to his mother”.

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