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Bernie Ecclestone wanted another year at the top of F1

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone said he would have liked to stay on as Formula One's CEO for another year, but insists he does not feel let down by the sport's new owners Liberty Media.

When Liberty took full control of F1 in January, Ecclestone was given the role of chairman emeritus and former 21st Century Fox executive Chase Carey was installed as the sport's new CEO. Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the start of the new season, Ecclestone, who believed he would stay at the top of the sport for another three years, was asked if he felt let down by the situation.

"Not at all," he said. "I know the way the world operates."

But Ecclestone said he would have waited at least one year before making major changes to the top level management if he had been in Liberty's position.

"I would have asked them to work with me for a bit, wait for a year and afterwards say 'has it worked, not worked?' 'Not worked? Sorry, you'll have to leave,' or whatever.

"But different people operate companies differently, obviously. I think this is very much the way American companies operate. Let's be absolutely sensible about it: they bought the car, they wanted to drive it."

Under Liberty's ownership, Formula One will focus on the long-term growth of the sport in key markets rather than the year-to-year profit margins previous owners CVC Capital had prioritised. Ecclestone said Carey is now in a position to experiment with new ideas that were not possible when he was running the sport.

"I'm envious of him because he can do some of the things that I wanted to do and couldn't do because I was here to run the company and make it profitable," Ecclestone added. "That's what my job was as chief executive.

"I think he's got the luxury of maybe not having to worry about those things, but maybe he thinks that he can make the fans happy. But the only way you really make them happy is to have good competition.

"The product that we have had is not a product that is easy to sell and therefore it's not easy for people to embrace. But if this year the racing is good, it will be easier for sure. And that's what I hope happens."

Ecclestone also defended his recent record as F1's CEO, saying he is the reason the sport was worth the $8.5 billion price tag Liberty paid.

"I think people have got muddled up a bit," Ecclestone added. "These people have thought and said, and Chase has said, that I hadn't done a very good job in the last three years. I thought I had, CVC thought I had, and I managed to produce $1.5 billion-a-year income, which made their shares worth a lot of money. Maybe if I'd have done a lousy job people could have bought the shares cheaper."

Ecclestone also confirmed he would attend "at least half" of this year's races in his new role as chairman emeritus.