F1’s lib­er­a­tion be­gins un­der Carey’s brawn

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

BER­LIN: For­mula One is en­ter­ing a new era with the “one-man show” of for­mer chief Bernie Ec­cle­stone ended by new own­ers Lib­erty Me­dia after it com­pleted its takeover of the sport this week.

“I think the re­al­ity is that Bernie has re­ally ran the busi­ness as a one-man show,” new F1 chief ex­ec­u­tive Chase Carey told SkyS­ports yes­ter­day. “That’s not a crit­i­cism, it’s just the re­al­ity.”

One of Carey’s first ac­tions was to ap­point for­mer Mercedes team chief Ross Brawn as mo­tor sports man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, while Sean Bratches has been named man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions.

The moves were con­firmed late on Mon­day after Lib­erty com­pleted the $8 bil­lion (about R106bn) deal for the elite mo­tor­sport.

Carey stressed his re­spect for the work Ec­cle­stone had done in 40 years of lead­ing F1 but was equally clear that a new or­der was needed.

“Bernie de­serves enor­mous credit for the busi­ness that has been built over the last num­ber of decades and re­al­is­ti­cally it just got sold for $8 bil­lion, so the ul­ti­mate proof in the value he cre­ated is there for all to see,” Chase said.

The sport­ing as­pect of F1, after Ec­cle­stone was ousted to the po­si­tion of chair­man emer­i­tus, lies in the hands of Brawn, who was in­volved in all seven of Michael Schu­macher’s world ti­tles with Benet­ton and Fer­rari be­fore go­ing on to win the team ti­tle with his own Brawn team in 2009.

After sell­ing the team to Mercedes in 2010, Brawn re­mained as prin­ci­pal un­til 2013 be­fore an­nounc­ing his re­tire­ment a year later.

“I am de­lighted to wel­come Ross back to For­mula 1,” Carey said in a state­ment. “In his 40 years in the sport, he’s brought his magic touch to ev­ery team with which he has worked, has al­most un­par­al­leled tech­ni­cal knowl­edge, ex­pe­ri­ence and re­la­tion­ships, and I have al­ready ben­e­fited greatly from his ad­vice and ex­per­tise.”

Brawn has been con­sult­ing for Lib­erty in re­cent months and his widely ex­pected re­turn has now been for­malised.

“It’s fan­tas­tic to be re­turn­ing to the world of For­mula 1,” Brawn said. “I’ve en­joyed con­sult­ing with Lib­erty Me­dia these last few months and I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Chase, Sean and the rest of the For­mula 1 team to help the evo­lu­tion of the sport.

“We have an al­most un­prece­dented op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether with the teams and pro­mot­ers for a bet­ter F1 for them and, most im­por­tantly, for the fans.”

Bratches, in con­trast, is new to For­mula One but has played an in­flu­en­tial role in grow­ing Amer­i­can broad­caster ESPN, es­pe­cially its on­line as­pect – a mar­ket widely ig­nored by Ec­cle­stone.

“Sean was a driv­ing force in build­ing ESPN into one of the world’s lead­ing sports fran­chises,” Chase said. “His ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence in sales, mar­ket­ing, dig­i­tal me­dia and dis­tri­bu­tion will be in­valu­able as we grow For­mula 1.”

When he was asked for the first time if he wanted to be the new power-bro­ker in For­mula One, Carey said he needed time to think: “10 sec­onds, and then I said ‘yes’.

“What I bring is a long ca­reer in the me­dia busi­ness, in which sport was a big part,” said Carey, a Har­vard grad­u­ate and for­mer pres­i­dent of 21st Cen­tury Fox.

Carey’s ad­van­tage over his pre­de­ces­sor Ec­cle­stone, a for­mer used-car sales­man who took over F1 after a brief spell as a driver, is that he knows the busi­ness from the other side – as a con­sumer and a maker of TV.

Ec­cle­stone spent 40 years lead­ing the sport and turned F1 into the mod­ern busi­ness it is to­day. But Lib­erty wasted no time in ap­point­ing their own man for the fu­ture.

Re­port­edly the clos­est con­fi­dante of me­dia mogul Ru­pert Mur­doch out­side his fam­ily, Carey, born in 1954, rose to promi­nence through the es­tab­lish­ment of Fox TV through­out the 1980s.

He is also con­sid­ered the brains be­hind the group’s pay-con­tent strat­egy, ac­cord­ing to Ger­many’s Fed­eral Cen­tre for Po­lit­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion. – DPA

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