Why Bernie Ec­cle­stone had to go

F1’s new own­ers de­ter­mined to over­haul F1’s “in­ef­fec­tive and dys­func­tional” man­age­ment

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

A new era is dawn­ing in For­mula 1 fol­low­ing the sport’s takeover by US com­pany Lib­erty Me­dia and the re­moval of Bernie Ec­cle­stone as chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Ec­cle­stone, 86, has been given the neb­u­lous job ti­tle of ‘chair­man emer­i­tus’ and will the­o­ret­i­cally be avail­able for Lib­erty to call on for ad­vice. But he will no longer be in­volved in the day-to-day run­ning of the busi­ness.

New chair­man Chase Carey, 62, a highly re­spected Amer­i­can me­dia ex­ec­u­tive and long-time lieu­tenant of Ru­pert Mur­doch, de­cided Ec­cle­stone’s con­tin­ued pres­ence as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of For­mula 1 was not com­pat­i­ble with the changes Lib­erty wanted to make. Carey has taken on the ti­tle of chief ex­ec­u­tive and has ap­pointed two man­ag­ing di­rec­tors to look af­ter the dif­fer­ent sides of the busi­ness.

Ross Brawn, former Mercedes F1 boss and ex-Ferrari tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, will run the sport­ing and tech­ni­cal side, fo­cus­ing on changes to mod­ernise F1, while ex-ESPN ex­ec­u­tive Sean Bratches will han­dle com­mer­cial mat­ters, in­clud­ing race deals, spon­sor­ship and pro­mo­tion.

Carey de­scribed the man­age­ment of F1 un­der Ec­cle­stone in re­cent years as “some­where be­tween in­ef­fec­tive and dys­func­tional”, adding: “It is a great sport, but clearly it has to be im­proved and we do plan to im­prove it.

“To some de­gree it needs a fresh start. Bernie is a one-man team. It was not re­ally the right or­gan­i­sa­tion in to­day’s world to fol­low through and build the re­la­tion­ships and op­por­tu­ni­ties for us in all the ar­eas.

“On the sport’s side, the de­ci­sion-mak­ing is not as ef­fec­tive as it needs to be. Some of the or­gan­i­sa­tions that have been put up to guide the sport have not worked as planned. I have been sin­cere in say­ing I value Bernie’s help and ad­vice as we go for­ward. But I un­der­stand this is a big change for him. He calls him­self a dic­ta­tor. He has run it as a one-man dic­ta­tor for a long time. I think the sport needs a fresh per­spec­tive. But he has a lot to con­tinue to of­fer and he will al­ways be part of the F1 fam­ily.”

Ec­cle­stone made it clear he was un­happy about the de­ci­sion, telling a favoured jour­nal­ist be­fore the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment was made that he had been forced out.

But while Carey was care­ful to pay trib­ute to Ec­cle­stone’s achieve­ments in build­ing F1 into a $8bn busi­ness, he made it clear that the pre­vi­ous way of run­ning F1 had sig­nif­i­cant lim­i­ta­tions that were pre­vent­ing it from grow­ing in the 21st cen­tury – par­tic­u­larly with ref­er­ence to pro­mo­tion and dig­i­tal me­dia.

“I don’t know if he held it back,” Carey said, “but the way he ran it his­tor­i­cally as a one­man op­er­a­tion, it didn’t have a mar­ket­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion, didn’t have a dig­i­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion, didn’t re­ally have any en­gage­ment in the events be­ing put on and, in some ways, the ve­hi­cles set up to gov­ern the sport weren’t op­er­at­ing ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently. So if you look at the list of things, op­por­tu­ni­ties not taken, things put in place that were not work­ing well, there is a great deal more up­side than down­side.”

Carey’s re­search into For­mula 1 since Lib­erty be­gan its takeover in Septem­ber re­vealed sev­eral prob­lems, all of which ef­fec­tively fell at Ec­cle­stone’s door.

Prime among these was the rev­enue struc­ture, which is un­fairly skewed in favour of the big­ger teams. Then there is the fact that the Strat­egy Group has proved to be an in­ef­fec­tive tool for gov­ern­ing the sport. An overem­pha­sis on do­ing deals for the sake of the max­i­mum profit, rather than look­ing at whether they are good for F1 as a whole has caused ad­di­tional con­cern, as has ques­tion­able, ad hoc rule mak­ing, such as the dou­ble-points fi­nale in 2014 and the fi­asco over the change of qual­i­fy­ing for­mat in 2016. Last but not least were Ec­cle­stone’s re­peated,

con­tro­ver­sial pub­lic in­ter­ven­tions, ei­ther talk­ing down F1 or mak­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments.

In the press re­lease an­nounc­ing his de­par­ture Ec­cle­stone was con­cil­ia­tory, but in his only in­ter­view so far, he claimed he “didn’t un­der­stand” what his new role en­tailed.

It re­mains to be seen whether he goes qui­etly. Al­ready there have been ru­mours that he plans to set up a ri­val cham­pi­onship at some point – pre­sum­ably af­ter the teams’ con­tracts with F1 ex­pire in 2020 – al­though Ec­cle­stone in­sisted in a state­ment to Reuters that “the last thing” he wanted was “to see [F1] dam­aged”.

And jour­nal­ists to whom he is known to leak sto­ries are push­ing the idea that the FIA’s one per cent share­hold­ing and its need to ap­prove the Lib­erty deal rep­re­sent a con­flict of in­ter­est. But what­ever hap­pens, ma­jor changes are in­evitable over the next few years.

F1’s new CEO Chase Carey said of Ec­cle­stone: “I think the sport needs a fresh per­spec­tive”

Ousted: Ec­cle­stone has claimed that he “doesn’t un­der­stand” what his new role as ‘chair­man emer­i­tus’ will en­tail

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.