Despite promising that he would be present at the race, Bernie Ecclestone did not show up at Hockenheim on Saturday.
David Tremayne wrote in the Independent that the F1 paddock had spent the day playing “where’s Bernie?”
The F1 chief executive’s absence – unusual for a European race but not unheard of – heightened speculation he is afraid of being arrested. In the days before the German grand prix weekend, local newspapers reported that Munich prosecutors are ramping up their investigation of the 81-year-old, after Gerhard Gribkowsky was convicted of accepting bribes from the diminutive Briton.
“With Mercedes-Benz stalling on a new Concorde Agreement, and sponsors watching on anxiously, no one knows quite what will happen next,” Tom Cary wrote in the Telegraph.
A source close to Ecclestone insisted he will be at Hockenheim on Sunday, and Gribkowsky’s lawyer Daniel Amelung told Deutschlandfunk radio that he doubts police will arrest him.
“If he is arrested now, jailed for a long time and acquitted at the end, the state would be subject to extremely high damages,” he said.
Bild am Sonntag newspaper, however, claims Ecclestone’s office has cancelled several meetings that were long scheduled to take place at Hockenheim this weekend.