‘I’d Take a Bullet for Putin,’ Says Ex-Formula 1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone defended Vladimir Putin as a “first-class person.” He's previously wished Putin was “running Europe,” and described Adolf Hitler as someone who was “able to get things done.”
bernie ecclestone vladimir putin
Bernie Ecclestone and Vladimir Putin at the Russian Grand Prix in 2016. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The former chief executive of Formula 1 has defended Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and said he would “still take a bullet” for the Russian president.

Bernie Ecclestone told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that Putin was a “first-class person,” doing “something that he believes was the right thing,” and that his invasion of Ukraine “wasn’t intentional.”


“Unfortunately he’s like a lot of business people, certainly like me, we make mistakes from time to time,” the 91-year-old, speaking from Ibiza, said.

Referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the “other person in Ukraine,” Ecclestone continued: “I mean his profession I understand used to be a comedian, and I think he seems if he wants to continue that profession, because I think if he’d thought about things, he would have definitely made the big enough effort to speak to Mr Putin, who’s a sensible person, and would have listened to him and probably could have done something about it.”

Ecclestone was chief executive of Formula 1 up until 2017. In 2019 he told the UK’s Times newspaper that he would like Putin “running Europe.”

“I am not a supporter of democracy. You need a dictator,” he said.

Meanwhile in 2009 he described Adolf Hitler as a person who was “able to get things done.”

Responding to Ecclestone’s comments on Thursday, a Formula 1 spokesperson said: "The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to the position of the modern values of our sport."