Bernie's Formula One games and the questions on its existence
Zee Media Bureau/Jayanta Oinam
New Delhi: When Bernard Charles Ecclestone announced that he has stepped down from the board of the company which runs, rather controls the sport, it could well read as the end of a regime. His name has been the byword of Formula One.
The sport, despite coming under the purview of the FIA, is effectively managed by Formula One Group, which is again owned by Delta Topco Ltd. The 83-year-old has in many occasions refused to talk about stepping down or being replaced by someone. However, the Briton was forced to take such an evasive action following the indictment of his name on bribery charges in Germany.
For a person who has ruled the sport for nearly four decades, this change in guard certainly means a tectonic shift in the foundation of current F1 set up. The final hearing of the case will be held in April 2014. Even if the astute businessman – who has successfully juggled roles from being a failed-driver to a manger, then team owner and subsequently the most influential person in the sport – manages to return unscathed and reputation intake, there will be lot more questions to be answered. It may be about his age, certainly not his favour. It may be about his influence, which will certainly take a beating with these latest developments, not to mention other pending hearings in England and United States.
The de-facto boss of F1, a sporting spectacle only behind the Olympics and FIFA World Cup in the viewership count, decides on almost everything that is related to the sport. Every year, before the start of the season, the three stake-holders (the commercial rights holder i.e., Bernie himself, the FIA and the teams) sign the Concord Agreement – the holy of holies which decides who gets how many from the revenue the sports generates.
The income mainly comes from the TV rights. In fact, the enduring legacy of watching and following F1 would have not happened without the maverick in Ecclestone. He is the reason behind the gargantuan increase in F1’s revenue. That’s probably why his very existence is considered a parallel to that of F1.