Ecclestone: German bribe case could cost him his job

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Our friend Christian Sylt wrote a piece for the Telegraph in which he explored the continuing saga of the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribe case involving Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. It seems that Mr. Ecclestone believes he could be forced out of his role as F1 boss if the German prosecution charges him with bribery.

“[CVC] will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up”.

Replacing Ecclestone is no easy task as the ringmaster has orchestrated the most prosperous and progressive age of Formula One since its inception. That, however, is something of a reality as Ecclestone’s age and now posible legal trouble could signal the immediate need for a changing of the guard. In fact, CVC have retained the services of a head-hunter to find a replacement:

“They said they had hired a head-hunter to find somebody in the event that I was not going to be there – if I was going to die or something. It is the normal thing they do to keep people happy,” said Ecclestone.

Lots of rumors and suggestions have been made as to who should be the replacement. Some name within the paddock and names outside of the paddock have been offered up in the press but the reality is, it will take someone very special to replace Ecclestone.

Christian Sylt goes on to quote Sir Jackie Stewart on the issue and while the Formula One champion is a close associate of Ecclestone’s, he says the infrastructure is there and smart people are working at Formula One Management:

“There is not a thing that goes on at FOM without his knowledge,” says long-time associate and three times F1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart.

“I can understand people saying [F1] is never going to manage without Bernie Ecclestone but the infrastructure is there. It’s all [at F1’s London HQ] in Belgravia and there’s a lot of people there with a lot of knowledge.”

Understanding the system is one thing but making it work is another and very few people have the skill to do deals like Ecclestone. He is not easily replaceable and given F1’s success over the past 40 years, its easy to see what an impact Ecclestone has had on the world of motor sport. I, for one, will miss him should he stand down. I’ve nothing but admiration and respect for him and what he has created and it will be interesting to see what a group of investment bankers do and who they think can take over F1.

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