In a special edition of Reporters we look back on a week in F1 which has change the sport on and off track following the completion of Liberty’s takeover. Berine Ecclestone’s self-styled dictatorship was brought to an end in a coup by Liberty
Ecclestone ousted as F1 boss
Berine Ecclestone has left his post as Formula One chief executive. The departure of Ecclestone will be the biggest shock for the sport after forty years as CEO.
Liberty Media are on track to complete a £6.5bn takeover by the end of March. Ecclestone told the Auto Motor dun Sport he has been offered an honorary role of life president but he is unlikely to take the role.
He said “I was deposed today. I am simply gone. It’s official. I am no longer the leader of the company. My position has been taken by Chase Carey.
“My new position is one of those American terms. It’s something like an honorary president. I have this title now, even though I don’t know what it means.”
Asked about his future, he said: “My days in the office will be getting quieter now. Maybe I will attend a Grand Prix sometime in the future.”
F1 Vault’s Analyst Jason Fuller says “Not that shocked to be honest he’s been in charge for many years and some of the changes in recent years have been ridiculous I feel this would have been a long time coming if he was to leave.”
The final deal is still being negotiated and will be formally agreed tomorrow. If Ecclestone departs it would be the biggest change for the car dealer who turned an amateur motor-racing series enjoyed by enthusiasts into a multibillion-dollar business with millions of fans around the world.
Liberty are planning to turn the sport into events. Over the weekend there were suggestions that Liberty are planning a major overhaul to its management, with the possibility that Sean Bratches. There has been no comment from either Liberty or Ecclestone.
So how did Berine rise to be such a powerful figure in Formula One? Jack Fielding assess how a fisherman’s son living in poverty became a billionaire
Berine – Rags to riches how son of a fisherman became F1’s ringmaster
Bernard Charles Ecclestone was born in October 1930 in Bungay, Suffolk. His humbled beginnings a son of a fisherman, living poverty for much of his childhood but it was clear when he was young he had the potential to make money.
Aged eight Ecclestone, moved to London and left school aged of sixteen. During his teens it was buying and selling spare motorbike parts
His business interest grew into property and a car auction business amongst others. In 1957, the Ecclestone moved into Formula One trying to qualify for the British Grand Prix. During that time he also moved into driver management.
He returned in 1972, managing Brabham overseeing there rise. He realised he was coming into the disorganised muddle of the way the sport was run. So set about bringing change to the sport, the teams agreed to give him the power to control the sports commercial rights, which turned him into a billionaire.
Ecclestone’s self-styled ‘dictatorship’ had begun. Berine set about transforming the sport from an ammeter sport into a multi-billion pound business. Building marketing power allowing sport’s popularity to rise and creating increased exposure and income, Bernie taking his substantial cut of the latter
Ecclestone a brilliant businessman, but controversial, rows with his own Labour Party over there plan to ban tobacco advertising and rows with the EU. Calling woman “domestic appliances” and saying teams wouldn’t select a woman driver if they could find a competent male.
His business dealings were also in the spotlight in 2012, after trying to keep control by bribing the German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky. The way that ended proved controversial, paying to settle the case
You can read more here. Well how will he be remembered Jason Fluhrer assesses his impact on Formula One?
The Full-hrer View
Here’s some analysis from F1 Vaults Analyst Jason Fluhrer on Berine Ecclestone’s departure.
“I’m really unsurprised about his departure there has been talk about since the tail end of 2015. He did a lot for the sport a lot of good things but over the last forty years. The thing’s he’s done has eventually slowly melted into the sport being dominated week in week out by Mercedes.”
“Hopefully, Chase Carney can bring back competition between Ferrari, Red Bull Mercedes and McLaren and possibly Force India as they are on the way up.”
With Berine Ecclestone gone, what does his successor as commercial boss Sean Bratches think is the sports priorities?
Bratches key priorities
Sean Bratches the new commercial boss of Formula One has outlined his four key immediate priorities to improve the sport. Bratches, a former ESPN executive has been brought in as part of the senior team that includes CEO Chase Carey and managing director Ross Brawn, who focuses on sporting matters.
In his first interview since being appointed to the role with CNN, he outlined four key areas he wants to work on. “One is the brand – the brand is the entry-point for any company, any brand, any sport. And we are going to work to understand the brand. We are going to polish it, we are going to elevate it. It is going to be really central to what we do. That will allow us to enter new market places.”
“The second is digital. I think there is a huge opportunity in the digital space to re-imagine the digital products that F1 has today, and to engage fans in very new ways and also to use sponsors to activate it.”
“The third is creating a much more democratic approach in terms of how we approach our partners – from teams/sponsors/promoters and rights holders. There is a lot of opportunity to leverage the F1 IP to integrate it to their businesses.
“And the last one, is the race experience. Creating a better race experience that engages fans, spectators there and on television is a huge opportunity.”
Carey believes that the commercial side needs overhauling. He pointed out that the sport only had Ecclestone working on deals compared to MLB who have around eighty people working on marketing.
Asked by how much he felt it had fallen short, he said: “I have a point of view on that but I am not going to share that with you.”
“We are going to pivot this from a very deal orientated platform to one with a long-term vision that is focused on a very cadence business strategic approach to running the business.”
Well an immediate issue now for the sport is viability. Manor hopes of getting back on the grid appear over now. But why did it collapse and what will it mean for small teams in the future?
Manor collapses after failing to secure a new owner
Manor team has collapsed after entering administration earlier this month, after the teams administrators failed to find a buyer for the team. Manor’s operating company Just Racing Services announced today that they have ceased trading.
Staff have been sent home with all but a handful set to be made redundant on Tuesday. The workforce will be paid for January. FRP Advisory, had been in talks with a group of Asian investors, but a deal was unable to be reached to save the tea.
Administrator for FRP Advisory Geoff Rowley said “It is deeply regrettable that the team has had to cease trading and close its doors. Manor is a great name in British motorsport and the team has achieved a great deal over the past two years, invigorated under new ownership.
“Operating and running a F1 team to the high standards demanded however requires significant ongoing investment.” However this isn’t the end as a buyer could still be found, but appears now to be very difficult as the start of the new season is just weeks away.
Sky Sports say they understand than Manor need half a million investment to get through to F1’s winter tests at the end of February. Administrators had been in talks with interested parties, sources close to the situation have indicated that no would-be buyer was close to striking the required deal.
All this will just be fuel on the fire for F1’s new owners Liberty Media and Ross Brawn, who are aiming to cut the costs of the sport. There is still small hope of a buyer being found.
You can read more here. That’s all from this special edition of Reporters.