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Ecclestone surprised by Liberty snub

NEWS STORY
18/03/2017

Whatever your opinion of Bernie Ecclestone - and everyone has one - one has to admit that while there were areas of the sport in which he failed, or was certainly behind the times, in most others he succeeded.

Over the course of his 40-year reign he turned Formula One into one of the most popular, most watched annual championships.

In addition to giving a structure to the sport by means of agreements which guaranteed so many teams and so many races, he took it from its elitist roots and made it mainstream.

The numerous multi-millionaire inhabitants of Planet Paddock have him to thank, as do the sport's previous owners CVC, who reaped billions from their investment merely by letting the man get on with his job.

Yes, there were scandals along the way, and not everyone agreed with his autocratic methods, while in terms of marketing and promotion he was decades behind the times and showing no sign of catching up.

However, when Liberty Media bought F1, one fully expected the sport's new owner to keep Ecclestone in place, if only working alongside Chase Carey, rather than having access to the full powers he enjoyed before, if only to benefit from the Briton's 40-plus years of experience... experience that helped build an $8bn business Liberty was only too happy to buy.

Instead, on buying the sport, Liberty gave Ecclestone a new job title (Chairman Emeritus), and shunted him off to the sidelines, leaving Carey, Sean Bratches (commercial) and Ross Brawn (sporting) to take over.

Ecclestone admits he is surprised by the decision not to make use of him, if only for the first year.

Asked if he felt "let down", the Briton told Sky Sports: "Not at all. I know the way the world operates."

Asked if he would have made the same changes, he continued: "Probably not. I would have asked them to work with me for a bit, wait for a year and afterwards say 'has it worked, not worked?' 'Not worked? Sorry, you'll have to leave,' or whatever.

"But different people operate companies differently, obviously," he admitted. "I think this is very much the way American companies operate. Let's be absolutely sensible about it: they bought the car, they wanted to drive it."

Liberty clearly has the intention of doing things its own way, indeed, we understand that as they await the finishing touches to a new HQ for F1, away from Bernie Ecclestone's old Princes Gate HQ, Carey, Bratches and Brawn are working in their own London office and have virtually no interaction with FOM.

Having described Ecclestone's methods as dictatorial, Carey claimed that the sport had been allowed to "stagnate" and "not grown to its full potential".

"I think people have got muddled up a bit," says Ecclestone. "These people have thought, and Chase has said, that I hadn't done a very good job in the last three years.

"I thought I had, CVC thought I had," he continues, "I managed to produce $1.5 billion-a-year income, which made their shares worth a lot of money... maybe if I'd have done a lousy job people could have bought the shares cheaper."

While CVC focussed on its annual dividend, Liberty is looking further ahead, with Carey and his team charged with further growing the sport.

"I'm envious of him because he can do some of the things that I wanted to do and couldn't do because I was here to run the company and make it profitable," said Ecclestone. "That's what my job was as chief executive. He's got the luxury of maybe not having to worry about those things, but maybe he thinks that he can make the fans happy. But the only way you really make them happy is to have good competition.

"The product that we have had is not a product that is easy to sell and therefore it's not easy for people to embrace. But if this year the racing is good, it will be easier for sure. And that's what I hope happens."

This weekend Ecclestone will be in Brazil visiting his ranch, and while he doesn't know exactly what his new job title entails, he will mix the visit with some company business.

"The only thing Chase has asked me to do, as he knows I'm going to Brazil this weekend, is to chat to the president to see if he will put some money into the race. Otherwise it's possible we are going to lose that race, which I wouldn't like to do as I put it there 45-odd years ago and it's a good race."

As for the Chairman Emeritus bit... "I'd like some rules and regulations perhaps so I know what I'm supposed to do, or not supposed to do," he admits.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 20/03/2017 7:39

"Bernie gets far too much credit for "building" F1` into a glamorous world-wide sport. Colin Chapman, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and all the other people and Teams which competed did that. Bernie merely stage-managed the show and took (most of) the profit.

F1's growing popularity was based on the spectacle, the quality & attractiveness of which has steadily diminished in direct proportion to Bernie's interference. The rot really appeared to set-in when Max Mosley's steadying hand was removed and Bernie had free reign. Things have gone steadily downhill since."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Canuck, 20/03/2017 1:58

"I feel a little sorry for Bernie in that after 40+ years of relentlessly trying to growing the sport and then loosing the thread, he now has little to do. But he must realize that all good things come to an end. How much more money does he want in his coffers? He should realize that times have changed. Liberty has made him HONORARY, meaning they still consider him a valuable asset to who they may turn to for advise. So please Bernie respect the fact that it is now time to SHUT THE F UP"

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3. Posted by Burton, 18/03/2017 17:08

"Poor old Bernie, it was CVC not wishing him to grow and develop the competition, not his call!! The nerve of some people."

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4. Posted by F One, 18/03/2017 16:18

"What Bernie is meant to do is shut up and go away."

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5. Posted by -ape-, 18/03/2017 12:32

"Maffei is going to make F1 great again , it will be fantastic , he will have a huge huge fan base , kicks out the Mexican eh Azerbaijan GP ..NBC are losers , the Russian GP is amazing ........."

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6. Posted by GrahamG, 18/03/2017 11:52

"Spent the last 5 years destroying F1 in the relentless pursuit of turing it into a fashion cash cow. I'm sure he would have loved to line the cars up on the grid and graciously announce who was going to win the race so all the pointless competition stuff could have been got rid of.
Should have been got rid of years ago and we wouldn't have the pathetic mess we have now
"

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7. Posted by Ro, 18/03/2017 9:04

"Love him or hate him, he was successful during his reign. Lets wait and see if Liberty does any better. 18 months is not such a long time"

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