Former Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has expressed his repent for his comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin after he appeared to defend the war he has started on Ukraine.
Putin ordered his troops to cross the border and start a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent war has now been raging for over four months.
In a bizarre interview with Good Morning Britain, Ecclestone affirmed that he would “still take a bullet” for Putin, indicating that he is “like a lot of businesspeople.”
The Briton then defended Nelson Piquet after the Brazilian was caught racially abusing Sir Lewis Hamilton in November, so the 37-year-old is understandably fed up of the constant bigotry he has experienced throughout his career.
“We don’t need any more of it, to hear from someone that believes in the war, and the displacement of people and killing of people, and supporting that person [Putin] is beyond me,” said Hamilton ahead of the British Grand Prix.
“I cannot believe I heard that, this is going to put us back decades, and we have yet to see the real brunt of the pain.
“Why? We do not need to be supporting that but looking into the future.
“If you don’t have anything positive to contribute, don’t give them any space.”
Ecclestone has now apologised for his previous comments, expressing his sympathy for the people of Ukraine, millions of whom have been forced to flee their homeland as a result of Russian aggression.
“It’s probably good for me to get some things off my chest as well, things that have been bothering me about what I said and what people think what I’ve said,” he told Sky Sports.
“So, I think often people come out and say things or do things without really too much thinking, probably I did the same.
“I can understand people thinking that I’m defending what he’s done in Ukraine, which I don’t.
“I was brought up during the war, the last war, so I know what it’s like and I feel sorry for the people in Ukraine having to suffer for something they haven’t done. They’ve done nothing wrong.
“They didn’t start anything and they’ve done nothing, they want to get on with their life.
“They want to get to school and try to go to work and earn a living, to keep the family going.
“So they don’t deserve to have to suffer, it’s not good for anybody.
“I can’t see anyone getting anything out of this, and I think they should get together and get an agreement.
“I’m sorry if it’s anything I’ve said that’s upsetting anybody because it certainly wasn’t intended.”
Formula 1 quickly moved to distance themselves from Ecclestone’s initial comments, stating that they were in “very stark contrast to the position of the modern values of our sport.”