Bernie Ecclestone says Formula 1's new owner Liberty Media is making an effort to "move on" from the days when he was running the sport.
As part of Liberty’s F1 takeover, Ecclestone was given the title of chairman emeritus, with Chase Carey moving into his previous position as CEO.
While that reshuffle nominally keeps Ecclestone as part of the F1 family, he says he no longer has any influence on the way F1 is run.
“I can’t do anything,” Eccelstone said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday. “Even the staff have been told they shouldn’t talk to me. They want to get rid of the Bernie era: ‘Let’s get rid of Bernie’s history.' They always say the same thing, they probably think it makes me happy but it doesn’t: ‘He has done a super job but we have to move on’, and they may be right.”
Ecclestone added he was surprised to be moved aside, after initially being told Liberty would want him to stay on as CEO for the early part of its reign.
“Was I annoyed when Liberty asked me to step down? No – the way I look at it, if somebody buys a car, they want to drive it,” he said. "I was a little disappointed because I was asked before they took over, would I stay here for three years if they took over? And I said, provided I was fit and competent, yes, I would. So I was a bit surprised the day after they completed the deal that I was asked to stand down because Chase wanted to be chief executive. Chase did that face to face.”
"Envious" of Carey
While Ecclestone was often accused of being more interested in generating money for F1 than boosting its profile or long-term health, he said he is envious of the fact that Carey will be able to take a different approach.
“I’ve been trying to run the business as a chief executive of the company to make profits for the shareholders,” he said. “I knew [previous owner] CVC wanted to sell the company – I was doing all I could to make sure the company was set up to make good profits in order that they could sell. They let me run things the way I thought they should be run. I’m terribly envious of Chase because he is in the lovely position of being able to do a lot of things I wanted to do and couldn’t.”
"Five-star restaurant" versus "hamburger joint"
Ecclestone said Liberty would be looking to introduce a different philosophy to F1, by making the sport less exclusive.
"I look at it in a different way to other people," he said. "Everyone wants to go to a restaurant where you can't get a seat. So I was very strict with things like paddock passes. Liberty's philosophy is more open.
"They have an American culture and at an American race everyone is in the paddock and the pits and they can chat with the drivers and sit in their cars. In F1, we have been running a five-star Michelin restaurant, not a hamburger joint. But maybe now the cuisine will be more accessible. Maybe it will even have a better taste."