Bernie Ecclestone’s 40-year reign as Formula One’s commercial supremo ended on Monday with the sport’s new owners Liberty Media replacing the 86-year-old Briton with American Chase Carey. Signalling the end of an era, Liberty said in a statement that it had completed the acquisition of Formula One and appointed Chairman Carey to the additional role of Chief Executive.
Ecclestone will become ‘Chairman Emeritus’, with Liberty saying he would remain “available as a source of advice for the board of F1”. Liberty also named two managing directors -- former Ferrari technical director and ex-Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn for motorsports and former ESPN executive Sean Bratches for commercial operations.
Both roles had been widely signalled in media reports.
Liberty, owned by U.S. cable TV mogul John Malone, has emphasised the importance of traditional European venues and wants to expand in the Americas.
“I’m proud of the business that I built over the last 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula One,” Ecclestone said in the statement. “I am sure that Chase will execute his role in a way that will benefit the sport.”
Ecclestone claims he was ‘forced out’
Earlier however, Ecclestone had said he had been “forced out”. He told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport: “I was dismissed. This is official. I no longer run the company. My position has been taken by Chase Carey.”
Bernie, mega job! But a change has been overdue. Mr. Carey, all the best in making our sport awesome again. 👍— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) January 23, 2017
Liberty Media president and CEO Greg Maffei said Carey, 62, would lead the business from now on and thanked Ecclestone for his “tremendous success” in transforming Formula One into a $1 billion business.
“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,” he said.
Thank you Bernie and welcome Liberty Media . Hope F1 gets better and better . 👍👍— Felipe Massa (@MassaFelipe19) January 23, 2017
The takeover, valued at $8 billion including debt, has been broadly welcomed in a sport featuring famous car brands such as Ferrari, McLaren and world champions Mercedes and which has the Monaco Grand Prix as its jewel in the crown.
Carey sees huge potential
Carey has spent his time since September familiarising himself with the sport, and has made clear that fundamental changes need to be made to the business model. Formula One currently lacks a marketing department and has derived much of its revenue from television rights and race hosting fees, with Ecclestone making the deals.
“F1 has huge potential with multiple untapped opportunities,” said Carey.
“I have enjoyed hearing from the fans, teams, (the sport’s governing) 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.”