Bernie Ecclestone’s bosses have admitted they will “monitor developments” in the German corruption affair.
On Wednesday, it emerged that the F1 chief executive has finally been served with bribery charges relating to the 82-year-old’s $44 million payment to jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky years ago.
The next step is for Ecclestone’s lawyers to formally respond to the indictment, before the court decides whether to push the case to trial.
“The board will continue to monitor developments in this situation accordingly,” the Formula One Group said in a statement.
It is obvious that the affair could end the diminutive Briton’s long reign over the sport, with Osterreich newspaper reporting that Ecclestone could be jailed for up to ten years.
But even the charges threaten Ecclestone’s job.
Asked, however, if he is thinking about voluntarily stepping down, he answered: “I don’t see why I should do that.
“I will do what I have always done: keep working and do my job,” Ecclestone told Bild newspaper.
“I won’t be doing anything else because of this.”
Typically unmoved even when besieged, Ecclestone said he would have no problem agreeing to appear at trial.
“If I need to be, sure, I’ll be there. Why not?” he insisted.
Ecclestone added that Wednesday’s developments had “not really affected” him.
But that doesn’t mean there is not pressure. Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo said late last year that even formal charges should move the F1 supremo to “step back”.
And a spokesperson for Mercedes parent Daimler said on Wednesday: “Compliance is of central importance for Daimler.”
The spokesperson added that the company will discuss the Ecclestone case with F1’s owners, teams and the governing FIA.
For now, F1’s owners CVC are supporting Ecclestone, according to a report in City A.M.
A source told Formula Money editor Christian Sylt that CVC “could have asked Bernie to leave any time in the past three years but haven’t because we support him”.
© RIF | GMM