Who is F1’s most powerful figure in the post-Ecclestone era?

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Until early 2017 there were absolutely no doubts about who held ultimate power in Formula 1: Bernard Charles Ecclestone, who reigned over F1 with an iron fist, wrapped in a velvet glove only when it suited the purposes of the diminutive, floppy-haired son of a trawlerman.

From 1981 to that January day three-and-a-half years ago when Liberty Media completed its acquisition of F1’s commercial rights and booted him upstairs with the notional title of ‘chairman emeritus’, Ecclestone lorded it over F1 through a unique mixture of guile, cunning, ruthlessness, mental agility and unique grasp of (and tight grip on) the sport.

It was clear who was in charge when F1 came visiting, and that was F1 Rule #1. Kings knew it, presidents understood it and car company CEOs resented it, albeit silently. Ecclestone bent billionaires unto his will, cajoled car companies into playing on his patch and paying heavily for the privilege, and sweet-talked cities into shelling-out for showcase stadia used once a year.

Donald Mackenzie, Ecclestone’s ‘boss’ at CVC Capital Partners – the venture fund that acquired F1’s rights in 2006 in a Bernie-massaged deal – gave him free reign and Ecclestone rewarded investors with big bucks that kept rolling in from across the world. FIA officials, oft embarrassed by his outbursts, gasped, shrugged shoulders, shook heads, but kept schtum such was his power.

Bernie Ecclestone, Brabham, Hockenheimring, 1984
For decades, Ecclestone ran the show
When Ecclestone paid $100m to settle a $34m bribery claim CVC looked the other way; when he praised Adolf Hitler for “getting things done” they spluttered but did little more; when he suggested Rolex-wearers and not youths were F1’s target market, sponsors despaired but continued spending on the sport. F1 was indisputably Ecclestone’s playset, and they knew it.

However, the question of absolute power over the world’s largest annual sporting block became blurred after Liberty’s takeover. Power can be defined in a number of ways, but ultimately the question boils down to: Who holds the greatest influence over F1? Expressed differently: Whose actions have the potential to wreak the most damage the sport?

Applying this thinking to F1 provides pointers to who are the current powermongers in the sport. A diverse bunch they are, too, ranging from a driver through team principals and/or owners, car company bosses and engine suppliers to Liberty executives and senior FIA officials.

Over the years various outlets have published their ‘F1 power lists’, but in the final reckoning a single name counts – one is top dog or not, so why bother to rank losers? There are no degrees of power, as there are no degrees of winning. You’ve won or not; you have power or not.

That does not, though, mean that various contenders for F1’s Most Powerful should not be listed – just as entry lists reflect all competitors although there will eventually be a single winner. Thus, our contenders are listed by category in alphabetical order together with brief resumes, with the single most power individual in F1 (according to RaceFans criteria) being nominated, together with reasons for the selection.

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Drivers

Lewis Hamilton (35)

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Hamilton has driven F1’s anti-racism agenda
No doubt that Lewis is hugely influential, both as driver and human being; on- and off-track. No driver commands greater social media presence, nor holds as much clout over his team. Take the Mercedes driver as he is or leave him: Lewis’ influence over committed fans, casual followers or rank outsiders will continue after he hangs up his helmet; his legacy will extend beyond sporting achievements.

In fact, so great is the power Lewis wields over the grid that he is the only driver listed – for now. But does he hold the ultimate power to truly influence F1’s bigger picture?

Team principals

Mattia Binotto (50)

Binotto is under pressure over Ferrari’s form
Ferrari team bosses wield power, if only via the legendary name and regulatory veto. Ferrari is news whether it wins or loses – and ability to soak up pressure ultimately determines the team’s successes and continued influence. Where once Ferrari’s power was bandied about in swashbuckling fashion by Luca Montezemolo or ruthlessly by Sergio Marchionne, it is now applied in a more low-profile manner

Whether this approach is preferred by his immediate superior Louis Camilleri (below) or is Binotto’s favoured modus operandi is irrelevant – paddock opinion has it that Ferrari’s power base has waned, and perceptions are deemed to be reality until disproven. Ferrari’s present struggles do not aid it, so where once any Ferrari team boss could not be excluded from any such list of one, on current form that is not the case.

In short, Ferrari’s exit would cause major ripples, but no crippling implosion as was once the case.

Toto Wolff (48)

Mercedes has enjoyed tremendous success under Wolff
Has won more championships as team boss than any other and led Mercedes F1 Team to record-setting heights. In addition, he holds shares in Williams and Aston Martin – forget Wolff’s actual holdings in these companies; by association he has inside lines in to their operations – and wields a big stick as engine supplier to two customers, plus a third from 2021.

Factor in influence over drivers – he holds a slice of Valtteri Bottas’ contract, and was influential in signing a host of youngsters – and Toto is undoubtedly a contender even if he unlikely to replace Carey, as was once mooted. The question is whether his power base is eroding, and if so, why? Which leads to the next question: Is Wolff constrained by Ola Källenius (below), who moved into the Mercedes top office in May 2019.

Team owners

Dietrich Mateschitz (76)

Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull Ring, 2018
F1 has two teams and one race thanks to Mateschitz
The Red Bull magnate owns two F1 teams and a state-of-art circuit, plus wields sufficient clout to persuade Austrian authorities to sign up to ‘Covid bubble’ that facilitated F1’s return of racing – with double-headers largely funded by company coffers. Such factors point to significant fire power and make the Austrian born near the Red Bull Ring, a serious contender.

Still, despite superb marketing and driver programmes which aid the entire sport, a wholesale exit would inflict only slight damage as teams and circuit could be sold as going concerns. Crucially, engine supply is the overriding factor, and until (when) both operations have guaranteed engine partners (or own units) both Red Bull squads are participatory independents with little overall power despite their historic successes.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa (51)

The Bahraini is chairman of McLaren Group and his influence extends to the island’s F1 circuit. Thus his position is similar to that of Mateschitz, particularly as his team is dependent upon engine suppliers – currently Renault, Mercedes from 2021. The Sheikh wields considerable power, but not as much as the team once did. A McLaren exit would hurt F1, though, but not seriously so.

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Manufacturer CEOs

Luca de Meo (53)

Luca de Meo, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
New Renault chief De Meo appeared at Spanish Grand Prix
Renault’s CEO, recruited from a similar position at Seat, has no F1 experience on his CV, yet was forced into the Renault versus Racing Point ‘photo-copy engineering’ protest within weeks of joining the company. Although currently a mid-fielder, Renault, and thus de Meo, holds more influence than independent teams through being a manufacturer team with engine supply capability.

However, unless Renault amasses political strength by expanding engine supply base and a return to winning ways, de Meo’s power base is the weakest of all.

Louis Camilleri (65)

Ferrari’s CEO, a former tobacco and consumer goods baron, was parachuted in after the untimely death of Marchionne in 2018, and has taken his time to slide his feet under a desk (figuratively) occupied by Enzo Ferrari and Montezemolo: supreme powermongers, both. During this orientation phase Camilleri dwelt mainly on road cars and has thus far shown no F1 power aspirations, which is unlikely to change in the medium term.

Ola Källenius (51)

Markus Schäfer,Britta Seeger, Dieter Zetsche, Ola Kallenius
Källenius (fourth) succeeded Dieter Zetsche (third) at Mercedes
The no-nonsense Swede, a Mercedes lifer who ascended to the top job with arguably the world’s most prestigious car brand last May, is no stranger to F1, having been a Mercedes appointee to the McLaren board during the 2000s before moving onwards and upwards to head the company’s F1 engine division. ‘His’ units won championships in 2008/9.

The team has a string of record-setting performances to draw on in any struggle, plus Mercedes has made what rank as F1’s largest investments in its Brackley base and Brixworth engine plant. Add in triple team engine supply in 2021 – with ensuing support in disputes – and Mercedes is powerfully entrenched. Indeed, of all CEOs listed Källenius is undoubtedly the most powerful.

FIA/F1

Chase Carey (66)

Chase Carey, Silverstone, 2020
Carey delivered F1’s new Concorde Agreement
F1’s CEO and chairman effectively replaced Ecclestone, then created a triumvirate to advise and support him. Although a necessity due to his inexperience in F1, this structure weakened his power through reliance on others. In addition, the American TV veteran seems more comfortable in investor circles than in argy-bargies between feuding team owners.

Carey wields his influence quietly, and there is no doubt inner steel lurks behind his luxurious moustache, but one gets the impression his gig is a stepping-stone to retirement, one last fling in an illustrious corporate career. Thus, Chase has no need to build short-term power bases; had he come into F1 ten years ago it may have been a different matter, but for now upwardly mobile share prices and not political power sustain him.

Jean Todt (74)

Jean Todt, 2020
Todt has spent a decade in charge at the FIA
Make no mistake: the FIA president could easily be the most powerful man in F1 if he chose to be so. Indisputably the best all-round motorsport manager of his generation, the Frenchman is content to let F1 operate independently until a firm hand is required. In the interim Todt focuses on the governing body’s other sporting interests plus activities such touring, global mobility and road safety.

One example of his ‘step-in’ style: when he realised various teams sought advantages during the Covid-19 hiatus he deftly stepped in, steadied F1 via emergency regulations, then let teams get on with it. The result: the first global sport to return to action, quickly followed by further FIA series. FIA statutes dictate that he retires at end-2021, and understandably he is now more concerned with a lasting legacy than power games.

Ross Brawn (65)

Ross Brawn, Red Bull Ring, 2020
F1’s new technical regulations are Brawn’s top priority
A seasoned F1 figure, Brawn is no stranger to power struggles, having won more than a few along his (ultra-successful) way. Having returned from comfortable retirement to act as Carey’s right hand, Brawn is tasked with steering F1 into the future in orderly fashion. However, at his age he is unlikely to step into Carey’s shoes for any extended period (if at all). Why, then, push for power?

Greg Maffei (60)

President and CEO of Liberty Media – whose interests extend well beyond F1 and include a baseball team, radio streaming and concert ticketing – Maffei is effectively Carey’s boss, but leaves him to get on with it provided the numbers tally. Indeed, Maffei plays little part in F1 on a day-to-day basis, and nor should he as the listed company’s most senior executive. Powerful, in financial terms.

Assessing where power lies

So, who is currently F1’s most powerful individual? A clue: Only two entities are mentioned thrice: Liberty and Mercedes. Carey and Brawn enjoyed other careers and are not in it for the long haul, while Maffei has no regular involvement with F1, nor is he a paddock regular. Liberty wields considerable clout, without teams it has no business, and thus largely panders to them. Any break-away series would kill it.

Ola Kaellenius, Lewis Hamilton, 2020
Hamilton’s future at Mercedes is ultimately a matter for Källenius
That leaves Mercedes: Hamilton wields power as a driver but is beholden to whoever pays. In other words, he is a hired hand – well-paid, but a hand with few or no winning options outside Mercedes. That weakens him considerably, as indicated last week when asked about his contract situation. With Mercedes planning to lay off at least 10,000 employees, the word is that Källenius has placed such big pay deals on hold.

Without doubt Wolff once wielded enormous paddock power as befits statistically the most successful team boss in F1 history, but rivals point to various U-turns – such as Mercedes’ withdrawal from the Ferrari engine settlement action group (instigated by Wolff) and the overnight about-face over racing in Australia during Covid – and allege were forced upon him by Källenius. If untrue, why have team bosses ganged up on him?

Add in that last week, after prolonged attempts at corralling teams into delaying signing the Concorde Agreement and pushing for better terms, he crudely referred to his peers as being “up the arse of Liberty” so huge was his frustration. Yet, a week later he stated he was ready to sign despite the draft being essentially unchanged. As this was written news filtered through that Mercedes signed the Concorde Agreement.

Is it pure coincidence that these occurred since May 2019, where previously Wolff seemingly had free reign? Which brings us to the crux of the matter: Wolff increasingly drops hints that he may retire when his contract expires, but surely the contract requires two signatures: his and that of a senior Mercedes executive, namely Källenius?

The word in Stuttgart is that Källenius has opened talks with potential candidates, as is prudent under the circumstances.

It follows that if Hamilton is F1’s most powerful driver and Wolff its most powerful team principal, the man who holds their destinies in his hands is clearly more powerful than either, and therefore the most powerful man in F1? Consider the effect on F1 and its (FWONK) share price should he decide against contract extensions for either or both.

Indeed, consider the effects on F1 of a total withdrawal of Mercedes, namely team and engine supply. Such decisions would spell absolute disaster for F1, yet Källenius could take them with a stroke of a Montblanc. Mercedes has now signed the Concorde Agreement, but as we revealed previously, there is an annual exit clause provided it is triggered by 31 March for the following season.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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63 comments on “Who is F1’s most powerful figure in the post-Ecclestone era?”

  1. Can’t fault the logic of the argument, nor the conclusion.

  2. Excellent and beautifully written article. “…with a stroke of a Montblanc”! Great stuff, Dieter. A master stroke hiring this guy, Keith!

    1. Yes. Toto is a big fan!

    2. Totally agree. Dieter is an excellent writer with a finely tuned no-nonsense approach of the themes.

  3. Sounds about right. I know several people who have worked for, or know Källenius and I’ve heard very little good about him. Based on that I am worried that he holds so much power over Mercedes, and by extension F1. We’ll see though.

    1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
      19th August 2020, 13:20

      A great read! Thanks @dieterrencken

    2. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
      19th August 2020, 13:21

      Sorry – not meant as a comment reply! *d’oh*

  4. the word is that Källenius has placed such big pay deals on hold.

    Are you implying that Mercedes is letting Lewis to just walk away?
    Nonsense really.

    Can’t argue about other parts of the article.

    1. I can give you the names of 10 F1 drivers who would win the title in a Mercedes. And each of their contracts would be cheaper to break than when they brought in Bottas.
      Yes Hamilton might be the best (or on of the best) but others are good enough to dominate in a (current) Mercedes.

      1. I agree. Mercedes is such a good team, they don’t need the best drivers.. Grosjean could win the title driving that car. Mercedes is the team, every driver in F1 wants to race for. Lewis has got zero leverage in negotiations. He has got marketing value.. but if he keeps opening his mouth as much as he does lately, talking nonsense, that marketing value will shrink heavily.

        1. I fully agree. And the same logic can be applied to F1 and Mercedes. F1 will be just fine without them. So I dont agree Mercedes holds power

          1. The same logic can be applied to F1 and any team. Even Ferrari.

      2. +1 Definitely agree 100%

    2. I rather think that Mercedes is very aware that Hamilton has the choice of being in a winning Mercedes or probably not being on the grid. Even if some team would offer him a drive, it surely would not be in a winning car and not pay as much anyway @dallein

      So it is then not all too great a risk to hold off on signing a big bucks deal. Especially since Hamilton doesn’t need the money and there aren’t any real big earners on the grid anyway (Max gets a lot, but mostly via bonusess for winning, Vettel is out, Ricciardo does not get as much at McLaren as he did at Renault, Leclerc does get a decent amount, but nowhere near what Vettel got etc.), so ther is no need to pay up to prove you are the top dog at all.

      It is safe to wait and just sign him on in the winter for however more longer he feels like driving. I think that right now, if they show they make serious work of cooperating towards diversity, it might be a bigger lure for Lewis than a paycheck.

    3. @dallein Lewis pretty much agrees that discussing megabucks contracts is stupid at the moment.

      Given how outlandishly wealthy he is, he’d probably drive for a fraction of what he is provided he was given continuous free reign on his activities and there was also a commitment from Mercedes to continue to invest in the best machinery and personal to allow him to keep enjoying* F1.

      * – winning

  5. Hmmm, an article about power in F1 and John Elkann’s name isn’t even mentioned, that’s a bit surprising to say the least.

    And yes I would argue to the ends of the earth that Mercedes isn’t the most prestigious car brand in the world, it isn’t even the most prestigious brand in F1, nor are they the most prestigious brand in their hometown Stuttgart, arguably that is ;)

    Given the scandals and challenges that F1 has faced over the last 12 to 18 months, and how little it has affected F1 in the public eye, I would conclude that the power is still firmly in the hands of the FIA and Liberty Media. FIA controlling the teams and LM controlling the narrative.
    Whether that will last after the new technical regulations come into play in 2022, depends on the success of the technical regulations.

    1. I agree. Mercedes doesnt matter much for F1. Short term impact does not equal power

      1. The argument there is would F1 rewrite the rules around engine supply (likely) and how quickly the rivals could pick up the teams dropped if they left (harder).

        I mean, the Brackley & Brixworth operations would likely be shut down, meaning Williams, RP/Aston Martin & McLaren would need to go elsewhere & none of those teams seem particularly suited to the remaining engine manufacturers at the moment, given past relationships –
        – None of them will touch (or be touched by) Ferrari
        – Williams didn’t really leave Renault on good terms in 2013
        – McLaren have just left Renault (& aren’t going to go back to Honda)
        – Aston Martin running a Honda, Renault or Ferrari engine? Hah!

        If enough of those teams fold, you’ve then not got a championship, and everyone else shuts down.

        Like said, it’s not power in so far as influence, but Mercedes could really break F1 by pulling out if they chose to, which is what Dieter is arguing…

    2. Indeed. It would not be the first time a big name retires from a sport, and I don’t see a Mercedes exit as a terminal blow especially.

      1. a total withdrawal of Mercedes, namely team and engine supply. Such decisions would spell absolute disaster for F1

        oh, really?

  6. Good article I am not 100% convinced that Mercedes will be in F1 much longer. I think once they achieve the WDC/WCC records they may well pack up the tent. Also Renault who have just recorded a $8 billion + US loss and must be looking hard at the numbers, but obviously Renault leaving would not have the same impact as Mercedes leaving. Corporations don’t have loyalty they have shareholders.

  7. Another classic @RacingLines article. I wonder whether Nico Rosberg might be in the running for Toto’s job? I am sure it would be rather strange for Hamilton to have him as a boss!

    1. I can hear it now! “Lewis it’s Nico. Let Valtteri pass. Thank you. That is a team order.”

  8. Who cares if Mercedes leaves?

    Ok, we have the engine problem. But a very easy one to be solved… I mean, we had seen a Mclaren Renault and Williams Renault in the past.

    Casual F1 viewers will forget quickly about Mercedes as it has happened with Toyota, Honda, Jaguar, BMW, etc… so I do not think the power is there…

  9. I don’t see how Mercedes leaving F1 would be a ‘disaster’. People have become bored with the Hamilton/Mercedes dominance and wouldn’t mind seeing them leave if it meant closer racing at the front. Renault would be more than happy to have more engine customers, and Honda and Ferrari could each easily supply an additional team.

    1. Take Mercedes out now and you would have Max on his own out front and no opposition in sight. So Im not sure where this closer racing is going to come from. I suppose some could pretend its better, and convince themselves that the Max/RB combination is supreme.
      As we see with some of the predictions on the removal of the qually mode, to get Max clear out front some are willing to take any benefit the mode may give RP and McLaren and relegate the Williams to the back of the grid for this so called ‘better racing’.

      1. @riptide Without Mercedes, Red Bull would have won 2014, Ferrari 2015, Red Bull 2016, Ferrari 2017, Ferrari 2018, Ferrari 2019, Red Bull 2020

        How can you possibly argue this wouldn’t have been more interesting than 7 years of one team dominating?

        1. @paeschli Well your argument there raises the question of *how* the other teams would have won. Would they have had any competition (the years you list all had your new winners competing with Mercedes whilst other rivals had off-years)? Does it really matter which team wins providing there is some sort of fight?

          It all just turns into Toyota ‘winning’ the WEC if there’s no competition and whilst Mercedes have won since 2014, they’ve either had both drivers in the fight until the end of the year or rivals challenging for most of the year before coming up short in the closing rounds.

    2. @paeschli
      The Mercedes F1 team leaving the sport won’t actually be a disaster. I’m quite sure there would be a list of buyers waiting to get hold of such organized team and re-brand it with a new name. The thing is Mercedes is also present as an official F1 sponsor, they provide the safety/medical cars. Though the cars can be easy replaced, not quite sure about the millions behind their appearance.
      Imagine if Daimler’s board pulls the plug on their F1 program. F1 will lose a team, an engine manufacturer, an official sponsor and part of its share price. Given that they have already lost millions due to the pandemic crisis, I don’t think they are in a position to even lose more.

      1. @tifoso1989 the right to supply the pacecar is for the winning manufacturer. Think it extends to the medical car as well.

        If racing point wins they will be chinese copy Mercedes.

        1. @maxv

          the right to supply the pacecar is for the winning manufacturer. Think it extends to the medical car as well.

          Not quite sure though. It’s part of their sponsorship deal with FOM that they provide the medical/safety car.

          Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember a race since 1996 where the safety/medical car is not a Mercedes. I can’t remember that either Ferrari nor RBR were running a safety car between 1999 and 2004 and 2010-2013 respectively. Though RBR isn’t a manufacturer but if they have the chance they would have run an Infinity or a Renault.

          1. @tifoso1989 I heard the local commentators mention it recently. You are right, seems to be just a sponsor deal.

          2. Australian GP has used BMW

          3. @dieterrencken
            Thank you for the correction !

    3. Here’s the problem with Merc leaving. A team shows up, and within a few years utterly dominates the sport, to a degree that only Ferrari has even ever been able to approach.

      They’re untouchable for years, and then say, “alright, there’s nothing left to achieve here.” Where does that leave F1? It’s supposed to be the best of the best. Merc showing up, completely crushing everyone in their path then waltzing out.

      F1 becomes “the wreckage Merc left in their wake,” and not “the pinnacle of Motorsport.”

      I get that it won’t impact the actual racing much – if anything, removing Merc’a dominance will make things a lot more entertaining. But F1’s status will be ruined.

      1. @helava Given how much money Mercedes have sent over the last 10 years, it’s hardly surprising they have been dominating for so long. They got a head-start when developing the new V6 engine, invested massively while Renault was investing minimally in the sport and Ferrari preferred focusing on car aero instead of the engine.

  10. As usual, great article Dieter! You’re my favourite F1 journalist.

  11. Looks like it is more about who has the capacity to cause the most damage to the sport in near future, instead of who wields the highest power to bring massive changes to F1. For that, I’d argue it is shared by FIA and Liberty Media.

    1. They have no reason to damage the sport, it would only harm them. So the capacity to cause most damage resides with whoever wants to cause the most damage, or more likely someone who doesn’t care either way.

      1. @praxis Early on in the article Dieter poses the question as to who has the most potential to wreak damage to the sport. It (this article) is not about who has the highest power to bring massive changes. Of course Liberty and Brawn have already shown to be doing the massive changes of which you speak. But Mercedes’ exit, especially if they left as both a team and a pu supplier, would be devastating.

  12. Power can be defined in a number of ways, but ultimately the question boils down to: Who holds the greatest influence over F1? Expressed differently: Whose actions have the potential to wreak the most damage the sport?

    By that metric, Pirelli.

    1. If Pirelli pulled out you would have a bunch of other brands ready and willing to jump in! No biggie.
      If the made crap tyres in 2022 they can always fall back on their big library of compounds and constructions…. So not that powerful really.

  13. Is it that guy lying on his bed with his laptop perched on his Star Trek T shirt munching crisps?

  14. The FIA hold ultimate power just because they own the right to organise a championship called “Formula One”. Plenty of big-car single seater championships have come and gone (GPWC, A1GP, Legends GP, F5000, CART etc.), but they are not literally “#1” in Joe Public’s view. The FIA were smart to “allow” FE World status.

    1. Seems to me it’s more Ferrari holding more power than Merc. They have their veto, their big share of the pie and can strike silent deals with the FIA.

      1. I thought their pie share thing was restructured recently

        1. It was downgraded, but they still get a substantial appearance fee & they retain their veto, but I believe any money has to be reported in a way that it can’t be used to give them an unfair advantage.

  15. So right about the power of Daimler in F1, and very interesting about the Mercedes power struggle, but the signs have been there like you say. I believe Wolff even made some quite harsh comments about ‘certain individuals’, hinting that the relationship was quite bad at some point, but as we just heard by his statement, he and Ola talks every day and the relationship is as good as it can be.

    1. There were rumors (of course nobody knows how true/untrue rumors are these days) that Ola and he had tension also when Vettel became available. Ola allegedly wanted the German superteam image with Vettel and Wolff advised against a double-alpha situation

  16. This article is about entities within F1 and their power to wreak the most damage to F1, presumably by their leaving.

    There is one entity above all others that rule F1, and they’re not in F1. It is we the fans. As Sam Walton of Walmart fame put it, the customer is the boss, for they can fire us in a heartbeat.

  17. Crofty is the most powerful. Case closed.

  18. But what would the definitive AWS list of most powerful figures look like?

    1. #1 – Pastor Maldonaldo
      #2 – Yuji Ide
      #3 – Taki Inoue

  19. Best thing for the sport would be for Mercedes to leave.

    1. I loathed the Ecclestone-Mosley era where they would unsportingly alter championships and the direction of F1 for money and power, but this new ‘unregulated’ era has produced no better F1, almost worse.

      There was hope Brawn would sort things out, but seems he is repeating the same mistakes as before if he does something at all, and Todt does nothing in the fear that he is seen as a Ferrari man, or in fear that Mercedes pulls the plug.

      Let’s see how the latest iteration after the cost caps and new tech specs will fare, but I’m not holding my breath. Likely Mercedes will continue their domination, or even have it cemented through freezes and homologations. They will not even make it a two-horse race which is quite ironic when they are always talking about using F1 to show their company values.

  20. Great article, I disagree with the conclusion though.
    Mercedes’ dominance has not lifted them to the top (IMO) but merely mitigate the power that Ferrari (and McLaren) had.
    Therefore, (again IMO) Mercedes has made the commercial rights holder’s power even more stronger. The moustache might not be as outwardly reigning as the midget, but the power has only increased.

  21. Great article! Creative.

    John Elkann did you mention him?
    I have a feeling he weilds more power than Calilieri…

  22. Another way to look at this article, which is great by the way, is which figure has the most power to implement change within F1. For example if Christian Horner jumped up and down and demanded Mercedes carried a weight penalty in their cars people would listen. But it wouldn’t get implemented. But if car CEOs demand F1 adopt more relevant technology then we all switch to hybrids despite the cost and complexity. Which ultimately makes us as consumers the most powerful ‘figure’ in F1.

    1. For example if Christian Horner jumped up and down and demanded Mercedes carried a weight penalty in their cars people would listen. But it wouldn’t get implemented.

      Because when you phrase it like that, it’s just an obvious attempt by a competitor to hold back the opposition because his team isn’t doing as good a job?

  23. In a weird sort of way, I really miss Bernie. Yes we have disagreed with a lot of the things he did, but the man always had a plan, and he did things his way. I like people like that. Buts just me.

    However, considering where the world is headed, yeah, guys like Bernie are a dying breed, figuratively and literally.

    Great article though. Lately I’ve been starting to believe that Wolff is on his way out of Merc. Could this also be the reason Lewis isn’t signing a new contract? I get the feeling that Lewis will not sign if Wolff leaves. Of course, if Ola offers him the money he wants, he will stay, but somehow, I dont see Lewis upping his rate if Wolff isnt around.

  24. A very well written article.

    Although, this might hold true today it is because over the last 7-8 years, Mercedes has been the dominant force in the sport and has the most dominant driver on the grid. As a result, Mercedes has gained a lot of importance in the sport and wins the current power battle.

    However it may not be for a very long term. Example, if Red Bull starts a ‘Mercedes-like’ domination from 2022 onward, in a few years from there, Dietrich Mateschitz might be the most powerful man of the sport.

    Long and short of it is that Bernie Ecclestone was the first and the last man to rule Formula 1 for a very long time.

    1. @neelv27 …but the problem with equating success to power is it can disappear in a moment, like Vettel said after the final race in 2013.

      Red Bull leaving would take 2 teams off the grid and one race track, but I guess it depends on whether those two teams would continue under new guises or the staff would just blow with wind landing at other teams.

      Loosing a team is less damaging than, say, an engine manufacturer, especially as no rival could enter and be competitive as the current incumbents.

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