Bernie Ecclestone appeared on the Russian state-funded television network RT talking to political reporter Sophie Shevardnadze, the granddaughter of former Georgian President and Soviet minister of foreign affairs Eduard Shevardnadze. He was typically forthright in his views, describing President Vladimir Putin as being “Super. I’m his best supporter”. He said that F1 was happy to be in Russia.
“People were always a little bit concerned about being here for a race and now people can’t wait, they’re all happy to be here”.
This was not the impression that I got from talking to people in the paddock, but I presume people say different things to different people.
When he was drawn into politics Bernie’s remarks became even more controversial.
“The trouble today in the world is that we haven’t got too many real leaders,” he said. “If you look at all the countries and try to pick somebody – it wouldn’t be easy. You’ve got semi- sort of people who think they would be doing that, but they are not.”
He said that Sepp Blatter made a mistake by stepping down from his role at FIFA.
“I don’t think he should have ever stepped down, and I don’t think he should have ever been challenged, because it’s because of him we have a lot of countries around the world that are now playing football. And if these people allegedly have been corrupted to make things happen in their country, it’s good. It’s a tax football had to pay.”
He continued to express the belief that “Europe is a thing of a past” and said that “it would be nice for people from China and even here, to visit, and look how the old times were, you know. It’s not going anywhere.”
Ecclestone said that the sport “ought to try and be for a little bit in America” but he admitted that is is “not very enthusiastic about America” going on to say that “the biggest problem with them is that they believe [that they are the] greatest sort of power in the world” and that “they are a big island, so they are a bit isolated; they are slowly starting to learn what other people in the world do”.
Ecclestone said that he thought the best F1 driver of all time was Jochen Rindt and said that after he leaves F1, “they’ll probably find somebody doing a much better job that I’ve been doing.”
It is anticipated that Mr E will visit the “big island” next week.
You can watch the whole interview, here: