Ecclestone apologises after branding Putin 'first-class person'

The former Formula One boss recently said he would 'take a bullet' for the Russian president.

Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone apologises for controversial comments about Vladimir Putin ITV/ / Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone has issued an apology for his controversial comments about Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In a recent interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the former Formula One supremo, 91, said he would “take a bullet” for Putin, describing him as a “first-class person”.

Ecclestone also said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not “intentional”, and President Volodymyr Zelensky could have done more to avert the conflict.

But in a video broadcast on Sky Sports on Saturday, Ecclestone said: “It would probably be good for me to get some things off my chest as well, things that have been bothering me about what I said and what people think I’ve said.

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

“I was brought up during the war, the last war, so I know what it’s like. And 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. They want to get on with their lives.

“They want the kids to go to school, and try and go to work and earn a living to keep the 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, and I think they should get together and get an agreement.

“I’m sorry if anything I’ve said has upset anybody because it certainly wasn’t intended.”

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was deeply critical of Ecclestone’s comments, saying he should not be provided with a platform to air his views.

“We don’t need any more of it,” said Hamilton ahead of last weekend’s British Grand Prix. “To hear from someone that believes in the war, and the displacement of millions of people and killing of thousands people, and supporting that person (Putin) who is doing that, is beyond me. I cannot believe I heard that today.

“It is affecting all those people out there and people around the world. This is going to put us back decades, and we have yet to see the real brunt of the pain.

“So, why? We do not need to be supporting that but looking into the future. We need more positivity. If you don’t have anything positive to contribute to where we want to be going and where we want to be, don’t give them any space.”

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