The Basics; Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone, top dog of the Formula One world but how did he get to be where he is today? This blog will review just how Bernie got to the top step of Formula One.
The first time Bernie became involved in motor racing was back in 1949 when he raced in the Formula 3 championship but after an accident in which he collided with Bill Whitehouse and landed in the car park on the outside of the track his racing aspirations lowered. Increasing commercial pressure and the risks of the sport lead to Ecclestone retiring from the cockpit.
He returned to racing in 1957 as a driver manager for Stuart Lewis-Evans and he bought two cars from the Conaught F1 team and even attempted to qualify the car himself in 1958 at Monaco. He continued to manage Lewis-Evans as he moved to the Vanwall team but after an accident which lead to his death Ecclestone was shaken up and once again retired from motorsport.1970 and Ecclestone once again returned to the sport as a driver manager for Jochen Rindt who unfortuantely lost his life at the Monza circuit that year. 1972 arrived and it was the year that Ecclestone supremacy in Formula One began as he bought the Brabham Formula One team.
In the first year Ecclestone began to mould the team concentrating all of the team's resources on F1 and in 1974 and 1975 took many victories with drivers including Emerson Fittipaldi, the team dropped off slightly before signing Niki Lauda in 1978 in which he won two races. Nelson Piquet then joined the team and he formed a close relationship with Ecclestone.
1985 arrived and Piquet left the team and subsequently the team began to disband until the end of the 1987 season in which the team scored just 8 points. During this time Bernie was strengthening his position in his roles at FISA and FOCA (governing bodies in F1 at the time) and he eventually sold the team.
In 1978 Ecclestone had become the CEO of FOCA alongside Max Moseley as his legal advisor and together they sorted legal issues with the FIA and eventually culminated in the decision that FOCA could control the TV rights package. Up until the mid 1990's the rights were swapped between teams but in 1997 Ecclestone created the famous Concorde Agreement which resides in the fact that Ecclestone controls the TV rights in exchange for annual payments. The agreement is due to expire with the FIA at the end of the 2012 season so what is next for the TV rights is unknown.
His role at FOM ensures that he has control over a lot of the decisions made in Formula One and although this may seem like a good job the amount of different difficult situations in which he has to deal with are a testament to his personal ability to cope and deal with situations in a calm manner, an example of this most recently was the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ecclestone has dedicated his life to Formula One and motorsport and when he finally decides to step down it will be extremely difficult to find somebody with the same managerial and organisational skills that he possesses. He may not come across as the most PR friendly and TV friendly personality in the world of Formula One but at the end of the day he has to seen to superior and this feeling of authority ensures that Formula One keeps running and stays under control.
Author: Grace Cunningham
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