Formula One: CEO Ecclestone may leave if he disagrees with new owners' direction

Bernie Ecclestone walks on the track before the start of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore, on Sept 18, 2016.
Bernie Ecclestone walks on the track before the start of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore, on Sept 18, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned he could walk away from the sport he has turned into a global phenomenon if he does not get his way under new owners Liberty Media.

The British billionaire was speaking at the Singapore Grand Prix, the first race since F1's sale was announced and which was also attended by its new chairman, Chase Carey.

In a Sky Sports interview aired yesterday, Ecclestone, 85, was characteristically blunt when quizzed on whether he could quit the sport under the American new regime.

"Thank God at the moment I don't quite need the money, I don't need a job and, if by chance things aren't going the way I think would be the right way, then I will disappear for sure," he said.

Under the new deal, which values Formula One at US$8 billion (S$11 billion), Ecclestone remains as chief executive but is joined by Carey, the mustachioed vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox.

The diminutive but pugnacious Ecclestone has built F1 into a global powerhouse earning billions for its investors with his canny deal-making over the past four decades.

US media mogul John Malone's Liberty Media has a wide portfolio including Time Warner cable TV, the Major League Baseball team Atlanta Braves and electric racing series Formula E.

When Ecclestone was asked if he might find it tough to work with Carey, he said: "There is going to be no problem with Chase, we will work together... He has got expertise that I haven't. We need to be in America, he knows America, he knows television and he can help us a lot. So I'm sure that is what is going to happen."

Ecclestone also said he had no immediate plans to retire.

"At the moment I am still able to deliver. When I think I can't then I'll stop," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2016, with the headline 'Bernie warns he may 'disappear' from F1'. Print Edition | Subscribe