F1: is the age of fake news over?
Listening to Bernie Ecclestone trying to swerve between keeping commercial confidences and his natural desire to talk to the press at the end of last season was an object lesson in how to tell smiling lies, or to tell such a deviant version of the truth that it might as well have been lies. There were two special examples: there were no negotiations for the sale of F1 and, when that was proved wrong, that Bernie would be in place at the new company for three years. That one was proved incorrect, yesterday, when the deal with Liberty Media was completed and Bernie's jobs were both taken over by someone else.
So it's goodbye to Bernie and it's goodbye to Liberty Media Group, the company that bought F1 for USD4,400 million. Liberty will be renamed "The Formula One Group,"
Bernie's not going far: no longer chairman or CEO, he's "Chairman Emeritus," a titile about which he seems unimpressed. He has said he doesn't know what it means or what he will do." But the company says that his contribution to F1 over some 40 years has made F1 into the global sport it is today. In fact, it is the most watched regular sport worldwide. Only two sports get higher ratings: the soccer world cup and the Olympics but they only happen ever four years while F1 keeps its numbers up for, now, more than 20 weekends each year. Liberty wants him to continue in an advisory capacity.
One of the big differences that the deal with produce is that f1 has always been a private company and therefore it has been able to conduct much of its financial activity in the shadows. That will stop now: Liberty, as it is presently, trades its shares and therefore is subject to much more stringent reporting and disclosure requirements. F1, as a subsidiary of Liberty, will remain based in London where much of its expertise is concentrated.
Bernie said "“I’m proud of the business that I built over the last 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula 1, and would like to thank all of the promoters, teams, sponsors and television companies that I have worked with. " But he couldn't resist a Bernie dig: "I am sure that Chase will execute his role in a way that will benefit the sport.”