Ecclestone made headlines on Thursday morning when he tried to defend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conduct in Ukraine during an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

The 91-year-old said at one point: “I would still take a bullet for him. I’d rather it didn’t hurt but I would still take a bullet.”

Pushed on why he felt that way, Ecclestone added “Because he’s a first class person, and what he’s doing is something that he believed was the right thing.

“Unfortunately he’s like a lot of business people, certainly like me, that we make mistakes from time to time and when you make the mistake, you have to do the best you can to get out of it.”

Ecclestone then later criticised Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy for having failed to avoid the war happening in the first place.

“The other person in Ukraine, his profession I understand used to be a comedian and I think it seems that he wants to continue that profession, because I think if he’d thought about things he would definitely have made a big enough effort to speak to Mr Putin, who is a sensible person, and would have listened to him and could have probably done something about it.”

Ecclestone’s comments sparked outrage on social media, as they follow widespread condemnation of Putin for launching the invasion, which has claimed hundreds of lives.

While Ecclestone is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the sport, having been pushed aside when Liberty Media took over in 2017, he retains a significant public profile.

The danger of people misinterpreting Ecclestone’s words as reflecting the thinking of contemporary F1 figures caused the category to release a statement emphasising that his opinions could not be further from those of the sport’s current leaders.

The statement said: “The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of the sport.”

It is not the first time that F1 has had to publish a statement to distance itself from Ecclestone’s contentious remarks.

Ecclestone sparked outrage in a CNN interview in 2020 when they addressed Lewis Hamilton’s anti-racism campaign.

He said: “In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are.” Ecclestone also condemned the removal of statues of slave traders such as Edward Colston in Bristol during the protests.

F1 later released a statement saying: “At a time when unity is needed to tackle racism and inequality, we completely disagree with Bernie Ecclestone’s comments that have no place in Formula 1 or society,”