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Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone 2012 Bahrain (cropped).jpg
Ecclestone at the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix
Bernard Charles Ecclestone

(1930-10-28) 28 October 1930 (age 93)
Hawk House, St Peter South Elmham, Suffolk, England
Nationality English
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1950–present
Title Chairman Emeritus of Formula One Group (2017–2020)
Ivy Bamford
(m. 1952, divorced)
Slavica Radić
(m. 1985; div. 2009)
Fabiana Flosi
(m. 2012)
Children 4; including Tamara and Petra

Bernard Charles Ecclestone (born 28 October 1930) is an English business magnate. He is the former chief executive of the Formula One Group, which manages Formula One motor racing and controls the commercial rights to the sport, and part-owns Delta Topco, the previous ultimate parent company of the Formula One Group. As such, he was commonly described in journalism as the 'F1 Supremo'.

Ecclestone entered two Grand Prix races as a driver, during the 1958 season, but failed to qualify for either of them. Later he became manager of drivers Stuart Lewis-Evans and Jochen Rindt. In 1972, he bought the Brabham team, which he ran for 15 years. As a team owner he became a member of the Formula One Constructors Association.

His control of the sport, which grew from his pioneering sale of the television rights in the late 1970s, was chiefly financial, but under the terms of the Concorde Agreement he and his companies also managed the administration, setup and logistics of each Formula One Grand Prix, making him one of the richest men in the United Kingdom.

On 23 January 2017, it was announced that Ecclestone had been replaced by Chase Carey as chief executive of the Formula One Group. Ecclestone was appointed as chairman emeritus and acted as an adviser to the board.

Ecclestone and business partner Flavio Briatore also owned the English football club Queens Park Rangers between 2007 and 2011.

Early life

Ecclestone was born in St Peter, South Elmham on 28 October 1930, a hamlet three miles south of Bungay, Suffolk. He was the son of Sidney Ecclestone, a fisherman, whose family had moved from Kent in the early 20th century to work in Norwich's painting industry, and his wife Bertha. Ecclestone attended primary school in Wissett before the family moved to Danson Road, Bexleyheath, South East London, in 1938. He was not evacuated to the countryside during the Second World War and remained with his family.

Ecclestone left Dartford West Central Secondary School at the age of 16 to work as an assistant in the chemical laboratory at the local gasworks testing gas purity. He also studied chemistry at Woolwich Polytechnic and pursued his hobby of motorcycles.

Motorsports career

Early career

Immediately after the end of World War II, Ecclestone went into business trading in spare parts for motorcycles, and formed the Compton & Ecclestone motorcycle dealership with Fred Compton. His first racing experience came in 1949 in the 500cc Formula 3 Series, acquiring a Cooper Mk V in 1951.

He drove only a limited number of races, mainly at his local circuit, Brands Hatch, but achieved a number of good placings and an occasional win. He initially retired from racing following several accidents at Brands Hatch, intending to focus on his business interests.

Team ownership

Formula One World Championship career
Nationality United Kingdom British
Active years 1958
Teams Connaught
Entries 2 (0 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First entry 1958 Monaco Grand Prix
Last entry 1958 British Grand Prix

After his accident, Ecclestone temporarily left racing to make a number of eventually lucrative investments in property and loan financing and to manage the Weekend Car Auctions firm.

He returned to racing in 1957 as manager of driver Stuart Lewis-Evans, and purchased two chassis from the disbanded Connaught Formula One team. Ecclestone even tried, unsuccessfully, to qualify a car himself at Monaco in 1958, although this has since been described as "not a serious attempt".

He also entered the British Grand Prix, but the car was raced by Jack Fairman. He continued to manage Lewis-Evans when he moved to the Vanwall team; Salvadori moved on to manage the Cooper team. Lewis-Evans suffered severe burns when his engine exploded at the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix and died six days later; Ecclestone was shocked and once again retired from racing.

His friendship with Salvadori led to his becoming manager of driver Jochen Rindt and a partial owner of Rindt's 1970 Lotus Formula 2 team, whose other driver was Graham Hill. Rindt, on his way to the 1970 World Championship, died in a crash at the Monza circuit, though he was awarded the championship posthumously.


During the 1971 season, Ecclestone was approached by Ron Tauranac, owner of the Brabham team, who was looking for a suitable business partner. Ecclestone made him an offer of £100,000 for the whole team, which Tauranac eventually accepted. The Australian stayed on as designer and to run the factory. Colin Seeley was briefly brought in against Tauranac's wishes to assist in design and management.

Ecclestone and Tauranac were both dominant personalities and Tauranac left Brabham early in the 1972 season. The team achieved little during 1972, as Ecclestone moulded the team to fit his vision of a Formula One team. He abandoned the highly successful customer car production business established by Jack Brabham and Tauranac – reasoning that to compete at the very front in Formula One you must concentrate all of your resources there. For the 1973 season, Ecclestone promoted Gordon Murray to chief designer. The young South African produced the triangular cross-section BT42, the first of a series of Ford-powered cars with which the Brabham team would take several victories in 1974 and 1975 with Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace.

Reutemann ecclestone
Ecclestone (right) with Carlos Reutemann at the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix

Despite the increasing success of Murray's nimble Ford-powered cars, Ecclestone signed a deal with Alfa Romeo to use its powerful but heavy flat-12 engine from the 1976 season. Although this was financially beneficial, the new BT45s were unreliable and the Alfa engines rendered them significantly overweight. The 1976 and 1977 seasons saw Brabham fall towards the back of the field again, before winning two races again in the 1978 season when Ecclestone signed the Austrian double world champion Niki Lauda, intrigued by Murray's radical BT46 design.

The Brabham-Alfa era ended in 1979, the team's first season with the up-and-coming young Brazilian Nelson Piquet when Alfa Romeo started testing its own Formula One car during that season. This prompted Ecclestone to revert to Cosworth DFV engines – a move Murray described as "like having a holiday".

Piquet formed a close and long-lasting relationship with Ecclestone and the team, losing the title after a narrow battle with Alan Jones in 1980 and eventually winning in 1981 and 1983. In the summer of 1981 Brabham had tested a car powered by a BMW turbo engine, and 1982's new BT50 was powered by BMW's turbocharged four-cylinder M10. Brabham continued to run the Ford-powered BT49D in the early part of the season while reliability and driveability issues were sorted out by BMW and its technical partner Bosch. Ecclestone and BMW came close to splitting before the turbo car duly took its first win at the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix but the partnership took the first turbo-powered world championship in 1983.

The team continued to be competitive until 1985. At the end of the year, Piquet left after seven years. He was unhappy with the money that Ecclestone was willing to offer him and went to Williams where he would win his third championship. The following year, Murray, who since 1973 had designed cars that had scored 22 GP wins, left Brabham to join McLaren. Brabham continued under Ecclestone's leadership to the end of the 1987 season, in which the team scored only eight points. BMW withdrew from Formula One after the 1987 season.

Having bought the team from Ron Tauranac for approximately $120,000 at the end of 1971, Ecclestone eventually sold it for over US$5 million to a Swiss businessman, Joachim Luhti in 1988.

Formula One executive

Michael Schumacher Bernie Ecclestone September 1991
Michael Schumacher meeting Ecclestone in September 1991 at a sportscar race at Magny-Cours, France (Ecclestone's then-wife Slavica on the right)

In parallel to his activities as team owner, Ecclestone formed the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) in 1974 with Frank Williams, Colin Chapman, Teddy Mayer, Ken Tyrrell, and Max Mosley. He became increasingly involved with his roles at FISA and the FOCA in the 1970s, in particular with negotiating the sport's television rights, in his decades-long advocacy for team control.

Ecclestone became chief executive of FOCA in 1978 with Mosley as his legal adviser; together, they negotiated a series of legal issues with the FIA and Jean-Marie Balestre, culminating in Ecclestone's famous coup, his securing the right for FOCA to negotiate television contracts for the Grands Prix. For this purpose Ecclestone established Formula One Promotions and Administration, giving 47% of television revenues to teams, 30% to the FIA, and 23% to FOPA (i.e. Ecclestone himself); in return, FOPA put up the prize money – grand prix could literally be translated from French as "great prize".

Television rights shuffled between Ecclestone's companies, teams, and the FIA in the late 1990s, but Ecclestone emerged on top again in 1997 when he negotiated the fourth Concorde Agreement: in exchange for annual payments, he maintained the television rights.

Also in 1978, Ecclestone hired Sid Watkins as official Formula One medical doctor. Following the crash at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix, Watkins demanded that Ecclestone provide better safety measures, which were provided at the next race. This way, Formula One began to improve safety, decreasing the number of deaths and serious injuries along the decades.

At the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, following Ayrton Senna's fatal accident but while Senna was still alive, Ecclestone inadvertently misinformed Senna's family that Senna had died. Ecclestone had used a walkie-talkie to ask Sid Watkins - who was at the crash scene - about Senna's condition. Over the static of the walkie-talkie, Ecclestone misheard Watkins' response of "His head" as "He's dead". Based on this, Ecclestone told Senna's brother Leonardo, who was attending the race, that Senna had died. Senna in fact remained biologically alive for several more hours. This misunderstanding caused a rift in the hitherto friendly relations between Ecclestone and the Senna family; although Ecclestone travelled to Sâo Paulo at the time of Senna's funeral, he did not attend the funeral itself, instead watching it on television at his hotel.

Despite heart surgery and triple coronary bypass in 1999, Ecclestone remained as energetic as always in promoting his own business interests. In the late 1990s he reduced his share in SLEC Holdings (owner of the various F1 managing firms) to 25%, though despite his minority share he retained complete control of the companies.

Ecclestone came under fire in October 2004 when he and British Racing Drivers' Club president Jackie Stewart were unable to come to terms regarding the future British Grand Prix, causing the race to be dropped from the 2005 provisional season calendar. Negotiations with Ecclestone to keep the race in Formula One ended in the signing of a contract on 9 December to guarantee the continuation of the British Grand Prix for the following five years. In mid-November 2004, the three banks comprising Speed Investments, which owns a 75% share in SLEC, which in turn controls Formula One – Bayerische Landesbank, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Lehman Brothers – sued Ecclestone for more control over the sport, prompting speculation that Ecclestone might altogether lose the control he had maintained for more than 30 years.

A two-day hearing began on 23 November. After the proceedings ended the following day, Justice Andrew Park announced his intention to reserve ruling for several weeks. On 6 December 2004, Park read his verdict, stating that "In [his] judgment it is clear that Speed's contentions are correct and [he] should therefore make the declarations which it requests." However, Ecclestone insisted that the verdict – seen almost universally as a legal blow to his control of Formula One – would mean "nothing at all". He stated his intention to appeal against the decision. The following day, at a meeting of team bosses at Heathrow Airport in London, Ecclestone offered the teams a total of £260,000,000 over three years in return for unanimous renewal of the Concorde Agreement, which expired in 2008. Two weeks later, Gerhard Gribkowsky, a board member of Bayerische Landesbank and the chairman of SLEC, said that the banks had no intention to remove Ecclestone from his position of control.

Ecclestone saw 14 of 20 cars pull out of the 2005 United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The seven teams which refused to participate, stating concern over the safety of their Michelin tyres, requested rule changes and/or a change to the track configuration. Despite a series of meetings between Ecclestone, Max Mosley, and the team principals, no compromise was reached by race time, and Ecclestone became an object of the public's frustration at the resultant six-car race. Despite him not having caused the problem, fans and journalists blamed him for failing to take control and enforce a solution, given the position of power in which he had placed himself.

On 25 November 2005 CVC Capital Partners announced it was to purchase both the Ecclestone shares of the Formula One Group (25% of SLEC) and Bayerische Landesbank's 48% share (held through Speed Investments). This left Alpha Prema owning 71.65% of the Formula One Group. Ecclestone used the proceeds of this sale to purchase a stake in this new company (the exact ratio of the CVC/Ecclestone shareholding is unknown). On 6 December Alpha Prema acquired JP Morgan's share of SLEC to increase its ownership of Formula One to 86%; the remaining 14% was held by Lehman Brothers.

On 21 March 2006 the EU competition authorities approved the transaction subject to CVC selling Dorna, which controls the rights to MotoGP. CVC announced the completion of the transaction on 28 March. CVC acquired Lehman Brothers' share at the end of March 2006. On 21 July 2007, Ecclestone announced in the media that he would be open to discussing the purchase of Arsenal Football Club. As a close friend to former director of Arsenal David Dein, it was believed that the current board of the north London–based football club would prefer to sell to a British party, this after American-based investment company KSE headed by Stan Kroenke was thought to be preparing a £650 million takeover bid for Arsenal Holdings plc.

The revenue sharing with the various teams, the Concorde Agreement, expired on the last day of 2007, and the contract with the FIA expired on the last day of 2012.

After the loss of Silverstone as the venue for the British Grand Prix in 2008, Ecclestone came under fire from several high-profile names for his handling of Formula One's revenues. Damon Hill blamed Formula One Management as a key factor in the loss of the event: "There's always been the question of the FOM fee, and ultimately that is the deciding factor. To quote Bernie, he once said: 'You can have anything you like, as long as you pay too much for it,' but we can't pay too much for something ... The problem is money goes out and away. There's a question whether that money even returns to Formula One." Flavio Briatore also criticised FOM: "Nowadays Ecclestone takes 50% of all revenues, but we are supposed to be able to reduce our costs by 50%".

Ecclestone was removed from his position as chief executive of Formula One Group on 23 January 2017, following its takeover by Liberty Media in 2016.

Other activities

In 1996, Ecclestone's International Sportsworld Communicators signed a 14-year agreement with the FIA for the exclusive broadcasting rights for 18 FIA championships. In 1999, the European Commission investigated FIA, ISC and FOA for abusing dominant position and restricting competition. As a result, in early 2000 the ISC and FIA made a new agreement to reduce the number of rights packages to two, the World Rally and Regional Rally Championships. In April 2000 Ecclestone sold ISC to a group led by David Richards.

On 17 June 2005, Ecclestone made American headlines with his reply to a question about Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish at the Indianapolis 500, during an interview with Indianapolis television station WRTV: "She did a good job, didn't she? Super. Didn't think she'd be able to make it like that. You know, I've got one of these wonderful ideas that women should be all dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances." Following Patrick's 2008 victory at Twin Ring Motegi, Ecclestone personally sent her a congratulatory letter.

On 7 January 2010, it was announced that Ecclestone had, together with Genii Capital, submitted a bid for Swedish car brand Saab Automobile.

Queens Park Rangers

On 3 September 2007, it was announced that Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore had bought Queens Park Rangers (QPR) Football Club. In December 2007, they were joined as co-owners by businessman Lakshmi Mittal, the fifth richest person in the world, who bought 20% of the club.

On 17 December 2010 it was announced that Ecclestone had purchased the majority of shares from Flavio Briatore becoming the majority shareholder with 62% of the shares. It was announced on 18 August 2011 that Ecclestone and Briatore had sold their entire shareholding in the club to Tony Fernandes, known for his ownership of the Caterham Formula 1 team.

Tom Bower biography

In 2011, Faber and Faber published Tom Bower's biography No Angel: The Secret Life of Bernie Ecclestone, which was written with Ecclestone's co-operation. Bower's previous exposé biographies of figures such as Robert Maxwell led commentators such as Bryan Appleyard, writing for the New Statesman, to express surprise over Ecclestone's co-operation.

The book recounts an episode at the 1979 Argentine Grand Prix in which Colin Chapman offered Mario Andretti $1000 to push Ecclestone into a hotel swimming pool in Buenos Aires. A nervous Andretti approached Ecclestone and confessed the plot, to which Ecclestone replied: "Pay me half and you can".

Personal life

The Forbes World's Billionaires List of 2021 estimated Ecclestone's net worth at $3.5 billion. As of 2021, The Sunday Times Rich List ranks him as the 65th richest person in the UK with an estimated net worth of £2.5 billion.

In early 2004, he sold one of his London residences in Kensington Palace Gardens, never having lived in it, to Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal for £57.1 million. At Grand Prix venues, Ecclestone used a grey mobile home, known as "Bernie's bus", as his headquarters. In 2005, Ecclestone sold his £9 million yacht Va Bene to his friend Eric Clapton.

Terry Lovell published a biography of Ecclestone, Bernie's Game: Inside the Formula One World of Bernie Ecclestone in March 2003 after legal issues had delayed its publication from its original date of November 2001.

Ecclestone turned down a knighthood in the early 2000s as he did not believe that he deserved it. In a 2019 interview, he stated that if he had brought some good to the country, he was glad, but he did not set out with this purpose in mind, so did not deserve recognition.


Ecclestone has been married three times. With first wife Ivy, he has a daughter, Deborah, through whom he is a great-grandfather. He has five grandchildren — two granddaughters and three grandsons.

Ecclestone had a 17-year relationship with Tuana Tan, which ended in 1984 when Slavica Radić, later his second wife, became pregnant.

Ecclestone was then married to Yugoslav-born former Armani model Radić for 23 years. The couple have two daughters, Tamara (born 1984) and Petra (born 1988). In 2008, Slavica Ecclestone filed for divorce. Slavica settled their divorce amicably with her receiving a reported $1 to 1.5 billion settlement. The divorce was granted on 11 March 2009.

In April 2012, Ecclestone announced his engagement to 35-year-old Fabiana Flosi, vice-president of marketing for the Brazilian Grand Prix; the couple married in August the same year. She is 46 years his junior. In April 2020, it was revealed the pair were expecting a son due weeks before Ecclestone's 90th birthday. Ecclestone announced the birth of Alexander Charles Ecclestone (Ace) on 1 July 2020.

Al'Khalifa Putin Ecclestone
Ecclestone with King of Bahrain Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah and Russian President Vladimir Putin on tribunes of the races Formula One in Sochi. 12 October 2014

Complete Formula One World Championship results


Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 WDC Points
1958 B C Ecclestone Connaught Type B Alta Straight-4 ARG MON

Awards and honours

See also

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