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Bernard Charles "Bernie" Ecclestone (born 28 October 1930) is a British sports entrepreneur,<ref>{{#if: Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone - Rich List - Times Online

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 }}|Template error: argument title is required.}}</ref> as president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration and through his part-ownership of Alpha Prema, the parent company of the Formula One Group of companies. As such, he is generally considered the primary authority in Formula One racing. He is most commonly addressed in tabloid journalism as "F1 Supremo". His early involvement in the sport was as a competitor and then as a manager of drivers Stuart Lewis-Evans and Jochen Rindt. In 1972 he bought the Brabham team, which he ran for fifteen years.<ref name=formulaonetremayne-pp8>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> As a team owner he became a member of the Formula One Constructors Association. His control of the sport, which grew from his pioneering the sale of television rights in the late 1970s, is chiefly financial, but under the terms of the Concorde Agreement he and his companies also manage the administration, setup and logistics of each Formula One grand prix. Ecclestone himself attempted to compete in two Grand Prix races during the 1958 season but failed to qualify for either of them.

He is also the co-owner of Queens Park Rangers Football Club.

Motorsports career

Early life

Ecclestone was born in St Peter South Elmham, a small hamlet three miles south of Bungay, Suffolk. Shortly thereafter his family moved to Bexleyheath, Kent, now a part of Greater London, and Ecclestone left school at the age of 16 to work at the local gasworks, and to pursue his hobby of motorcycles. Immediately after the end of World War II, Ecclestone went into business trading in spare parts for motorcycles, and formed the Compton & Ecclestone motorcycle dealership with Fred Compton. His first racing experience came in 1949 in the 500cc Formula 3 Series, acquiring a Cooper Mk V in 1951. He drove only a limited number of races, mainly at his local circuit, Brands Hatch, but achieved a number of good placings and an occasional win.<ref name=formulaonetremayne-pp8/> His aspirations took a knock when he collided with Bill Whitehouse and landed in the car park on the outside of the track. Eventually, commercial pressures and the risks persuaded him to retire from the cockpit.

Team ownership

After his accident, Ecclestone temporarily left racing to make a number of eventually lucrative investments in real estate and loan financing and to manage the Weekend Car Auctions firm. He returned to racing in 1957 as manager of driver Stuart Lewis-Evans, and purchased the assets of the F1 Connaught team,<ref name=formulaonetremayne-pp8/> whose drivers included Lewis-Evans, Roy Salvadori, Archie Scott Brown, and Ivor Bueb. Ecclestone even attempted, unsuccessfully, to qualify a car himself at Monaco in 1958. He continued to manage Lewis-Evans when he moved to the Vanwall team; Salvadori moved on to manage the Cooper team. Lewis-Evans suffered severe burns when his engine exploded at the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix and succumbed to his injuries six days later; Ecclestone was rather shaken up and once again retired from racing.

Soon enough, however, his friendship with Salvadori led to his becoming manager of driver Jochen Rindt<ref name=formulaonetremayne-pp8/> and a partial owner<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> of Rindt's 1970 Lotus Formula 2 team (whose other driver was Graham Hill). Rindt, on his way to the 1970 World Championship, died in a crash at the Monza circuit, though he was awarded the championship posthumously. In early 1972, Ecclestone purchased the Brabham team from Ron Tauranac and began his decades-long advocacy for team control of F1, forming the Formula One Constructors Association<ref name=formulaonetremayne-pp8/> with Frank Williams, Colin Chapman, Teddy Mayer, Ken Tyrrell, and Max Mosley. Hereabouts arose the continuing question of television rights.

Brabham

During the 1971 season, Ecclestone was approached by Ron Tauranac, owner of the Brabham team, who was looking for a suitable business partner. Ecclestone made him an offer of £100,000 for the whole team, which Tauranac eventually accepted.<ref name=formulaonetremayne-pp8/> The Australian stayed on as designer and to run the factory.<ref>Lawrence (1999) p. 116 Tauranac claims that Ecclestone initially offered £130,000, but lowered the offer at the last minute. Ecclestone denies that this happened. Lovell (2004) pp.32-33</ref> Colin Seeley was briefly brought in against Tauranac's wishes to assist in design and management.

Ecclestone and Tauranac were both dominant personalities and the Australian left Brabham early in the 1972 season. The team achieved little during 1972, as Ecclestone moulded the team to fit his vision of a Formula One team. He abandoned the highly successful customer car production business established by Jack Brabham and Tauranac - reasoning that to compete at the very front in Formula One you must concentrate all of your resources there. For the 1973 season, Ecclestone promoted Gordon Murray to chief designer. The young South African produced the triangular cross-section BT42, the first of a series of Ford powered cars with which the Brabham team would take several victories in 1974 and 1975 with Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace.

Despite the increasing success of Murray's nimble Ford-powered cars, Ecclestone signed a deal with Alfa Romeo to use their powerful but heavy flat-12 engine from the 1976 season. Although this was financially beneficial, the new BT45s were unreliable and the Alfa engines rendered them significantly overweight. The 1976 and 1977 seasons saw Brabham fall towards the back of the field again, before winning two races again in the 1978 season when Ecclestone signed the Austrian double world champion Niki Lauda, intrigued by Murray's radical BT46 design.

The Brabham-Alfa era ended in 1979, the team's first season with the up-and-coming young Brazilian Nelson Piquet when Alfa Romeo started testing their own Formula One car during this season. This prompted Ecclestone to revert to Cosworth DFV engines - a move his designer described as "like having a holiday".

Piquet formed a close and long lasting relationship with Ecclestone and the team, losing the title after a narrow battle with Alan Jones in 1980 and eventually winning in 1981 and 1983. In the summer of 1981 Brabham had tested a car powered by a BMW turbo engine, and 1982's new BT50 was powered by BMW's turbocharged 4-cylinder M10. Brabham continued to run the Ford-powered BT49D in the early part of the season while reliability and driveability issues were sorted out by BMW and their technical partner, Bosch. Ecclestone and BMW came close to splitting before the turbo car duly took its first win at the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix but the partnership took the first turbo-powered world championship in 1983.

The team continued to be competitive until 1985. At the end of the year, Piquet left after seven years. He was unhappy with the money that Ecclestone was willing to offer him and went to Williams where he would win his third championship. The following year, Murray, who since 1973 had designed cars that had scored 22 GP wins, left Brabham to join McLaren. Brabham continued under Ecclestone's leadership to the end of the 1987 season, in which the team scored only eight points. BMW withdrew from Formula One after the 1987 season. Ecclestone, meanwhile, was becoming increasing involved with his roles at FISA and the Formula One Constructors' Association (FOCA), in particular with negotiating the sport's television rights. Having bought the team from Ron Tauranac for approximately $120,000 at the end of 1971, Ecclestone eventually sold it for over $5 million to a Swiss businessman, Joachim Luhti.

FISA-FOCA war

Template:Mainarticle Ecclestone became chief executive of FOCA in 1978 with Mosley as his legal advisor; together, they negotiated a series of legal issues with the FIA and Jean-Marie Balestre, culminating in Ecclestone's famous coup, his securing the right for FOCA to negotiate television contracts for the Grands Prix. For this purpose Ecclestone established Formula One Promotions and Administration, giving 47% of television revenues to teams, 30% to the FIA, and 23% to FOPA (i.e. Ecclestone himself); in return, FOPA put up the prize money - grand prix could literally be translated from French to "big prize".

Television rights shuffled between Ecclestone's companies, teams, and the FIA in the late 1990s, but Ecclestone emerged on top again in 1997 when he negotiated the present Concorde Agreement: in exchange for annual payments, he maintains the TV rights. The contract with the various teams expired on the last day of 2007, and the contract with the FIA will expire on the last day of 2012.

Recent activity

Despite heart surgery and triple coronary bypass in 1999, Ecclestone has remained as energetic as always in promoting his own business interests. In the late 1990s he reduced his share in SLEC Holdings (owner of the various F1 managing firms) to 25%, though despite his minority share he retained complete control of the companies. Also in 1999, Terry Lovell published a biography of Ecclestone, Bernie's Game: Inside the Formula One World of Bernie Ecclestone (ISBN 1-84358-086-1). In April 2000 Ecclestone sold International Sportsworld Communicators to David Richards. ISC owns the commercial rights for the World Rally Championship.

Ecclestone came under fire in October 2004 when he and British Racing Drivers' Club president Jackie Stewart were unable to come to terms regarding the future British Grand Prix, causing the race to be dropped from the 2005 provisional season calendar. However, when the heads of the ten teams met and agreed on a series of cost-cuts later in the month, the race was again added to the calendar, and a contract on 9 December guaranteed its continuation for five years. In mid-November 2004, the three banks who comprise Speed Investments, which owns a 75% share in SLEC, which in turn controls Formula One - Bayerische Landesbank, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers - sued Ecclestone for more control over the sport, prompting speculation that Ecclestone might altogether lose the control he has maintained for more than thirty years. A two-day hearing began on 23 November, but after the proceedings had ended the following day, Justice Andrew Park announced his intention to reserve ruling for several weeks. On 6 December 2004, Park read his verdict, stating that "In [his] judgment it is clear that Speed's contentions are correct and [he] should therefore make the declarations which it requests."<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> However, Ecclestone insisted that the verdict - seen almost universally as a legal blow to his control of Formula One - would mean "nothing at all".<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> He stated his intention to appeal the decision. The following day, at a meeting of team bosses at Heathrow Airport in London, Ecclestone offered the teams a total of £260,000,000 over three years in return for unanimous renewal of the Concorde Agreement, which expired in 2008.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> Two weeks later, Gerhard Gibkowsky, a board member of Bayerische Landesbank and the chairman of SLEC, stated that the banks had no intention to remove Ecclestone from his position of control.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

Ecclestone was a victim of theft in March 2005: two wheels were stolen from his car while it was parked outside his London home. The car, a brand new Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG, was said to be the first of its kind in Britain. On Friday, 17 June 2005, Ecclestone made American headlines with his reply to a question about Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish at the Indianapolis 500, during an interview with Indianapolis television station WRTV: "She did a good job, didn't she? Super. Didn't think she'd be able to make it like that. You know, I've got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances." (Following Danica Patrick's 2008 victory at Twin Ring Motegi, Ecclestone personally sent her a congratulatory letter).<ref>{{#if: The 10 Spot: 20 June 2005

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   |  “6. Formula One's planned invasion of the U.S. market will have to wait a few years, or perhaps forever, after a disastrous weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leading up to the event, F-1 chief Bernie Ecclestone was lauding the recent Indy 500 performance by Danica Patrick before he wrapped his foot around his tonsils. "You know," he told reporters, "I've got one of these wonderful ideas that women should all be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances." Then 14 of the 20 cars in Sunday's "race" refused to participate, pulling off the track just before the start because F-1 officials declined to allow them to replace their Michelin tyres, which were deemed too dangerous for Indy's high-banked final turn. Many in the crowd of 100,000 headed for the exits soon after, and police were called in to prevent a near-riot from fans demanding refunds at the ticket office. It's nice to see that the ineptitude of those running sports leagues isn't limited to North America.”
 }}|Template error: argument title is required.}}</ref> Two days later, Ecclestone saw 14 of 20 cars refuse to race in the 2005 United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The seven teams who refused to participate, stating concern over the safety of their Michelin tyres, requested rule changes and/or a change to the track configuration. Despite a series of meetings between Ecclestone, Max Mosley, and the team principals, no compromise was reached by race time, and Ecclestone became an object of the public's frustration at the resultant six-car race. Despite his not having caused the problem, fans and journalists blamed him for failing to take control and enforce a solution, given the position of power in which he had placed himself.

On 25 November 2005 CVC Capital Partners announced it was to purchase both the Ecclestone shares of the Formula One Group (25% of SLEC) and Bayerische Landesbank's 48% share (held through Speed Investments). This left Alpha Prema owning 71.65% of the Formula One group. Ecclestone used the proceeds of this sale to purchase a stake in this new company (the exact ratio of the CVC/Ecclestone shareholding is not yet known). On 6 December Alpha Prema acquired JP Morgan's share of SLEC to increase its ownership of Formula One to 86%, the remaining 14% was held by Lehman Brothers. On 21 March 2006 the EU competition authorities approved the transaction subject to CVC selling Dorna, which controls the rights to MotoGP. CVC announced the completion of the transaction on 28 March. CVC acquired Lehman Brothers share at the end of March 2006. On 21 July 2007 Bernie Ecclestone announced in the media that he would be open to discuss the purchase of Arsenal Football Club. As a close friend to former Director of Arsenal David Dein, it is thought that the current board of the North London based football club would prefer to sell to a British party, this after American based investment company KSE headed by "Silent" Stan Kroenke are thought to be preparing a £650 million takeover bid for Arsenal Holdings PLC.

After the loss of Silverstone as the venue for the British Grand Prix in 2008, Ecclestone came under fire from several high-profile names for his handling of Formula One's revenues. Damon Hill blamed Formula One Management as a key factor in the loss of the event: "There's always been the question of the FOM fee, and ultimately that is the deciding factor. To quote Bernie, he once said: 'You can have anything you like, as long as you pay too much for it,' but we can't pay too much for something... The problem is money goes out and away. There's a question whether that money even returns to Formula One."<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> Flavio Briatore also criticized FOM: "Nowadays Ecclestone takes 50% of all revenues, but we are supposed to be able to reduce our costs by 50%".<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

On the 7th of January 2010, it was announced that Ecclestone had, together with Genii Capital, submitted a bid for Swedish car brand Saab Automobile<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>.

Queens Park Rangers Football Club

On 3 September 2007 it was announced that Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore had bought Queens Park Rangers (QPR) Football Club.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> In December 2007, they were joined as co-owners by businessman Lakshmi Mittal, the 5th richest person in the world, who bought 20% of the club.<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref>

Controversies

Labour Party controversy

In 1997 Ecclestone was involved in a political controversy over the Labour Party's policy on tobacco sponsorship.

Labour had pledged to ban tobacco advertising in its manifesto ahead of its 1997 General Election victory, supporting a proposed European Union Directive banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship.<ref>{{#if: Timeline: Smoking and disease

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"Motor racing was a world class industry which put Britain at the hi-tech edge. Deprived of tobacco money, Formula One would move abroad at the loss of 50,000 jobs, 150,000 part-time jobs and £900 million of exports."<ref name="rawnsley"/>

On 4 November the "fiercely anti-tobacco Jowell" argued in Brussels for an exemption for Formula One. Media attention initially focused on Labour bending its principles for a "glamour sport" and on the "false trail" of Jowell's husband's links to Benetton.<ref name="rawnsley"/> On 6 November correspondents from three newspapers inquired whether Labour had received any donations from Ecclestone; he had donated £1 million in January 1997. On 11 November Labour promised to return the money on the advice of Sir Patrick Neill.<ref>{{#if: How the Ecclestone affair unfolded

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Women as "domestic appliances"

In 2005, when speaking about Indycar racer Danica Patrick, he remarked "You know I've got one of those wonderful ideas ... women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."<ref name="Danica1">{{#if: F1 CEO compares women to 'domestic appliances'

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 }}|Template error: argument title is required.}}</ref> Earlier, in February 2000, he said that women would never excel in Formula One, stating "she would have to be a woman who was blowing away the boys. ... What I would really like to see happen is to find the right girl, perhaps a black girl with super looks, preferably Jewish or Muslim, who speaks Spanish."<ref name="Danica1"/>

Hitler controversy

In a Times interview published on 4 July 2009, Ecclestone said "terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people able to get things done." According to Ecclestone: "If you have a look at a democracy it hasn’t done a lot of good for many countries — including this one". He also said that his friend of 40 years Max Mosley, the son of British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, "would do a super job" as Prime Minister and added "I don’t think his background would be a problem."<ref>Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester "Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss, says despots are underrated", The Times, 4 July 2009</ref>

Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle, said: “Mr Ecclestone is either an idiot or morally repulsive. Either he has no idea how stupid and offensive his views are or he does and deserves to be held in contempt by all decent people.”<ref>Steve Bird, Ruth Gledhill and Sam Coates "Hitler? He got things done, says Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone", The Times, 4 July 2009</ref> In a subsequent interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Ecclestone said that his comments were taken the wrong way, but apologised, saying, "I'm just sorry that I was an idiot. I sincerely, genuinely apologise."<ref>Simon Rocker "Ecclestone: I was an idiot over Hitler", The Jewish Chronicle, 6 July 2009</ref> However, when Ecclestone was later told by Associated Press that the World Jewish Congress had called for his resignation, he said "it's a pity they didn't sort the banks out," referring to the financial crisis of 2007–2010, and claimed "They have a lot of influence everywhere."<ref>"Ecclestone says he won't resign over Hitler remarks", Associated Press, 6 July 2009</ref>

Personal life

The Sunday Times Rich List of 2009 ranked Ecclestone as 24th richest person in the United Kingdom, with an estimated fortune of £1.466 billion, a decline of £934 million from the previous year.

In early 2004 he sold one of his London residences (Kensington Palace Gardens), never having lived in it, to steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal for £57.1 million, making it the most expensive house ever sold.

Ecclestone was married to Slavica Ecclestone (née Slavica Radić) for almost 25 years. Radić was born in the town of Rijeka in Croatia in the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1958. She is a 6'2" (1.88 m) former Armani model who is 28 years his junior, and 11.5 inches (29 cm) taller than her husband.<ref>Lovell (2004) p.345</ref> The couple have two daughters, Tamara Ecclestone (born 1984) and Petra Ecclestone (born 1988). The Sun newspaper announced on the 20 November 2008 that Slavica Ecclestone had moved out of the family home and filed for divorce;<ref>Template:Citation/core{{#if:|}}</ref> the divorce was granted on 11 March 2009.<ref>F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone's Divorce Finalized Yahoo Sports, March 11, 2009</ref>

Complete Formula One World Championship results

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1958 B C Ecclestone Connaught Type B Alta Straight-4 ARG MON
DNQ
NED 500 BEL FRA GBR
DNQ*
GER POR ITA MOR NC 0

* car raced by Jack Fairman

See Also

Template:Brabham

References

External links

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