Ecclestone returns as head of F1 Group
The 84-year-old is reappointed chief executive as CVC favourite Paul Walsh withdraws his candidacy
Bernie Ecclestone has fended off another threat to his stewardship of F1 and been reappointed to the board of the company that runs the commercial side of the sport.
The announcement that Ecclestone will continue as chief executive of the F1 Group came shortly after Paul Walsh, the man who had been lined up by major shareholder CVC Capital Partners to be the new chairman, withdrew his candidacy.
But CVC have succeeded in getting Walsh, a former boss of the Diageo drinks giant, involved in the F1 Group. He has been made a non-executive chairman, along with former Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo. Peter Brabeck Letmathe remains as chairman, following a period of ill health.
Walsh ruled himself out of the running for the chairmanship after a meeting with Ecclestone, which took place on the same day that Ecclestone met a group of F1 reporters. They asked about reports that Walsh would want to “rein in” the 84-year-old, to which Ecclestone replied: “He would be unique if he could do that. First he’s got to be appointed, hasn’t he?”
Ecclestone has seen off various challenges. He survived two court cases related to the accusation that he bribed a German banker to sell the F1 Group to his preferred bidder back in 2005, and there have been rumblings that CVC were unhappy with his role.
They were seeking a successor, partly due to Ecclestone’s age and partly because his running of F1 is coming under increasing scrutiny. But Ecclestone described the need for a successor as “a little bit of nonsense” and suggested long-time ally Sacha Woodward-Hill, the group’s chief legal ofcer, could do the job.
“If I died now, there are enough people in the company who could continue running the company the way we’ve set things up,” said Ecclestone. “I think if I was controlling the board... I would say it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a woman as the chief executive.”
Ecclestone said he could do with hiring someone who “could help when it comes to chasing for sponsors and things. Really we need to have someone who’s actually been successful at doing that.”
Ecclestone has seen off various legal challenges to make a full comeback