Formula One: American marketing guru Zak Brown tipped to succeed CEO Ecclestone

Zak Brown (left) is tipped to bring a blend of youth and experience to the F1 show after Bernie Ecclestone.
Zak Brown (left) is tipped to bring a blend of youth and experience to the F1 show after Bernie Ecclestone. PHOTO: SINGAPORE EXCHANGE

LONDON • A successor has reportedly emerged to Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, as Zak Brown stepped down from heading one of the world's leading sports marketing agencies and announced that he was heading for a job in motor sport.

It is the clearest sign yet that Liberty Media, Formula One's new owners, are shuffling the pack to prepare for life after Ecclestone, who has ruled the world's premier motor-racing series for almost 40 years.

Brown is well known throughout motor racing after founding JMI, which became the world's biggest motor racing marketing agency. He has placed huge brand names like Johnnie Walker, Martini and UPS into Formula One and often been mentioned as a potential head of a sport he loves.

Brown said on Monday that he would quit as chief executive of London-based CSM Sport & Entertainment, which absorbed the JMI business, at the end of the year.

"I feel privileged to have been part of an extraordinary team during my tenure," he said.

"I am satisfied that we have achieved what I set out to do, from the successful integration of JMI into CSM through to preparing a strong business for a successful future. I will take this experience forward to my next chapter in the arena I know best - motor sport."

Ecclestone has a three-year contract with Liberty to run Formula One as chief executive but insiders believe that the American multinational wants to establish quickly a line of succession so that the transition to the new management is as painless as possible.

Brown, who has known and worked with Ecclestone for many years, will be seen as a good choice inside the Formula One paddock, which sets up in Malaysia this weekend.

Born in Los Angeles, Brown is not far off half of Ecclestone's age: Brown is 44 while Ecclestone will be 86 next month.

The American racing enthusiast would bring a blend of youth and experience to Formula One, a sport that needs an injection of change and optimism.

Brown has competed extensively as a driver and founded United Autosports with his business partner Richard Dean in 2009. The team competes around the world, while Brown also has a collection of historic racing cars.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Marketing guru tipped to succeed Ecclestone'. Print Edition | Subscribe