Bernie Ecclestone has issued his strongest defence yet amid continuing suggestions the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery affair could also claim the F1 supremo’s scalp.
81-year-old F1 chief executive Ecclestone said in no uncertain terms that the convicted former banker’s bribery claims are “wrong”.
“It’s false,” Ecclestone is quoted by the German newsmagazine Focus. “The court did what it needed to do … but the man is lying,” he insisted.
Ecclestone has said consistently he paid Gribkowsky the millions because he was being “shaken down” relating to his British tax affairs.
“I am a businessman,” said the Briton. “I am always weighing up between opportunity, risk and hassle.”
Although there are rumours some in the sport are nervous about the potential association with corruption, Ecclestone said his removal as F1’s chief executive would be counterproductive.
“For over 40 years,” said Ecclestone, his partners have “trusted my handshake”. “There are no corrupt practices in Formula One,” he insisted.
Ecclestone also denied the link between the scandal and F1’s delayed floatation, even if he admits the Gribkowsky situation has been “not very helpful”.