Bernie Ecclestone with Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery
Formula One has a new owner, and while Liberty Media’s acquisition of the championship means business as usual for tyre supplier Pirelli for the time being, another familiar fixture left the stage yesterday. News of the acquisition’s completion was accompanied by the announcement that Bernie Ecclestone has stepped down as F1’s chief executive officer after 40 years in the job.
Ecclestone now holds the honorary position of Chairman Emeritus of F1 and his old position has been taken over by Chase Carey, vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox. Further appointments include those of Ross Brawn, who has taken on the newly-created role of managing director, Motor Sports, and Sean Bratches who has been appointed to another new position, that of managing director, Commercial operations.
Carey sees “huge potential” and “multiple untapped opportunities” in the championship, and intends to work with all stakeholders to “enhance the racing experience and add new dimensions to the sport.” He says Liberty Media, the owner of a long list of television assets, will unveil its future plans for F1 “over time”.
“I’m proud of the business that I built over the last 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula 1, and would like to thank all of the promoters, teams, sponsors and television companies that I have worked with,” shared Ecclestone in the statement announcing the end of his tenure as F1 chief executive officer. “I’m very pleased that the business has been acquired by Liberty and that it intends to invest in the future of F1. I am sure that Chase will execute his role in a way that will benefit the sport.”
Upon announcing last September that it would acquire a 100 per cent shareholding from F1 parent company Delta Topco, Liberty Media confirmed its intention to retain Ecclestone in the top job. It is thus unsurprising that Ecclestone’s remarks to the media yesterday differed from those in Liberty Media’s official statement. “I have been deposed,” Ecclestone told Sportsmail. “You will have to wait to see who did what to whom, how the decision was made. But I am not running the company any more, that’s for sure.” He commented to Germany’s auto motor und sport that “my new position is an American term, a kind of honorary president. I hold this title without knowing what it means.”
As for what lies in Ecclestone’s future, he added: “Maybe I will attend a Grand Prix sometime in the future…I still have many friends in Formula 1, and I still have enough money to afford to attend a race.”