FOR nearly 40 years, he showed skill and stamina at the wheel of Formula One (F1). But this week Bernie Ecclestone ran out of track. The sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, was at pains to portray its replacement of him as chief executive (by Chase Carey, a former president of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox) as smooth. But the straight-talking octogenarian has never been one to stick to the script: he complained he had been “forced out”.

Liberty, which is controlled by John Malone, a billionaire, agreed to buy the sport last year, in a deal worth $8bn; the deal was completed on January 23rd. That provided an exit for CVC, a private-equity group which had purchased control in 2006. Mr Ecclestone gets the title of “chairman emeritus” as a sop—he said he doesn’t know what the title means—and will, said Liberty, “be available” to advise the board.

His exit was not a total surprise, though the timing had been unclear; he had talked about remaining involved in running F1 for another two to three years. Liberty may wish to draw a line under the Ecclestone era as a precautionary measure. F1 was often mired in litigation during…Continue reading