Horner hopeful Ecclestone stays on

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner does not believe Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One reign is coming to an end despite doubts over his position as chief executive amid a potential takeover of the sport.

Liberty Media are in talks with Formula One’s current stakeholders CVC Capital Partners over a reported $8.5billion (£6.4billion) buyout. Indeed it has been claimed that a deal could be completed as early as Tuesday.

Should Liberty, an American media company which is controlled by billionaire John Malone, complete their takeover of the sport, it is uncertain what role Ecclestone, 85, would have under the regime.

Speaking on Channel 4, Eddie Jordan, a former team owner in the sport, claimed Ecclestone may be forced to step down.

But Horner, who can be regarded as a close ally of Ecclestone, said: “There is obviously a lot of speculation going on. I sincerely hope it is not Bernie’s last race and I don’t believe it will be.

“We will all wait and see what the news is over the next couple of weeks regarding the ownership of Formula One, and if there is any change or redistribution.

“It is obvious there are discussions going on, but until something is signed and finalised everything is pure conjecture to that point.”

Ecclestone, who turns 86 next month, has been a pivotal figure in Formula One for nearly 40 years.

“Bernie has done an awesome job, and made Formula One what it is,” Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said. “He has built an empire, and we are all benefiting from that empire.

“It generates millions of live views and full race tracks, like we had today, and one and a half billion dollars in profit every year.”

But Wolff, who oversaw another one-two for his Mercedes team at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, claimed that a change in ownership could breathe new life into the sport.

“If there is an investor that wants to buy the shares, it is good news for Formula One,” Wolff added. “Maybe it is good news that an American media company buys Formula One, but I don’t know what happens in terms of the management.

“I don’t think anybody would buy that stake, spend that money, and come in and say ‘we are changing everything and we are doing it the American way’.

“There are things we can learn from the American way – particularly in digital areas – but they are going to have a close look and analyse what they think needs to be changed, improved, or what needs to remain.”

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Press Association Sport

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