Stepping down from the board of Delta Topco—the group that runs Formula 1—Bernie Ecclestone will now focus on two things. The first will be running the day-to-day operation of F1 and the second will be the pending trial for bribery in Germany.

It was announced Thursday that the trial would, indeed, go ahead and subsequently, Delta topco made the announcement of Ecclestone’s departure from his position on the board saying:

‘After discussion with the Board, Mr Ecclestone has proposed and the Board has agreed that until the case has been concluded, he will step down as a director with immediate effect, thereby relinquishing his board duties and responsibilities until the case has been resolved.

‘It is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day to day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control by the Board. Mr Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements.

‘The approval and signing of significant contracts and other material business arrangements shall now be the responsibility of the Chairman, Mr Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, and Deputy Chairman, Mr Donald Mackenzie.’

What does all of this mean? I suspect the reason is quite simple in that it is a brand equity issue of having a potential fraud case against a board member. In business prudence, removing yourself from a board until matters have been resolved takes the imputed litigiousness away from the holding company—Delta topco—and keeps the board, the employees and running of the organization away from the white heat of the legal flame. Standard procedure really.

What I find intriguing is that the German court decided to move forward without first hearing the UK court’s decision on the Constantin case verdict. The court must feel it has plenty of evidence to go to trial and there are surely some young German prosecutors salivating at their big attempt at killing the white whale.

Either way, it is the dénouement if you will of Mr. Ecclestone’s long and industrious career. Am I advocating the end of his reign at the helm of F1? Of course not but it is the unraveling of his chokehold on the neck of F1. Having said that, I will caution F1 fans by saying that you may think this is an “about time!” kind of moment in F1 but I submit to you that the replacement may be far worse than our diminutive schlockmeister from Suffolk.

A cursory search of Mr. Donald Mackenzie will give you some insight into the thinking behind the chairman of F1’s holding company and what we might expect in the future. Brace yourselves, the future is bright but no one is quite sure if that’s the bright light of hope and growth or the fires of hell.

I’ve been a long-time advocate of Mr. Ecclestone and taken a lot of heat for my position but I do recognize that not all of his dealings have been Class-A types of deals. Regardless, F1 is what it is because of this remarkable man and we’ll see what comes of this court case…my hunch is a hefty fine.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Sebring71

    When Bernie eventually announces his successor, his first choice might perhaps be a smoke screen, as he knows that Luca has veto power.

    Who knows, maybe it will be Flavio time.

    • Or Christian Horner?

      • Sebring71

        I was entertained by Luca’s response to that idea: “Ecclestone sees Horner as his successor? As the years go by, he more and more enjoys making jokes and I’m happy he still has the desire to do so”.

  • MIE

    Ross Brawn has freed up his diary at an opportune time.

    • Paul

      And here I was hoping that he was actually leaving. You know slipping on the water from the sprinklers and dropping his medals kinda leaving.

  • Correction: Bernie is focussed on three things… you forgot to mention hiding money in mattresses around the world.

  • Rapierman

    Ernie can have all the “attaboys” he wants (and well deserved); however, in business, one “oh crap” is all it takes to wipe all those “attaboys” off the boards.

    The story that comes close enough to approach this situation: Former head football coach Mack Brown of Texas. Built a program from the ground up, re-united the fans for a while, even got us a National Championship….but the final three years pretty much wiped all those accolades off the boards. Eventually, he had to resign. He fractured the very fan base that he united.

    “Oh, crap.”

    • Rapierman

      Dammit, that should be “Bernie”. I’m tired, and I just got off work. :P

  • niyoko

    Bernie is out. Ron is back. Max is … on his knees?

    I dare say that Flavio might be a good candidate for the job. If I could request anything from a new F1 boss it would be to get with the times and start looking into more streamed online content for past races. Japan sucks for F1 coverage outside of the Japanese GP, so I would love to go back and watch races that I’ve missed.

    My semi-legitimate sources are getting scary. I feel like it need to do a scorched-earth policy on my PC after each race.