Three F1 insiders have tipped Bernie Ecclestone to drive out of the corruption scandal not only with his freedom, but also the keys to the sport.
Some think the Gerhard Gribkowsky saga, that has already left the former F1 banker in jail, will almost certainly end Ecclestone’s long reign over formula one and potentially see him live out his days behind bars. However, a trio of F1 insiders is not so sure.
Even less clear is what F1’s teams think. In his recent BBC Panorama piece on Ecclestone’s travails, investigative journalist Darragh Macintyre contacted top teams like Ferrari and Red Bull but was faced with a barrage of ‘no comment’. “All that money (the teams have made) brings loyalty,” Macintyre said.
A lone voice willing to talk to Macintyre about Ecclestone’s personal troubles was Eddie Irvine, an outspoken former Ferrari driver. Speaking at his own yacht club in the Bahamas, Irvine was asked if he feels sorry for Ecclestone as his Munich trial gets underway. “Not really,” said the Ulsterman. “Bernie knows what he’s doing.”
Murray Walker, the retired and iconic F1 commentator, agrees. “He (Ecclestone) has been in scrapes of one kind or another all of his life,” the 90-year-old said. “Bernie always comes out on top.” And Richard Williams, a highly respected F1 journalist for the Guardian newspaper, admitted: “I’d be amazed if this turns out to be the one situation that Bernie can’t deal his way out of. “Not only will it (the outcome) not involve him not going to prison, it will probably involve him continuing to be in control of formula one,” he added.
Ecclestone, 83, has cut a relaxed figure during the two days of his Munich trial so far, smiling and joking and nibbling muffins in the court canteen with his wife Fabiana. But his youngest daughter, 25-year-old Petra, paints a slightly different picture in a new interview with the Telegraph. “It’s just stressful,” she said of the Munich trial. “It’s just a lot of stress coming up, I guess. It’s just stressful times.”