Taking over Formula 1 from Bernie Ecclestone was never going to be an easy mission for Chase Carey who has been appointed executive chairman of the sport under the ownership of Liberty Media. Nevertheless the American businessman is adamant that there has been progress but at the same time acknowledges there is still work to be done.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Chase Carey said: “We feel pretty good about the momentum of the business. We’ve had good crowds. Recently they’ve all been up significantly. In Hungary they added stands, the same in Germany the week before. Although it’s only anecdotal, it was nice in Germany that people were saying how much more exciting and enjoyable the racing was compared with two years before when it was last there. They said it had a different feel, a different energy, an openness and more of a fun atmosphere for the fans. Do we need to make the action better, the competition closer? Yes. Do we have an issue on costs? Yes. Do we need to create healthier business models? Yes. Do we need to simplify elements of the rules? Yes. Within that there are differences on specifics; with 10 teams there are a range of views. So you have to wade in and find the compromises that nobody’s completely happy with but with everybody believing the logic. Nobody is going to get everything they want but together we’ll be in a better place.” – he said, as reported by the Sunday Times.
Last month Chase Carey met with Jean Todt and the late Sergio Marchionne to iron out differences between the parties, the former Ferrari chairman had been particulalry vocal about the future of the sport and made it clear that Liberty Media risked losing the most famous Formula 1 team from the grid. Asked to comment on the outcome of the meeting, the Irish-American executive added: “I had dinner with him shortly before he went into hospital and we were largely in agreement on the major issues. We’d arrived at the place of ‘let’s get this done’. I have nothing but respect for him. He was a larger-than-life force. He’ll be missed.”
Inevitably conversations with Chase Carey lead to his views on Bernie Ecclestone, the man he removed from the helm of Formula 1: “He knows more about the sport than I’ll ever learn. I meant it when I said I give Bernie credit for the sport he built,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong or right about it. We’re different people and have different views on how you build and run a business. He didn’t believe in marketing, digital and event spectacles but I do. We want the events to be unique while keeping his mystique and glamour but still make it exciting. Bernie said the sport needs a dictator and I said it requires leaders, not dictators; you need to try to bring people along rather than telling them what to do.”
Finally, particularly interesting is his view on how Formula 1 – often referred to as a ‘piranha pool’ – conducts business: “The sport likes to create noise, likes to negotiate through the media. It’s not the way I’ve done business. But the teams all agree with the need for the changes that we’re pushing forward with.” – the chief executive officer and executive chairman of the Formula One Group concluded.