Is the white flag waving for Ecclestone?

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According to the Guardian, the white flag may be waving to signal the final lap for Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. The bribery charges surrounding the Gerhard Gribkowsky case are rumored to soon be released by German authorities and should a judge endorse the case, it may find the British billionaire in court for his involvement in alleged bribes to under-value the stock of F1 in order to prompt a sale to current owners CVC capital.

German prosecutors have been building a case since convicting Gribkowsky of his tax evasion when it was discovered that $44m was paid to the German banker by Ecclestone. For Ecclestone’s part, he says it was  shake down or blackmail in order to keep Gribkowsky from going to tax authorities with erroneous information about his financial holdings. Ecclestone said:

“They haven’t told me [about the charges], that’s the only problem. I suppose they will eventually, they’re going to have to, obviously.

“To be quite honest with you I haven’t done anything about any of these things. I haven’t bothered. If I have to get bothered, then I’ll get bothered.”

When it was suggested to Ecclestone he was relaxed about the matter, he said: “Absolutely. 100 per cent. Sooner or later somebody will look into it, which they have, and then they will have to make a decision on what they decide.”

This prompts the decade-long question as to whom CVC would choose to take over control of the Formula One series in the absence of Ecclestone. Some suggest Justin King or even Christian Horner for the role but if it should come to pass, Ecclestone’s departure will be one of the first occasions I can recall when we all learn that there is, indeed, an indefensible man. He’s no angel but he’s no devil either. He made F1 what it is and made millionaires out of most of the luminaries who criticize his role in the series. Very few have done more for a sport and the participants of that sport than Bernie Ecclestone.

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