In a day many thought would never come, Bernie Ecclestone has been replaced as head of Formula 1.
The 86-year-old has ruled F1 – often with an iron fist – for 35 years, transforming it from a glorified club racing series into the global sporting phenomenon it is today, however with Liberty Media’s purchase of F1 last week clearing its final hurdle, the approval of the FIA, the US media company has effectively given Ecclestone the sack.
Of course, Liberty hasn’t done it as explicitly as that. Officially, it has named Ecclestone Chairman Emeritus of F1, saying “[Ecclestone] has given valuable service to F1 over many years [and] will be available as a source of advice for the board of F1.”
For his part, Ecclestone told German outlet Auto Motor und Sport, “Chase took over my position. I’m now like an honorary president. I don’t even know what that means.” The Chase Ecclestone refers to is Chase Carey, who assumes the role of CEO of F1.
Carey will be joined in running F1 by Commercial Operations Managing Director Sean Bratches, formerly executive vice-president of ESPN, and Motor Sports Managing Director Ross Brawn, former technical director of the Mercedes, Brawn, Ferrari and Benetton F1 teams.
The latter is a crucial appointment for the future of F1, as while Carey and Bratches will set about running the commercial and broadcasting sides of the operation, Brawn will be in charge of F1’s future sporting direction.
As the mastermind behind eight drivers’ and constructors’ titles with three different manufacturers, Brawn has intimate knowledge of F1’s sporting and political processes and spoke recently about the need for a five-year plan for the sport to ensure its sustainability and relevance.