According to Autoweek, multiple outlets across Europe confirmed Liberty's purchase, claiming the American company is spending $8.5 billion to take control of the world's top tier of open-wheel racing. Liberty owns multiple communications and entertainment ventures, including the Atlanta Braves baseball team. Autoweek, citing The Sunday Times, said Liberty's acquisition of F1 would be a two-stage affair, with the 85-year-old Ecclestone retaining his position as CEO during phase one. Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport, Ecclestone said, "It is my decision what role I take." But that might only be Bernie's decision in step one – phase two could see Formula E boss Alejandro Agag take the reins.
While it sounds crazy considering his dominance of the sport, Ecclestone told The Sunday Times he'll "say adios" if he isn't a fan of the "noises" coming from Liberty Media. Here's hoping Liberty makes a lot of noise, and soon.
So, what will it mean for F1 if Liberty takes over, aside from everyone's least favorite CEO maybe losing his job? According to ESPN, the US-based Liberty would turn its attention to F1's traditionally weak position in the states, boosting marketing in a bid to raise awareness of the sport. The company has tie-ins with Time Warner, Viacom, and SiriusXM to leverage. But beyond increasing F1's US presence, Liberty Media boss John Malone may centralize the sport's marketing and promotional operations around the globe. Host tracks are generally responsible for promoting races – and keeping F1 in the public consciousness beyond the race weekend. Before we can know for certain what Liberty Media's plans are, the company needs to complete its purchase – expect to hear more on that front soon.