Tuesday, 24 January 2017

F1 Takeover - BBC: Bernie Ecclestone removed as Liberty Media completes $8bn takeover

Story from The BBC:

Bernie Ecclestone has been removed from his position running Formula 1 as US giant Liberty Media completed its $8bn (£6.4bn) takeover of the sport.

Ecclestone, 86, who has been in charge for nearly 40 years, has been appointed chairman emeritus and will act as an adviser to the board.

Chase Carey has had Ecclestone's former role of chief executive officer added to his existing position of chairman.

Liberty has also brought ex-Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn back to F1.

The former Ferrari technical director, who had been acting as a consultant to Liberty, has been appointed to lead the sporting and technical side of F1.

Ecclestone said earlier on Monday 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."

Ecclestone, who added he did not know what his new job title meant, declined to comment when approached by BBC Sport, who revealed on Sunday he would leave his job this week.

Liberty began its takeover of the sport in September and earlier in January cleared the last two regulatory hurdles.

The deal was completed on Monday and Liberty Media is to be renamed the Formula 1 Group following the takeover.

As well as Brawn's return, former ESPN executive Sean Bratches has been hired to run the commercial side of the sport.

Brawn, 62, masterminded all seven of Michael Schumacher's world titles at Benetton and Ferrari and also won the championship with Jenson Button with his own team in 2009.

He then moved to Mercedes, where he laid the foundations for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's title wins.

Both he and Bratches will report to Carey, a former long-time lieutenant of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and chairman of his 21st Century Fox company.

Bernie Ecclestone says: "I'm proud of the business that I built over the past 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula 1. I would like to thank all of the promoters, teams, sponsors and television companies that I have worked with.

"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."

Chase Carey added: "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, [governing body] FIA, promoters and sponsors on their ideas and hopes for the sport.

"I would like to recognise 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. I'd like to thank Bernie Ecclestone for his tremendous success in building this remarkable global sport."

Zak Brown, executive director, McLaren Technology Group says: "Formula 1 wouldn't be the international sporting powerhouse that it is today without the truly enormous contribution made over the past half-century by Bernie Ecclestone. Indeed, I can't think of a single other person who has had anything like as much influence on building a global sport as he has.

"Today is a day on which we should all pay tribute to a remarkable visionary entrepreneur called Bernie Ecclestone, and to say thank you to him too."

Murray Walker, F1 commentator, speaking to BBC Radio 5 live added: "Formula 1 owes him an immeasurable debt. He is a very tough businessman but if he shakes your hand you don't need a contract. He's as good as his word.

"The most important thing under Bernie's rule was the safety aspect. Formula 1 has been absolutely transformed. There was a time when four or five people were being killed every year but Bernie, with the help of Professor Sid Watkins, transformed that situation."

Liberty has not publicly revealed what changes it will make to F1 but insiders say it plans to act on many of the areas that were considered a weakness under Ecclestone.

In particular, it wants to exploit digital media, an area with which Ecclestone refused to engage, and it intends to invest in securing the futures of certain races which it considers valuable.

It also wants to grow the sport in the USA, where F1 has long struggled to gain a sure foothold and promote it much more extensively, talking of creating "20 Super Bowls", in terms of making much more of the build-up to each race.

Copyright © 2017 BBC.