Dec.17 (GMM/ Paul Walsh is no longer a threat to Bernie Ecclestone’s long reign over formula one.

Specialist reports in the Financial Times and The Times newspapers said former Diageo chief Walsh, hotly tipped to become the sport’s new chairman over the last few days, has now “walked away”.

Asked last week about claims Walsh intended to “rein in” Ecclestone’s controversial management style, the 84-year-old F1 supremo had fired: “First he’s got to be appointed, hasn’t he?”

A source has now told the London newspaper The Times: “Paul only wanted to take it on if there was complete accountability and authority. There was neither and he did not want to be simply a puppet or figurehead.”

Although CVC did not comment, the news is interpreted as a blow to F1’s major shareholder as Donald Mackenzie had seriously courted Walsh for the role.

The F1 teams may also be disappointed, as backmarkers collapse, disputes over income and engines rage, and sponsorship and audience numbers decline.

An unnamed team boss said: “We are all back where we started and it looks as though nothing is going to change.”