Singapore: Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned he could walk away from the sport he’s turned into a global phenomenon if he doesn’t get his way under new owners Liberty Media.
The British billionaire was speaking at the Singapore Grand Prix, the first race since F1’s sale was announced and which was also attended by its new chairman, Chase Carey.
In a Sky Sports interview aired on Sunday, Ecclestone, 85, was characteristically blunt when quizzed on whether he could quit the sport under the American new regime.
“Thank God at the moment I don’t quite need the money, I don’t need a job and if by chance things aren’t going the way I think would be the right way then I will disappear for sure,” he said.
Under the new deal, which values Formula One at $8 billion, Ecclestone remains as chief executive but is joined by Carey, the mustachioed vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox.
The diminutive but pugnacious Ecclestone has built F1 into a global powerhouse earning billions for its investors with his canny deal-making over the past four decades.
US media mogul John Malone’s Liberty Media has a wide portfolio including Time Warner cable TV, the Atlanta Braves baseball team and electric racing series Formula E.
Ecclestone was equivocal when asked whether he had been engaged for another years, answering: “Let’s see, let’s see.”
And he didn’t argue with comments from Max Mosley, ex-president of governing body the FIA, who warned Ecclestone could “walk away” if Liberty interfere with his running of the sport.
“Well Max knows me very well,” Ecclestone said, adding that the Liberty purchase “shouldn’t make any difference”.
“They’ve asked me to stay on in my position, Chase is going to be chairman. I’ve no idea what his ideas are, but it is difficult for him as he’s sort of been thrown in the deep end a bit. So we’ll see,” he said.
Asked whether he might find it tough to work with Carey, Ecclestone said: “The only thing I have to do is die and pay my tax. Short of that I don’t have to do anything.”
But he added: “There is going to be no problem with Chase, we will work together.
“He has got expertise that I haven’t. We need to be in America, he knows America, he knows television and he can help us a lot. So I’m sure that is what is going to happen.”
Ecclestone also said he had no immediate plans to retire, despite his advanced age. “At the moment I am still able to deliver. When I think I can’t then I’ll stop,” he said.
And when interviewer Martin Brundle wondered if the situation was about to change for Formula One’s “king of the castle”, Ecclestone replied: “It probably won’t.”