Bernie Ecclestone Planning To Launch Masters Racing Series Featuring Former F1 Drivers
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone "is planning to launch a masters series for former Formula One drivers following the concept which has been made popular by sports such as golf and tennis," according to Christian Sylt for FORBES. It would see "superstar drivers such as Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet return to racing and has already been endorsed by several of the leading lights from yesteryear." Ecclestone said, "A series with former drivers is a good idea. We have talked about it and it is something we ought to do. Many of these old drivers are still absolutely good enough. You would put them in the cars they used to drive." Ecclestone’s interest "was revealed by a European trademark application which was filed in February by Formula One Licensing to protect the name 'Historic Formula One.'" A masters series "would also boost F1’s revenue which would please CVC, the private equity firm which controls the race series through its parent company Delta Topco." A similar racing series, known as Grand Prix Masters, "was launched in 2005 and featured ex-F1 drivers over the age of 40, competing against each other in modern 3.5-liter single-seater cars." It "held three races" -- in South Africa, Qatar and at Silverstone. The series "was shut down in 2007 after failing to pay its bills" (FORBES, 4/16).
SPONSORSHIP GURU: In a separate piece for CITY AM, Sylt reported Ecclestone "plans to recruit a head of sponsorship this month." Sponsorship comprises 14.7%, or $225M of F1’s $1.6B annual revenue, yet "it has growth potential as it lacks partners in categories such as clothing, mobile phones and soft drinks." Ecclestone receives advice from former former IOC Marketing Dir Michael Payne, who was also the senior strategic advisor to the London 2012 Olympics, but said that "he will need closer assistance when his bribery trial begins in Germany" next Thursday. Ecclestone: "We need somebody who can sell sponsorship. Not a successor, but somebody to help me" (CITY AM, 4/15).