Former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has once again embarrassed the racing series with the fierce defense of Vladimir Putin. With the statement that he would still “go through fire” for the Kremlin boss, Ecclestone only expressed a “personal view”, Formula 1 emphasized on Thursday. The opinion of the 91-year-old is “in very clear contrast to the position of modern values in our sport,” it said in a statement before the Silverstone race.
Ecclestone had previously irritated with an appearance on a morning TV show. By invading Ukraine, Putin merely did what he thought was the right thing for Russia to do. The Russian President is a “first-rate personality,” Ecclestone continued.
Ecclestone claimed that Putin did not willingly accept the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Ukraine with the invasion. The billionaire, on the other hand, sees responsibility for the war in the hands of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He missed speaking to Putin. “Had he thought enough about it, he would have tried to talk to Putin about it,” Ecclestone said. The Russian President is a reasonable person who listens and “did something”.
The decision by Formula 1 to exclude Russian drivers and to terminate the contract for races in Russia was also wrong. The racing series canceled the Sochi Grand Prix “with shock and sadness” one day after the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Ecclestone also defended ex-world champion Nelson Piquet, who had come under criticism for racist statements about Lewis Hamilton. The Brazilian would not say anything bad on purpose, the former Formula 1 managing director asserted. He was surprised that Hamilton would not have simply brushed the matter aside.
The three-time champion Piquet had disparaged Hamilton in an interview from last November that has only now become known. Formula 1, the world association Fia and a number of pilots and teams publicly jumped to Hamilton’s side. The 37-year-old himself tweeted: “These are outdated views that need to change and have no place in our sport.” The 69-year-old Piquet apologized for his words but denied a racist background.