Ecclestone faces new investigation as High Court trial begins

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Bernie Ecclestone is standing trial accused of arranging a sale of Formula One in 2005 which was below its market value in order to retain his control of the sport.

Constantin Medien, formerly a stakeholder in F1, has brought the case alleging Ecclestone’s $820m sale to CVC Capital Partners undervalued the property, losing them money. The German media company is seeking over $100m in damages.

Ecclestone, who did not attend the first day of proceedings in London’s High Court yesterday, refutes the charges. He has already been indicted in Germany for paying $44m to jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky.

Constantin Medien’s lawyers argued the indictment showed Ecclestone had participated in a “corrupt bargain” but Mr Justice Newey said it was “hard to see about how the indictment can play any role in these proceedings”.

While Ecclestone remains embroiled in legal deliberations in Germany another front in his contests with the courts has opened in Switzerland. An investigation will probe the nature of Ecclestone’s payment to Gribkowsky to judge whether it violated Swiss law.

The cases are being closely watched to see what details of Formula One’s clandestine and labyrinthine finances are revealed, and whether Ecclestone’s position as chief executive officer of Formula One Group is placed in jeopardy. He has previously admitted CVC would “probably have to get rid of me” if he were convicted.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”