F1 boss says Ecclestone held sport back

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/F1

Occasionally, a story will crop up in which former Formula 1 CEO, Bernie Eccelstone, or current CEO, Chase Carey, will have comments about the running of F1. Fair enough and let’s be honest, Mr. E commenting about the current state of F1 is something he did while he was CEO and it certainly is human nature to throw a stone or two at the organization that, effectively, fired you.

What is more interesting is that new owners, Liberty Media, appointed Carey as the new CEO and he’s now commenting about the Chairman Emeritus and his short comings.

“I want to be saying ‘yes’ to a whole lot more,” explained Carey. “What is the value of having an idea if the answer to everything you want to do is ‘no’? All it does is create frustration.

“There are an array of things that weren’t done that needed to be done. We felt it was a sport that for the last five or six years had really not been managed to its full potential or taken advantage of what was here.

“All of us make mistakes and nobody is perfect.

“Bernie took a business from decades ago and sold it for eight billion dollars. He deserves all the credit in the world for what he has done.

“But in today’s world you need to market a sport. We were not marketing the sport.”

It may all be true but to be frank, I think Carey could spend more time talking in more detail about their long-term plans—which he’s offered ad nauseam since buying F1—than reflecting on the “mess” he bought or the person he feels made it a mess.

If Mr. E is out of the picture and is offering some biting commentary to any media that dare ask him for it, fair enough but feeling compelled to respond is something I think Liberty Media were trying to avoid. They’ve spoken at length and to many outlets about all the long-term changes and health of F1 and I think we’re to a point to hear about those instead of what Bernie didn’t do.

“It has been three months and we have been very clear that one of the things the sport has not been served well by is a continued short-term focus, and what we are going to do next week,” added Carey.

“We care more about where the sport is going to be three years from now than three months from now. Bernie was always very focused on the short term, and our focus is on building long-term value.

“Some of the decisions that were made needed to have a better process to think through. “The current engine, for example, ended up being too complicated, too expensive, and lost some of the sound that added to the mystique of the sport.

“We will do things and some things take time – you are not going to have a new engine in two months because if you tried to do that you are going to do more harm than good.

“We want to make sure we have the tools to manage the business as opposed to throwing things out there so somebody has a media story.”

It has only been three months and I think we all can give some quarter here for Carey and team to start putting together some long-term plans but it would be nice to hear what those are focused on in more detail. Still, I think it’s a little early to be asking for that, in fairness to Carey.

At least Carey didn’t go all Stephen Colbert on Bernie as they both sat next to Putin for the Russian Grand Prix.

He did take a swipe at the new engine and while I’ve tried to respect those F1 fans who really like the new format, I think it’s time we all agree that the move wasn’t the best and I may have been right back in 2013 when I spoke against this format and move and the reasons for the move to V6 Hybrid turbo engines.

I’ll be very interested to see how Ross Brawn gets on with the F1 Strategy Group, if that group is retained, how the FIA will react to potential Brawn suggestions and more. I have to think all of this is much more important and a bigger issue than speaking about what Bernie didn’t do or how short-sighted he was.

Hat Tip: Autosport vai Press Association

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A CEO is given an agenda by the board and he/she executes. Hate it or not, that’s corporate governance. All these players know that. So Carey’s remarks are nakedly disingenuous. He has a different agenda from his board. Why does it include trashing Bernie in such a personal way? And, no, I am not a Bernie fan, per se.


Well I think Carey merely segued from a compliment to Bernie, to a critique of CVC (Bernie’s employer) and their “three month” (to wit, quarterly) obsession with investor returns. I don’t see anything in the quoted comments that would actually be a direct criticism of Bernie. The quote “The current engine, for example, ended up being too complicated, too expensive, and lost some of the sound that added to the mystique of the sport,” pleases me. And it further demonstrates that Carey is commenting on the feckless governance of F1 by the FIA and by CVC – not by Bernie… Read more »

Chuck Voelter

The ship has sailed, don’t expect NA V8s to return. Disaster? I guess that depends on your POV. The engineering that made a 30% reduction in fuel while simultaneously achieving gains in record speed cannot be put away now only evolved. Perhaps they should allow playing cards in the spokes ;)


“The engineering that made a 30% reduction in fuel while simultaneously achieving gains in record speed cannot be put away now” I guess so, if efficiency if your holy grail. Mine is competitive racing and – from a spectator perspective – the visceral experience of motorsport. As all motorsport shows – not just F1 but all – any rule can be changed at any moment for any reason, whimsical or not. For example, FIA changed the NA engine format in 2013 knowing full well of its adverse impacts on Formula 1. They even published a booklet about those known adverse… Read more »

Daniel Johnson

Honestly I don’t see anything inaccurate with what he said. I’m really more interested in how he plans on building value into the F1.