Ecclestone: The power stays with me

Bernie Ecclestone says he will remain the man who calls the shots in Formula 1 regardless of who controls the 50 per cent stake not owned by the F1 supremo's own holding company

Ecclestone: The power stays with me

In an exclusive interview with Autosport's sister magazine F1 Racing, Ecclestone has denied that selling off 50 per cent of his F1 empire to the German media company EM.TV has diluted the power he holds as the boss of F1.

Head of EM.TV Thomas Haffa put together the deal to buy the stake in Ecclestone's holding company, SLEC, in March this year for £1 billion and team bosses are concerned that the share could be sold off to parties without the best interests of F1 at heart.

"EM.TV have a 50 per cent share, but no control. No control whatever," said Ecclestone. "Haffa could sell his shares to whoever he wanted, and it wouldn't make any difference because they wouldn't have any control. Their [EM.TV's] 50 per cent is like having five per cent. The control rests with the trust, and I am still the chief executive of the company that the trust own."

Favourites to buy EM.TV's share are Formula 1's participating car manufacturers. Several car companies have already bought into teams, such as Daimler Chrysler (McLaren), Renault (Benetton), Fiat (Ferrari), Ford (Jaguar) and Toyota which enters with it's own team in 2002, but they are now seeking to further increase their influence within in the sport.

The likelihood of a bid from these companies has gathered pace in recent weeks, but Ecclestone is equally unfazed by the prospect of the manufacturers becoming directly involved in the running of F1.

"Yeah, they're talking about it," said the 69 year old. "I mean, if they make a proposal, then obviously both the trust and EM.TV will look at that proposal."

Ecclestone's hold over F1 has not diminished any since EM.TV bought their share more than six months ago. Should the five main manufacturers involved in F1 go ahead with buying the stake it will cost each of them reputed £250 million.

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