Bernard Charles Ecclestone also known as the Baron Formula 1 or F1 Supremo. He is a British businessman and was the former CEO of the Formula One Group, which manages Formula One motor racing and controls the commercial rights to the sport.
Bernard Ecclestone was born on 28 October 1930 in St Peter, South Elmham to Sidney Ecclestone and Bertha Sophia. His father was a fisherman, whose family was originally from Kent. He completed his primary school education at Wissett in Suffolk. Later the family moved to Danson Road, Bexleyheath, southeast London, in 1938.
Ecclestone finished secondary schooling from Dartford West Central Secondary School and at the age of 16, Bernie Ecclestone started a job as an assistant in the chemical laboratory at the local gasworks. He studied chemistry at the Woolwich Polytechnic and had a great passion for motorcycles.
His racing career started during the 1958 season when he entered two Grand Prix races but failed to qualify in both races. He became the manager of drivers Stuart Lewis-Evans and Jochen Rindt. He purchased the Brabham team in 1972 and successfully ran it for 15 years. By virtue of owning a team, he also became a member of the Formula One Constructors Association.
His involvement in the sport was mostly financial but due to the sale of Television Rights in the late 70s under the terms of the Concorde Agreement, he was also controlling the administration, setup, and logistics of each Grand Prix and became a very wealthy man.
He was replaced by Chase Carey as the CEO of the Formula One Group in 2017. He however continued to be involved in the game as chairman emeritus and acted as an adviser to the board. He also owned the English football club Queens Park Rangers between 2007 and 2011.
Bernie Ecclestone as F1 Boss
Post World War II Bernie Ecclestone started business trading in spare parts for motorcycles. He formed a company Compton & Ecclestone motorcycle dealership in partnership with Fred Compton. He acquired a Cooper Mk V in 1951. His first race happened in 1949 in the 500cc Formula 3 Series.
Though participating in a limited number of races in the local circuit, Brands Hatch, he achieved success occasionally and achieved good placing. He however retired from racing to focus on his business dreams. Bernie Ecclestone left racing after an accident but made hefty sums by making investments in property and loan financing and managing the Weekend Car Auctions firm.
He became the manager of driver Stuart Lewis-Evans and also bought two chassis from the disbanded Connaught Formula One team. Ecclestone tried unsuccessfully to qualify a car at the Monaco Race in 1958.
Bernie Ecclestone also participated in the British Grand Prix and asked Jack Fairman to race his car. He then started to manage the Vanwall team but continued to manage Lewis Evans. Tragedy struck at the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix when the engine of the car driven by Lewis-Evans exploded. Lewis-Evans suffered third-degree burns and succumbed to their injuries a week later. The tragedy severely affected Ecclestone and he once again retired from racing.
He became the manager of driver Jochen Rindt and the partial owner of Rindt’s 1970 Lotus Formula 2 team. Again tragedy struck when Jochen Rindt died in a crash at the Monza circuit, though he was awarded the championship posthumously.
In the 1971 season, Ecclestone purchased the Brabham team whose owner was Ron Tauranac. Ecclestone offered £100,000 for the whole team, which Tauranac eventually accepted. Tauranac continued to function as the designer and to run the factory. Tauranac eventually left Brabham early in the 1972 season.
Ecclestone revamped the Brabham team and the key to the team’s later success was roping in of the young South African, Gordon Murray as chief designer. The team designed the triangular cross-section BT42 which was the first of the Ford-powered carsThe redesigned cars achieved numerous stunning wins in 1974 and 1975 with Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace.
The success of the Ford-powered cars did not stop Ecclestone from signing a deal with Alfa Romeo to use its powerful but heavy flat-12 engine from the 1976 season. The deal was financially very good but the BT45s were unreliable and the Alfa engines too heavy. Brabham again started to falter in performance and after a lackluster 1976 and 1977 seasons, won two races in the 1978 season with the Austrian double world champion Niki Lauda behind the wheels.
Curtains came on the Brabham-Alfa era in 1979 and Alfa Romeo started testing its own Formula One car in partnership with up-and-coming young Brazilian Nelson Piquet and thus started a close and long-lasting relationship with Ecclestone and the team.
The Ecclestone- Nelson Piquet partnership continued till 1985 when Nelson Piquet parted ways. It is reported that he was unhappy with the remunerations which were being offered by Ecclestone. Nelson Piquet joined Williams where he would win his third championship. Next year Murray, who was designing cars for Brabham, parted ways and joined McLaren. Ecclestone continued to lead Brabham till the end of 1987 season. Ecclestone eventually sold his shares in Brabham for US$5 million to a Swiss businessman, Joachim Luhti in 1988.
How Much is Bernie Ecclestone’s Net Worth?
According to Forbes, Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 Baron is reported to have a net worth of $2.9 billion. This wealth was amassed primarily from his involvement in Formula One racing, including the sale of television rights and his ownership of the Brabham team.
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Bernie Ecclestone Tax Fraud Allegations
Bernie Ecclestone’s Tax Fraud Allegations first came into light in July 2022 when he was indicted for tax fraud precipitated by fraud by false representation after a file was sent by HM Revenue and Customs to the Crown Prosecution Service which charged the F1 Baron of not declaring foreign assets of ₤400 million.
The trial was scheduled to start on 22 August at Westminster Magistrates’ Court but was postponed to November 2023.
In October 2023 at Southwark Crown Court Ecclestone pleaded guilty to fraud. He also agreed to compensate £653m in back tax and fines. He was slapped with a suspended sentence of 17 months in prison.
What was Ecclestone’s role in Formula One?
Ecclestone managed the financial, administrative, and logistical aspects of Formula One racing. He owned the Brabham team and was instrumental in the sale of television rights for the sport, leading to substantial wealth.
How did Ecclestone start his career in racing?
Ecclestone began his career trading in motorcycle spare parts and later participated in the 500cc Formula 3 Series. He also managed various drivers and owned the Brabham team for a period.
What is Bernie Ecclestone’s net worth?
According to Forbes, Bernie Ecclestone has a reported net worth of $2.9 billion.
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