Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said he would “take a bullet” for Vladimir Putin and called the Russian leader a “first class person,” while criticizing Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and U.S. intervention.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain earlier, the 91-year-old former CEO of the Formula One Group, who has previously spent time with Putin, said the Russian leader was doing “something he believed was the right thing for Russia” when invading Ukraine, although he countered “like a lot of business people we make a mistake from time to time.”
Ecclestone is an F1 supremo who has been involved with the sport since the 1950s including revolutionizing its sports rights, and he is currently Chairman Emeritus of the Formula One Group, having stepped down as CEO five years ago.
He went on to criticize Zelensky, the man leading the fight against Putin’s Russian invasion, which took place more than four months ago.
“The other person in Ukraine [Zelensky] used to be a comedian and I think he seems as if he wants to continue that profession,” added Ecclestone. “If he’d have thought about things he’d have made a bigger effort to speak to Putin, who’s a sensible person and would have listened to him and done something about it.”
Ecclestone, who was arrested in Brazil last month for illegally carrying a gun while boarding a private plane, also had time to slam the U.S. for “liking wars because they sell a lot of arms,” all to the dismay of the presenters who struggled to interrupt him.
The interview came just a day after former F1 world champion Nelson Piquet apologized to F1 star Lewis Hamilton for making a racist slur, having described Hamilton during a recent media interview using an epithet that can be translated as the N-word. Piquet insists the word had been mistranslated.
Led by Hamilton, F1 has been experiencing something of a period of reckoning and Hamilton tweeted earlier this week saying: “It’s more than language. These archaic mindsets need to change and have no place in our sport. I’ve been surrounded by these attitudes and targeted my whole life. There has been plenty of time to learn. Time has come for action.”
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