F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone concedes that the bribery case surrounding the sale of the series to equity firm CVC could bring his time at the helm of the sport to an end
Ecclestone allegedly paid a $44m bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to push through the sale to CVC in 2006. Gribkowsky was arrested in January 2011 and while he has not been charged, Ecclestone is being investigated by authorities. Ecclestone does not deny making the payment but says it was not a bribe.
The Briton admits that the case could see him lose his role but does not believe that revelations that CVC have asked a head-hunting firm to draw up a list of possible replacements means he will be asked to step down if charges are not filed.
“[CVC] will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up,” he told the Telegraph.
“They said they had hired a head-hunter to find somebody in the event that I was not going to be there - if I was going to die or something. It is the normal thing they do to keep people happy,” he added.
Ecclestone’s comments come in the wake of remarks from Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo that changes need to be made.
“If Bernie is accused under process, I think he will be the first to give a step back in the interests of Formula One,” said the Italian.
“The era of the one-man show cannot continue. We are slowly approaching the end of a period characterised by the style of one man who has done significant things.”
Ecclestone has run the sport’s operating company, Formula One Management, for almost 40 years.
Sir Jackie Stewart has rubbished suggestions that Red Bull team principal Christian Horner could replace Ecclestone, instead tipping an outsider in the form of Ian Todd, president of ISG, for the post.
“I doubt very much [Ecclestone’s replacement] will be anybody in the F1 paddock and I don’t think it should be. I think they should go out and head-hunt the best of all,” he said.