Formula 1 employee
|Organisation||Formula One Group|
Bernie Ecclestone’s impact on Formula One cannot be overstated. He took what was a small somewhat amateur sport and turned it into big business, bringing in global sponsors and introducing F1 to many new audiences across the globe. His influence as the head of Formula One Management, initially positive, started to hold the sport back in the late 2000s, and when Liberty Media took ownership of the sport in 2017, Ecclestone was forced to step back to hold an honorary role.
Ecclestone was born in 1930, in a small village in Kent, and he immediately turned his focus to tinkering with vehicles. Initially, he focused on two wheels, forming a motorcycle parts dealership, but he also took part in some racing until accidents made him decide a career on the business side was more preferable. He grew his motorcycle business, until his attentions turned to Formula One.
Bernie signed up to be the manager of Stuart Lewis-Evans, and purchased an entire F1 team to give his driver a race seat. He did attempt to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix in 1958 himself, but didn’t make it to the race and once more decided to stay outside of the cars. He continued to manage drivers, including Jochen Rindt, and in 1972 purchased the Brabham team.
He gradually made the team more competitive and gained insight into some of the pressing needs of all the teams involved. Ecclestone set up the Formula One Constructors Association in 1974 with the aim of negotiating better terms for the teams he represented. The battles with the sport’s governing body continued throughout the decades, but gradually Ecclestone started winning and gained control by introducing the Concorde Agreement. TV revenue started coming back to the teams and Ecclestone’s newly founded Formula One Management took commercial rights of the sport to further enable him to gather the prize funds and dish it out as required.
Bernie remained in charge of the sport’s commercial arm, even as the owners of the sport changed – CVC Capital Partners were the last iteration that allowed him to remain as chief executive. He grew the sport around the globe, encouraging new circuits and new audiences to welcome Formula One to their countries, but also clamping down on the rights of fans and media to share and enjoy the sport on social media.
With falling revenues and audiences, CVC sold the sport to Liberty Media, with the new owners taking over in early 2017. With a change at the top of the sport, Bernie Ecclestone was let go from his position, given an honorary title, and essentially pushed back from the sport’s leadership.
Ecclestone has outside interests, however, in 2007, he joined forces with Flavio Briatore to purchase the UK football team Queen’s Park Rangers. He bought out his partner to take a majority shareholding, and then in 2011 he sold the squad to former Caterham boss Tony Fernandes.