Funny how Bernie gets involved in pre-season discussions in relation to how tracks should change in order to create a spectacle. Last year around this time he was ramping matters up about providing artificial wet races and now he's threatening the future of Melbourne unless they provide night races in the future.
I'm always amazed at his ability to raise the profile of the sport just as the season limps through pre-season testing towards the only thing that counts - the first race of the season.
Where would F1 be without Bernie's mouth? Public interest would be suspended between races and to those, outside the sport, the only indication that it existed would be from the sports news. His mouth is worth millions - though perhaps not €25 million per race.
Everyone knows that the Barca stuff is no more than basic tweaking in an attempt to understand how the car performs on various different corners/straights etc. None of the teams know exactly where the rest of the field are at this stage. For all we know (though it's highly unlikely to be the case!) RBR are steaming around on minimal fuel while HRT are testing on brimful tanks.
All of this talking the testing up is no more than hot exhaust air desperately attempting to find some way to influence downforce - pointless under the new regs (I had to try to get something in) - the real marketing is direct from Bernie's mouth onto the printed page and, obviously, the webpage.
Melbourne is more at risk from the annually expressed outrage of the residents around Albert Park than from the F1 Circus - who among us Europeans doesn't eagerly anticipate the 4.00am wake up call of quali and the race. It signals the season is beginning in the same way that Suzuka in the early morning always used to signal its demise. Abu Dhabi as an opener or closer just doesn't excite in the same way. The anticipation is subdued because it fits into the normal everyday - there's nothing special about it.
For this occasional blogger there's no greater joy than the early morning coffee accompanying first quali in the wee hours of the morning - it's unfortunate that this year I'll have to watch highlights of the race in the afternoon on the Beeb. The day will come when even they'll end up pay-per-view and I'll be watching some sad weekend round-up of motorsport - a week after the fact - to catch a glimpse of my beloved sport.
That, for me, is the most worrying trend in F1 at the mo.