F1 staff were “told not to discuss things with me” – Ecclestone

2017 F1 season

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Bernie Ecclestone says he is being kept unaware of what is going on within Formula One Management since Liberty Media’s takeover.

Ecclestone, who was given the position of chairman emeritus after Chase Carey replaced him as CEO in January, said in an interview he couldn’t pass judgement on how well his successor was performing because “they’ve elevated me to a position that’s so high in the company I can’t see what’s going on.”

“Somebody in the company that’s been elevated to a position that’s different from when they were with me has told all the staff not to discuss things with me,” he added. “So they don’t, officially.”

“It bothers me because I think maybe they think what I’ve been doing is wrong. I have no idea. You know what happens in companies, suddenly things change and people try to cut out things for themselves a little bit. So we’ve got people that have got important positions which they never had. And the reason we never had them is basically because they couldn’t achieve them.”

Formula One’s previous owners CVC let Ecclestone “do whatever I wanted to do”, he admitted. “Hopefully I got it right. And in this case I think with Liberty they want to run… they think the company’s not been run very well and they want to run it differently. So that’s the difference.”

Ecclestone described Carey as being more corporate than entrepreneurial and said his way of running F1 was not “the way they’ve been running [other] companies.”

“I was running the company as chief executive to make as much money as I could. That’s what I was employed to do, which is what I tried to do.”

“And it looks to me like they’re not looking as if they’re trying to make money. They said I was always trying to make money overnight, I’m not looking into the future. So I think our friends at the moment say they’re looking at things much longer-term.”

The former F1 boss also said restrictions on anti-competitive practices had made it harder for business to be run the way he ran the sport.

“I think it’s more difficult to do the way I’ve been lucky enough to deal with the business. Even in Europe today the European Union by the way anything anti-competitive… I’d like to have felt we’ve always been anti-competitive. I don’t want competition, so I’ve been against that. That’s not being serious, it’s supposed to be funny, but it probably is serious.”

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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...

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27 comments on “F1 staff were “told not to discuss things with me” – Ecclestone”

  1. They’re not allowed to talk to him!
    Poor old guy.

    And for a ‘corporate’ CEO Chasey has been quite entrepreneurial over the past 12 months

  2. Well, he doesn’t own F1. He’s just another person who used to be part of the sport. I doubt he told the people who he took over from everything.

  3. Way is BE still a news maker? Why do we print what he says? Why do we even ask? Please stop.

    1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      9th November 2017, 22:20

      I’m amazed he gets coverage, he’s just a bitter old man sitting on the billions he siphoned off from the sport. As the press tires of his carping he’ll have to make ever more lurid claims to keep in the public eye. It’s going to get very embarrassing.

      1. F1’s glory days my be slipping a little bit currently. But You & any other Bernie Ecclestone detractors. Just remember & remember this very very well. BE made F1 the premier global motor sport & pinnacle of global motor car racing that it is. He alone by his total dedication & stubborn true grit, actually got a herd of cats to perform in unison! He took a disorganised bunch of motor racing playboys & their louche, laid back lifestyle into the stratosphere of mass media appeal & entertainment on a global scale. BE did it all his way & all on his own. He’s totally deserving of his wealth made from taking F1 right up there. F1 will always owe Bernie Ecclestone for the fame & fortune it enjoys today. So allow the old chap, his basking in his retirement from the front line now! Thank you.

        1. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
          10th November 2017, 8:45

          F1 was already the pinnacle of global motorsport before he took over, racing in five continents. Sport was increasingly being televised from 1970s onwards – golf, cricket, tennis, rugby, etc. all found broad appeal, he was simply in the right place at the right time. His avarice has saddled the sport with enormous debts to no-one’s benefit only than himself.

        2. Yes, we know what Bernie did for formula 1. No one to my doubts that. What annoys many, me included, is he has overstayed his welcome. Bernie sounds like an old boxer, who has seen better days, and knows it, but just doesn’t want to leave the ring. The longer he stays, and the more fights he has, the more he damages the reputation he once had.

    2. Because despite his practices, greed and questionable decisions, he is the man who made the sport popular and turned it into a cash-cow. He also ran the sport for decades. It’s interesting to hear what he says, even if all it does is bring a palm to a face. His obliviousness and straightforwardness is entertaining, so I personally, don’t mind these small interviews.

    3. Nobody’s forcing you to read it.

      1. And really, he’s out of it now, by his own admission of lack of knowledge of what’s going on, so does it really matter what he says anymore? It will just continue to be ‘I’m not being included’ and ‘my mandate was to make money’.

        He did great things for the sport back in the day, but then he (and Max) created the MS/Ferrari elephant in the room, which was contrived and which drove costs to compete in F1 through the roof, and now Liberty are going to try to put more balance back in the sport after BE took it in the wrong direction in the latter part of his career.

        1. Was just going to add, he played of course a huge role in F1, and the numerous multi-millionaires and billionaires are always going to be diplomatic and express their gratitude at the incredible job BE did building up F1. Doesn’t mean they’ll have all agreed on everything BE did, and now it’s a new chapter which was always going to be inevitable.

  4. Is Bernie the only person who doesn’t see what’s going on here?

    His role with Liberty is purely symbolic. They didn’t want the PR faux pas of sacking him so they create a position to keep him on side but out of the way. One where he was seen but hopefully not heard. But as has always been the case he is refusing to bow out gracefully.

    1. Maybe he is trying to speak to his audience? To get sympathy and put pressure to get him back in some form? Or maybe he is trying to spin the stories to his favour? He seems to care a lot more about what people think about him than he likes to admit. When he was still in f1 he liked to tell journalists what to write. Maybe he still thinks his ideas are worthwhile?

      The thing is I don’t think he has an audience. I don’t think anyone cares where he is as long as he is not in f1 anymore. I doubt anybody really cares about his ideas. Maybe his goodwood experiences and in the past being the center of attention have gotten into his head and he is starting to view himself as some kind of saviour or advisor of f1. Maybe he even feels like he could offer something of value to someone in f1. All the while everybody else are trying to politely tell him to just go away and be quiet. Maybe he thinks someone out there wants him back and he just doesn’t notice that nobody does?

    2. I don’t think that his role is purely symbolic at all really @markus. I think his role is to be tied to the company so that he cannot (i.e. is not allowed with strict financial bonds holding him to that agreement) work against the company, nor can he advise anyone or really say more than he is already doing.

      I am sure that it is frustrating for Bernie. And I am sure it is one of the reasons he was happy to bribe Gribowski years ago to avoid just that kind of situation. But it is good for the sport. Because his approach clearly has been toxic for F1 for the last couple of years.

      1. I think his role is to be tied to the company so that he cannot (i.e. is not allowed with strict financial bonds holding him to that agreement) work against the company

        @bascb – excellent point.

      2. Like being locked out of prison when everybody is having a party inside.

  5. Can’t blame them. It’s not wise to talk to senile people. Especially if they’re known pot stirrers.

    1. @andrewf1

      I’m surprised Bernie thinks Liberty would actually want to consult him on anything. He was running the company in archaic fashion with no focus on sustainability. He was a decade behind in adopting digital media and was a borderline lunatic in his vision of the sport.

      Bernie needs to find himself a retirement home. He has no place in F1 anymore.

  6. Yup, seems about right to me. Tolerate but don’t talk to the old short guy with the white shirt.

  7. Why won’t he just go away? He’s such a pompous pain now that only raises hard feelings. He brought F1 to the big leagues so I’ll give him that. But once he became just another rich old guy praising nazzzi’s and autocrats…it’s time for him to go away.

  8. >“I was running the company as chief executive to make as much money as I could. That’s what I was employed to do, which is what I tried to do.”

    “And it looks to me like they’re not looking as if they’re trying to make money. They said I was always trying to make money overnight, I’m not looking into the future. So I think our friends at the moment say they’re looking at things much longer-term.”<

    Gee Bernie, you don't say? So, *that's* what you were doing! Really shocked. We had no idea. Thanks for clearing that right, old chap.

    1. My thoughts exactly. Bernie was in it for the quick money, not the continuity or good of the sport.
      If the new owners are looking for the continuity and health of the sport good for them. Go away Bernie, you’re done; you have your billion dollars and now what? Is money really the only measure?

  9. Bernie –
    You’re a fairly intelligent chap, right? One would think you’d know what’s going on, but i’ll explain it to you.
    F1 was purchase by a rather large American company. You have been given a symbolic title (lord knows why?), out of the kindness of their hearts. They (Liberty) own it and can do as they please. They appear to be trying to make things better that you had no clue about over the years. They have no obligation to tell you what’s going on, nor is that in their best interest as you would openly question what they are doing.
    Yours truly,
    A fan of better things to come

  10. Travis Oreali (@)
    10th November 2017, 3:02

    Can somebody get him a box of tissues…

  11. This is standard procedure when new brooms sweep clean at a company. It is obvious that Bernie still isn’t used to being an employee.

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