A German court’s two-year investigation into whether Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone bribed a banker during the 2006 sale of the sport to CVC Capital Partners may finally be coming to a head.
Ecclestone told the Financial Times on Wednesday he had received an indictment. “It’s a pity it’s happened,” he said, adding he would “defend it properly”.
He plans to contest the charges, raising the prospect of another lengthy court battle. The relevant documents are currently being translated into English.
Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison last year following a nine-month trial during which Ecclestone admitted making payments to him. “He was shaking me down and I didn’t want to take a risk,” Ecclestone said at the time.
The threat of legal proceedings will be unwelcome for CVC, who are planning to float Formula One on the Singapore stock exchange. It is targeting a value of over $10 billion for the sport. An earlier attempt at an initial public offering was abandoned due to unfavorable economic conditions in Europe.
At the end of the year Ecclestone admitted CVC “will probably be forced to get rid of me” if he were to face charges over the bribery allegations.
Ecclestone also faces charges in the UK that some F1 rights were sold at below their true value.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.