Bernie Ecclestone is fighting to keep his latest court case from being tried in the United States.
Bluewater Communications Holdings accuses Ecclestone of costing it $650 million by paying a $44million bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2006 to secure F1’s sale to CVC Capital Partners, its current owners.
Bluewater claimed in November it should have won the bid for F1 as its offer was “10 percent above any genuine bona fide offer put forward by any other competing buyer”.
Ecclestone claims the fact his payment to Gribkowsky was paid in dollars, from a Swiss bank to an Austrian bank, does not give US courts jurisdiction over the case.
Nor, he added, does Bluewater’s claim their losses were partly inflicted in the state of New York.
“His claim is an absurd claim,” said Ecclestone of the case last year. “He didn’t know that the other bidders were going to pay.”
Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail in June last year for accepting the bribe from Ecclestone. The 82-year-old president and CEO of Formula One Management remains under investigation in Germany but has not been charged.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.