Motor racing: 'Brexit' would not affect F1, says Ecclestone

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 22, 2016 5:23 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One would be unaffected by any British exit from the European Union, the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Monday in an interview in which he supported those seeking to leave.

Eight of the 11 teams have factories in England, with Renault having their engine facility in France but the team headquarters in Prime Minister David Cameron's Oxfordshire constituency.

Ferrari and Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso are based in Italy while Sauber are Swiss. The new Haas team are U.S.-owned but have their European base in England.

"I've said before that I don't much like democracy. Nothing gets done," Ecclestone, the 85-year-old Briton whose Formula One Management is based in central London, told the Daily Mail newspaper.

"I do quite like David Cameron. I didn't think I would, but he has done what he thinks is best for Britain in the EU negotiations.

"I respect that, but I want us to leave Europe. It doesn't make any difference to my business. It doesn't make any difference to anyone here. I know what we give the EU, but not what it gives us back," said Ecclestone.

Cameron has called a referendum on Britain's European membership for June 23 after striking a deal with other EU leaders on Friday for the country to have a special status.

The Prime Minister's backing for EU membership has the support of the City of London, major companies, much of the Labour Party, major trade unions, international allies and Scottish nationalists.

The Formula One calendar has a record 21 races this season, with Azerbaijan making its debut, but only seven of them -- excluding Monaco -- are in the European Union.

Ecclestone also expressed his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"He's the guy who should run Europe. He will sort out this other business that is going on in Syria. The good thing is that he does what he believes to be right and he stands by it. It's hard to talk him out of anything," he said of Putin.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)