Bernie Ecclestone has called Formula One’s decision not to stage the 1,000th race at Silverstone a “failure”.
On the eve of Sunday’s landmark Grand Prix in Shanghai, Ecclestone also claimed Lewis Hamilton is the ‘best and worst’ thing to happen to F1, said Sebastian Vettel will retire from the sport if he loses his number one status at Ferrari, and urged Britain to hire Vladimir Putin to lead its Brexit negotiations.
Liberty Media, the American owners which put an end to Ecclestone’s 40-year reign when they took over the sport two years ago, wanted Silverstone to host Sunday’s race.
But the Northamptonshire circuit rebuffed their approach, fearing a move from its traditional July slot would scupper ticket sales.
“Is that a failure on Formula One and Silverstone? Absolutely,” Ecclestone, 88, told the Press Association.
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“If I was running the sport, I would have got Silverstone to change their date. That’s where the first world championship race was staged, so that’s where the 1,000th race should be held.
“Silverstone would have said they were going to lose money. I would have told them I’d make up for their loss.
“People who come in and are fresh don’t have any feeling about where it all started. It doesn’t mean anything to them.”
Ecclestone, the sport’s chairman emeritus, has not been approached by Liberty to play a role in this weekend’s celebrations. He has been to more than 800 races, a figure he says is greater than any person alive.
Ecclestone wanted to be in China, but food poisoning curtailed his travel plans. Instead, he will watch the race on television from his Knightsbridge penthouse.
During his four-decade rule, Ecclestone, unlike his American successor Chase Carey, ensured he created enough controversy to keep the sport in the spotlight. Away from the race track, it is a mantra he is sticking to.
“What we really need to do is hire Vladimir Putin for three months and have him here looking after us,” said Ecclestone when asked about Brexit. “He wouldn’t have suffered all of this nonsense.
“I voted to leave. Theresa May was the wrong person to negotiate the deal. She is a politician. It needed a used-car dealer, and somebody to go over to Brussels and lay it all on the line.”