Bernie Ecclestone will step down from the board of the company that controls Formula One, according to reports. The 83-year old has been at the helm of Formula One commercially four the past four decades.
Ecclestone is due to go on trial this year in Germany on charges of bribery relating to the sale of shares in Formula One to CVC capital in 2005. It is alleged that Ecclestone paid a $44 million bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is currently serving a jail sentence for having accepted the payment.
Although he will no longer be a director of F1’s holding company, Ecclestone will continue to run the sport, but with additional supervision from the board. If he is acquitted of the charges, Ecclestone can be expected to have his membership of the board reinstated.
There has been speculation for some time as to who will take over the running of Formula One when Ecclestone retires. Although he is 83 years old, Ecclestone has never expressed an intention to retire, but his advancing age makes it inevitable that his place at the helm of the sport will have to be taken by someone else in the not-too-distant future.
If Ecclestone is convicted and jailed, his successor will have to be chosen sooner than perhaps anticipated. Ecclestone has always maintained his innocence in the face of these bribery charges, but the court might disagree with him.