Toto Wolff says “I wouldn’t be in Formula One without Bernie Ecclestone”, as the Mercedes motorsport boss adds to tributes to the outgoing series supremo.
Ecclestone stepped down from his role as F1 CEO in the wake of Liberty Media’s takeover of the sport, with Chase Carey replacing the 86-year-old with immediate effect.
The announcement brought an end to a momentous four-decade tenure at the helm for Ecclestone, who transformed F1 into an international franchise and financial powerhouse.
“We must pay tribute to Bernie,” Wolff told Mercedes’ official website. “It is quite amazing being 40 years at the helm of a sport.
“He spotted the opportunity that Formula One has the potential to become what it is today. He has the vision and he built an empire. He has a great ability of deal making: he just executes.”
Although there have been some disagreements between him and Ecclestone, Wolff insists he has always enjoyed a cordial relationship with the Briton and even credits him for getting into F1.
“In terms of my personal experience, I wouldn’t be in Formula One without Bernie. He supported me back in the day at Williams and, even if we had some ups and downs with Mercedes, it always stayed very amicable. We had a good relationship – although we disagreed on the business side. But that’s how it should be.
“When you stay at the top of an organisation as long as Bernie did, it is clear that it will be shaped in your image. He had the great ability of always being present. When there was a fire somewhere, even one that he might have ignited, he put it out quickly.”
GALLERY: F1 drivers’ wives and girlfriends
Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter