It’s no secret that Bernie Ecclestone became rich as hell from Formula 1 and really, really cashed in when Liberty Media bought the parent company (Delta Topco) of Formula 1 in early 2017. But what does an American company know about running the global phenomenon of Formula 1??? It’s not Nascar. It’s not football (the American version), and it’s not baseball. More specifically, it’s not the Atlanta Braves.
Between 1991 and 2005, the Atlanta Braves won 14 division titles, 5 National League Pennants, and 1 World Series Title. While they were not the most successful team in baseball during that era, they were damn good. And while they were no doubt successful, they were owned by either Turner or the post-merger combination of Turner and Time Warner, not Liberty Media. Under Liberty’s watch, they’ve made the playoffs four times (IN TWELVE YEARS!!!) Baseball is as American as apple pie, fireworks, country music, or freedom. Considering they bought one of the most iconic American teams of the time and ran it like a business (a shitty business), what made them think they would be able to run Formula 1 and grow the audience??
Regardless of your thoughts on Bernie Ecclestone (if you want to learn more about him I highly recommend The Tom Bower book on him “No Angel, The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone”), it’s hard to argue that he didn’t take over the sport and make it what it is today. Regardless of how he did it and how you feel about the politics of it all, it became what it is today (ish) through no small part of his leadership. Bernie is a bully, he’s an animal, who many people are either afraid of or intimidated by. Let’s not forget, he is a 5’-0” 88 year old man. A 5’-0” 88 year old man who cut his teeth in the 1950s dealing used cars and used motorcycles. Oh, and he’ll still kick the shit out of you!!! He is as shrewd as he is smart and you should never ever turn your back on him or screw him over. He holds grudges and will screw you over so much harder than you tried to screw him.
At the end of the day, love him or hate him, he is one smart, resilient businessman and if Liberty Media is actually trying to reduce their risk to the sport of Formula 1, I can only hope that Bernie gets back in charge!
One final comment, if anyone from Liberty reads this, I want to invest!