Former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone is facing widespread criticism after saying he would “take a bullet” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Discussing Putin and his invasion of Ukraine, Ecclestone added: “Unfortunately, he’s like a lot of business people – certainly like me – that we make mistakes from time-to-time. “And when you’ve made a mistake, you have to do the best you can to get out of it and I think if it had been conducted properly.
“I mean, the other person in Ukraine (President Volodymyr Zelensky), I mean his profession I understand, he used to be a comedian and it seems he wants to continue that profession because I think if he had thought about things and made a big enough effort to speak to Mr Putin, who is a sensitive person and would have listened to him and could have probably done something about it.”
Ecclestone made the comments while speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Labor peer Lord Peter Hain has since condemned Ecclestone for his comments in an interview with Express.co.uk.
Reacting to his words, he Lord Peter said: “That’s gobsmacking, after Putin’s army has destroyed Ukraine and raped its women. Killing on a massive scale.
“Bernie Ecclestone did a lot for F1, but I think he should zip his mouth frankly, on these sorts of things.
“He has played an important role in making F1 a global brand, but he is demeaning his role and losing respect with every statement like that he makes.
“I knew Bernie Ecclestone, he should really zip his mouth and stop making absurd statements. Statements that bring him into total disrepute.”
Lord Hain is not the only person to take aim at Ecclestone.
Seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton was asked about the comments this week – he said he “couldn’t believe” that the former F1 mogul could say what he did.
Hamilton said: “We don’t need any more of it, to hear from someone who believes in the war, and the displacement of people and killing of people, and supporting that person [Putin] is beyond me.
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He said: “Terrible to say this, I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was – in the way that he could command a lot of people – able to get things done.”
Later, in 2018, Ecclestone also threw his weight behind former US President Donald Trump, saying he is “the best thing that’s happened to the world in the last few years.”
Speaking to former world champion Nico Rosberg on his podcast ‘Beyond Victory’, Ecclestone was quizzed on his stance that dictators are more effective in executing change and progressing a company than a board of managers.
Rosberg then asked Ecclestone what happens when the dictator starts to go off course.
The businessman responded: “Get another dictator!”
On Trump, he added: “He’s woken everybody up. You know he’s done things, if there was a board — which there should be in America, I suppose — would never do what he’s done.”
Rosberg asked what the best thing Trump had done in his time in the White House, to which Ecclestone said: “Well he’s sorted people out about people coming into his country that shouldn’t be there. And saying that: ‘This shouldn’t happen to other countries.'”