Ferrari want teams to discuss post-Ecclestone F1

Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:09am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) - No one individual can replace Bernie Ecclestone at the helm of Formula One and teams must start planning for a very different future after the 83-year-old eventually leaves the stage, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has said.

The Italian, who has been in the sport since the mid-1970s, wants to invite team principals to a meeting at Ferrari's Maranello factory in January to discuss where Formula One is heading and what should be done.

"We are arriving a little bit at the end of a very, very important cycle and era of Formula One," the 66-year-old told reporters over a Christmas lunch at Ferrari's Fiorano test track where the team's late founder Enzo spent much of his time.

Ecclestone is facing a series of legal battles linked to a deal that brought private equity firm CVC on board as the largest shareholder eight years ago.

The billionaire Briton has no plans to stand down but what happens if he is no longer capable of running the sport or dies is an unanswered question that is becoming increasingly asked.

Ecclestone runs the commercial side of the $1 billion sport very much as a fiefdom, with no designated successor and an unwillingness to delegate.

Montezemolo raised the possibility of teams, contracted until 2020, one day setting up their own company and repeated a familiar warning that Ferrari could leave if Formula One's owners used the sport solely to make money.

"We have to discuss, because at the end of the day this is our business," said Montezemolo. "I think that after Bernie, who is unique, it's necessary to approach a different governance for the sport."   Continued...

Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone arrives at the High Court in central London November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris