Ecclestone to learn fate in bribe case

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Bernie Ecclestone is set to find out whether he will face charges over allegedly paying a bribe to a German banker.

Prosecutors in Germany say they have completed their investigations into Ecclestone’s dealings with former BayernLB banker Gerhard Gribkowsky and will reveal their findings soon.

Ecclestone is alleged to have paid $44m to Gribkowsky in connection with the sale of F1 to current owners CVC Capital Partners in 2006.

Ecclestone claims the money was paid to keep Gribkowsky from making false allegations about Ecclestone’s family trust which could lead to an investigation by the British tax authorities.

Five days ago Gribkowsky abandoned his plans to appeal the eight-and-a-half year jail term he was sentenced to last June for his part in the deal.

Gribkowsky was originally arrested in January 2011 and was put on trial the following October. When he was found guilty the judge ruled Ecclestone had been the “driving force” behind the payments.

Ecclestone said in December it is possible he would have to resign his position as F1 boss if he were to face charges.

The Formula One boss is fighting a related case with Bluewater Communication Holdings who claim Ecclestone cost them $650 million due to the Gribkowsky deal.

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

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Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.