Bernie Ecclestone Sir Martin Sorrell Formula One (F1)

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone tells second generation immigrant Sir Martin Sorrell foreigners have made no contribution to the UK and explains why Putin should run Europe


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 19, 2016 | 5 min read

This is what happened when F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone came to Advertising Week (spoiler: immigrants "haven't contributed", loves Putin)

Advertising Week Europe is no stranger to controversial figureheads and tends to draw a few to its stages each year. But perhaps the most outspoken to date will be Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss whose comments today (19 April) led to him trending on Twitter and on the receiving end of a few choice words from fellow delegates.

Here are some excerpts from his hour long conversation with WPP chief – and Formula One board member – Sir Martin Sorrell.

Bernie on a Brexit

He claimed he won’t be voting, but as a self-described “100 per cent outer” made his feelings on the EU referendum clear:

“I don’t see what Europe does for England. [I see] no [economic] benefit at all. Europe has become less important, full stop.

“I don’t think we need to have anything to do with Brussels.”

Bernie on Immigration

“[Immigrants] have not made a contribution.”

To this comment Sorrell, a second-generation immigrant, made an impassioned comparison to the situation in Syria with Nazi German, and questioned if it’s not important that Britain welcomes immigrants, later adding “I'm emotional about it because of my grandparents”.

A seemingly blank stare from Ecclestone led Sorrell to say, “Well, we haven’t got this off to a great start”.

Bernie on Vladimir Putin

“[Vladimir Putin] should be running Europe. We should get rid of Brussels and he should just be in charge.

“He does what he says he's going to do and gets the job done. people don’t understand exactly what he wants to do. He wants to put Russia back to what it was, that's basically the most important thing for him.”

Bernie on Donald Trump

“I think he’d be a fantastic president. 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’”

Bernie on gender diversity

On women getting behind the wheel in F1 races: “I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly. Women wouldn’t be taken seriously in Formula One”

But women being on the ‘management’ side of things: “Women are more competent and they don’t have massive egos.”

Of course, Sorrell was quick to distance himself for Eccleston's unpopular sentiments, saying he "violently disagrees" on pretty much everything except the point on Putin whom he thinks world leaders treated "very badly" when it came to their lack of support for the Sochi Olympics.

Finally, Sorrell said: "I think the reason you make these extreme statements is that you control Formula One" and that he likes to remind people of that even though he sold his stake to CVC, the sports holding company he now runs.

No such understanding came from Twitter users or delegates.

Bernie Ecclestone Sir Martin Sorrell Formula One (F1)

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