FORMER FORMULA ONE boss Bernie Ecclestone gave a bizarre interview on Good Morning Britain today defending the actions of Vladimir Putin.
The 91-year-old was interviewed from Ibiza via a virtual call by Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway. The conversation started on the Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Piquet’s racial slur debacle before the questions veered towards the war in Ukraine.
Ecclestone is an alleged friend of Putin and was asked by Garraway, if they kept that friendship.
'I’d still take a bullet for him,’ Ecclestone said. ‘I’d rather it didn’t hurt, but if it did, I’d still take a bullet for him.
He then went on to describe Putin as a 'first-class person' but said that businesspeople make mistakes.
'I'd still take a bullet for him.'
Bernie Ecclestone says Ukrainian President Zelensky should have listened to Putin to avoid war because Putin 'is a sensible person'. pic.twitter.com/jZ1hLnrYTU
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) June 30, 2022
‘He’s a first-class person,’ the 91-year-old businessman continued.
‘What he’s doing is something he believed is the right thing he was doing for Russia. Unfortunately, he’s like a lot of businesspeople, like me, we make mistakes from time to time.’
The topic moved towards Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, where Ecclestone said,
‘I think if he’d thought about things, he would have made a big enough effort to speak to Mr Putin, who is a sensible person and would have listened to him and probably would have done something about it,’
Shepherd and Garraway pushed back on his comments and asked if he truly meant what he said and reminded Ecclestone that Zelenskyy didn't start the invasion of his country.
'What we have are the actions of Putin and the war that he started in Ukraine has led to the death of thousands of innocent Ukrainians, you can't justify that surely’ Shepherd said.
Ecclestone responded by saying ‘It wasn’t intentional'.
‘Look at the number of times America has moved into different countries that have nothing to do with America… They like wars because they sell a lot of armour so it’s good for them.’
Garraway then said "So just to understand you clearly, you think that President Zelenskyy should have done more to avert this war and it could have been avoided by Zelenskyy's actions, not by a change in Putin's actions?"
"Absolutely," Bernie replied. "It wasn't intentional to be a war, and I'm quite sure if Ukraine had wanted to get out of it properly, they could have done.
A Formula One spokesperson said shortly after: "The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to the position of the modern values of our sport."
Social media users on Twitter vented their fury at the former F1 mogul via tweets.
One user said: 'Sometimes you just have to understand that people are no longer in control of their faculties- like Ecclestone. And stop giving them a platform.'
Another said: 'Seriously why are people still interviewing Bernie Ecclestone.'
Ecclestone stepped down as chief executive of Formula One in 2017.
The full interview can be viewed here.