Banker jailed in Ecclestone bribe case

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky is jailed on charges of tax evasion, bribery and breach of fiduciary trust after receiving a payment from Bernie Ecclestone.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Banker in F1 bribes case found guilty (FT, registration required)

“Mr Ecclestone, the 81-year-old kingpin of the motor sport and one of the world’s best known sports entrepreneurs, had been the “driving force” when Gerhard Gribkowsky accepted $44m (??28.3m) in corrupt payments in connection with the sale of F1, a judge in Munich said on Wednesday.”

German banker jailed in F1 bribery case (FT)

Bernie Ecclestone: “They based their decisions on what he told them. I told them the truth. I think Mr Gribkowsky told them what he thought he had to tell them. I don’t think I should (face further action) but you don’t know, do you?”

Ecclestone offers ??35m to stage London Grand Prix (The Times subscription required)

One week ago Ecclestone said he had “not put his name to” plans to use the London Olympics site for a Grand Prix. Now he’s apparently offering to put ??35m into an F1 race in London.

F1 Fanatic via Twitter

“Diversion tactics: Ecclestone tells The Times he’s putting money into an F1 race in London on the same day Gribkowsky is sentenced to jail.”

Frank Williams Q&A: I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t still a fan (F1)

“Formula One is very expensive. To keep a team running is always a struggle – finding sponsors, finding funds – for almost every team except probably Ferrari, but they have Marlboro in something that is called subliminal advertising in marketing terms. And even if the FIA say you can’t do it, they can’t prove it.”

City to consider $5.5 million customs facility for F1 flights (Austin-American Statesman)

“The city does not intend to ask organisers of the November race to help pay for the airport terminal extension and customs facility, officials said, arguing that efficient processing of travelers will help burnish the city’s international image and that the facility would be available to handle large commercial flights from Europe that the city hopes to attract.”

Schumacher tipped for more podiums (Autosport)

Norbert Haug: “His lack of results this season are not down to the driver, and in fairness to him he could have definitely had in excess of 60 or 70 points if we would not have had technical issues – which would have been good for him and good for us in the constructors’ championship. We did not get it because we got it wrong.”

Pure racing instinct (Sky)

“The RB8 has been massively re-engineered over the last two races – with new rear suspension, brakes and wheel hubs in Montreal to make possible the reworked rear bodywork in Valencia, all combining to give a substantial aerodynamic improvement. The indications from both the long runs of Valencia practice and indeed the race itself were that the car’s previous heavy tyre usage were things of the past.”

Red Bull look good despite Alonso win (BBC)

Jaime Alguersuari: “This week, I am at Spa in Belgium working with Pirelli to develop the F1 tyres for next season.”

Consistent inconsistency (Darren Heath Photographer)

“With all these inconsistencies it is at least good to hear of one playing field levelling consistently. Each and every set (of the chosen compound) of Pirelli F1 tyres delivered to each and every team will give the same performance. When erstwhile F1 tyre supplier Bridgestone’s rubber was delivered, teams hoped for the best. The theory at the time was that if your allotted set had been packed for freight in the wet the performance would be different to those loaded in the dry.”

After F1 scandal, Piquet making progress in NASCAR (Fox News)

“[Nelson Piquet Jnr] said people often focus on how his F1 career ended instead of what he had achieved to get there. ‘People don’t acknowledge everything that I’ve done in my past’.”

Alonso’s best victory (Formula 1 Guitar)

“Take a look to this meaningful map with the number and name of overtaken drivers on each spot (black: on track; green: during the start; gray: during pit-stop; red: mechanical problem).”

Comment of the day

Beneboy on the potential of a Vettel-Alonso pairing at Ferrari and other developments in the driver market:

Vettel to Ferrari sounds good to me, although it would be a big change for a team that has a tendency to focus on a number one driver as I doubt Alonso and Vettel would accept anything other than absolute equality if they were to be paired together.

If this means the team need a seat warmer for a year I hope they don’t fall back to the safe option of retaining Massa. I’d much rather see one of the younger drivers given an opportunity with the team, even if it is just for one year. A driver like Perez/Di Resta/Kobayashi or even a driver from GP2 or another series could take a lot from a single year at a top F1 team like Ferrari and given Massa’s performance over the last few years even a rookie would be unlikely to do that much worse and it’d certainly be a whole lot less expensive.

The one thing I really want to see is Schumacher staying, ideally in a much-improved Mercedes. He appears to have got used to the new car and the new tires and he’s had some good drives this season, even though his results don’t really reflect this. I hope he and the team can continue to improve this season so he can start next season positively and compete for a few more wins (and even if it is just a hopeless dream – maybe even compete for the drivers’ championship one last time…)

It would be nice to see a few more driver changes in the coming seasons, the last few years have been pretty static – especially at the sharp end of the grid – I don’t know if it’s just my perception but it feels like I’ve been seeing the same faces (or helmets) in the same cars for years now and a few driver changes, and possibly even some new faces, would be a welcome sight.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Danny D, Stefano, Wanon and Hezla!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

In-season testing was legal ten years ago, so Ferrari and BAR piled on the miles at Mugello on this day in 2002.

Michael Schumacher, who was already comfortably winning the drivers’ championship, logged a fastest time over two-and-a-half seconds faster than Jacques Villeneuve, who was also running on Bridgestone tyres.

Anthony Davidson in a second BAR lapped within a tenth of a second of Villeneuve.

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56 comments on “Banker jailed in Ecclestone bribe case”

  1. Here’s an interesting video about the new Austin track. It features Australian V8 Supercars driver Mark “Frosty” Winterbottom talking about the circuit and it’s “character” – at least from a V8 Supercars point of view. I though it relevant to F1 aswell:

    1. Thanks, it is always good to hear a racing driver comment on a track; Wish the V8 Supercar series lots of success getting a foothold in the US

  2. Traverse Mark Senior (@)
    28th June 2012, 0:22

    A BANKER IS JAILED!……WOW!. I had the impression that Bankers were exempt from prosecution, as they are the pillar of our Capitalist system and of course they NEVER put a foot wrong and always own up to their mistakes.

    1. i’m sure his stay at the country club will be brief.

  3. Bernie is looking for friends in the city; Motto, $50.million can fix anything .

  4. “Summing up German prosecutors’ case on Wednesday, Christoph Rodler, a state prosecutor, said that the court had heard evidence that the F1 chief was “not the victim of an extortion but the accomplice in an act of bribery”.”
    (from the 1st FT article). It sounds like they intend to press charges against Ecclestone, no wonder CVC is putting together succession plans.

  5. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    28th June 2012, 3:52

    Interesting map shown in F1 Guitar, that shows that the DRS zone was not so used by Alonso. And I also remember Schumi and Webber going like thunders around the circuit and overtaking people anywhere they could.

    1. Its a really cool map. Would love to see one for Webber and Schumacher too!

  6. Two things:

    1) I thought Ferrari’s relationship with Phillip Morris was that PM essentially purchased the rights to the whole car’s advertsiing space in exchange for title sponsor status. Is that still the case? I know they aren’t title sponsor but the subliminal thing surely can’t still be there because the bar code went a while ago.

    2) Mercedes panda-ing to MSC is getting truly ridiculous! It is as if he has a clause in his contract exempting him from public critisism! He has had poor reliability yes but he has also made a few really basic errors (Spain anyone) and is still being shown a clean pair of heels by Nico. I’m not doubting his skill or legacy because both are not in doubt, but if it was any other driver in that car and they had only scored 2 points going into Valencia their heads would be on the chopping block.

    1. I thought that was a bit weird too. Marlboro have no branding on the car (questionable subliminal bar code or otherwise) and they no longer have their name in the team title. What part of their commercial arrangement is subliminal cigarette advertising?

      If anything the Lotus cars can be considered more of a subliminal ad. Ferrari have always been red, way before any form of car branding in F1. Lotus specifically said that they went with the black and gold as a tribute to the John Player Special branding on the Lotus cars in the 70’s. Since you can still buy John Player branded cigarettes I’m surprised people are still questioning the Ferrari deal.

      1. If you look at their logo – which was changed after a media fenzy on the subject of Marlboro – and than at a package of the actual thing, there’s even more resemblence than with the barcode…

        1. @verstappen Yeah I assumed Williams was referring to the logo.

          1. That’s what I thought to, but the logo is less Phillip Morris-ey than it has been in recent years. We all sort of get what it means but there are ways to justifying it. Perhaps that’s what Frank was getting at. I’d still like to get a handle on just what the relationship is between the two these days though.

          2. I always get a chuckle out of google imaging “Ferrari cologne” and then ” Marlboro” and comparing the boxes.
            Quite the resemblance.

        2. Absolutely right. The Mad Man who came up with that logo is a very clever fellow or gal. The cars also remain Marlboro red, they have not reverted back to Corso Rosso.

          As for Lotus, I am certain that they never mentioned JPS when they announced the black and gold livery. They would not have got away with that. Imperial must be laughing, though…

          1. @kenny But by that logic Ferrari could bring back the barcode, make no mention of Marlboro, and just say it’s a retro design.

            As for the team logo being similar to Marlboro, I guess they’re also using soup to get people to smoke.

            I have no problem with Lotus doing it, I’m not going to go out and buy cigarettes because of it. I just find it interesting they haven’t received more grief because of it.

      2. Interestingly, the Williams F1 livery is looking quite like a Rothman’s package, one of their old sponsors.

        1. Rothmans is gone now if i’m not mistaken.

    2. @geemac You’d think so but look at Massa.

      1. @andrewtanner Well Ferrari are standing by him, but he is still being told that he has to up his game. Which is fair enough, most employers would take that stance!

    3. 2) I don’t think Mercedes is exploiting MSC. Team missteps have cost him more than his personal mistakes, actually the only major error was at Circuit de Catalunya which became a “double foul” because he paid a grid penalty in Monaco vanishing his pole advantage at circuit where grid position is more than gold. Plus, their comments on MSC are very similar to what everybody makes about their own drivers.

      1. Exactly, his only critical mistake was in Catalunya and he paid for it twice… Smaller missteps could be qualifying for European GP (worst position this season excluding car/team failures) and maybe the pace in China, where he would have a big problems with McLarens if he didn’t retire…With a little more luck he could well be somewhere around Rosberg, or atleast Grosjean in standings…

  7. Vettel grabbed pole in Canada but looking at his race pace I was not worried any bit, but his pole margin and race pace at Valencia were really impressive. I think Grosjean was faster than Lewis and was backed up by the McLaren but Vettel was ridiculously fast, I doubt Grosjean had pace to follow him even if he managed to clear Lewis earlier, so without SC and engine failure Seb was on the verge of the first 15+ seconds win of the year.

    McLaren is expected to try new parts at Silverstone, I hope it works because Red Bull has done something special and are much easier on tyres. But maybe it’s just at Valencia and they will struggle elsewhere, maybe.

    1. @Jcost – I guess you don’t remember China then, when Rosberg won by 20 seconds?

      1. Thanks to Button.

        Going to be so important to clear slower guys at the start if you want a win.

  8. I agree with @beneboy, that it would be a sad show from Ferrari if they stuck with Massa. Why not give someone like Kovalainen a try at Ferrari?

  9. It would be nice if Bernie Gets arrested and loses F1. Then the teams can take over or an owner that doesn’t use F1 as a money hunting ground anymore, though teams can still enter F1 for cash purposes only.

    But then again, that was just a dream, huh?

    Bernie might exit the courthouse (court house?) as a Victim, not a criminal.

    Ecclestone, who gave evidence in court in November, has claimed that he paid some 10 million pounds ($16 million) to Gribkowsky to “keep him quiet” after the German “put him under pressure” over his tax affairs, rather than as a payment to smooth the sale to CVC.

    “It’s not bribery,” Ecclestone said.

    Ah well.

    1. Then the teams can take over

      CART showed us that teams running a series is never a good thing.

      Even more recently the Indycar teams have been trying to gain more power & trying to dictate the way the series is run & all there ideas have been things that help themselfs rather than the series as a whole.

      If the teams ever got control of F1 all they would do is push things that suited there own needs rather than the needs of F1 as a whole.

      1. CART was awesome but! it had fantastic racing.

        1. the racing in cart may have been good but the politics that went on between teams behind the scenes did nothing but harm the series & helped lead to its downfall.

          cart fans blame tong george & the split (which certainly didn’t help), however much of the stuff which led to cart’s downfall came from the way the teams ran it & the way the bigger teams in particular tried to ensure things were run to keep them at the top rather than do what was best for the overall series.

          even when cart died & champcar was born the series owners (who were still team owners) still looked out for themselfs & not the series & thats why the series ended up been so financially weak & champcar merging into the irl (rather than the other way round) was the only way for it to end.

          something else that didn’t help is that with the teams running the show, it just weakened the series twice as much when they left.

          1. Thank you, to all Bernie haters, cause we heading the same way. He is frankly forced to do so.

          2. Anyone who still thinks teams should run the sport need to read the article on autosport about how none of the teams can actually agree on even the simpilest of things.

            If the teams did gain control of F1 & start running it themselfs then they would do nothing but argue & run F1 into the ground as a result.

            While Bernie does run F1 like a dictatorship, At least he actually gets things done. Whenever the teams try & do something they just sit round disagreeing with one another & in the end nothing gets done.

  10. Why is the story of a banker being banged up, and its implications for F1 and its investors and sponsors, distracting me from the amazing news about a shiny new Grand Prix in London? Am I doing this wrong?

  11. Haven’t you heard about the unique idea Bernie’s had for his London GP? It’ll feature a massive smoke screen…

    1. Hahahaha! Maybe lots of use of Teflon too?

    2. Totally stupid idea which will never happen…. so what’s the real reason for Bernie backing it ?

  12. 2014 engines too expensive? simple – BRING BACK TOBACCO SPONSORSHIP

    1. I don’t see how it’s such a big problem, I am a child and have never felt the need to buy cigarettes while watching old grand prix…

      1. You said it mate, sadly we live in a censored, prohibitive and over governed world. I’d just love to see liveries with ‘M******O, R*******S, C*****L’ etc

    2. I too dont mind tobacco. It’s a great money sink and good way for them to give something back!!! :) Considering the financial impact GPs have in many countries.

      I think people are aware enough to make a choice if they want to smoke or not, this housewife approach is just stupid all the things considering.

    3. I’ve been a NON-smoker all my life and never felt the need to ban tobacco sponsorship but now knowing what we do about tobacco and seeing how much advertising and smoking is increasing in the poorest economies we must recognise that tobacco companies are pushers of drugs of addiction no different to heroin pushers apart from the legality they have achieved through the power of money and influence.

      1. Have to agree with you here. Whole system should be re-worked some how. Mild Seven(or any other tobacco company) can run censored advertisement for whole 20 GP and still get desired results. This is exactly what is happening at Lotus :)

        Anyway, just looked at financial position of Red Bull compare to Marlboro or John Player Special. And it’s mind blowing how much financial power they have. No wonder Red Bull was third tier team when tobacco companies were around :) (bit fun here ofc)

        1. Marlboro and JPS bad example as they eventually have same owner, but this makes it even more impressive.

          AND…..explains Ferrari’s logo :) They doing same thing as Lotus. Makes sense now!

  13. That link from Formula 1 Guitar is cool. I like that idea! It would be interesting to make comparisons between all the other drivers for that weekend but it would be one heck of a task! I guess you could kinda use it as an extension to the number of DRS assisted passes Mercedes compiled last year.

  14. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    28th June 2012, 13:52

    Mr Gribkowsky is going to jail because he received corrupt payments from Mr Ecclestone. Call me naive but isn’t making corrupt payments as illegal as receiving them? Surely Bernie is on his way to prison, isn’t he?

  15. I do not understand why Bernie Ecclestone seems to be immune in what appears to be blatently wrong. he is bribing people! – one of his recipients has been jailed for 8 years. Bernie is probably bribing everyone to avoid prosecution. he lost his mind a long time ago, and it would be fitting if he sat in a jail cell to the end of his life. greed is a terrible thing.

    1. I don’t understand either. He deserves to be punished for his actions. Not only is it unjust, but it also promotes an image that if you’re rich and high up that you can get away with whatever you like.

      1. You don’t need to look at Bernie to see that.
        You can look at any major sponsor of any team to see that.
        What is different about Bernie, that he is an individual with certain principals who able to line up all those big boys up and make them do what he wants. This is a good lesson, cause if you did not notice today, companies do not have any decency and they are right by law doing immoral things.

        But lately he is forced to bow down. It’s like in the movies, you have that great general who wins battles, only to be thrown into prison by his king when he comes back home :D

    2. Not to mention that in Germany, bribery always been a business tool to an extend where it was even tax deductible. Ask Siemens.

  16. Wait, Ecclestone’s apparently offering to put £35m into an F1 race in London?
    Yes, I know this sort of story comes out every year or two; and it will probably never happen. (And as much as I’d like to see a race in London, I think it will be far too much effort than it’s worth).
    But why cant Ecclestone put the money towards helping races we, the fans, want to keep?

    1. But why cant Ecclestone put the money towards helping races we, the fans, want to keep?

      He has on occasion.
      Bernie stepped in to promote both Montreal & Spa to get them back on the schedule.

    2. This particular proposal will never happen…

  17. Grosjean got married!

    Wish his wedding gift would have been a win in Valencia.

    1. No wonder he is so happy all the time!! :)

  18. News of a London Grand Prix surfaces again, coincidentally when the bribery case Ecclestone’s embroiled in reaches its zenith. No one would shed a tear if that man saw out the rest of his days in jail.

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