Ecclestone cancels Germany trip

By Jessica Elgot, July 8, 2009

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has called off a visit to Germany this week, after a ‘conversation’ with event organisers, just weeks before the German Grand Prix.

Mr Ecclestone, 78, caused widespread outrage when he praised Hitler’s ability to “get things done” in a weekend interview with The Times, and was forced to apologise publicly.

When he was subsequently informed that the World Jewish Congress had called for his resignation, Mr Ecclestone reacted by saying: "It's a pity they didn't sort the banks out."

When asked to expand, he said: "They have a lot of influence everywhere."

Mr Ecclestone will now not attend the formal opening of a leisure centre at Germany’s famous Nürburgring race track, although he may still decide to attend a race at the circuit this weekend.

The company which runs the track said Mr Ecclestone had called off the trip after a ‘conversation’ with organisers but no further information was given.

CVC, the private equity firm which owns Formula 1 and invests money on behalf of many Jewish firms, said it had been “shocked” by the comments but said that it “fully concurred” with the apology that Mr Ecclestone made.

Sir Trevor Chinn is a senior adviser to CVC.

Calls for his resignation have already come from the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder and a senior German Jewish official has called for him to be boycotted by Formula One teams.
Dieter Graumann, a vice-president of the Central Council of Jews, said: “No team should work with him any more."

Mr Ecclestone has hired the public relations firm Finsbury to help with the fallout from his comments, and has been seeking advice from Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.

He has also apologised in an interview to readers of the JC.
He said: “I never supported Hitler, I don’t think there’s anybody in this world who could support Hitler and the atrocities they carried out.

“In the end he got lost so he wasn’t a very good dictator. Either he knew what was going on and insisted or he just went along with it – either way he wasn’t a dictator.”

Last updated: 1:20pm, July 9 2009