Report: Lawsuit against Ecclestone dismissed in N.Y. Supreme Court

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A $650 million lawsuit against Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been dismissed in New York Supreme Court according to a report from Autoweek‘s Christian Sylt.

In November of 2012, American group Bluewaters Communications Holdings filed the suit, arguing that it should have been sold the 47 percent stake in F1 that wound up going to private equity firm CVC in 2006.

Ecclestone faces charges of bribery over a $44 million payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, but while he’s admitted to making a payment in separate legal proceedings, he’s said that he did it because Gribkowsky was threatening to make allegations regarding his tax affairs.

Bluewaters states that it was the highest bidder for the aforementioned stake, noting that it was ready to pay an additional 10 percent above any legitimate offer from a potential buyer.

But Sylt reports that a justice of the New York Supreme Court, Eileen Bransten, has ruled against them, emphasizing that the claims involved in the lawsuit took place in Europe and that CVC’s own offer for the stake stated that it was governed by English law and thus, all claims coming out of it would be dealt with in English courts.

Said Bransten, according to Sylt: “…This action is not about a lost business venture in New York, but rather on allegations that an English citizen bribed a German citizen to compel a German bank to sell its interest in a Jersey company to an English company rather than another Jersey company.”

To be clear, Bransten does not appear to be referencing New Jersey. Sylt writes that Bluewaters was based on the island of Jersey, off the coast of England, at the time it made its offer for the F1 stake.

Ecclestone may have dodged a bullet in the U.S., but the British billionaire needs to dodge a few more in the months ahead. He recently stepped down from the board of directors for F1’s parent company ahead of his German bribery trial in April (although he will continue to run day-to-day operations).

Additionally, German media firm Constantin Medien – a former stakeholder in F1 – sued him last fall in London for more than $100 million, alleging that Ecclestone’s sale to CVC undervalued the property and lost them money in the process.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.