‘I was dismissed today,’ the former head of the pinnacle of motorsport says as new owners take control.
IT’S BEEN dubbed the Eccsit. British former used car salesman turned motorsport supremo Bernie Ecclestone appears to have finally ceded control of his beloved Formula One to its new owners, Liberty Media.
German motorsport website Auto Motor und Sport reported today that Ecclestone had been “forced out” of his position at the head of the sport after he was asked to step down by the sport’s new owner, newly installed F1 chairman and former Sky News director Chase Carey.
"I was dismissed today. This is official,” the 85-year-old multi-billionaire who has had an almost 40-year stranglehold on the sport told Auto und Motor Sport. “I no longer run the company. My position has been taken by Chase Carey."
Instead, he said he would stay on as a “kind of honorary president” for the sport, a title that was bestowed on him “without knowing what it means".
Liberty flagged last week that Ecclestone would be offered a position as an “honorary chairman” of the sport once the takeover was complete. The exact wording of Ecclestone’s change of role is expected to be revealed later this week via an official statement from the media group.
Liberty also announced late last week it wanted to sell a stake of its ownership in F1 back to the teams that compete in it, reserving a $US400 million ($A528 million) slice of the sport for them. Expressions of interest closed yesterday.
The US media giant launched a takeover bid for F1 in September last year, gaining the FIA’s final approval for the deal in January. Under the terms of the $US8 billion deal, Ecclestone was to remain as the sport’s chief executive until the money changed hands.
Key to the sweeping changes Liberty media will bring to the sport are the appointment of a new commercial director, former ESPN executive Sean Bratches, and former Ferrari and Mercedes team boss Ross Braun as a director overseeing the motorsport side of the business.
Liberty Media is expected to bring more US-style glamour to the sport as part of an overhaul designed to introduce it to a new generation of fans. Key to the push is expected to be a switch from focusing on traditional media channels to social media, bringing in a new generation of younger fans to the sport.
The calendar, currently set at 20 races a year, is also expected to grow.