Reports indicate Bernie Ecclestone's reign over formula one is once again under threat. This year, the sport's long-standing 'supremo' survived the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption affair. But reports in the Financial Times (FT), The Times and by the Sky broadcaster this week claim that Paul Walsh is being lined up as chairman of the F1 board.
It is a move that could reportedly "signal the beginning of the end of Bernie Ecclestone's control" of the sport. "A board meeting is being scheduled for early next week to discuss Mr Walsh replacing Nestle chairman Peter Brabeck, who has been F1 board chairman for two years, according to people with knowledge of the situation," wrote FT correspondent Roger Blitz.
He added that Brabeck is currently undergoing medical treatment. Walsh stepped down as chief executive of Diageo, the owner of McLaren sponsor Johnnie Walker, earlier this year. FT said F1's controlling shareholder CVC wants Walsh to take on some "executive duties in addition to chairing the board", which could see "Ecclestone's role as chief executive marginalised".
Ecclestone, 84, was quoted as saying he "wouldn't have a problem" with Walsh taking up a role. "If it was something positive, I'd be delighted," he added.
CVC chief Donald Mackenzie is thought to be behind the impending change, with Blitz saying he wants "a more professional approach to the running of" the sport. "In particular, Mr Mackenzie was worried about F1's digital, commercial and PR strategy," the Financial Times added, saying Ecclestone could be retained "in an honorary capacity". "Mr Ecclestone said that was not a role he envisaged," Blitz noted. (GMM)