Who is the businessman who offers to “take a bullet” from Putin?

Former F1 businessman Bernie Ecclestone (Photo: Getty Images via Getty Images)

Former F1 businessman Bernie Ecclestone (Photo: Getty Images via Getty Images)

Bernie Ecclestone really took morning TV to the next level on Thursday when he announced he would be ‘taking a bullet’ for Vladimir Poutine.

He added that the Russian president is his friend and a ‘first class person’ during the chilling interview on Hello Brittany.

Defending Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Bernie said Putin was doing what he believed was “the right thing” to Russia and claimed the death of thousands Ukrainian civilians as “unintentional”.

He added: “Unfortunately he’s like a lot of business people, like me, we make mistakes from time to time.”

Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary responded shortly after to his “absolutely extraordinary” remarks by pointing out that Putin is “toxic”.

So why is Bernie famous?

The 91-year-old was previously at the helm of F1 motor racing, and was therefore often described as the ‘F1 Supremo’.

He stepped down in 2017 and is no longer involved in sports management, although he is still considered a public figure.

He is married to Fabiana Ecclestone, Vice President of the FIA ​​and member of the World Motor Sport Council.

Bernie has been embroiled in a series of controversies, including with the Labour Party about his plan to ban tobacco advertising in the 1990s.

In a subsequent interview with The Times in 2009, Ecclestone caused further concern when he said: “Terrible to say that, I guess, but apart from the fact that Hitler was taken away and persuaded to do things that I don’t know if he wanted to do it or not, he was – in the way he could command a lot of people – able to get things done.

He later apologized for the remarks, saying, “I’m just sorry I was an idiot.”

Discussing the UK in the same article, he said: ‘If you look at democracy it hasn’t done much good for many countries – including this one.’

Bernie was also arrested in May this year for illegally transporting a firearm on a private plane to Switzerland, but was later released after posting bail in Brazil.

What is his relationship with Putin?

Bernie Ecclestone and Vladimir Putin (right) pictured together in 2014. (Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV via Getty Images)

Bernie Ecclestone and Vladimir Putin (right) pictured together in 2014. (Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV via Getty Images)

Bernie Ecclestone and Vladimir Putin (right) pictured together in 2014. (Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV via Getty Images)

Bernie reportedly bonded with the Russian president during the 2014 Russian Grand Prix.

He then told The Times newspaper in 2019 that he would like to see Putin “lead Europe”.

Bernie claimed: “He’s a good guy, he’s never done anything that doesn’t do good things for people.”

Earlier this year he described Putin as “very simple and honourable” during an interview with Times Radio.

But it was his controversial comments about Putin at Thursday’s GMB – where Bernie also said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should have listened to Putin in the first place – that prompted F1 to publicly distance itself from him.

“Bernie Ecclestone’s comments are his personal views and stand in stark contrast to the sport’s modern values ​​position,” F1 said in a statement.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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