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Formula 1

F1 issues statement after Ecclestone defends Putin and Piquet

Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was involved in a bizarre television interview on Thursday, in which he showed support for Vladimir Putin and Nelson Piquet.

Bernie Ecclestone
To news overview © XPB Images

Formula 1 has moved to criticise Bernie Ecclestone for controversial comments he made during an interview on British television on Thursday morning.

Speaking to ITV programme Good Morning Britain, Ecclestone described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "first-class" person, whom he "would take a bullet for".

The 91-year-old also defended Nelson Piquet after the former F1 driver used a racial slur when speaking about Lewis Hamilton.

Ecclestone "would take a bullet" for Putin

Putin has faced worldwide condemnation since Russia launched an invasion on neighbouring Ukraine in February.

Asked about his relationship with Putin, and whether they remain friends, Ecclestone said: "I would still take a bullet for him.

"He is a first-class person and what he's doing is something that he believed was the right thing he was doing for Russia.

"Unfortunately, he's like a lot of business people, he's certainly like me… We make mistakes from time to time, and when you've made the mistake you have to do the best that you can to get out of it."

Ecclestone "surprised" by Hamilton not "brushing it aside"

As for how Ecclestone views Piquet's comments about Hamilton, the former F1 supremo came to the Brazilian's defence.

"I don't know what you can do about stopping people saying something that, at the time, would appear to be appropriate to them, and may not be in reality," said Ecclestone.

"You can't start making rules of what people can say and can't say, and I don't know what sort of reaction he is expecting."

Ecclestone added he is "surprised" that Hamilton hasn't "brushed it aside".

F1 issue statement over Ecclestone's comments

In response, F1 issued a short statement condemning Ecclestone's remarks.

"The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of our sport," read the statement.

Ecclestone was removed from his position as CEO of Formula 1 in January 2017 following Liberty Media's takeover of the sport.

Earlier this year, he was arrested in Brazil for illegally carrying a gun.

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