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Ecclestone might face ten years in German prison

Bernie Ecclestone & Paul Hembery
Bernie Ecclestone & Paul Hembery
Bernie Ecclestone & Luca di Montezemolo

Bernie Ecclestone & Luca di Montezemolo

Bernie Ecclestone is facing the prospect of up to ten years in jail.

F1's embattled chief executive has been removed from the sport's executive board after German prosecutors announced he will face trial in 2014 for alleged corruption.

"The possible maximum penalty is a ten year prison sentence," the major Bild daily declared.

Banker Gerhard Gribkowsky has already been jailed for eight and a half years for accepting Ecclestone's bribe, but according to the judge in that case, the F1 supremo's alleged acts were worse.

Indeed, that judge - Peter Noll - will also preside over the Ecclestone case, and in the Gribkowsky trial he claimed the "driving force" of the corruption "was Mr Ecclestone".

For now, 83-year-old Briton Ecclestone is typically bullish, but even he admits that jail will definitely end his long reign over formula one.

"I don't think I could operate that well from a German prison -- I hope I don't have to," he told the Express newspaper.

Dr Helmut Marko, a leading figure at the world champion F1 team Red Bull, said he continues to support Ecclestone.

"He must be presumed innocent," the Austrian told Germany's SID news agency.

"Of course these are not easy circumstances, but until there is a judgement, he will remain our partner," Marko added.

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