Ecclestone on life, his new role, and his relationship with Liberty Media


Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

In a candid and revealing interview with Graham Bensinger in Baku, for In Depth with Graham Bensinger, former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone discussed life after formula 1, what he thinks of his newly awarded position as chairman emeritus of the sport, and his strained relationship with new owners Liberty Media.

Speaking of that relationship, Ecclestone expanded on why he felt he did not see eye-to-eye with the American company.

“It’s just different. CVC let me do whatever I wanted to do; hoped I got it right. And in this case I think with Liberty… they think the company’s not been run very well and they want to run it differently…

“I was running the company as chief executive to make as much money as I could for the company… 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.”

When asked if he felt new CEO Chase Carey had the right make up to successfully run Formula 1, a business he himself previously advised you needed to have the mind of a brilliant car salesman to succeed at, Ecclestone said he could not really comment as he does not particularly know the American businessman.

“I don’t know him, so it’s difficult to say. I think probably he’s more corporate-minded than entrepreneurial.

“They’ve elevated me in a very honorable position, and it’s so high in the company I can’t look to see what’s going on…”

Despite his emeritus role being touted as a position that would keep him within the new set-up, Ecclestone is far from happy and fully aware that they are trying to keep him quiet and remove him from any say in what happens in the sport, with no information officially being shared with him about the future plans for Formula 1.

“I don’t do anything particularly.

“Somebody in the company that’s been elevated to a position which was a bit different from when he was with me, has told the staff not to discuss things with me – so they don’t, officially.”

Being left out of the loop, having been the top dog for so long, certainly irks Ecclestone, he feels he did nothing wrong in the way he chose to run the sport.

“Well it bothers me because I think, ‘Maybe they think what I’ve been doing is wrong or something.’ 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 got people in important positions which they never had, and the reason they never had them is basically because they couldn’t achieve them.”

Red Bull Racing Team Principal, and long-time friend of Ecclestone, Christian Horner, meanwhile believes not having the influence and free-run he once enjoyed in Formula 1, to be the reason for the 87-year-old’s frustration.

“I think he’s probably a bit frustrated because he doesn’t have the influence now that obviously he’s enjoyed for the last 40-50 years.

“And he probably doesn’t agree with some of the changes being made by the new group, but that’s a different style.

“And you know he’s a very active 87-year-old this year. And I really hope he takes a bit of time out to enjoy some of the success that he’s achieved.

“And he’s got a beautiful young wife… perhaps it’s time to put a bit more time into her and family.”

On a number of occasions Ecclestone has surprisingly been recommended for a knighthood by a number of prominent people over the years, including Nelson Mandela, but the 87-year-old has stated he would decline the honor, because he was only ever out to benefit himself, and not the country.

“I didn’t think I deserved anything at all, like probably 90 percent of the people who are… given these honors.

“Anything I did I did for myself, not for England. If England benefited – good. I didn’t go out particularly to do that. So I think that whole system is wrong.”

Asked specifically if he would decline the honour were he to be asked again, Ecclestone answered “Absolutely.”

The full interview with Graham Bensinger will be aired in the USA next week, and a preview of the programme can be seen at this link: