Next F1 CEO could be a woman

We had an interesting, if not entirely intentional, debate here on JA on F1 over the weekend about women drivers in F1 and today F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given an interview to the official F1 website in which he says that he envisages that Formula 1 could have a female CEO, “probably in three to five years" from now.

He builds up to this by saying that,

“I am sure that not so long from now 50 percent of the decision makers in the economy and politics will be women. Women have always had a strong influence, and have probably been in the background for too long.

“I do (think women have a different approach to making decisions) I think that women don’t get trapped so easily in their own ego. Women don’t have to play golf to make deals, they simply have to work harder to get the same acceptance as men. As their egos don’t stand in their way they decide things less emotionally and in the end that serves the cause."

This is no throwaway tongue in cheek line, as Ecclestone is minded to chuck out there sometimes (and as he does in this interview about making artificial rain during races!!). There is some substance to it. Ecclestone has some very savvy women around him in FOM, in key roles, particularly his lawyer Sacha Woodward-Hill, who is also believed to be a shareholder in the F1 holding company and Allsport executive Judith Griggs. I’ve heard on the jungle drums for the last six months or so that Woodward-Hill is a name that Ecclestone has put forward on occasions as a possible candidate to take over from him as CEO and he may have her in mind when he made today’s comments.

I’ve met her in the F1 paddock, but you’ll struggle to find a picture of her anywhere, she keeps a low profile.

As for timescales, you can take the three to five years reference as you want; Ecclestone is the CEO, there has long been a call for a succession plan and various names have been bandied around. Ecclestone himself is 80 years old and has always said he’ll never retire, but who knows what he is thinking? Anyone who says they know for sure what Bernie thinks is kidding themselves, as anyone close to him will tell you.

Since CVC took 75% of the business, he has done a lot of work securing long term deals on the TV side and on the circuits side as well as increasing the number of official partners like DHL, LG Electronics and UBS.

One other note of interest; Ecclestone says in the same interview that he and FIA president Jean Todt have agreed that if the Bahrain GP is to be rescheduled, they’d like to get the date set before the season starts. James Allen on F1