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The boss of F1 - Should Bernie name a successor? // Contenders that could step up to the challenge of running Formula One

Published by Christine

Yesterday, the tech world was rocked by Steve Jobs' announcement that he was stepping down from Apple. Whether it came as a surprise or not is a matter of some debate, but what is not a surprise is who he has chosen to replace him. Tim Cook has been acting CEO of the company for a while anyway, so it was only natural that Jobs should nominate him as his successor.

This got me thinking, as quite a lot of things do, about the way Bernie Ecclestone runs his business. He may have a succession plan in mind but if he has, it is something that has been kept a closely guarded secret. The name of Zak Brown has been whispered about, an ex-driver and F1's current marketing specialist. Who even knew F1 had a marketing specialist? He can't be doing a particularly good job.

Thus, from the public point of view, Bernie's grip on F1 is something that will last as long as he lives, but when he is ready and/or forced to step down, what then? I've given it a modicum of thought and believe I have some potential replacements to lead Formula One in a post-Bernie era.

The contenders

Ron Dennis

If talking in circles is a key to the job, and interviews with Bernie would suggest it is a required item on the CV, then Ron Dennis must be a prime candidate. He's got good organisational skills, and doesn't seem willing to compromise when he knows what is right. He's also pretty good at spotting talent when he sees it.

However, McLaren has a reputation for being a marmite team - you either fit or you don't, and if you don't, it's not a nice place to be. This isn't a reputation F1 needs to gain.

Tony Fernandes discounts tickets prices
Tony Fernandes discounts tickets pricesCredit: Team Lotus

Tony Fernandes

After only a week or two as boss of QPR, Fernandes is doing his best to get the fans onside and proving that he actually listens to what the viewing public are saying.

With season ticket holders complaining about the extortionate prices after the team moved up to the Premier League, Fernandes is talking about offering refunds to make things a bit more palatable.

The man knows what to do to get fans onside, and even if Lotus aren't reaching their 2011 goals, they remain a very popular and well-respected team.

Monisha Kaltenbourn

I love Monisha for being an incredible role model for getting women involved in motorsports, mostly because gender just isn't an issue. It's not even a subject. She's the first female managing director in F1, has studied law and worked at the United Nations, all of which sounds like excellent experience for the negotiation that Bernie's job entails.

She also handled Sergio Pérez's accident in Monaco like a real pro and said precisely what was needed to inform fans and the media but no more. Dealing with stressful and unexpected situations should also be a big plus.

Big bear shuns the limelight
Big bear shuns the limelightCredit: Mercedes GP

Ross Brawn

A popular chap in the paddock, and with the nickname of the Big Bear, Brawn seems to have a good reputation, but equally, I'm not sure I'd want to mess with him. He also has a lot of experience when it comes to salvaging seemingly impossible deals, which might be key to dealing with circuits and teams.

He's also not one to seek out the limelight which is probably a good thing when it comes to Bernie's job. Peter Sauber is also a potential candidate for similar reasons.

Damon Hill

Hill has done wonders when it comes to Silverstone, and with experience as a circuit owner, he would have a good insight when it comes to what making deals with FOM is like. A view of both sides of the deal may be an advantage, although it may also make it difficult for him to remain impartial.

He's excellent at dealing with the press, and, as his recent resignation from the BRDC Presidency shows, he knows when to call it a day.

My choice

If I had to pick one of these, I'd go for Tony Fernandes. He's certainly managed to stay positive despite all the troubles that running the Lotus team has brought him. He's crazily ambitious but also seems to be realistic, and if Twitter, and various reports, are anything to go by, he's got a lot of energy and loves negotiating a good deal.

He's stepped into Bernie's boots at QPR, purchasing both Mr E's and Flavio Briatore's shares of the team, and in a short space of time, he's already turning things around. Is it a coincidence that under Flav's steely gaze the team lost 4-0, but when Fernandes took over and said he wasn't worried about the result that week, they won 1-0?

What do you think? Would Tony make a good boss of Formula One? If not, who else might make the grade?