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Ecclestone tops Britain’s F1 rich list
Those who blame the world’s wealthiest people for the financial crisis will get a does of schadenfreude from this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, as many have had billions wiped from their fortunes.

F1 tycoon Bernie Ecclestone has seen his wealth slashed for an entirely different reason - his divorce from wife Slavica. On a related note, guess who’s the highest new entry on the list this year?

Neither of the current British F1 drivers make the top 1,000. Jenson Button is listed as the seventh richest person under 30 with £40m and Lewis Hamilton is 20th with £25m.

Bernie Ecclestone’s personal wealth is estimated at £1.46bn, which is down by £934m compared to last year. The main reason for the re-evaluation of his wealth is not changes brought on by the credit crunch, but his divorce from wife Slavica.

The Sunday Times estimates Slavica, who married Ecclestone in 1985, has taken around a third of their former £2.2bn total worth. She is the highest new entry on the list with £734m, putting her 58th. Her main source of income is listed as ‘divorce’.

Illustrating the breadth of Ecclestone’s investments, he is listed as the second richest person in British Championship (second-division) football, courtesy of his investment in QPR with Flavio Briatore, and the fifth richest hotelier, via the Olden hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland.

The Marquess of Bute, better known to racing fans as former Lotus F1 driver Johnny Dumfries (John Crichton-Stuart), ranks 474th with an estimated fortune of £115m. Dumfries, team mate to Ayrton Senna in 1986, has sold some of his art collection to pay the costs of running his family’s home Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore is 492nd with £110m, down £10m.

Martin Birrane’s wealth is estimated at £109m, placing him 501st. He runs Lola, which has made headlines recently with the news it is considering returning to Formula 1 in 2010. He also owns the Mondello Park racing circuit in Ireland.

Another F1 figure who has been making the news, Tom Wheatcroft, appears 540th with £100m. The 86-year-old is preparing to sue the Simon Gillett for unpaid rent on the Donington Park circuit, which is due to hold the 2010 British Grand Prix. Wheatcroft’s Grand Prix collection which is displayed at the circuit is estimated to be worth £60m.

Ron Dennis is rarely out of the F1 headlines, though his recent decision to step down from the running of McLaren’s F1 team may finally change that. His fortune is estimated at £87m, much of which comes from his stake in the company. He is 648th.

Eddie Irvine, 1999 world championship runner-up for Ferrari, is 694th with £80m. He has had £40m wiped off his estimated value since last year, as much of his wealth was based in property.

The Earl of March (Charles Gordon-Lennox), heir to the Duke of Richmond, is another aristocrat with motor racing connections. He runs the Goodwood Estate, home of the annual Festival of Speed and Revival. The family’s wealth is valued at £70m (793rd).

Nicola Foulston, former owner of Brands Hatch, is 921st with £61m. She sold the circuit in 2002, around which time it was tipped to take over from Silverstone as the host of the British Grand Prix, in a notable parallel with today’s situation with Donington Park.

Jody Scheckter, 1979 world champion for Ferrari, is 924th with £60m. He now runs Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire which sells a range or organic and biodynamic produce.

Prodrive boss David Richards, whose is considering another attempt to enter Formula 1 following his failed bid last year, is 966th with £58m.

Outside the top 1,000 Jenson Button’s wealth is estimated at £40m and Lewis Hamilton’s is £25m. Former Indy Car champion and Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon - a karting rival of Button’s - is estimated to be worth £8m.

Sir Jackie Stewart is listed as the 92nd richest man in Scotland with a £41m fortune.

Finally Sir Richard Branson, the tycoon whose Virgin Group sponsors Brawn GP, is listed eighth among the ‘biggest fallers’. His a total wealth is estimated at £1.2bn, down from £2.7bn last year. London Times

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