Either his access was banned, or Bernie Ecclestone has decided to miss this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix after his controversial comments shook up the sport last week.
Formula One’s former ruler said he would ‘take a bullet’ for Vladimir Putin, whom he described as a ‘first-class person’.
He also suggested Lewis Hamilton should have ‘brushed aside’ a racist term used against him by triple world champion Nelson Piquet.
Formula One Group, who own the sport, flatly condemned Ecclestone’s remarks, describing them as in ‘stark contrast’ to the ‘modern values of our sport’.
So it was clear that the current regime were wary about the 91-year-old’s presence at the track, despite an open invitation – which still stands – from the Red Bull Ring’s billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz to be his guest. He even offered to put Ecclestone up at his house.
But a source told Sportsmail: ‘The potential problem of Bernie showing up seems to have gone away.’
July 3, 2022
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has lashed back at seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who is calling on the former F1 supremo to lose his “platform” for being able to speak freely.
The 91-year-old said Hamilton’s moralizing is a “complete load of rubbish”, and said the suggestion that he is too old to have a meaningful opinion is “terribly rude”.
Some, though, were confused not only that Ecclestone tried to explain Nelson Piquet’s use of a Portuguese ‘N-word’, but also that he defended Russian president Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine conflict.
“Yes, maybe I’m not sensitive enough,” Ecclestone on Saturday told his friend Roger Benoit, the veteran correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Blick.
“I see many things differently, and I say them because I was asked so nicely.
“But I do stand by one statement – Putin was always fair to Formula 1. And I can’t say that about all the promoters.”
As for Hamilton’s rebuke, Ecclestone advised the Mercedes driver to think more carefully next time he launches an attack.
“Lewis has forgotten a lot,” he said.
“When Mercedes didn’t pay him what he asked for, I immediately said I’d pay the difference. Because Formula 1 needs a person of color, a Chinese and a woman.”
Formula One bosses are sweating
Bernie Ecclestone’s plans to attend the Austrian Grand Prix next weekend.
The sport’s former ringmaster told The Mail on Sunday last weekend that he intends to end his Covid-prompted absence from races, starting at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
But 91-year-old Ecclestone has since caused uproar by saying he would ‘take a bullet’ for Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He also defended triple world champion Nelson Piquet after he used the n-word to describe seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Mail on Sunday understands that alarmed F1 bosses are monitoring the situation, wondering whether Ecclestone will actually press ahead with his intention to turn up.
The fact that Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, a friend of Ecclestone, owns the track in the Styrian mountains makes it more likely.
Formula One Group, who own the sport and control accreditation, declined to comment.
Hamilton, speaking in the toxic build-up to Sunday’s British Grand Prix, hit back at the likes of Ecclestone and Piquet, claiming they should be ‘silenced’.
‘I don’t know why we are continuing to give these older voices a platform,’ he said.
‘They are speaking for our sport, but we are looking to go somewhere different and they are not representative of who we are now and where we are planning to go.
‘If we are looking to grow our audiences in the US and South Africa we need to be giving the younger people a platform. They are more representative of today’s time and who we are trying to be. It is not just about one individual, or the use of that term, but the bigger picture.
‘These older voices, subconsciously or consciously, do not agree people like me should be in this sport. Discrimination should not be projected.
‘I don’t think in the last couple of weeks a day has gone by where some of the older people who are not in our sport or have not been relevant in our sport for decades have tried to say negative things and bring me down, but I am still here and still standing strong and trying to do my work and pushing diversity.’