Skip to main content

Ecclestone: 'I'll run F1 until I die'

From Amanda Davies and Tom McGowan, CNN
May 25, 2012 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
  • Bernie Ecclestone tells CNN he intends to run Formula One until he dies
  • The octogenarian has been running the sport for the last 30 years
  • Ecclestone hopes grands prix in France and a second race in the U.S. can be agreed
  • The 81-year-old defends the decision to host a race in Bahrain last month

(CNN) -- After more than half a century involved in motorsport, and three decades at the helm of Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone has no plans to quit just yet.

In fact, the 81-year-old has told CNN that he will be in charge for as long as he lives.

"It'll probably depend a lot (on) when I die," Ecclestone said ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix when asked about his retirement plans.

"You never know, do you, with these things. I mean, it's not my intention to do such a thing. If I thought I couldn't do all the things I do, then the answer would be then we'd certainly consider it. At the moment it's not quite like that."

Ecclestone: Formula One teams agree to race until 2020

Ecclestone announces Concorde agreement
Force India travel to Monaco
Pastor Maldonado's tour of Monaco
The magic of the Monaco Grand Prix

Despite his age, Ecclestone is keeping himself very busy -- both personally and professionally.

Earlier this month he announced his engagement to Brazilian Fabiani Flosi, 46 years his junior.

He has also set his sights on further extending Formula One's global reach, having announced an agreement with the teams to continue racing under a Concorde Agreement until 2020.

Austin, Texas will make its debut as grand prix venue in November, as the sport returns to the U.S. for the first time since 2007.

India was introduced to F1 last year, with the Russian city of Sochi set to host a race in 2014 -- the same year the Black Sea resort will stage the Winter Olympics.

"It's good to have an American base," Ecclestone said. "We are a world championship, so why not? We have races in other parts of the world so we should have maybe another race in America."

On the possibility of France hosting a race for the first time since 2008, he added: "I think maybe the election that has taken place might have put that back a bit. When that all settles down I'm sure we'll get back on track -- literally," referring to Francois Hollande's recent presidential victory.

"I think you will have to wait and see if we see more. Only time will tell."

Should Formula One be so unpredictable?

Ecclestone has been criticized for his determination to go ahead with the recent Bahrain Grand Prix, despite political unrest in the Gulf kingdom.

But Eccleston cited the riots in London as an example of how social unrest does not necessarily mean a country should forfeit its right to host a race.

We have races in other parts of the world so we should have maybe another race in America
Bernie Ecclestone

"I'd hate to lose the British race, for a start," he explained. "We've seen what happened there at the end of last year, all those disturbances and all the other things that happen all over the world.

"I don't know where we'd have to find a nice place to race where there is no problem. It wouldn't be easy."

One arena F1 has not managed to enter is the Olympic Games, but Ecclestone revealed that talks over the seemingly far-fetched possibility have been held.

"I spoke to the former president, Mr. (Juan Antonio) Samaranch, years ago about this and we decided it was wrong to have mechanical sport involved. In fact I discussed it with the new president (Jacques Rogge) a year ago.

"They keep adding things in which I don't believe are Olympic things, so maybe it's possible. It would be nice to see it happen."

The current F1 season's first five races have produced five different winners for the first time since 1983.

A major factor in the sport's current unpredictability has been the new Pirelli tires -- the team which masters the rapidly degrading rubber usually emerges victorious.

They keep adding things in which I don't believe are Olympic things so maybe it's possible
Bernie Ecclestone

Seven-time world champion and Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher has been heavily critical of the tires, telling CNN they are like driving on "raw eggs," but Ecclestone praised the work done by the Italian manufacturer.

"I asked Pirelli if they could make a tire that would only run for a third of the race, which is a lot more difficult than making a tire that will run the whole race. That's easily done; it can run five races if you like.

"But to make one that will only run that distance is difficult. They've done a fantastic job and that's what has made this racing so exciting."

When reflecting on his contribution to F1, Ecclestone was relaxed when asked if he has received enough credit for what he has given to the sport, responding: "I get what I deserve, I suppose."

And what is it that keeps the Englishman going after so long at the forefront of an ever-expanding business?

"Job satisfaction."

Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle the pressure. Susie Wolff has heard it all -- but she is determined to become the first female F1 driver in 20 years.
CNN's Amanda Davies visits the headquarters of Mercedes, the dominant team in Formula One this season.
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 0108 GMT (0908 HKT)
The big winners of this Formula One season could be road drivers rather than F1 racers, according to one former world champion.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)
The Williams team welcomes the biggest rule changes to Formula One cars for a generation.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1916 GMT (0316 HKT)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sums up the dawn of a new Formula One era in three juicy words -- weird, mind-blowing and challenging.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Formula One is taking another step in its techno evolution this season, which could be more unpredictable than it has been for a long time.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
Jann Mardenborough on the similarities and differences between driving a race on a video game and driving a real F1 car.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin watches the men's cross-country 4 x 10km relay event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ POOL/ MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
How Russian president Vladimir Putin helped turn a muddy hole in the ground into a $400 million futuristic grand prix track in Sochi.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 0013 GMT (0813 HKT)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Formula One racing director Bernie Ecclestone talk during a ceremony of signing of an agreement to bring Formula One racing to Sochi for a Grand Prix Russia to be held in 2014, the same year the Black Sea resort hosts the Winter Olympics in Sochi on October 14, 2010. Putin, whose backing was crucial in Sochi winning the right to host the Games, is due in the city on Thursday to sign an agreement for work to begin on the construction of a new 200 million dollar circuit. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Vilified by the the international community for his government's attitude on gay rights, Russian president Vladimir Putin has found an ally.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is bidding for a fifth consecutive drivers' championship in 2014.
He is Formula One's undisputed No. 1, and next season Sebastian Vettel will have proof of that fact emblazoned on his Red Bull.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
A new era of F1 looms large on the horizon in 2014, but what do the new rules mean for how we watch the sport? Get up to speed here.
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Explore our interactive of one of F1's most important and complicated pieces of kit.