Ecclestone no comment on bribe claims

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Feb.1 (GMM) During an interview with a German newspaper on Monday, Bernie Ecclestone did not want to talk about accusations of bribery and corruption.

Other publications in the country claim it was the F1 chief executive who paid under-fire banker Gerhard Gribkowsky a $50m kickback amid the sale of the sport’s commercial rights five years ago.

“On the advice of my lawyers I don’t want to say anything more on this issue,” said the 80-year-old, who has previously denied any connection with the bribe.

Ecclestone was slightly more forthcoming on the topic of the 2011 formula one season, but unlike last year – when he correctly predicted that Sebastian Vettel would win the title – he is not yet naming a favourite.

“There is the Spaniard (Fernando Alonso) in the red car who this year will not so easily accept defeat as in the last. Sebastian of course will be strong, and I trust Mercedes and Michael Schumacher to make a leap.

“Any more than that, I want to wait until after the first tests,” he insisted.

Ecclestone, however, is rarely uncontroversial in interviews, so he threw some more fuel on the fire of a spat with authorities in Melbourne.

“20 races is enough,” he answered when asked about the future of F1.

“If we have some new races, some others will fall out — we don’t need Australia, for instance.”