F1's owners are scared Bernie Ecclestone's demise could hurt the sport.
That is the claim of the diminutive Ecclestone, who remains the F1 chief executive and 'supremo' even amid a corruption scandal that could see him jailed.
The 83-year-old likened his situation to that of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose retirement last year coincided with a decline in the great football team's form.
"I have got a sneaking feeling our board are probably football enthusiasts and saw what happened when they got rid of that guy from Manchester United," Ecclestone told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, writing in the Sunday Express.
Meanwhile, McLaren's returning supremo Ron Dennis has said he does not think Christian Horner - reportedly Ecclestone's personal pick - should succeed the 83-year-old.
"Personally, and I have nothing against either Christian or any other team principal," Dennis told British Sky television, "I don't think it would be a wise decision to put any former team principal into the position of running formula one.
"There's too much conflict," he insisted.
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