Bernie Ecclestone’s future might not be as secure as it was earlier thought.
US media tycoon John Malone, whose ‘Darth Vader’ nickname was coined by Al Gore, was understood to have signed the F1 supremo to a new three-year deal as he moved to take over the sport’s commercial rights from CVC.
But Germany’s Auto Bild claims that Ecclestone, 85, and 75-year-old Malone may already have clashed, with the current F1 chief executive now set to vacate his role after November’s season finale in Abu Dhabi.
The same report said Malone and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne are also clashing, with the former wanting to end the fabled Italian team’s special annual bonus payments.
“Sue me!” Malone is quoted as having told Marchionne during recent negotiations. “I have the time and the money.”
But not everyone is unhappy with the deal.
Auto Bild said Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche is interested in Malone’s offer that teams be able to buy into the commercial rights.
Mercedes is said to want 10 per cent, ahead of a forthcoming meeting between Zetsche and his Renault and Ferrari counterparts Carlos Ghosn and Marchionne.
But another top team, Red Bull, is reportedly hesitating.
“We have to think about the price-performance ratio,” an official is quoted as saying. “If it is too expensive and with little influence, an engagement would not make sense.”
Meanwhile, Bild newspaper reports that Malone’s Libtery Media wants race ticket prices to drop dramatically to about EUR 150 million for a weekend pass, whilst adding more European races to the calendar.