Bribe charges “a complete load of rubbish” – Ecclestone

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Bernie Ecclestone has rubbished the charges of bribery being levelled at him in Germany.

Ecclestone told his biographer Tom Bower in an interview for the Sunday Times: “I still don’t know what the German prosecutors think.”

“I wish I was guilty – it would be much easier,” he added. “The charges are a complete load of rubbish.”

A German court is investigating allegations Ecclestone bribed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky in 2006. Gribkowsky was convicted for taking the bribe last year and the court is set to announce its findings on Ecclestone, which could have major ramifications for Formula One.

Ecclestone told the newspaper: “I’m innocent.”

“I’m British, I pay my taxes and, in the end, the truth will come out.”

Ecclestone says he made payment to Gribkowsky to prevent him making false claims about his business affairs which could attract the attention of the British tax authorities.

“I offered him £11m ($16.71),” Ecclestone admitted. “I would save over £2bn ($3.04bn) in taxes, so it was cheap. Gerhard said he’d settle for £50m ($75.97): the final deal with £44m ($66.85).”

Ecclestone testified at Gribkowsky’s trial (pictured) during which Andre Favre, an aide of Ecclestone’s, said he was told to pay $5m to Gribkowsky “using a special company so his name wouldn’t appear”.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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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.