Bernie: It's back to business

Wednesday 06-August-2014 09:21

Content that his bribery trial is "done and dusted", Bernie Ecclestone is ready to do what he does best, which is to "run F1".

After "three and a half years of aggravation" - as he calls it - the 83-year-old's case finally came to an end in Germany on Tuesday when he agreed to pay a $100 million (£60 million) out-of-court settlement.

A Munich district court accepted the deal, but also warned that it doesn't mean there was an admission of guilt and Ecclestone will pay $99 million to the state and $1 million to a children's charity.

The state prosecutor revealed that Ecclestone's advanced age and other circumstances supported the acceptance of a settlement, and the man himself is happy he can get on with his life now.

"The bottom line is it's been three and a half years of aggravation, travelling, meeting lawyers, and God knows what else, so it is good it is out of the way," said Ecclestone, speaking to Press Association Sport.

"This trial has been going on for two days a week and it was going to go on until October.

"When you're trying to run businesses it's not easy trying to resolve things when you're dealing with lawyers."

Judge Peter Noll told the court the bribery charges against Ecclestone - which stems from the 2006 sale of an F1 stake in which he was accused of paying former German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky $44m (£26m) - could not, by and large, be backed up.

"In the end what has happened today is good and bad - the good is the judge more or less said I was acquitted, and they [the prosecution] really didn't have a case," the Brit added.

"So I was a bit of an idiot to do what I did to settle because it wasn't with the judge, it was with the prosecutors.

"Anyway, it's done and finished, so it's all right. I'm content, it's all fine. This now allows me to do what I do best, which is running F1."

The trial did take its toll on Ecclestone as he stepped down as a director of Formula One's holding company until the court proceedings ended, but now it's business as usual.

"I stood down for obvious reasons, but I'll be back on again now. Everything is back to normal," he said.

"Another three months out would have been bad. I've been working weekends to catch up with what I've been missing during the week.

"I've not really noticed, but it's probably taken its toll a little bit."

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