Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has stepped down from the board of Delta Topco Limited, holding company for the F1 franchise following his trial confirmation for bribery charges. Eight-three year-old Ecclestone has been the top boss of Formula One for the last four decades.
Ecclestone is set to stand on trial this April in Germany on charges of bribery and incitement to breach of trust, for alleged payment of $44 million as bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky. He maintains his innocence and has denied charges made against him and has vowed to 'vigorously defend the case'.
A mutual decision with the best interests of the business was reached upon by Ecclestone and the Delta Topco board of directors in an emergency meeting following the announcement.
Holding company Delta Topco Limited, released a statement saying: "After discussion with the Board, Mr Ecclestone has proposed and the Board has agreed that until the case has been concluded, he will step down as a director with immediate effect, thereby relinquishing his board duties and responsibilities until the case has been resolved.
"It is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day to day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control by the Board. Mr Ecclestone has agreed to these arrangements," the company further added.
The company has assigned contract approvals and material business arrangements with the Chairman, Mr Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, and Deputy Chairman, Mr Donald Mackenzie.
Ecclestone is also being charged by German media company Constantin Medien for a damage claim of $141M over the same incident; and another suit in the United States from Bluewater Communications Holdings, claiming it should have been sold a stake in F1.
While Ecclestone maintains that "nothing will change", as far as Formula One operations goes. Analysts see the supremo’s step-down as an end of an era and a possible hope of reforms as teams continue to complain that the owners, CVC Capital Partners don’t reinvest profits as much as they should.