F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone Says Sochi Race In October To Go Ahead As Planned
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said on Friday that the sport has "no argument with Russia and the country's debut grand prix will go ahead as planned in October despite the crisis in Ukraine," according to REUTERS. Ecclestone: "We have a contract. Our friends there, they are happy with the contract so we'll be there. If people have got arguments with Russia, maybe they have [issues]. I don't know. We haven't got any." Western nations have "imposed sanctions against Russia for what the United States and European Union say is Moscow's backing for separatist rebels in east Ukraine." Of the likelihood of a "settlement with German bank BayernLB, who indicated on Thursday they were open to a compromise to end their legal fight, Ecclestone looked puzzled." He said, "I don't know what problem they have got, to be honest with you. I don't know what they are talking about and nobody has contacted me" (REUTERS, 8/22).
STICKING AROUND: The BBC's Dan Roan reported Ecclestone has said he wants to run the sport for "as long as I can." In his "first major interview since he avoided a possible 10-year prison sentence," Ecclestone said that he "always believed he would walk away a free man." Ecclestone: "I'm not scared of anything to be honest with you. It never bothered me because I knew I was innocent." He added, "I was never bothered about the jail sentence because I was sure it wouldn't happen." Ecclestone is "now back running the sport on a full-time basis" (BBC, 8/22).
MERCEDES WELCOMES SETTLEMENT: REUTERS' Alan Baldwin reported Mercedes F1 Exec Dir Toto Wolff said that the sport "needs a strong leader" and added that Ecclestone's $100M court settlement to end a bribery trial in Germany "is positive for the sport's future." Wolff: "I have seen a very strong Bernie coming back from the (August) shutdown, after the court case. ... For us it's important to have a strong guy, a strong leader and good discussions. We had one of these today" (REUTERS, 8/23).