Ecclestone steps aside as new owners launch new management team

Formula One finally confirmed the identity of the sport’s new senior management team this week with the appointments of Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches, under the direction of new boss Chase Carey of Liberty Media.

The announcement signalled that the moustachioed Carey, a Harvard Business School graduate who is credited with turning Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox into a global media business, has succeeded long-serving chief Bernie Ecclestone in the joint roles of chairman and chief executive officer.

Following an announcement that had long been expected, it was confirmed that Ecclestone, who has stepped aside after four decades in day-to-day control of the business he built, has taken the honorary position of chairman emeritus.

“We need a sport that, while respecting what made it great, has a sense of energy and innovation,” explained Carey, in interviews on Tuesday in London.

“In many ways, in a simplistic sense, the sport said ‘no’ too much and we have to start saying ‘yes’ – not to gimmick it up, but to find ways to do new and exciting things to have the sport continue to grow and interest and excite people.”

Carey, who added the title of chief executive to the role of chairman that he had filled since Liberty’s takeover was initiated last September, thanked Ecclestone for his long service and confirmed that the 86-year-old Englishman will continue to act as a valued adviser.

“He will be available as a source of advice for the board of F1®,” a Liberty Media statement said.

Carey added that he personally had “tremendous respect” for Ecclestone, but felt that the sport “needs to be run differently than for the last four or five years.

“Bernie is a one-man team,” he said. “It was not right in today’s world. The decision-making is not as effective as it needs to be. Clearly it has to be improved.”

That improvement is to be brought into effect by Brawn, in the role of managing director, motor sports, and Bratches, as managing director, commercial operations.

Briton Brawn, 62, born in Manchester, is one of the most successful technical directors in the sport’s history having won championships with Benetton, Ferrari and his own Brawn outfit, which was sold to Mercedes to be developed into the current all-conquering champion team.

It will be his responsibility to re-mould the technical blueprint of the sport to ensure closer and more exciting racing that provides the thrills for future audiences across all media platforms.  

American Bratches joins the new F1® line-up after 27 years at ESPN where he was executive vice-president for sales and marketing. He is tasked with using that multi-media experience to create innovation and fresh vision in the branding and marketing of F1® for new audiences.  

“I am delighted to welcome Ross back to Formula 1®. In his 40 years in the sport, he’s brought his magic touch to every team with which he has worked, has almost unparalleled technical knowledge, experience and relationships, and I have already benefitted greatly from his advice and expertise,” said Carey. 

“And I am thrilled Sean is joining Formula 1®. Sean was a driving force in building ESPN into one of the world's leading sports franchises. His expertise and experience in sales, marketing, digital media, and distribution will be invaluable as we grow Formula 1®.

“I look forward to working with Ross and Sean, as well as key current executives including Duncan Llowarch our CFO and Sacha Woodward Hill, our General Counsel, the FIA, Bernie and Liberty as we work together to make Formula 1® the best it can be for the teams, promoters and fans for years to come.”

Brawn said: “It’s fantastic to be returning to Formula 1®. I’ve enjoyed consulting with Liberty Media these last few months and I’m looking forward to working with Chase, Sean and the rest of the Formula 1® Team to help the evolution of the sport.

“We have an almost unprecedented opportunity to work together with the teams and promoters for a better F1® for them and, most importantly, for the fans.”

Bratches said: “I’m very excited to be joining Formula 1® and contribute to the continued growth of this extraordinary global brand and sport.

“Formula 1® is one of few truly global tier one sports and I am encouraged by the manifold opportunities to grow the business, work closely with current and future sponsors, race circuits, television rights holders as well as create next generation digital and on-site race experiences to best serve the Formula 1® fans.” 

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