Bernie Ecclestone has tongues wagging in the F1 paddock after declaring that formula one is set to be sold within three months. F1 legend and Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told APA news agency he has "no idea" why the F1 supremo has gone public with the news now. "In principle, a sale does not affect us," he said before travelling to Sochi, "but why he is talking about it now is a mystery."
One theory is that Ecclestone's comments could be a precursor to Dietrich Mateschitz - who is currently threatening to pull his two teams out over the engine crisis - taking over F1. Lauda doesn't think so. Others think Ecclestone could be flagging his decision to finally step down from his post.
But the diminutive Briton's old sparring partner, Max Mosley, doubts that too. "I think whatever happens, if it is taken over, I don't see Bernie's role changing unless he wants it to change because he is the person who has managed to sell it everywhere," the former FIA president is quoted by the Mirror.
Mika Hakkinen, the famous Finn and former double world champion, agrees. "It (Ecclestone retiring) seems completely unreal," he said. "Bernie made formula one what it is today, turning it into a huge business with enormous entertainment value."
German racing legend and official Hans-Joachim Stuck is not so sure, agreeing that while Ecclestone has been crucial to F1's success, "Everything has a time factor, and that goes for Bernie as well. I think if he's talking about the sale, from my point of view that could mean he has recognised that it might be the time for something new. Times are changing, Bernie is getting older, and although I was a bit surprised to hear what he said, I am happy that he is perhaps thinking ahead to a time when he will no longer be with us," he is quoted by Speed Week.
Former driver turned pundit Marc Surer, meanwhile, said: "We know nothing concrete -- this is all speculation." But as for the rumours that Ecclestone is shaping up to step down, he told the German broadcaster Sky: "If I'm honest, I can't imagine Ecclestone voluntarily handing over his power. Like everyone, I'm waiting to see what is coming, but I don't think it will be a huge revolution," Surer concluded. (GMM)
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