As big rumours swirl about the sale of F1’s commercial rights, Bernie Ecclestone has named a potential successor as chief executive.
At Monza, speculation swirled in the paddock that owner CVC had agreed an $8.5 billion sale deal with Liberty Media, headed by US media tycoon John Malone.
Multiple authoritative publications predicted that Ecclestone would only stay in charge for a transitionary phase, while F1 pundit Eddie Jordan claimed the 85-year-old would be gone by the time of the next race in Singapore.
Jordan told the German newspaper Bild: “I assume Bernie will announce his retirement in the next few days.”
Ecclestone, having earlier confirmed the reports in the German press, dismissed the talk.
“You know what deals are like,” he said. “Until the money is in the bank it’s all nonsense.”
It is rumoured Ecclestone prefers selling to another interested party because it will guarantee his ongoing role at the top.
However, speaking to the German newspaper Bild, Ecclestone was then asked if he thinks Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is the right man for the job.
“Absolutely,” he answered. “He has the skills to do the job.”
Ecclestone also said the shares that he controls – almost 14 per cent – are “not for sale”.
It has been said the sale to a major US enterprise could ramp up F1’s impact in the crucial American market, but Ecclestone insisted: “I think you would need 10 races for that.
“A lot of hamburgers would be sold, the prices would go down, and it would no longer be formula one.”
When Wolff was asked about the swirling stories, he answered: “Honestly, I don’t know. The details of the deal are not known to me.
“Over the past 50 years, Bernie has done a great job to make formula one as we know it today, and we all recognise his contribution.
“Only the future will reveal what opportunities there are to improve it further, but I would not like to speculate,” Wolff added.