Plea bargain could save Ecclestone and keep him in charge of F1

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has denied reports he will strike a plea deal with Munich prosecutors to stay out of jail and in keep him at the helm of the sport.

The sport’s chief executive faces up to a ten-year custodial sentence if found guilty at the end of a trial that begins in Germany next week.

But reports in Shanghai suggest the 83-year-old actually intends to strike a mid-trial deal with prosecutors whereby he pleads guilty but stays out of jail in order to remain in charge of Formula 1.

Asked about the plea bargain reports, Ecclestone insisted: “No, not at all.

“I’m going into this trial to prove my innocence of what I’m being charged with,” he told the Telegraph.

Donald Mackenzie, the Formula 1 boss at the sport’s commercial rights owners CVC, has said that if Ecclestone is found guilty of a criminal offence, he will be sacked.

But, citing a “CVC source”, Telegraph correspondent Daniel Johnson has reported from the scene of the Chinese Grand Prix that a plea bargain “would throw up a different set of circumstances”.

Ecclestone responded: “You should ask Donald.

“What can I say?” the Briton is quoted by the Guardian newspaper. “I can’t speak for him.” (GMM)