Hey kid…you wanna buy Formula 1? It’s for sale

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone sure stirred up the hornets nest today with a big announcement that F1 could be sold to new owners by year’s end.

Reports last June place Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner, as a possible candidate and suggested the price tag could be as large as £5 billion. That’s “billion” with a “B”.

I’m with Max Mosley, the author the book I am currently reading and also the former FIA president in that I can’t see Mr. E’s role changing unless he wants it to change. It’s a tangled web and if you are reading Mosley’s books as well, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Ecclestone said:

“There has been a lot of interest and I would say there are three parties at the moment, where I would be surprised if one of them did not buy them (the shares) shortly.”

That’s a big move for the sport and you have to appreciate anyone who has the attachments to see the big profits CVC Capital has made from the sport but also recognize that it is currently experiencing some tough challenges.

I guess it’s one thing to suggest that the sport might be more favorably patronized in the US if we had an American driver and I argue that it’s more important to have an American team but heck, why not have an American owner and see what that does for us silly, fat, stupid Americans who like to watch cars go round in circles, shave driver number sin our back hair and eat funnel cakes with Bud Light.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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Paul KieferJr

Let’s say for the sake of argument that it does happen. Then what? What could Ross accomplish that Bernie couldn’t? That CVC couldn’t? That the FIA couldn’t? That every team in Formula 1 couldn’t? Does Ross actually have a plan for fixing Formula 1? I’d like to hear it if he does.

Negative Camber

It’s a good question. I really think they could put a real push on marketing but that takes money and operating costs. With the current returns, it may be an expense they don’t want or need.

Tom Firth

It depends what changes, if it’s just another bank or venture capitalist company, probably not a great deal of difference. Give it a few years and it will be sold again. If it means Bernie and/or his associates change, that would probably spell a larger change, because it would likely affect the way decisions are made in the sport, both from a commercial and a regulation perspective. The FIA set the technical and sporting regulations, however at present that comes with major influence from the teams and the commercial rights holder, and associates through the strategy group. What’s to say… Read more »

Negative Camber

@disqus_0dItj8S7Zx:disqus What would you see as new leadership under new ownership? A committee-led leadership?

Tom Firth

Sorry Todd, sleep called last night. Motorsport, regardless of the series needs a management structure whereby one individual has the absolute last word on decisions related to the running of the sport and the commercial business. Therefore you can not have a round-table committee with one person on that committee delegated to be the voice of the committee. It’s unworkable and leads to an undermined leader, who will be frequently ousted. What you can have however, is a management structure whereby the CEO has the ultimate decisions and oversight required of the company, however also with delegation of responsibility to… Read more »

Tom Firth

Perhaps Bernie does have this, he clearly doesn’t run FOM by himself entirely, he just appears to do so and has direct management control over every aspect.

The company has 300+ employees however, so somewhere a management structure must exist, it is probably quite a way from Bernie down the ladder, but we never see the business structure of FOM, whilst we do see the structure of Dorna.

Paul KieferJr

So, that sounds like an imminent death spiral no matter which way it goes. If I were Stephen Ross, would I want to get into that sort of thing even if it meant a pre-ordained destruction?


To fix F1 you need to fix the FIA.


When Bernie says there are three parties interested, what he actually means is he spoke to his barista who said he bought a model F1 car once.

The Captain

Sounds like someones desperate to sell now while high, before 2 teams and a major promoter of the sport pulls out, we loose 4 cars off the grid, possibly 4 of the actual non-paying good drivers out of a ride and generally causes chaos in the sport.

Negative Camber

I didn’t do a very good job of laying out the detail but Mr. E is only a 5% owner. It’s CVC and the multiple investors that own the majority. This isn’t Mr. E’s major asset, it’s CVC’s.

Tom Firth

Yeah, but it’s the 5% owner which is interesting. The 95% owner will probably end up doing the same as the current ones, stays out the way, and just reaps the rewards.


If Bernie says X could happen within the timeframe Y, I’d bet money on the exact opposite being true any day. I don’t claim to know what message he’s trying to get across to whom, but it sure as hell isn’t what it says on the tin.

Junipero Mariano

My crazy conspiracy theory of the day is that Red Bull does sell off it teams… To buy F1.

Anyways, that aside, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we do see the Milton Keynes and Faenza teams in the grid next year, just under another livery. It’s way too much experience, cachet, and infrastructure to just pack up at the end of the year.