By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Former chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed speculation that he might set up a rival series to Formula One and said he would never want to undermine the existing championship.
In a statement to Reuters on Friday, breaking a long silence, the 86-year-old Briton said he wished to clear up rumors that spread after he was replaced at the helm by American Chase Carey on Monday.
"I have built the championship over the last near 50 years, which is something I am proud of, and the last thing I want is to see it damaged," he said.
Ecclestone said he hoped fans appreciated that Formula One's new owners Liberty Media, who completed their takeover on Monday, intended to put money back into the sport.
"The new owner of the company will be able to carry out the administration of the company in a different way to the way I had, which was to produce financial results for the shareholders, the normal actions of a chief executive," he said.
"This I have done for the different shareholders over the last years and also when I owned 100 percent of the company.
"I would have loved the luxury of what Chase Carey, the CEO, is able to do. I hope the F1 supporters appreciate this as Chase intends to put money back into the sport."
Ecclestone has kept out of the limelight since Monday, avoiding public comments about his replacement or the end of his 40-year-reign as Formula One supremo.
He said, however, that he was touched by the support and thanks he had received from the people he had dealt with over the years.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)