During his upcoming bribery trial, Formula One Management CEO Bernie Ecclestone will still run F1, but has revealed he will step down from the board of directors of F1’s holding company.
The trial begins in April, as was determined by a Munich, Germany state court earlier on Thursday. Ecclestone was indicted in July for an alleged $44m bribe to jailed banker Gerhard Gribkowsky eight years ago.
A statement from the board said Ecclestone reassured it that he is “innocent of the charges and intends to vigorously defend the case,” but stepping down was necessary because the board “believes that it is in the best interests of both the F1 business and the sport that Mr. Ecclestone should continue to run the business on a day-to-day basis, but subject to increased monitoring and control.”
CVC Capital Partners, the owners of F1, said in November it was prepared to fire Ecclestone if he was found guilty of any charges, and said in July it could look outside F1 for a replacement. Other Ecclestone-related stories from the last few months or so are linked below:
- Nov. 13: Ecclestone denies latest trial is bad for F1’s image
- Nov. 12: Ecclestone will run F1 “the way I’ve always run it”
- Oct. 30: Ecclestone faces new investigation as High Court trial begins
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.