One of the biggest questions surrounding the sale of Formula One Management (FOM) to Liberty Media was what role if any would Bernie Ecclestone have in the new organization. When the sale was first announced this summer Bernie himself stated that he wasn't going anywhere and that he had been asked to stay on for at least 3 years...
But today Bernie broke the news himself - and it doesn't sound like he's too pleased with it.
That doesn't sound like somebody who is happy about the situation. Chase Carey at Liberty has clarified the situation a little bit.
From the comments that Liberty has made it doesn't appear that he will continue to have a role in managing the sport, just that the would be available as a source of advice for the board of F1. Honestly, I don't expect that his phone will be ringing very often.
It's no secret that we're not big Bernie Ecclestone fans here at The Bloke and A Bird show. Over the past few years many of the statements he's made to the press and the suggestions that he has put forth to "improve the show" have been at times questionable and on occasion offensive. We have felt for several years that his strategy for growing and improving the sport isn't forward thinking or in line with the attitudes or economics of F1's fan base.
But for all of Bernie Ecclestone's modern day faults, he also deserves a lot of credit for making Formula 1 into the world wide sporting juggernaught that it is. It was his efforts that consolidated and sold the television rights to the sport, that deal and the later deals that he established to unify those rights as well as the prize funds are what laid the foundations for the weekend spectacles that a race weekend is. For better or worse, the current commercial agreements between the sport and the team are largely due to the efforts of Bernie.
He also deserves a lot of credit for bringing F1 to more of the world. The sport has always been centered around Europe with a scattering of races in the Americas and Japan. In the past 15 years in particular it was the efforts of Bernie Ecclestone that brought races to new countries including Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bahrain, India, Korea, China, Turkey, Russia, Abu Dhabi, and Azerbajian, Some of those races have been massively successful and others not so much. But undeniably they have greatly expanded the reach and exposure of the sport.
We've also questioned the steep event fees and expensive infrastructure improvements that Bernie has been known to force on to tracks. But there's no denying that it's because of Bernie Ecclestone that the teams, the drivers and the press enjoy modern trackside facilities at every track they go to.
As much as we couldn't wait for the end of the Bernie Ecclestone era in Formula 1, there's no denying the lasting impact that he has had on the sport over the past 40 years. We wish him the best of luck and hope that he enjoys his new found free time - who knows, maybe he'll have the time to take in a few more Formula 1 races.
To Chase Carey and the team at Liberty Media, to paraphrase Kent Brockman "The Bloke and the Bird welcome the sport's new overlords," and are very interested in what you'll be doing to change how it works. If you need any ideas - we've discussed a few over the last 85 shows...