Ecclestone admits he could be forced to step down

F1 Fanatic round-up

Posted on

| Written by

Vijay Mallya, Bernie Ecclestone, Valencia, 2012In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone (pictured with Vijay Mallya) admits the Gribkowsky investigation could force him out of his role in charge of Formula One.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Ecclestone admits bribe case could end F1 reign (The Telegraph)

“Mr Ecclestone says CVC ‘will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It?s pretty obvious, if I?m locked up’.”

Grosjean: Lotus will be stronger in 2013 (Autosport)

“We learned a lot this year about the car, the tyres, the set-up of an F1 car. We were quite good at the start of the year, but even in the last two grands prix we were looking good.”

Comment of the day

@RogerCamp also has high hopes for Lotus this year:

I?m sure Raikkonen thought it would be wiser to be cautious in his first comeback season.

I?m positive that next season will be a little different. He?ll be more aggressive. He?s now more comfortable with the team, the car, tires, etc…

I?m pretty sure Lotus will deliver a faster car. They spent a lot of effort last season with the double DRS, which was a waste, they should have focused on developing the Coanda exhaust.

In the last few races it seemed they started to catch on with that. If Grosjean sort out his demons, maybe Lotus can finish second in the constructors’ championship, which will help them developing the car for 2014.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Journeyer, NAZ3012, Rick and Liam Stroud!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Happy birthday to Francois Hesnault who turns 56 today.

Hesnault was part of the last three-car entry to a Grand Prix. He drove a third Renault in the 1985 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring alongside regular drivers Derek Warwick and Patrick Tambay. Hesnault’s car was equipped with an early onboard camera.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

64 comments on “Ecclestone admits he could be forced to step down”

  1. “Mr Ecclestone says CVC ‘will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up’.”

    That sounds like the worst possible scenario that could come to pass. With CVC gradually scaling back their investment in Formula 1, removing Ecclestone from his position would likely create a vaccuum at the top of the hierachy, inspiring others to war amongst themselves for control over the sport.

    1. I agree and think that would be extremely dangerous for the sport.

    2. When Ecclestone drops down, because he eventually will someday, I truly believe Formula One will make a mess out of it self. Bernie is the glue that keeps teams, FIA and FOM together, and the one who makes the relation work. When he goes, it will be hard to have stability. At least, that’s what I think.

      1. And now that I’ve read the other commentaries it seems I’m not the only one thinking like this.

        1. @joao-pedro-cq – For all the criticism Bernie (regularly) receives, when faced with a potential change in management (much less a hostile one), the first thing that comes to my mind is the phrase “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”.

    3. It would’ve been OK, had there been a succession plan. Of which there isn’t any.

    4. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
      30th December 2012, 3:35

      I agree. No matter how much he is maligned by the fans, one thing is for sure – Ecclestone keeps the entire operation in check. Remove him (and to do so without a proper succession plan as Journeyer points out), and you risk bringing down the hierarchy of rights holders and teams that has kept F1 steady going for so long.

      1. I suspect Bernie has already thought of this. He knows he can’t keep doing it forever, and I find that everything has lined up too neatly for it to be nothing more than coincidence. Bernie takes out a loan through CVC. He then uses it to expand the sport to twenty races per season, reaching out to half a dozen new markets in the process. I’m sure that loan has been paid off by now, or else CVC wouldn’t be withdrawing – and just as it is, a new Concorde Agreement is being negotiated, one which is said to offer teams a stake in the sport, and will likely be good for another seven to ten years. I think he’s trying to get the sport into a state where it is self-sustaining, so when he does retire (and/or die), everything practically runs itself, and any attempt by anyone – like, say, Luca di Montezemolo – to seize power for themselves will rock the boat too much.

        1. Whilst I’m not Bernie’s biggest fan, I agree that ensuing power struggle could be horrible for the sport, let’s hope he really does have a successor in mind.

          On the loan side, I read recently that it was originally about $1 billion to buy the sport and refinanced a year or so later to around $2.5 billion (used partially to give prize money and tie the teams to a new Concorde agreement I believe), in the time since F1 has had a profit of around $2.2 billion, so they are recouping there money, but not much of that has been put into paying back the debt.

        2. @prisonermonkeys, where do you get this fantasy about Bernie borrowing money from CVC to expand F1?
          Bernie sold F1 to CVC and put the money into the trust that Gribowsky claimed he controls. Bernie never spent a penny of his own money or CVCs for that matter promoting F1, it all comes out of revenue.

  2. For Ecclestone to leave F1 would be a great shame, despite all the criticisms he gets. I’m part of the (probably quite small minority) camp that believe that Bernie is holding F1 together. If he goes before his time then F1 would be so much worse off.

    So, based on that quote, lets hope he has a decent back-up plan in place by the time he does go (As, with the best will in the world, he’s not likely to want to be ‘Mr F1’ in 20 years time!)

    1. I think there is little doubt that he has helped make F1 the sport that it is.

      But it’d be nice if he’d done some things differently.

      1. Bernies’s done ok but wouldn’t it have been great to have someone with the business mind of Bernie but with a philanthropist’s attitude.

        Imagine if instead of working in F1 to make money for himself, he’d worked entirely out of love for the sport and used the money he’d raised for more worthy causes than providing his daughters with the most “balla” lifestyles possible.

        I can’t remember what Bernies worth but I’m sure that with his wealth and contacts he could’ve done something revolutionary like reducing the worlds reliance on fossil fuels (provided the petrol companies wouldn’t have him taken out at the first mention of reducing their profits)

        1. The holding company would only ever appoint the person they feel will make them the most money. If that person goes rouge and does something “for the love of the sport”, he would soon be sacked.

          1. @infy, the holding company only control the sport because Bernie sold his share to them.

          2. Thats one way to look at it. The other way is that they control the sport because they bought it.

  3. I would love to see a multi car entry like the old wrc.
    You can enter up to four cars, but can only nominate 2drivers to score constructor points in that race.
    2cars must be entered and every event. The extra’s are optional.
    The extra cars (or even every car) should be allowed to have a different paintjob/sponsor.
    This would be exciting and we would see ‘guest’ drivers. Maybe stimulate it by extra rules that drivers in car 3 and 4 can enter a max number of races per team and such.
    I would love something in that style!

    1. Sorry, but I think that’s a horrible idea.

      For one, it would be very expensive for teams to run a third and fourth car. So expensive that only a handful of them would be able to do it, assuming they would be able to do it at all.

      Secondly, being unable to score points with those extra cars means there is nothing in it for the teams. Even those teams that could spare the expense could not justify it if they could not score points.

      Finally, there would be nothing in place to stop teams from using their additional cars to manipulate the outcome of the championship, especially if there are rules that limit the number of times that they could enter extra cars. What do you think would happen if Team A and Team B were fighting for the championship, and Team A used up all of their additional entries whilst Team B saved them for the final race? Team B would use those extra entries to impede Team A’s points-scoring drivers and win the championship.

      The only way third cars could possibly work would be if Friday drivers were re-introduced, with teams entited to have a third car participate in Friday practice, and possibly a form of pre-qualifying – which could be done during Q1 – where the bottom seven cars are eliminated, plus the slowest car from any team that ran with three cars. But in all likelihood, that be deeply unpopular with teams, drivers and fans.

      1. PS

        I would love to see a multi car entry like the old wrc.

        If you check the teams and drivers who are competing in the WRC this year, you will see that mutli-car entries are alive and well. For instance, M-Sport are running three Ford Fiestas under the Qatar M-Sport WRT banner this year: Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov will compete full-time, while Nasser al’Attiyah will race on a part-time basis. And that’s without mentioning the Qatar WRT entries of Juho Hanninen and Thierry Neuville which, although treated as a separate team for points-scoring purposes, will also be operated by M-Sport.

  4. No doubt some Ecclestone bashing will follow this round-up but, without sounding like I fear change, surely it’s better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t. I agree Ecclestone has his flaws, but I can’t imagine the sport without someone with at the helm who has both balls and brains. Perhaps he’s shown his age at times over the years but I remember being extremely sceptical of twilight and night races, as well as races in Asia. Whilst I have not totally been won over by the Asian races, I love Signapore and Abu Dhabi. I think they add another little jewel to the crown and spice up what could be pretty dull races. This is only one example, he has helped teams (Jordan) stay afloat and obviously overseen all the Concorde agreements and TV rights. One thing about Ecclestone is that he isn’t afraid to take a calculated risk and I think 99 percent of F1 fans will look back on his mammoth contribution to the sport favourably once he is out of the picture.

    1. Big balls, brains and a caring attitude would make the perfect person to run F1. Unfortunately people with big balls tend to want to only please themselves, so they just like to screw. People with big brains realise what’s best in a situation and tend to back out without hurting anyone. And those who care alot get screwed so in turn hurt themselves.

      When someone that loves motorsport and has balls, brains and a caring attitude in abundance then maybe we will see someone that could do a better job than Bernie, until then I hope he carries on, as F1 in 2012 has been close to perfect

      1. You don’t think Bernie cares about Formula 1? He’s been involved in motorsport in some way, shape or form since 1949. And he’s been involved in the mangement level of Formula 1 since 1971, when he bought Brabham. It’s kind of hard to be involved in something for forty-one years and not care about it.

        1. Of course he cares about F1 but does he care enough that he’d do his job if he wasn’t personally making money from it? I highly doubt it

          1. Would you do your job for free? I highly doubt it.

            Bernie is an old man with incredible wealth and a long legacy, if he wanted to retire, he would. The fact is that formula 1 has been improving in almost every aspect for years and that has a lot to do with Bernie. The man has dedicated his entire life to improving the sport, I think the only reason he is still there is because he cares.

          2. @rbalonso

            I’d be F1’s supremo for free….

            Obviously that’s a straw man if I’ve ever seen one.

    2. If Bernie took risks he wouldn’t have sold out to CVC and therefore he would hold the 10billion value of F1 for himself, he settled for a sure 2.5billion because there was a risk the teams would not agree to renew the concorde unless he took a massive cut in his share of revenue generated.

    3. Bernie is still there because;
      1. he gets paid $5million a year
      2. he wields great power
      3. he hobnobs with the rich and famous on an expense account
      5. he meets a lot of beautiful women who are attracted to money and power.

  5. Thank you for the greeting, @keithcollantine! :)

  6. James Hunt must be my all-time favorite commentator. “You need something to clear your visor. Now, some people use tear offs for their helmets, but I used to carry a rag between my legs and stick up my hand and wipe the visor.”

  7. Maybe it would be good for F1 to end up in chaos and unpaid bills etc.
    The sport can certainly use a massive shake up, but currently everybody wants the status quo.
    I’m thinking about:
    – money, more for teams
    – cheaper tickets for fans
    – free development within one constraint: amount of joules used
    – full stop on irrelevant aero development and wings
    – no artificial gimmicks like DRS
    If the money is there and the sport is really in trouble it can be done. But I fear we’re stuck with the Mariofication and even seen nothing yet.

    1. @verstappen – I’ll add one thing to that list, FOM: stop claiming copyright on every single piece of video or alternatively make better use of what your blocking everyone from using!

      1. FOM: stop claiming copyright on every single piece of video

        In fairness they do own all copyrights on F1 material as they are the rights holders. Not as if they simply claiming copyright on anything.

        I’d also point out that its not just FOM, The various worldwide broadcasters also handle copyright claims & there is also a dedicated company (who’s name i forget) which also takes out copyright claims on behalf of FOM & the worldwide broadcasters.

        As to why its done, Remember that broadcasters pay millions for the rights to show F1. If videos are available freely via the internet then whats the point in those broadcasters bothering to spend the cash?

  8. One other thing: With articles from Bernie’s parrot, always ask yourself why? And why now?

    1. My thoughts precisely!

  9. Gilles Villeneuve said it well:

    The fans aren’t here to see politicians and manipulators. They’re here to see Alain and Mario and Carlos and me. I am very secure in my feelings about racing. I make a lot of money from it, but one thing I can tell you for sure: if the money disappeared overnight, I would still be in racing, because I love it. The entrepreneurs would be gone.”

    Interview during the driver’s strike at the 1982 South African Grand Prix, Donaldson

    I think Bernie’s development into F1, for better or worse, has been entirely self-serving. His abilities are on a level similar to Senna or Fangio or Newey or anyone else, but to describe him as selfish and greedy would be an understatement. And I know which I value more in a person.


    p.s. kisses are from my three year-old.

  10. Bernie out? That would be terrific!

    1. I think we all agree that whoever takes over must have a history in the sport and a deep political knowledge of it.

      So if Bernie died tomorrow, who would you replace him with?

      Names mentioned previously are Luca and Briatore, neither of which would be any good imo. And what would their plan be? Follow in Bernie’s footsteps or make across the board changes?

      My point is Bernie haters never provide a solution, they only want him out.

      1. @RBAlonso I think Martin Whitmarsh could be a good successor.

        1. I nominate Jeremy Clarkson as his successor.

          1. @blockwall2 Yes! Imagine the engines the cars would have if Clarkson made the rules, that’d be fantastic!

        2. @girts yes, I agree, he’s done a great job with the teams and I imagine he is a great deal stricter behind closed doors. Competitive teams don’t happen by accident so I would definitely put him on a short list at the minute. But, ultimately, I think he will want to stay with McLaren for a few more years to get the championship back before thinking of moving on.

          @infy I’m not sure about Montezemolo. I think that a lot of his views are based on Ferrari having a higher power than elsewhere and that other teams would be dispensable. For example, I think that he wouldn’t put up a great fight to keep the small teams and if Red Bull were to leave I don’t imagine him offering much resistance to it. I also believe he sees his future as the Italian PM.

      2. Montezemolo would do a good job imo.

        1. @infy – No, no, no. No. Luca di Montezemolo would be the worst possible choice for the job. The first thing he would do is use his power to favour Ferrari indiscriminately. And from that point on, every single decision he made would be based on what was best for Ferrari first and the sport second (because to Luca’s mind, they are one and the same). It would virtually guarantee a new era of Ferrari dominance, and there would be very little anyone could do to stop him. Having Luca di Montezemolo run the commercial side of the sport would be the same as electing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be President of the United States.

          1. Hehe yeah I was just kidding :P

      3. @rbalonso, the solution is simple, FOTA take control, appoint a board with a couple of outside financial managers and a couple of team owners, the board then appoints one of the many publicist/management companies to negotiate the contracts and sponsorship deals exactly as FOM do now but for a much smaller slice of the pie.

        1. FOTA cannot even agree among themselves. Out of the 12 teams that formed FOTA, one has gone bust (HRT) and 4 have stepped out due to disagreements (Ferrari, Sauber, Red Bull and Torro Rosso). I’m sure it’s not all that simple.

  11. Usually when Bernie says something, the exact opposite happens. So I’m thinking he’ll be around for another 20 years at least.

    But if he steps down, I seriously hope the sport knows what to do; instead of selling it to another money-hungry group of bankers they should come up with something better.

    1. He’ll probably step down when he dies.

      1. I doubt Ecclestone will step down when he dies, in fact I hear he’s quite fond of the film “Weekend at Bernies”.

    2. @kalle, Bernie being alive or dead won’t affect the ownership, CVC own what they haven’t already sold until the end of the latest concorde, only then will the teams have a chance to wrest control back.

  12. TO be honest I’m in two minds about Bernie in this situation. On the one hand, the good he’s done for the sport over the long time he’s been working in it is clear to see, plus I do rather like – at times – his bluntness and lack of ********.

    On the other hand, he’s starting to seem more and more out-of touch with us as fans. I know that ultimately his job is to make F1 profitable for CVC, but it does leave a rather sour taste in the mouth when you see decisions like the Sky/BBC deal that makes it more difficult for fans to access the sport.

    1. “ultimately his job is to make F1 profitable for CVC”
      Originally his job was to make F1 profitable for the teams.

      1. True, but you can’t use that as evidence against at this point. His current job is to run F1 on behalf of CVC. That’s like saying I should be penalised for not getting enough signups for charity fundraising because I now work in a call centre.

        1. @bendana, I still see it as abuse of trust.

          1. The teams, however, don’t. And since this is the time when the new Concorde Agreement is due to be signed, I’d say now is the opportune moment for them to rise up and show their displeasure with Bernie … only they’re not doing it. Could it be that they are happy with the way Bernie is running the sport?

            I always find your posts amusingly ironic because you insist that Bernie is slowly bleeding the sport dry when you have no access to any of the contracts between any of the parties involved. Meanwhile, none of those parties show any signs of dissatisfation with Bernie’s ability to lead or run the sport.

  13. I say like Sauber owner, the costs are way to hight at the moment for entry in F1, they must make it more simple for small serious teams to have a chance of take part in F1, more intresting with a mix and better for the sport, or should the car in lead newer have to pass car from the back? Then we will have 4 big teams in future and its = F1 dead.

  14. Well, if he goes to jail, I for one shall not shed a tear for him.

    He is almost certainly guilty of bribery and has got the sport for a song, and then used that position to make a ******* fortune for himself- whilst using all the revenue the sport creates to service a debt he gave it.
    Were he trading for a bank he would get 10-15 years, or as in Chapmans case, the judge commented that were he alive he would get 10 years (his accountant got 3 years).

    The years of founding the sport are long gone. I cannot understand for the life of me why people think that the sport will go to rack and ruin with out him.

    He has shown by his misdirection and lies that he cares nothing for the everyday fan and more for his well heeled cronies in Monaco. The sale of the rights to Murdoch in the UK stinks and is disingenous- an insult to our intelligence. Bernie, we can read a contract, and don’t fall for your ‘interpretation’ of the guarantees given out.
    Just like the german courts won’t.

    Here’s to a sport run and governed by the teams,where the money is shared between the teams. Maybe an independant chairperson, not associated with any team, past or present.
    And not someone like Moseley or Ecclestone, who is already near death, and incapable of being fluid in thinking.
    Keith, what you doing for the next few years? Hehe.

    1. whilst using all the revenue the sport creates to service a debt he gave it

      Do you have any idea how a home loan works? You give yourself a debt by borrowing money from a bank. You then service that debt with income from your job.

      The sale of the rights to Murdoch in the UK stinks and is disingenous- an insult to our intelligence. Bernie, we can read a contract, and don’t fall for your ‘interpretation’ of the guarantees given out.

      It’s pretty obvious that Bernie was powerless to act in that case. The BBC found a loophole in the brodcst agreement whereby they could enter into an arrangement with Sky, provided that they kept control of the rights themselves. Bernie said time and time again that he could only do something about it if the BBC totally relinquished control of the rights. I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

      Here’s to a sport run and governed by the teams,where the money is shared between the teams. Maybe an independant chairperson, not associated with any team, past or present.

      Great idea!

      While we’re at it, how about we change the way football is run so that there are no referees? Instead, the players could referee the matches themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Do you have any idea how a home loan works? You give yourself a debt by borrowing money from a bank. You then service that debt with income from your job.

        The only difference being, what Bernie has effectively done is got everyone else to pay his ‘mortgage’. He isn’t part of the show. It is more like me taking out a mortgage on your house, for you to pay the mortgage so I take ownership.

        Skys contract is with FOM, not the bbc. Try and put a video of F1 on youtube and see how long it lasts. Do you think FOM would allow the bbc to sell on coverage to a third party?
        Bernie may justify his skirting round the terms of the concorde agreement to get more cash, but this is his decision.

        I maybe didn’t express my last point very well- what I meant to say was that the commercial aspects should be controlled by the teams. The FIA run the sport- like a referee.
        And bizzarely- in football, all the refs are continually appraised as to performance, but no-one cares if the players know the rules. In F1, the teams are continually needing varification if their interpretation is legal!

    2. Here’s to a sport run and governed by the teams

      Yes because that worked brilliantly in CART.

      Constant infighting, disagreements & every team fighting to get what was best for them. I worked as part of the CART/Indycar TV team in the late 80s/early 90s & while most fans believe the series downfall came only because of the Tony George/IRL split (Which certainly didn’t help), Honestly the way things were with CART even before that means the series as run by teams was doomed anyway.

      Also just look at whats happening to Indycar now, It has its best season in years & then because of team power plays they have the best CEO they have ever had fired because he rubbed some team owners the wrong way, They then fire the best PR guy they ever had because he was hired by the CEO they had fired & then also seem to be blocking various other things which would actually be good for the series simply because the top teams don’t think they would necessarily be good for them.

      Teams running a series or even having any significant say in the series is often the worst thing to happen to a series because then ego’s get in the way as each team only see’s whats good for itself rather than whats good for the series.

      I know many fans often frown on Bernie’s more dictatorial rule, However you have to wonder why the 2 biggest motorsport series worldwide right now (F1 & Nascar) are run that way. Its because when you have so much self-intrest from teams, looking for the best deals for themselves & how to get the best performance edge for themselves you often need someone that has a clear mandate to run things push things through.

      If Indycar had someone like Bernie or Bill France running the show They would be a lot better off than they are & would avoid the constant mess they seem to find themselves in whenever the teams decide they want management changed because the guy currently in charge did something they didn’t like.

      1. This is exactly why I say a board of directors with mostly successful (nonF1) finance types and just a couple of team owners ( rotating or elected ) should be running F1. Alternately I would be happy with a “Bernie” paid as CEOs are normally paid, salary + performance bonus.

Comments are closed.