Bernie Ecclestone forced out of Formula One

When Bernie Ecclestone put in motion the wheels of a takeover of his Formula One empire by US giant Liberty Media, many became concerned at the eventual outcome. In the early days Bernie Ecclestone worked hand-in-hand with his new partners although there was always the intention of selling the whole company to the US giant. Ecclestone is no longer a young man at 86 years of age and with nearly 40 years behind him in charge of Formula One perhaps it is time to hang up his car keys. However, history will dictate that Bernie Ecclestone took Formula One from a by-product to an enormous and extremely valuable sporting legacy.

Takeover by Liberty Media

The $8 billion takeover has now been approved and completed and the first action by the new owners was to strip Bernie Ecclestone of all control giving him a role as “chairman”. In effect he will be an adviser to the main board but just last week one of the main shareholders suggested “don’t call us, we will call you”. What started as a friendly takeover is now in danger of becoming extremely hostile which will not do the sport any good.

Will F1 be the same without Bernie Ecclestone?
Bernie Ecclestone forced out of Formula One

The new owners also brought in an array of Formula One giants such as Ross Brawn who will be in charge of the sporting and technical side of F1 and report to the main board. Chase Carey effectively took over Bernie Ecclestone’s former position as leader of the group adding this to his executive chairman role.

Bernie Ecclestone and F1

Many people will be unaware but Bernie Ecclestone began his Formula One career as a team boss of Brabham back in the 1970s. One of his many roles was to represent his colleagues in various negotiations with the TV authorities, circuit owners and very quickly he became “the man”. It was not until the late 1980s that he took on a full-time administrative role increasing his power and influence over the sport.

The late 1980s saw Ecclestone position himself as the face and voice of F1 teams by acquiring their commercial rights. In what will go down as perhaps the “deal of the century” he negotiated a 110 year lease with the FIA to take over all commercial rights to Formula One. The cost of this was an “absurdly low” $360 million which has been repaid multiple times over the years.

Controversy and money

Over the years Bernie Ecclestone has been involved in various controversial issues as he spun off part of his F1 empire to outside investors. Indeed only a few years ago he was due to stand trial for bribery in Germany but a $100 million “without presumption of guilt or innocence” payment stopped the trial in its tracks. The issue revolved around the sale of a part share in his F1 business and ultimately, in the minds of many people, led to him losing long-term control.

Bernie Ecclestone has also made various comments, some of them tongue in cheek, which have not gone down very well such as references to Adolf Hitler and suggesting women were “domestic appliances”. Whatever those involved in F1 think of Bernie Ecclestone there is no doubt the sport would not be what it is today without his foresight and negotiating skills. While he has been rewarded for his efforts with a multibillion-dollar fortune, the sport will not quite be the same again without his presence.

Leave a Reply