Mackenzie: CVC deal with F1 has been extremely difficult with constant crisis and firefighting

Bernie Ecclestone with Donald Mackenzie

Bernie Ecclestone with Donald Mackenzie

Donald Mackenzie, the highest profile figure at CVC, the owners of Formula 1, has described his company’s investment in the pinnacle of motorsport as one fraught with constant crisis.

This week, the CVC co-founder and co-chairman, who has admitted that a criminal conviction for Bernie Ecclestone would mean the Formula 1 chief executive’s demise, has been testifying in the London high court.

“Until [a conviction] happens we will give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Mackenzie, “provided it is not seriously damaging the business of Formula 1.”

Ecclestone, who is also being pursued by German prosecutors, is being sued by a German media group Constantin, claiming that the 83-year-old’s alleged bribe to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky cost the company over $100 million.

Donald Mackenzie (right) with Bernie Ecclestone and Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2006

Donald Mackenzie (right) with Bernie Ecclestone and Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2006

Mackenzie, 56, has often clashed with Ecclestone, possibly because CVC was caught by surprise by the sport’s troubled inner workings.

“It’s been an extremely difficult investment almost from start to finish,” he said, according to the BBC, adding that he thought that Ecclestone had “oversold the business”.

“It was constant crisis and firefighting.”

Mackenzie said that CVC was also caught out by the political in-fighting between the sport’s authorities and the teams.

“In that period between 2006, when we bought it, and 2009, we could not sell this company,” he said. “It was not sellable. No one wants to buy Formula 1 when there’s no Concorde Agreement signed.

Niki Lauda and Donald Mackenzie in Monaco this year

Niki Lauda and Donald Mackenzie in Monaco this year

“There was a history of anger,” explained Mackenzie. “This was like a very bad divorce. The husband and wife have been fighting each other for years and years and they could no longer see sense.”

He also admitted to reporters outside court this week that the Ecclestone corruption affair had indefinitely delayed CVC’s plans to float the sport.

But, although those plans are delayed, Mackenzie said that F1 is now in a much better state of affairs.

“Thankfully we have agreed all these terms and we now have a stable series,” he said. (GMM)

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