Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has taken aim at both FIA president Jean Todt and commercial rights owner Liberty Media.
The 87-year-old racing mogul, who essentially ran F1 up until his ousting by Liberty Media at the beginning of 2017, criticised what he called their ‘distorting’ of F1 and lack of experience in the sport.
Ecclestone became head of the Formula One Constructors Assosiation (FOCA) in 1978 and went about championing the influence of the teams in the running and decision making of the sport, a position he held (not without controversy) for the following 40 years.
Liberty Media removed him from his seat at the head of the F1 table after taking ownership of Formula One Group, the company headed by Ecclestone, and tasked with promoting Formula 1 around the world.
Regarding the new owners of Formula 1’s commercial rights, Ecclestone told French Sports daily L’Equipe: "Liberty could distort and ruin F1 because they have no experience. I hope Jean (Todt, head of the FIA) takes back the reins for the future of formula one. The FIA must be the master of the kingdom.
While the irony in Ecclestone advocating the importance of the FIA, considering his own notorious reluctance to loosen his grip on the F1 reigns, must not be ignored, Ecclestone’s worries clearly extend past Liberty Media.
With reference to Frenchman Todt, he commented that: “He works 24 hours a day, but he neglects F1. His main project is road safety, but he must not lose sight of the sport."
While clearly approving of Todt’s work ethic, Ecclestone’s fears that Todt and the FIA are distracted from the task of providing an entertaining Formula 1 experience are palpable.
Todt became the Special Envoy for Road Safety to the United Nations in April 2015 and has been a vocal advocate of reducing deaths and injuries on roads around the world.
Formula 1 is at the forefront of safety technology and therefore Todt’s advocacy is arguably to the benefit of the sport, casting Ecclestone’s stated concerns into justifiable doubt.
The intention of his swipes at Todt, the FIA and Liberty Media are unlikely to be as straightforward as the man himself would suggest, such is the astute business brain possessed by ex supremo.
Could a re-emergence of the once king-pin be on the horizon?
With a man as savvy and powerful as Bernie Ecclestone flexing his muscles in the shadows, all involved would be well advised to tread lightly and, at the very least, acknowledge his words.