Bernie is Out but the Future’s Bright

McLaren’s Executive Director Zak Brown has recently taken a moment to offer a fond farewell to Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone. Brown offers a nostalgic look back while still keeping his eyes on the horizon.

Well. That’s it, Bernie is officially out. The four decade-long career that has shaped a global motorsport is finally at a close. Liberty Media have offered an official statement on Monday naming Chase Carey as Ecclestone’s official replacement. As their takeover of the Formula One Group nears its close, it has a lot of people talking: just how much of a game-changer will 2017 be for F1? Brown was eager to chime in:

“Bernie will be a very hard act to follow, but he’s created a fantastic springboard from which Chase Carey and his Liberty Media colleagues will be able to take Formula 1 forward and make it even bigger and even better.

How will ‘bigger and better’ manifest itself? I think the clue is in the words ‘liberty’ and ‘media’. Over the next decade, I expect the way Formula 1 is run will become both freer and more fan-friendly, and as such we can expect to see new generations of Formula 1 devotees recruited and delighted via the proactive embracing of digital and social media, gaming etc.” – Zak Brown

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27: Chase Carey, Chairman of Formula One Group walks in the Paddock ahead of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Pasquale Lattuneddu of FOM before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 27: Chase Carey, Chairman of Formula One Group walks in the Paddock ahead of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Pasquale Lattuneddu of FOM before the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Sure, the sport wouldn’t be what it is today without Bernie, but Brown’s right on the money when it comes to F1’s fan engagement. Look at at the majority of world-famous sports – regardless of if a motor is involved or not. The most successful ones do their best to not only capture new fans, but retain them. If they’re not watching the sport, they’re talking about it or eagerly awaiting the next match. And if they’re not doing that, chances are they’re killing an evening in an adrenaline-fueled match online with other competitors.  Point being, F1 has some stairs to climb and many avenues to tap into.

Only time will tell if Liberty Media are up for the job.