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.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.