Ecclestone apologises for expressing support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

2022 F1 season

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Former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has apologised for comments he made last week supporting Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine.

Thousands have died since the Russian invasion began in late February. In an interview last week, while defending his former driver Nelson Piquet over racist comments he made about Lewis Hamilton, Ecclestone was drawn onto the subject of Putin, whom he praised many times before the war began.

“I’d still take a bullet for him,” Ecclestone said last week, adding the invasion was “something that he believed was the right thing he was doing for Russia” and it “wasn’t intentional to be a war.”

F1 swiftly criticised the remarks made by Ecclestone, who left his emeritus position within the sport in 2020.

In an interview for Sky, Ecclestone said he does not support Putin’s war and apologised for any “upset” he caused with his comments.

“Often people, I think, come out and say things or do things without really too much thinking. Probably I did the same. And I could understand people thinking that I’m defending what he’s done in Ukraine, which I don’t.

“I was brought up during [World War Two]. So I know what it’s like. I feel sorry for the people in Ukraine having to suffer for something they haven’t done. They’ve done nothing wrong. They didn’t start anything and they’ve done nothing. They want to get on with their lives. They want their kids to go to school and try to go to work and earn a living to keep their family going.

“So they don’t deserve to have to suffer. It’s not good for anybody. I can’t see anyone getting anything out of this. I think they should get together and get an agreement. And I’m sorry if anything I’ve said has upset anybody, because it certainly wasn’t intended.”

Following Ecclestone’s comments last week, Hamilton said it was wrong to give a platform to figures like the former F1 boss.

“To hear from someone that ultimately believes in the war,” said Hamilton, “the displacement of millions of people and the killing of thousands of people, the person that’s doing that, they support them. I mean, that’s beyond me. And I can’t believe that’s what I heard.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 17 comments on “Ecclestone apologises for expressing support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine”

    1. Why is this even news??
      The guy is obviously trying to save face. We all know his true intentions

      1. What are his true intentions?

        1. Ecclestone, like a lot of rich people, has a warped view of the world and little knowledge of the things he commentates on, mistaking his (not infrequently dubiously gained) business success for a general superiority over others; especially the so-called common people. Ecclestone is also an infamously bad judge of character and has little to no historic knowledge. One can easily see the numerous ridiculous things he’s said over the years about the alleged ills of democracy, his support for a variety of dictators. Apparently dedicated to prove the aforementioned, Ecclestone even went as far as to suggest German dictator Hitler was ‘persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do’.

          The best thing, like Hamilton said, is to ignore this character and not give any platform to him. He is no longer relevant to F1.

        2. His intentions are to try and get some press coverage because he’s become entirely irrelevant. He therefore spouted a load of BS about taking a bullet for Putin etc.

          He’s now realised that he probably went a bit too far so is giving a ridiculous apology in the hope that people from within F1 might be willing to talk to him again.

          Happy to help.

    2. It is, of course, our fault for reading the words he uttered and not understanding that what he meant was the absolute polar opposite.

      In fact, I shall apologize to Mr Ecclestone, obviously!

      1. Yeah, I feel i would have to add my excuses to Mr Ecclestone as well for misunderstanding what he clearly said @proesterchen. Silly me.

    3. It does not matter. F1 has brought up the fans so much that he has long since been cancelled.
      That’s what freedom of speech is all about, he can talk himself smart or stupid, but he can say what he wants.
      Someday the young will say to Hamilton in his old age “you don’t speak anymore either”, “you don’t know anything about the world, grandpa”.

    4. Why should he even apologize ? anyone is free to speak up his mind, people were supporting the invasion of Iraq publicly and are still doing it to this day, with most of the western “civilized” world not being bothered the slightest, heck, they even formed a coalition to bring down a sovereign country and make his nation suffer.

    5. He is free to speak his mind. People are also free to speak their mind about him, to decide not to talk to him anymore, to rescind any invites to events, to refuse to do business with him anymore and so on.

      I guess he feels it’s worth pretending to be sorry in order to try and repair some of the damage he’s caused to his reputation.

        1. @petebaldwin the guy is 91yo, even if he stops having an income he’d still have enough money for at least another 100 years, but being the businessman he is, I won’t be surprised if he tries to repair the “damage” made to his public image.
          Again, it goes to show the hypocrisy we live under, people stop doing business and boycotting someone who spoke his mind, but only when it comes to Ukrainians.
          For others nations you’d be fine saying whatever you want, Palestinians have been invaded since at least 1948, and pretty much nobody seems to care.

    6. José Lopes da Silva
      9th July 2022, 16:23

      Ecclestone has the political views that he has. Nothing new. Standing up for Putin is no big deal compared to the determination of keeping a Grand Prix in an apartheid country while everyone was pulling back. I can just imagine his views regarding the role of the British Union of Fascists before and during the war when he was brought up.
      It is what it is. I love car racing anyway, and I hope Putin gets defeated as soon as possible.

    7. Someone trip this guy down a flight of stairs already.

    8. Personally, I bet BE was goaded into the original comment about Putin. Where is the transcript? Saying you like someone doesn’t mean you support everything or anything they do.
      I take two things from this press “battle.”
      1 – Bernie is your typical celebrity ass-kisser. All celebrities are!
      2 – I had not seen Sir Lewis’s comment about not letting Bernie be heard. I just went from 100 to zero percent support and respect for his campaign for equality and free speech.

      1. @jjfrazz So somehow this is Hamilton in the wrong…..right.

        1. For Sir Lewis to say that Bernie has no right to speak is a bigger red flag than BE being roasted by journalists looking to cause controversy.

      2. José Lopes da Silva
        10th July 2022, 8:49

        Apparently Putin was goaded too into Ukraine.
        Hamilton gets perfectly fine without your “respect”.

    Comments are closed.