Bernie Ecclestone’s 40-year reign at the helm of Formula 1 has come to an end following the CEO’s resignation on Monday, the major bit of news on a day when Liberty Media has formally completed its acquisition of Formula 1.
Ecclestone, 86, played an instrumental role in building F1 into the global success it is today, forming the Formula One Constructors’ Association in 1974 and becoming its CEO.
Ecclestone has controlled the commercials rights to the series ever since, but his position came into question last fall when F1 was sold to American company Liberty Media. Liberty installed Chase Carey as F1’s new chairman, with Ecclestone staying on as CEO.
However, with Liberty’s takeover of F1 set to be completed by the end of the month, Ecclestone’s tenure as the sport’s ringmaster is set to end following his resignation as CEO. Carey is now formally confirmed as new Chairman and CEO of the sport.
“I was deposed today,” Ecclestone told Auto Motor und Sport. “This is official. I do not run the company anymore. My position has been taken over by Chase Carey.
“My new position is now such an American expression. A kind of honorary president. I’ll get this title without knowing what it means.
“My days in office are now somewhat calmer. Maybe I’ll come to a grand prix. I still have a lot of friends in the Formula 1. And I still have enough money to be able to afford a visit to a race.”
AMUS’ report was followed by an official statement from Liberty later Monday afternoon, confirming Ecclestone no longer served as F1’s CEO, and confirming Ecclestone as Chairman Emeritus of the sport.
“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,” Ecclestone said in a release. “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.”
Carey said, “I am excited to be taking on the additional role of CEO. F1 has huge potential with multiple untapped opportunities. I have enjoyed hearing from the fans, teams, FIA, promoters and sponsors on their ideas and hopes for the sport. We will work with all of these partners to enhance the racing experience and add new dimensions to the sport and we look forward to sharing these plans overtime.”
“I would like to recognize and thank Bernie for his leadership over the decades. The sport is what it is today because of him and the talented team of executives he has led, and he will always be part of the F1 family. Bernie’s role as Chairman Emeritus befits his tremendous contribution to the sport and I am grateful for his continued insight and guidance as we build F1 for long-term success and the enjoyment of all those involved.”
Greg Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty Media Corporation, added: “We are delighted to have completed the acquisition of F1 and that Chase will lead this business as CEO. There is an enormous opportunity to grow the sport, and we have every confidence that Chase, with his abilities and experience, is the right person to achieve this. I’d like to thank Bernie Ecclestone, who becomes Chairman Emeritus, for his tremendous success in building this remarkable global sport.”
Liberty confirmed within the release that the Liberty Media Group name will become the Formula One Group. Full formal details are linked here.
While not announced today, Liberty is reportedly set to bring in ex-ESPN marketing chief Sean Bratches in a commercial role, and ex-Ferrari and Benetton technical chief Ross Brawn has been linked with a sporting role to define the future roadmap for F1.
Liberty’s takeover is set to result in a number of changes for F1, with the United States being identified as a key market for the series to grow in.
Recently-appointed McLaren executive director Zak Brown said earlier this month that he believed Liberty would focus on putting fans first in a bid to boost its audience.
While Liberty’s exact plans for F1 moving forward remain unclear, the departure of Ecclestone as its ringmaster certainly signals the end of an era for the series.