Spice act keeps things sweet in outrageous Formula One band

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 November, 1997, 12:00am

The Spice Men, that flawless ly manufactured all-singing, all-dancing, all-fixing duo of Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, have seen their Formula One label stay Top of the Sports Pops for most of the decade.

'Sweet Spice' Ecclestone and 'Sour Spice' Mosley have had more hits than The Rolling Stones and the royalties keep rolling in by the millions. Just like those rockers of old, controversy is never far from the Spice Men.

But where Mick Jagger and his mob thrived on stories of drug-taking, hotel-trashing and love-making, Sweet and Sour Spice revel in political intrigue and diplomatic coercion.

Both have solo careers, but they stay true to the distinctive Formula One sound which has a worldwide following, a budget of millions and a staff that runs into the hundreds.

Like successful pop and rock bands, Ecclestone and Mosley live on their reputations and even poorly produced albums soar to the top of the charts.

And when a good one is launched it strikes serious pay dirt.

Sweet and Sour Spice have reached such impressive platinum heights that they will do anything to protect the label which has built up precious brand loyalty and is loved by television companies and sponsors alike.

Ecclestone has never been accused of being philanthropic.

But just before the British general election in May he gave GBP1 million to the raging favourites in the Labour Party.

It was the biggest donation ever made by an individual to the political party.

He offered Labour a further huge donation after they came to power and at a time when the Government implemented a ban on tobacco sponsorship of sport, including Ecclestone's much-treasured Formula One.

The remarkably sleaze-free Labour Government then performed a dicey U-turn right in the middle of the motorway and announced that Grand Prix racing in Britain would, after all, be exempt from the advertising restrictions.

If that was not enough for Ecclestone to burst into song, a parliamentary watchdog has advised the Labour Party to return the one-million quid. Spicy or what? While Sweet Spice was pulling off the political deal of the decade, Sour Spice was dealing with a leading member of their backing group, Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher, or Smouldering Spice, is one of the main reasons why the Spice Men are so successful.

He's hugely handsome and tremendously talented, a money-spinner for himself and the band.

But he's also a bit head-strong and does not like his status being threatened.

When recent addition to the backing group, Jaques Villeneuve, looked like upstaging him, Schumacher became a bit twitchy and careered into him during a live recording.

Mosley postured a lot, called a meeting of the band and declared that Schumacher's name would be wiped from all records produced by Formula One in 1997.

But as the Spice Men's ratings would surely fall if 'Smouldering Spice' Schumacher was not strutting his stuff, he will be allowed to play all next year's gigs.

Spicy or what?