The Formula 1 2023 season saw Felipe Massa and Bernie Ecclestone go back and forth over the 2008 championship title which involved the “F1 Supremo” for being aware of the “Crashgate” scandal that caused Massa to fight tirelessly. However, apart from being a part of what took the F1 world by storm, he also holds the position of a Formula 1 Group Founder.
Ecclestone is responsible for managing Formula 1 motor racing and controlling the commercial rights to the sport. Also commonly known as the “F1 Supremo” now, it was in 1958 that he first started his career as an F1 driver. After bringing his Brabham team and running it for 15 years, he became a member of the Formula One Constructors Association.
It was when the F1 group Founder managed the administration, setup, and logistics of every Grand Prix that he saw himself becoming a successful and one of the richest men in the United Kingdom. However, it would all soon come crashing down for him after being convicted of tax fraud by false representation. He was sentenced to 17 months in prison.
Bernie Ecclestone and his billion-dollar fortune
Although he was convicted of tax fraud and was soon put away for 17 months, it did not shake up the founder of one of the biggest sports. Although he was one of the high profilers in the sport, he was blamed and put under fire for the loss that came out of the Silverstone venue during the 2008 British GP. There are also multiple scandals in F1 that he had his name involved in.
📰: Felipe Massa’s absence from the Brazilian GP looms due to his ongoing legal challenge regarding the 2008 F1 title. Massa believes a conspiracy led to his loss to Lewis Hamilton and has brought in lawyers to evaluate court action. While previously steering clear of F1… pic.twitter.com/u0LC84LB8R
— F1 Naija (@f1_naija) November 1, 2023
He was said to be involved in the Great Train Robbery which ensued with almost $62 million being stolen from a Royal Mail train. Ecclestone was also involved in a political controversy that involved a pledge to ban tobacco and tobacco advertising in Formula 1. The F1 Supremo was also involved in accepting bribes and was accused as a co-perpetrator.
Apart from these, he has also been caught possessing illegal firearms and has made inappropriate comments on diversity and racism. He first sold F1 to Liberty Media for $9 billion. After his fraud ruling, Ecclestone had a net worth of $4.4 billion which made him the 73rd richest man in the UK.
How Liberty Media changed F1 after Ecclestone’s exit
While Formula 1 has started growing in popularity with each passing day and the addition of Las Vegas GP helping the sport only bring more viewers from the US, it seems that Liberty Media is to thank for the huge growth in the sport.
Liberty Media brought in many various ways of promoting Formula 1 as a sport internationally. This also brought the birth of F1 TV and the Netflix all-access pass which includes the classic Drive to Survive that gives fans a deeper look into the drivers, teams, and team principals. However, fans were also upset to say goodbye to the grid girls after having them around as they watched some of the legends race against each other.
Another thing that Formula 1 saw the entry of, and many were not a fan of it, was the budget caps and financial restrictions. Although the restrictions may have caused a little boredom, Liberty Media knew exactly what to do as they glitz and glamoured the helmets and introduced special liveries that the drivers could flaunt on the tracks.
Even Bernie Ecclestone, the person who transformed F1 into an international money making machine, sees through the forthcoming race:
“I’m not really looking forward to it. Why not? It has nothing to do with Formula 1.” pic.twitter.com/YEMNMruA0O
— Simon Dau (@there_is_no_if) November 13, 2023
After Bernie Ecclestone sold F1 to Liberty Media, the calendars seemed to have been stretched with 23 races in a season and 24 in the upcoming season and Red Bull having the biggest dominance rate. The 2023 Formula 1 season also saw the entry of Sprint Races again as drivers got to race and get a few additional points before the big race on Sunday.
Ecclestone’s huge fortune came from the sale but with the longevity of the sport and the continuous growth that it has been under, it seems it will only keep getting increasingly expensive.