Never one to shy away from a confrontation, Bernie Ecclestone capitalised on the threat of a potential protest from local dairy farmers ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix by inviting them to a very public discussion in front of the media and fans.
With rumblings that farmers could form road-blocks outside Spa-Francorchamps as a means of protesting against the share of profits for milk in the country, Ecclestone organised a meeting within the circuit grounds in an effort to disperse the threat.
In one of the more bizarre photo opportunities in F1 of recent times, Ecclestone discussed the issues facing farmers in the region in front of a large Belgian flag-painted plastic cow, though – ever the businessman – he appeared initially unwilling to give away too much sympathy when he proposed that milk production and competition was simply meeting 'supply and demand'.
Despite this, the discussion – which lasted almost 10mins – appeared friendly, with Ecclestone going as far as taking a swig of milk in front of the cameras, then pretending to faint as a joke. However, he was less inclined to entertain the suggestion that milk should be used instead of champagne on the podium this weekend…
Though it is uncertain whether the threat of protest over an issue that has made headlines in the UK and France in recent months, was genuine or not, it seems Ecclestone has averted any notion of confrontation this weekend.