Former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has doubled down on supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin over the recent conflict in Ukraine. The pair have a long-standing friendship and the British businessman was questioned about his ongoing ties to the Russian politician on Good Morning Britain today.
Here's what was said and what you need to know about Mr Ecclestone.
What did Bernie Ecclestone say about Putin?
Bernie Ecclestone has said he would "take a bullet" for Putin and described him as "a first-class person".
Ecclestone was asked on ITV's Good Morning Britain if he still regards Mr Putin as a friend and he replied: "I'd still take a bullet for him. I'd rather it didn't hurt, but if it does I'd still take a bullet, because he's a first-class person.
"What he's doing is something that he believed was the right thing he was doing for Russia. Unfortunately, he's like a lot of business people, certainly like me, we make mistakes from time to time. When you've made the mistake, you have to do the best you can to get out of it.
Bernie Ecclestone went on to say that the war in Ukraine could have been avoided by actions taken by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
On Good Morning Britain, presenter Kate Garraway said: "So just to understand you clearly, you think that President Zelensky should have done more to avert this war and it could have been avoided by Zelensky's actions, not by a change in Putin's actions?" Mr Ecclestone replied: "Absolutely."
It was put to Mr Ecclestone that he surely could not justify the actions of Mr Putin and the deaths of thousands of people. "I don't. It wasn't intentional," he replied. “And I'm quite sure Ukraine, if they'd wanted to get out of it properly, could have done."
Asked if he has had a chance to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about "what a mess" the situation is or urged him to rethink what he is doing, Ecclestone told Good Morning Britain: "No. He's probably thought about that himself. He probably doesn't need reminding. I'm absolutely sure he now wishes he hadn't started this whole business, but didn't start as a war."
The former F1 boss was then asked what he thinks of the Russian Grand Prix being removed from the Formula One calendar and the ban on Russian drivers.
He told Good Morning Britain: "I'm not in the position now to have done anything about that. I'm not sure I would have stopped that, and I certainly now wouldn't, and I think it's wrong, to stop Russian athletes, including obviously drivers, in taking part in their sport. They didn't get involved in this in the first place. They shouldn't be punished."
In response to his comments, Formula One responded by saying: “The comments made by Bernie Ecclestone are his personal views and are in very stark contrast to position of the modern values of our sport.”
How much is Bernie Ecclestone worth?
Mr Ecclestone is estimated to be worth $3 billion (USD) in 2022, having made his money as the chief executive of the Formula One Group, which manages Formula One motor racing and controls the commercial rights to the sport. He also part-owns Delta Topco, the previous ultimate parent company of the Formula One Group.
Additional reporting by PA.