Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that he would likely be removed from his role as Formula 1 supremo if he faces further action over the Gerhard Gribkowsky bribery case.
Ecclestone is still awaiting news from German prosecutors over whether or not they intend to charge him amid allegations that he paid a bribe to Gribkoswky over the sale of F1 to CVC in 2006.
Gribkowsky has already been jailed for his part in the affair.
Although Ecclestone is adamant that a 45 million Euro payment he made to Gribkowsky was not bribery, German prosecutors are still investigating if there are corruption charges to answer.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Ecclestone has conceded for the first time that if further action is taken against him then his running of F1 would likely come to an end.
Speaking about what CVC would do if he was charged, Ecclestone said: “[It] will probably be forced to get rid of me if the Germans come after me. It’s pretty obvious, if I’m locked up.”
CVC has already been pondering a succession plan for what happens when Ecclestone is no longer in charge, but the man himself does not believe its actions are cause to feel that it is looking to ease him out.
“They said they had hired a head-hunter to find somebody in the event that I was not going to be there – if I was going to die or something. It is the normal thing they do to keep people happy,” he said.
Ecclestone’s comments about his future come just a few weeks after Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo suggested that change would be needed if German prosecutors acted.
“First of all, I hope for Bernie and F1 that nothing will happen,” said di Montezemolo during a pre-Christmas media lunch. “If Bernie is accused under process I think he will be the first to give a step back in the interests of Formula 1. This could be bad for F1.”
Di Montezemolo reckoned that the time had come for new younger management to take over the running of F1, so it could build a stronger future.
“We need people with a more modern view. It is the same in my company. In a couple of years I will no longer be the person for Ferrari. Someone else will come.
“What I always say to Bernie is that the one-man show in life is finished. You need a team around you. We have to ask these questions in a positive way and look ahead. Sooner or later it will happen to Bernie as to me.”