CVC prepared to fire Ecclestone if guilty

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Donald Mackenzie, co-founder of Formula One’s owners CVC, told a court on Monday he was prepared to fire Bernie Ecclestone from his position in charge of the sport if it was proven Ecclestone had broken the law.

Mackenzie told a hearing at the High Court in London that Ecclestone had not told him about a $40 million payment to banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is now serving an eight-and-a-half year jail sentence for accepting a bribe from Ecclestone.

“He told me he had never lied to me and I must say that I had trouble believing you could forget payment of $40 million,” Mackenzie told the court.

Mackenzie also told the court: “If it is proven that Mr Ecclestone has done anything that is criminally wrong, we would fire him.”

German media firm Constantin Medien are suing Ecclestone and associates for over $100m in lost revenue, claiming Ecclestone agreed to sell F1 for less than its true value in order to preserve his position in control of the sport. CVC eventually paid BayernLB $830 million for their stake in the sport.

Mackenzie admitted the trial was “adverse publicity” for them, aside from which the sport had been a successful investment for them.

After giving evidence last week Ecclestone visited the Circuit of the Americas with wife Fabiana Flosi (pictured).

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.