Formula One chief praises Hitler, says women drivers incapable
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Formula One chief praises Hitler, says women drivers incapable

In bizarre interview, Bernie Ecclestone also declares Putin ‘should be running Europe’

Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the Formula One Group talks on his mobile phone ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit, in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the Formula One Group talks on his mobile phone ahead of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit, in Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday, April 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

In a single interview this week, Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone managed to praise Adolf Hitler, offend women, and claim that Vladimir Putin should be in charge of Europe.

Speaking at a conference in London on Tuesday with F1’s non-executive director Martin Sorrell, Ecclestone declared that comments he had made in praise of Adolf Hitler’s leadership methods in a 2009 interview were taken out of context, but reiterated that the Nazi leader “got the job done.”

In the 2009 interview he had said: “In a lot of ways, terrible to say this I suppose, but apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not, he was in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done.”

At the time, a spokesman for British Jewry’s Board of Deputies said: “Mr Ecclestone’s comments regarding Hitler, female, black and Jewish racing drivers are quite bizarre. He says, ‘Politics are not for me’ and we are inclined to agree.”

In this week’s remarks, Ecclestone also tackled the issue of female drivers in Formula One and claimed they are not physically able to drive quickly enough.

“I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly and they wouldn’t be taken seriously,” the 85-year-old told an audience at Advertising Week Europe.

But he predicted a rise in female chief executives, saying: “Women are more competent and they don’t have massive egos.”

There are currently no female drivers in Formula One, with test driver Susie Wolff, who retired last November, the last woman to be employed in a driving capacity by an F1 team.

But women have enjoyed greater success at boardroom level, with Claire Williams notably the current deputy team principal at Williams.

Ecclestone also said during the interview that Russian President Putin “should be running Europe.”

“He should just be in charge,” Ecclestone said. “He does what he says he’s gonna do, he gets the job done. I mean people don’t understand exactly what he wants to do … He wants to put Russia back to what it was.”

As for US presidential contender Donald Trump, “I think he’d be fantastic [as president],” Ecclestone said. “I’m sure he’s much more flexible than most of them. If he’s made a mistake, he’s more likely to say: ‘It was a good idea at the time.’”

He also declared that he was “100 percent” in favor of Britain leaving the European Union ahead of the June 23 referendum on the matter and said that immigrants had not made a contribution to British life.

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