Ecclestone might 'back off' F1 amid scandal - Mosley

By on Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jul.23 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone appeared at the Nurburgring on Friday, despite suggestions he might skip the journey to Germany for fear of being arrested.

The F1 chief executive is finally admitting he paid $44 million to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, but he denies it was a bribe.

Even so, some suspected the fact the charges laid against Gribkowsky coincided with Germany's F1 event would convince Ecclestone to remain in Britain to avoid potential trouble.

But he told the reporter for Bild newspaper at the Nurburgring: "I said I would come, so here I am."

And Ecclestone told the Financial Times when asked if he fears being arrested: "No, not at all.

"I'm concerned it's going to be bloody wet and cold. Otherwise, should be a good race."

But many paddock insiders on Friday cast serious doubt on billionaire Ecclestone's explanation that he was blackmailed by Gribkowsky to avoid trouble with inland revenue.

"Bernie does not get blackmailed," one was quoted by the Telegraph.

At the very least, Ecclestone admitted that he regrets paying the money.

"So many things in life are hindsight," said the 80-year-old.

"It's not my style to have anyone threaten me. Believe me, in my life I have been threatened properly. But in this case they (the lawyers) advised me to pay up.

"But don't worry, I have nothing to worry about," added Ecclestone.

One rumour is that the diminutive Briton, perhaps under pressure from F1 owner CVC's investors, might step aside to allow the scandal to play out away from the sport.

"There is no sign of him backing off," Ecclestone's former power ally Max Mosley told the Financial Times. "On the other hand, maybe he will."


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