Ecclestone, whose personal fortune is rated at $2.9 billion by Forbes, oversaw F1’s transformation from an amateurish operation in the 1970s to the $8 billion business formally acquired in January by new US owner Liberty Media.

“He could see where it needed to raise its game to a professional standard,” Hamilton says.

“The image was of greasy mechanics fettling old cars and Ecclestone stopped all that. All the teams had to make their cars look presentable.”

The Englishman also took the TV companies to task as he sought to optimize F1’s revenue, Hamilton says.

“If Bernie is to be remembered for any one specific thing, it was his ability to realize and maximize the effect of TV coverage of the sport.”

Instead of allowing broadcasters to cherry-pick races to televise, Ecclestone demanded they sign deals that guaranteed season-long coverage.

“He made a template, if you like, for other sports to follow with regard to utilizing television to the maximum — not only for the coverage but also financially,” Hamilton adds.

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