Bernie Ecclestone replaced as F1 chief as Liberty Media takeover completed
Long-time F1 chief succeeded by Chase Carey as Liberty Media completes takeover; Ecclestone becomes chairman emeritus and board advisor; Ross Brawn takes new management role
By Stephen Turner and James Galloway
Last Updated: 24/01/17 8:44am
Bernie Ecclestone has been replaced as the boss of Formula 1, the sport's new rights owner Liberty Media has confirmed.
A statement released by Liberty on Monday evening confirmed its £6billion takeover is complete and said Ecclestone would be taking up a new role as chairman emeritus, with F1 chairman Chase Carey succeeding him as chief executive.
Ross Brawn, the former Ferrari and Mercedes chief, has been appointed as motor sport managing director after three years away from the sport.
Sean Bratches, an American TV sports executive, becomes commercial operations managing director as part of a new-look F1 management structure.
Liberty Media's statement carried quotes from Ecclestone, who said: "I'm proud of the business that I built over the last 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula 1, and would like to thank all of the promoters, teams, sponsors and television companies that I have worked with.
"I'm very pleased that the business has been acquired by Liberty and that it intends to invest in the future of F1. I am sure that Chase will execute his role in a way that will benefit the sport."
Ecclestone earlier told German magazine Auto, Motor and Sport he had been "deposed".
Carey said: "I am excited to be taking on the additional role of CEO. F1 has huge potential with multiple untapped opportunities. I have enjoyed hearing from the fans, teams, FIA, promoters and sponsors on their ideas and hopes for the sport.
"We will work with all of these partners to enhance the racing experience and add new dimensions to the sport and we look forward to sharing these plans overtime.
"I would like to recognise and thank Bernie for his leadership over the decades. The sport is what it is today because of him and the talented team of executives he has led, and he will always be part of the F1 family.
"Bernie's role as chairman emeritus befits his tremendous contribution to the sport and I am grateful for his continued insight and guidance as we build F1 for long-term success and the enjoyment of all those involved."
Retired 2016 champion Nico Rosberg was the first of the sport's big names to react on social media, tweeting: "Bernie, mega job! But a change has been overdue. Mr. Carey, all the best in making our sport awesome again."
Who's who in F1's new structure?
|Chase Carey||Chairman and chief executive|
|Ross Brawn||Managing director, motor sports|
|Sean Bratches||Managing director, commercial operations|
|Bernie Ecclestone||Chairman emeritus|
Sky F1's Martin Brundle tweeted: "Part of me is very sad that Bernie is heading for the exit, part of me is very excited that we can take a necessary and new direction in F1."
New McLaren chief Zak Brown, who had previously been linked with a job with F1's new owners before accepting his role at the Woking team, paid tribute to Ecclestone while also welcoming Liberty and its plans for the sport.
"Formula 1 wouldn't be the international sporting power-house that it is today without the truly enormous contribution made over the past half-century by Bernie Ecclestone," said Brown. "Indeed, I can't think of a single other person who has had anything like as much influence on building a global sport as he has.
"Bernie will be a very hard act to follow, but he's created a fantastic springboard from which Chase Carey and his Liberty Media colleagues will be able to take Formula 1 forward and make it even bigger and even better. And we at McLaren will be eager to help them - indeed we already enjoy great relationships with the Liberty Media principals and we're looking forward to working very closely with them."
A new era dawns for F1
The end of Ecclestone's day-to-day control of F1 represents a seismic moment in the sport's history.
The Briton has controlled F1's commercial rights since the 1970s and is credited with the worldwide expansion of the sport and the growth of TV coverage.
"It is going to take an awful lot of getting used to," reported Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater. "This was a sport taken from relative obscurity by Bernie Ecclestone 40 years ago. People forget this was just another kind of motorsport, perhaps behind World Rally and sportscar racing in the public consciousness in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Ecclestone has really taken it to the forefront.
"It's going to be a watershed moment this as what is now called the Formula One Group begins to implement its vision for the future."
The 86-year-old said in September he had been asked by Liberty to stay on for three years after the American firm bought an initial 19 per cent stake in the sport.
But asked about his future last November in an interview with Sky F1's Brundle, Ecclestone said: "If they want to change the whole structure of the company and run it like a corporation, probably I won't fit in."
Since striking a deal in September to take over F1's commercial rights from CVC Capital Partners, Liberty has been working to clear various hurdles and last week received unanimous approval for its takeover from the FIA's World Motor Sport Council.
The US-based firm, who have interests in media and entertainment ventures, are thought to be preparing a shake-up of F1 and the way in which it is promoted.
One proposal is to Grands Prix into more compelling events, which each have a Super Bowl-type appeal.
The number of races which take place each year is also likely to increase, with 'destination' venues mooted in Las Vegas and New York as part of a bid to increase the sport's reach in the United States.
F1's prize-money and bonus structure may also be addressed, although the commercial agreements with teams are enshrined until 2020.