Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has made eye-catching statements defending Russian President Vladimir Putin as the country’s troops continue their assault on Ukraine.
While most of the world has been left in shock following these latest events, Ecclestone did not seem as emotionally attached to the situation as one may expect.
In an interview with Times Radio on Friday, Ecclestone was asked about how he felt with respect to the current situation in Ukraine.
Although Putin’s actions have been condemned by a number of influential people across the world, Ecclestone chose to defend him.
The conversation started off with a question for Ecclestone pertaining to the Russian GP. The 91-year-old was asked if he felt it should be cancelled.
“I think it depends an awful lot on exactly what the state is between Ukraine and Russia. It’s not going to make any difference if there is a race in Russia to anything else that has happened in the world,” Ecclestone said.
“I suppose it is the people who are engaged in the event who would decide on it, because maybe other people think it was the right thing for Russia to do. So how can anyone else judge exactly what is happening today?”
Ecclestone then went on to detail a past encounter he had with Putin.
“As a person I found him very straightforward and honourable. He did exactly what he said he was going to do without any arguments,” Ecclestone said.
The presenter corrected him, saying that Putin had not been honourable by going back on his word with respect to Ukraine. Ecclestone was sheepish in his response, saying “Circumstances change, don’t they?”
Ecclestone would have had the Russian GP even without top drivers
Ecclestone was then asked if the Russian GP could go ahead even if top drivers refused to participate in it. Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel recently said that they will not be part of any race in Russia as a result of the current situation.
“Yes, of course it can. He’s one person in the event,” Ecclestone said, referring to Verstappen.
“It’s entirely up to the FIA and the Formula One group to decide whether or not they are going to take part in the race.”
The FIA released a statement shortly after this interview, where it confirmed that the Russian GP had been scrapped.
“The FIA Formula 1 World Championship visits countries all over the world with a positive vision to unite people, bringing nations together,” the statement read.
“We are watching the developments in Ukraine with sadness and shock and hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the present situation.
“On Thursday evening Formula 1, the FIA, and the teams discussed the position of our sport, and the conclusion is, including the view of all relevant stakeholders, that it is impossible to hold the Russian Grand Prix in the current circumstances.”