Bernie Ecclestone has seen his fortune dwindle over the past year

F1 business mogul Bernie Ecclestone. Photo / Getty Images
F1 business mogul Bernie Ecclestone. Photo / Getty Images

F1 has had enough drama to start the year.

From the widely denounced new qualifying system trialled in Melbourne but scrapped after only one grand prix to an electric opening in China that saw Sebastian Vettel lash out at Daniil Kvyat for his "suicidal tactics", there's already been plenty of talking points.

Not to mention the fact people have been lining up to criticise the sport for becoming boring because of Mercedes' dominance courtesy of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

So F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has had enough on his plate without worrying about his own personal problems.

But the business mogul might start worrying now following the release of the annual Sunday Times Rich List for 2016, which lists Britain's 1000 wealthiest people.

The list confirmed Ecclestone's personal fortune had taken an $860 million hit in the past 12 months. That is reportedly the largest cut to his wealth since he divorced from second wife Slavica in 2009, according to the Grand Prix Times.

F1's troubles have contributed to this massive dip, given that, despite selling a majority of his shares, he still owns a percentage of the Formula One Group as its chief executive.

On the whole, TV audiences have declined and questions have arisen about F1's ability to thrive in the future if new innovations can't be brought in to make it more appealing to fans.

Despite the whopping $860 million decrease in his bank balance, Ecclestone is by no means a poor man. He still came in 42nd on the Rich List with a fortune valued at $4.65 billion.

The Sunday Times Rich List takes into account people living in Britain, not just British citizens.

Three-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton made the list for the first time with a fortune valued at $206 million. He got there on the back of a recent three-year deal with Mercedes, signed for a reported $112 million not including bonuses.

Hamilton's Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and wife Susie were listed jointly, while McLaren leader Ron Dennis' $562 million also earnt him a spot among Britain's elite.

Ecclestone will be hoping the rest of 2016 proves to be more profitable, but he's been in the news for more than just his monetary woes. Last week the 85-year-old caused a stir when he suggested women drivers wouldn't be taken seriously because they weren't capable of driving quickly.

"I don't know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly and they wouldn't be taken seriously," he said at a conference in London.

He also let people know about his peculiar political preferences when he said Russian president Vladimir Putin "should be running Europe" and Donald Trump should be the US president.

"We should get rid of Brussels and he (Putin) should just be in charge," Ecclestone said. "He does what he says he's going to do, he gets the job done.

"I think (Trump) would be fantastic (as president).

"I'm sure he's much more flexible than most of them. If he's made a mistake, he's more likely to say, 'It was a good idea at the time.'"


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