Bernie Ecclestone’s 40-year reign at Formula One comes to an end
Chase Carey to replace 86-year-old, as FIA approves rights deal with Liberty Media
Bernie Ecclestone, who has been replaced as CEO of Formula One: “I was deposed today. This is official, I do not run the company any more.” Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire
Bernie Ecclestone appears to have confirmed that his reign at the head of Formula One is over.
Last week, in the week of the sport’s governing body approving the sale of its commercial rights to Liberty Media, Ecclestone cast doubt over his role as chief executive. And although there has been no word from Liberty about the 86-year-old so far, the man himself has said his time is up. In quotes carried by German publication Auto, Motor and Sport, Ecclestone said: “I was deposed today. This is official, I do not run the company any more.”
Ecclestone, who turns 87 in October, has ruled Formula One for 40 years. But American company Liberty now look set to choose to put their own team in place after clearing the final hurdle of their purchase, valued at more than £6billion, with a unanimous vote of approval from the FIA. American Chase Carey, the 21st Century Fox vice-chairman, was installed as the new Formula One chairman when Liberty agreed to take control from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners last September.
Speaking to Press Association Sport last week, Ecclestone said of his future: “We will have to see how we set the company up. It is not a case of my terms, it is a case of let’s have a look and see which way they would like to go. It is something that would have happened anyway. We need to put something together if I am not here because I have become deceased or something and it is about time we did that.
“We were in the middle [of that] and when we knew these people were probably going to buy we backed off and thought, ‘let’s wait because they own the company and it is up to them to decide who or what they want.’
When Liberty bought an 18.7 per cent stake from CVC in September, Ecclestone said the prospective new owners wanted him to stay on as chief executive for three years.
“That is what they asked for,” Ecclestone added. “In fact, we are going to try to put together people that can look after all the things I have been trying to find people to do, which is the sponsorship and things like that.
“As I said, let’s see how we are going to operate.”
Liberty’s portfolio includes Virgin Media and baseball team the Atlanta Braves. It also holds a large share of the Discovery Communications group.
On Wednesday last week, a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, which includes FIA president Jean Todt and Ecclestone, agreed to Liberty’s purchase of Formula One, 24 hours after the company’s shareholders gave the green light to press on with the deal.
“They [the FIA] didn’t have any choice,” Ecclestone added. “They had no way they could not approve, unless the people that were going to come in were bandits.
“The only reason we had the meeting is because we wanted changes to the FOM [Formula One Management] contract – little changes – and they were all approved. No dramas.
“I think that [the deal] should happen within the next three or four weeks.”
Asked if he expected Liberty to be the sport’s new owners in time for the start of the season in Melbourne on March 26, Ecclestone added: “Yes. Absolutely. One hundred per cent.” PA